Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published January 15th 2019
1987 really was a wonderful year
And continuing my obsession with the year 1987, after the songs, the films and the albums, let's now look at my favourite books of the year!
Now, I did not read all of these in 1987. But I have read them all. And, yes, I did enjoy them all.
It seems 1987 was quite a good year for everything. Except, of course, my academic results and my drinking. Oh, and the fact I treated one of the best friends I ever had (Clare) so badly. And Barbara as well. Okay… it was not the best year. But in the arts, the popular culture arts, it was a singularly awesome year.
Reminders of youth...
Okay, to the list.
I have ten books here. One is non-fiction, one is "semi-autobiographical", one is a graphic novel, and the rest are fiction novels. And, I guess, when you look through them you might see a genre that imposes itself more than others, but that's okay. As with all of my lists, your mileage may vary, and it is highly subjective. But I would recommend all of them.
Spycatcher by Peter Wright
This was touted as an autobiography, but I didn't read it that way, not so much as an exposé of the machinations in Britain's secret service. It was a thoroughly intriguing read. Now, I admit, the only reason I read it was because the British government tried to ban it, and because the critics seemed to dislike it. They're wrong. This sucks you into a world most of us will never know about and paints it with such a dark brush. And remember the eleventh commandment: "Thou shalt not get caught."
Watchers by Dean R. Koontz
I generally find Koontz quite hit or miss. This, fortunately, is a "hit". The story of genetically modified creatures, those who befriend one, the people out to get them is quite complex and, in the end, very satisfying. This is more science fiction than horror (which is the section I found it in) but that does not detract from the story or the book.
The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
Stephen King has said he did not like this book. Well, I did. The transformation of the townsfolk is well described and eerie and it sent shivers through me. I found it quite creepy and now, looking at it with older eyes, the whole subtext of addiction (which I'd read about but had never realised) is right there. While certainly not King's best, it is still a fine piece of work.
The Killings At Badger's Drift by Caroline Brown
I was a fan of the TV show Midsomer Murders from the word go. And so, when I saw the first few episodes, I sought out this book (so that would have been the late 1990s). It was slightly different to the TV episode, not as violent and with less deaths. But the writing was actually really good and the character of DCI Barnaby much more well-rounded than the paragon of justice and virtue the TV show demonstrates.
Postcards From The Edge by Carrie Fisher
This is the semi-autobiographical novel. I read this during my first uni degree when it was recommended by a classmate. Because it was Carrie Fisher, female lead of The Blues Brothers, I decided to give it a go. So glad I did. It was a fascinating look at a life I could not identify with, but the addiction and overcoming it suckered me in. So well-written, at turns funny, poignant and sad, and, in the end, hopeful. And because I like it so much, I have not seen the movie.
"D" Is For Deadbeat by Sue Grafton
My (now ex) wife was a huge fan of the alphabet series. So, being the dutiful husband, I read them. They are, for the most part, quite good little genre reads. Nothing too mentally taxing, but all quite intriguing with some well-done plots. This is one of the better ones, featuring a not quite happy ending and a complex plot, involving a plethora of blonde women and mistaken identity and not the ending you'd expect… Well-constructed and a book I read in only a couple of days.
Sphere by Michael Crichton
From the author of Jurassic Park comes a book about deep sea exploration and alien discovery. The whole concept is given a unique twist with the way the aliens interact with the humans, and the ending in the decompression chamber is left open-ended, making it even more intriguing. Quite a good sci-fi novel, a harmless read.
Watchmen written by Alan Moore; art by Dave Gibbons
Started in 1986, finished in 1987, I got my copy in 1988, an omnibus of all the previous comics. This is one of the finest realised alternate history settings I have ever come across, and the whole superhero dynamic is more realistic than anything before. Its influence on Marvel and DC cannot be underestimated. The whole ending was changed for the film (which I actually loved, by the way) but that doesn't matter – in the graphic novel, it works and works well. The art is fantastic, but the writing is amongst the finest. One of the very best graphic novels ever. If not the best.
Misery by Stephen King
One of Stephen King's best books, a psychological horror tale which shows that the worst monsters are other human beings. The writer Paul and his "number one fan" Annie are thrown together and he is forced to write another Misery book against his better judgement, but Annie is most insistent. It is genuinely creepy, and it resulted in one of the very best film versions of a Stephen King story. Still freaks me out, even now, at my age…
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams is, quite simply, one of the finest authors ever, and this is my favourite book of the year, which I bought because of my love for the Hitchhikers… series. Glad I did. The electric pink monk, the detective, the professor, a time machine… its plot is way too complex to explain at all, but it is funny and the observations are spot-on, and it is simply great. Look, go and buy it and read it. It is fantastic.
And that's it! What did I forget? What did I get wrong? Comments, etc. always most welcome.