¡Guerra! was good. Recommend it. Very well written and hardly twee at all. Ghosts of Spain was more a collection of anecdotes and self-conscious but inevitable condescension. Don't not reccommend it, but don't reccomend it either. Very Guardian. The author's phrasing suggested that what he didn't understand wasn't quite worth understanding, in opposition to ¡Guerra!.
Now reading Far From the Madding Crowd. I fucking love Thomas Hardy, I can't help it. There's something about those overworked, laborious sentences of his that is absolute butter on my toast. And his feeling for scenery, even if he does use sentences no self-respecting modern writer would ever allow to run on so, is flawless. Look at this paragraph he uses just before he describes a painful boy-girl meeting:
We turn our attention to the left-hand characteristics; which were flatness in respect of the river, verticality in respect of the wall behind it, and darkness as to both. These features made up the mass. If anything could be darker than the sky, it was the wall, and if any thing could be gloomier than the wall it was the river beneath. The indistinct summit of the facade was notched and pronged by chimneys here and there, and upon its face were faintly signified the oblong shapes of windows, though only in the upper part. Below, down to the water's edge, the flat was unbroken by hole or projection.
Now, I don't know if either the boy or the girl is going to chuck themselves in the river before the end of the story literally, but one or the other is sure to figuratively . . . maybe both, maybe one of each. I don't know, because Thomas Hardy is one author who I must insist lead me gently to the conclusion, so I don't know what's going to happen. I've decided that's why Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D'Urbervilles just haven't worked out for me, since far too many film versions had let me know what would happen - it's not like they're fundamentally more depressing than some of the others I've loved.
However, the Hardy was interrupted by a late Christmas present from the F-word, Michael Hodges' AK-47: The History of a Gun. That man knows me fucking well. Only on page 20 so far so will hold off on judgement. So far a bit pop, but oh well. I'm back at the fucking office as of yesterday so my brain is toast enough to enjoy pop.