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Hard boiled: Chandler, Spillane and Hammett

All I saw was the dame standing there in the glare of the headlights waving her arms like a huge puppet and the curse I spit out filled the car and my own ears. I wrenched the wheel over, felt the rear end start to slide, brought it out with a splash of power and almost ran up the side of the cliff as the car fishtailed.  

My 1960 Signet edition of “Kiss Me, Deadly”, swapped on a Greek ferry*

The opening lines of Mickey Spillane’s 1952 Kiss Me, Deadly are arresting.  So is the blurb: “Mike Hammer swears to avenge the killing of a satin-skinned blonde and rips into the vicious Mafia mob to run down her murderer”.  

When I first read Kiss Me, Deadly in the ’80s, I was shocked by the casual violence and sexism.   (more…)

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Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves: review and quotes

Those who know the code of the Pimms will know that the blogs on this site are consistently honest.  No fake news here, or indeed fake reviews.

So I have to report, sadly, that “Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves” was not my favourite P G Wodehouse book.

In fact, of the mouth-watering shelf-full of Wodehouse I have enjoyed so far since 2017, it comes some way behind Thank You, Jeeves, Ring for Jeeves, Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen or indeed Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, all of which I have reviewed on this site (click on links above) and all of which positively heaved with quotables.

The cover of my Folio Society edition of “Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves”

To say that Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves is less hilarious than some other P G Wodehouse masterpieces, however, is not to say it lacks humour.  I feel it has less of a  (more…)

A new blog every week? Views welcome

It has been a good run.

Since 12 August 2017 I have written a blog every week, usually published on a Saturday afternoon, in addition to writing my new novel and one or two other writing projects such as the Hotel Stories.

Thanks to all my readers for clicking on robertpimm.com, and sometimes the links in the blogs.  It makes me happy when you do so.

And should I update my author pic from the 1981 black and white version?

It is not always easy to produce a blog every week.  Today, for example, I have written my novel for a couple of hours, have 30 minutes to write my blog, then am going out for a walk and to watch the England-Sweden game.

Usually my blogs take 2-3 hours to write – time when I could be writing that novel!

So I have a couple of questions for you.  You do not have to answer all or indeed any of them, but feedback would be welcome.  You can find a “comments” form at the bottom of this page.  Or you can write to me privately using the “Contact me” tab at the top of the page.

Questions:

(i) does the regularity of my blogs, ie one a week on a Saturday afternoon, make any difference to you, (more…)

Making fun of the English? The great George Mikes 10/10

If you have not read How to be an Alien by George Mikes, please go and buy a copy instantly.  You will not regret it.

George Mikes was a Hungarian who came to England in 1938 (as he said: When people say England, they sometimes mean Great Britain, sometimes the United Kingdom, sometimes the British Isles – but never England).  He wrote dozens of books but is remembered mainly for his seminal 1946 How to be an Alien.  He described the genesis of the book thus:

Some years ago I spent a lot of time with a young lady who was very proud and conscious of being English.  Once she asked me – to my great surprise – whether I would marry her.  ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I will not.  My mother would never agree to my marrying a foreigner.’  She looked at me a little surprised and irritated, and retorted: ‘I, a foreigner?  What a silly thing to say.  I am English.  You are the foreigner.  And your mother, too…’  I saw that this theory was as irrefutable as it was simple.  I was startled and upset.  Mainly because of my mother whom I loved and respected.  Now, I suddenly learned what she really was.’ (more…)

Lady Anna: cruelty, feminism and power 7/10

How much cruelty can you squeeze into a 150,000 word novel?

A huge amount, if that book is Lady Anna, written by Anthony Trollope at the astonishing rate of 16,500 words a week on a voyage from England to Australia between 25 May and 19 July 1871.

The plot (no spoilers follow) revolves around a conflict: should the eponymous heroine marry a low-born tailor; or a young earl, of her own class?  She loves the tailor – or does she?  Almost every other character in the book, especially her mother, believes she should marry the earl; and subject her to extraordinary pressure to bring about this result.

This is heavy stuff.  As so often with Trollope, his female characters are often more attractive than his men, some of whom, like Anna’s father the earl, are vile:

It must be told that the Earl was a man who had never yet spared a woman in his lust.  It had been the rule, almost the creed of his life, that woman was made to gratify the appetite of man, and that the man is but a poor creature who does not lay hold of the sweetness that is offered to him… The life which he had led no doubt had had its allurements, but it is one which hardly admits of a hale and happy evening.  Men who make women a prey, prey also on themselves. (more…)

Thank you!

‘How many people are you expecting at your reading?’

‘Well, it’s impossible to know.  Maybe five, maybe 20.’

‘But how many people will you will be happy with?’

‘Well, anything over three.’

We’re on our way to my reading from my Berlin thriller Blood Summit at the excellent English language bookshop Shakespeare & Company at Sterngasse 2 in central Vienna.  Not only is it a Friday night, but the World Cup has started: Portugal vs Spain, no less.  I am managing my expectations appropriately.

We gather in the bookshop.  It is a beautiful place, in the heart of Vienna’s old town.  Outside, a cobbled street.  Inside, books reach to the ceiling: a temple of imagination, stories and ideas.  If you have never visited Shakespeare & Co, go today or, at the latest, next weekend.  They are open until 9 p.m. six days a week.

People keep coming.  By the time I start the reading, at 1930, the shop is already crammed – I count 19 people.  More keep arriving, slipping in cunningly through a hitherto unsuspected back door.

A wonderful place for a book-reading – Shakespeare & Co

(more…)

This Friday 15 June! My live reading from “Blood Summit”

What does reclusive author Robert Pimm look like in the flesh?

You can find out on Friday 15 June at the wonderful Shakespeare & Co bookshop at Sterngasse 2 in central Vienna.

I will be reading from my new Berlin thriller “Blood Summit” (“a rip-roaring romp of a thriller” – Sir Christopher Mallaby). Entry is free and copies of the book will be on sale.

Come along – and bring a friend!

For a preview, see the video below, from my March 16 reading at Cafe Korb, also in Vienna.

In fact, you can buy “Blood Summit” in Shakespeare & Co any time: (more…)

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