March 4th, 2010


March Books 6) Pomegranate Soup, by Marsha Mehran

I really wanted to love this novel about three Iranian sisters setting up a Persian cafe in a town in County Mayo in 1986, but I couldn't quite bring myself to. The bits about Iran during the revolution, and indeed about cookery, are heartfelt and well-written; the Irish scene-setting, which makes up the bulk of the book, is much less convincing (a town whose high street is called "Main Mall"???) and descends into Oirishry at various points. Ireland in 1986 was about to enter a truly convulsive period of its history, but there is almost no trace of that here. The unsubtle characterisation is another problem - we know that the pub owner is a bully, because he is described with that word at almost every appearance. Half a dozen recipes are provided, but all in American measurements and nomenclature ("eggplants", "ground lamb") despite this being the British / European edition. Sorry to be grumpy but I was rather disappointed with this book.

March Books 7) Doctor Who Annual 1969

This is another 96-page annual, slightly different in format from previous ones - lots of very short stories (ten altogether, plus another two comic strips) and also lots of info pages mostly about astronomy and space travel. The artist(s) totally fail to draw either Jamie or Victoria at all well (in the first strip - which is pretty awful - the female companion is identified as 'Polly' but is dark-haired). The stories start off rather poor but get better towards the middle - though rather oddly, both the second strip, "Atoms Infinite", and the next but one story, "The Microtron Men" have the same plot. Also the Doctor is consistently identified as coming from Earth, just at the point when the TV series was starting to stress his non-human origins more. And irritating usage of "Dr. Who" addressing the companions directly as "children", which I don't think we ever got from the Second Doctor on screen. Apparently this is the easiest of the older annuals to find, but only completists need bother.