back to article Weekend reads: Perfidia, Fatherland and The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being

El Reg bookworms Mark Diston and Lucy Orr leaf their way through the latest literary treats from the uncompromising James Ellroy, TV's favourite scientist Alice Roberts and atmospheric comic novelist Nina Bunjevac. Youtube Video Perfidia James Ellroy is back on his home turf with the LAPD in his latest novel, Perfidia named …

  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    > 1941

    > “I heard Hitler’s gassing Jews, Well someone has to!”

    A man for precrime, I reckon?

    > Fatherland


    1. Dave 126

      Man in the White Castle / The Minority Report mashup?

  2. Dave 126


    Stephen J Gould is for my money a better read than Dawkins. Gould's work is informative and interesting, but also very human.

    He makes a cameo in the Simpsons (Lisa the Skeptic), taking money from a little girl for some scientific tests he had no intention of undertaking. +1 Boffin Points!

  3. Hargrove

    More Evolution

    Impressive reviews. I read Elroy on occasion and found the review resonated with my own response. Elroy's not a favorite, but entertaining and I keep going back. I have the same reaction to James Lee Burke and a couple of others, whose characters come across as caricaturish at times. The diff is that at his best JLB has written some sublime paragraphs. I like Walter Mosley and MacDonald for the humanity of their characters.

    There is a strain of fundamentalism in atheism that I find indistinguishable from the most avid religious fundamentalism. Daniel Dennett's strident mantra of "no skyhooks" (which I just discovered I've been attributing erroneously to Dawkins for years) is an example.

    There are event horizons in our physical universe beyond which lies what Einstein referred to as the Central Mystery. Atheism denies the possibility of such a thing existing. Religion claims knowledge of it. For both sides, as the reviewer observes of Dawkins, what they preach is ultimately based on doctrinal belief in what they believe.

    In the absence of knowledge, belief--any belief--demands a leap into the unknowable. I take great comfort in the fact that some of the scientists who have probed the mysteries of the universe most deeply use the term God, freely and humbly, making no claims of knowledge about him, her, or it. Similarly, my Jesuit theology professor always spoke of "God, or the gods, if there be such."

    It seems to me that, regardless of what one decides to believe, in the limit the only intellectually honest position to assume is agnosticism. I may believe what I believe to my heart's content, but I just don't know. And, thus, humility, reverence, awe, and gratitude are the orders of the day.

    1. Alfred

      Re: More Evolution

      " Atheism denies the possibility of such a thing existing."

      No it doesn't. Atheism says there is no god. Anything beyond that you choose to read into it is entirely your own.

      1. Notas Badoff

        Re: More Evolution

        Oh, so somewhere between the simple statement of "atheism" and ponderous preaching of "atheists" a religion arises that must be espoused to the exasperation of many? They do go on rather beyond reason...

  4. Anonymous Dutch Coward

    I'll pass

    Sorry Mark, you lost me last week when you started going on about what music to play with a certain novel.

    Those problems are insignificant and childish compared to my problem: do I get my posse of nubile, scantily clad, beautiful girls of the female persuasion to pop green or red grapes into my mouth?

    I'll skim the article hoping you do address this searing problem... but I'm not hopeful.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great reviews

    Keep them coming!

  6. Hud Dunlap

    I am no a fan of Elroy.

    I have read his books and I much prefer the short stories. He is not very good at keeping his characters characteristics well defined. They all seem to merge together at the end. I did like the movie L.A. Confidential though and would likely watch any movie based on his books.

  7. dogged


    On the whole I preferred the Robert Harris version.

  8. Hud Dunlap
    Thumb Down

    A down vote for this.

    "I would love to hear Ellroy on Oliver North, Rodney King and O.J. Simpson. It would be great to hear his descriptions of Michael Jackson’s peccadilloes transcribed against the background of 9/11. Or Bush, Blair, Osama and Saddam carving up their little spheres of influence like LA hoodlums. It appears that his Dudley Smith character has recently been spotted in action in Ferguson, Missouri."

    I watched a documentary on Netflix about Elroy and it showed a few of his speeches to his fan base. More than anything else he hates the Clintons and the Kennedy's. As far as your comment about the Dudley Smith character. There are far too many of those in the Police forces around the world but not in this case. The reason the MSM went home is because the alternative media published enough facts to show that the Meme being put forth, ( Good law abiding black kid with his hands in the air was shot in the back by a white cop for no reason) was pure BS.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: A down vote for this.

      > he hates the Clintons and the Kennedy's.

      Doesn't everybody?

      > Good law abiding black kid with his hands in the air was shot in the back by a white cop for no reason was pure BS.

      That's true. There was a good reason as after detailed examination of the facts it turned out that the first assessement of the police officer was correct: the suspect was black, so deadly force was justified.

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