What I'm reading: 30/09/2008

  • John Le Carre tells The New Yorker about his early career as a character in The Third Man – no, wait, I meant as an intelligence officer in the thick of the Cold War. Trevor Howard enters the narrative quite early on. Dripping with every bit as much atmosphere as Carol Reed's masterpiece.
  • Brilliant article by Jim Holt in advance on his new book about the origins of humour: "A theory of humour must also account for laughter—a very weird thing. As Arthur Koestler said, 'Humour is the only domain of creative activity where a stimulus on a high level of complexity [a joke] produces a… sharply defined response on the level of physiological reflexes.' Why the spasmodic chest-heaving, the strangulated respiratory gasps; so pleasant when issuing from oneself, so annoying when coming from the next table?"
    (tags: humour)
  • This prolific novelist is publishing his latest serial novel in The Telegraph. Personally I am finding it a little disappointing – nothing like so quirky and wonderful as the Scotland Street series – but so far I am still reading. Also available as a podcast narrated by Andrew Sachs.
    (tags: plots writing)
  • A compelling list from a website specialising in compelling lists. Features the abandoned Walled City of Kowloon, the half-built Ryugyong Hotel of Pyongyang, the decaying Opko Land Theme Park in Opko, South Korea and many other wonders. Gourmet food for the imagination.