Medicine in literature

August 15, 2018

I was surprised when Amazon classified my new novel Magic Bullets as Medical Fiction.  But then I read an article I saw on the Wellcome Book Prize webpage (see https://tinyurl.com/yaf3hb7c) where judges and former winners picked their all-time favourite fiction books that touch on this topic and it seemed that their links to medicine appeared rather vague.  So I decided to list three books that I felt could be similarly classified.

The first one on my list is Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham.  This is about two biochemists who extracted and anti-aging drug from an unusual strain of lichen only to find that it could induce harmful side effects.  My memories of the book are rather vague as I read it a long time ago.  I do remember it as being rather heavy reading but I kept going as I found the plot most intriguing.

The second on the list is The Invisible Man by H G Wells.  In this book Wells goes into great detail about how to change a body’s refractive index and become invisible.  What I liked about the story was that Wells skill in explaining the science behind the plot makes it seem entirely plausible.  I have read this book several times and still enjoy it as an absorbing read

But my favourite has to be The Double Helix by James D Watson.  It is an autobiographical account of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.  It is controversial due to Watson’s willingness to appropriate data surreptitiously from others and his sexist attitude towards scientist Rosalind Franklin who, because of the harmful nature of the X-rays she worked with, died early and therefore could not share the Nobel Prize.  Despite these flaws, I found the story fascinating.  It is probably the greatest medical discovery of all time which has lead and is still leading to momentous breakthroughs in modern medicine.  It is the best detective story I have read and is the main reason why I followed a career in biological science.

 

Keith Jahans


Available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback,
as an ebook and audiobook.

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Book Review – Dead Simple by Peter James

April 11, 2018

This is the first book in Peter James’s detective series featuring Roy Grace.  The author has hit on a winning formula as the jacket states that 14 million copies of have been sold of this book alone.  It is certainly a rattling good read for anyone who loves police procedural crime novels.  The plot kept me riveted right to the end with many unsuspecting twists along the way.  Peter James is certainly an expert storyteller.

Keith Jahans

Published in 39 formats and editions and easily found
on Amazon & other major book stores


Robots and Typing

February 20, 2018

I spent most of my working life in the years BC (Before Computers).  When I started work at a UK Government veterinary laboratory at the end of the 1960s there were no calculators; desktop and laptop computers had not been thought of.  Instead, we worked out calculations and wrote letters with pen and paper.  Then a typist would type up the results of our endeavours and copies were made as she typed (it was always a female typist) on carbon paper.

The ladies of the typing pool were some of the kindest, jolliest people I have ever worked with.  Sometimes I dictated my words into a cassette recorder and handed them a tape, but most of the time they had to decipher my scribbled handwriting and most could touch type faster than I could talk.  When I presented the thesis for my Masters Degree for one to type, I did not know that the G and F on the qwerty keyboard were next to each other so that when the word, “buffer”, appeared in my hand written script (and it appeared frequently because of the nature of my study) it came back as “bugger”.  A red faced lady apologised profusely but instead of simply erasing the offending word with correction fluid, she insisted on retyping the whole manuscript.  Then came the first computers and word processors and I guiltily typed out my own letters and reports.  Then came the demise of the typing pool.

Now the personal computer is as much of my life as a pen and paper once were.  I am slightly dyslexic so the built in grammar and spell checkers are a godsend.  But the human interaction with someone who most always presented the text in a manner more pleasing to the eye than I ever could is gone.  Most repetitive human actions now seem to be being replaced by robots.  Even driverless cars are appearing on the roads.  The world is advancing at a pace scarcely envisaged three decades ago.  On the surface it appears that we may have lost something along the way but I like to think that we can still keep the human touch alive with art, music, writing and humour that people have naturally built into their genetic makeup which machines can never replace.

Keith Jahans


Book Review – And I Love Her: A Phil Allman P.I. Novel by Brett Wallach

March 23, 2017

This is the second novel in the Phil Allman series but the reader need not worry if he or she has missed reading the first as it stands well on its own in its own right.

In this story Private Investigator, Phil Allman, is hired to find a missing eleven year old girl while at the same time battling with his ex-wife over the custody of his own eleven year old daughter and the nine year old girl he adopted at the end of the first book.  His investigations are met with various twists and turns during which he encounters some very shady characters and several murders.  We find out more about the psychology of the central character and the story becomes very dark as he attempts to resolve the tasks before him.  The characters are exceptionally well described and Allman’s fondness for quoting lines from English and American popular music adds to his personal appeal.

I have already reviewed Book 1 of Allman’s story (see below) and I thoroughly recommend that it be read even if you have read this story first.  In this tale we find out more about Allman’s personality and the unravelling of the truth behind what motivates him makes this a fascinating read.

Keith Jahans


And I love her is published by SynergEbooks
and is available as a pdf for $4.88

 


2015 in review

December 31, 2015

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 850 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Book Promotion – Cogrill’s Mill

October 14, 2015

The 5 day free Kindle book promotion period for the Peatmore Press novel, Cogrill’s Mill, has ended. Most of the downloads occurred on the first two days. By far the majority of downloads happened at Amazon.com, followed by Amazon.co.uk and then Amazon.ca (Canada). This was despite the fact that the book was set in England, written in UK English and most of the reviews were posted on Amazon.co.uk. The data is presented below.

graph 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

KDP Promotion Data

The unit price for the Kindle book has now been reset to its original price (£4 / $6) and so it remains to be seen if the free book giveaways can be transferred into sales or and/or positive reviews.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press


Travels in Southern England – The Penzance Literary Festival Revisited: continued.

July 12, 2015

There have been so many interesting events for me to visit at this year’s festival that I have hardly had time to keep up with my blog.

Last night I visited the Acorn Theatre where I listened to comedian and writer, Tony Hawks, talk about the frustration he has felt on numerous occasions when he has received misdirected messages meant for his American skateboarding namesake. He went on to talk about his adventures when cycling across Devon in the company of a miniature pig which is recounted in his latest book, “Once Upon a Time in the West Country”, and being an ex-employee of Defra myself, I was heartened to see that he obeyed this Government department’s animal movement regulations religiously.

Tony Hawks bookOnce Upon a Time in the West Country by Tony Hawks
is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is available in hardback, paperback and as an ebook.

Later I saw a production of a black comedy play called “Sweetness and Light” performed by a company called Blabbermouth Theatre in the Acorn bar. Apparently it goes to the Edinburgh Fringe in August but I must admit that I did not fully understand it.

Yesterday, I attended a workshop on how to read a short story out loud run by the excellent Diana Cambridge. It was attended by fifteen very talented writers who had each submitted a piece of work for comment. I read from my short story, “The Lie,” which is available for free for a limited period on the Peatmore Press website and my reading seemed to go down well. Diana also supplied us with worksheets giving tips and also a copy of her book about writing for magazines. She is based in Bath and runs other workshops there which I would highly recommend for anyone wishing to specialise in this tricky form of fiction writing. Diana has a website at http://www.dianacambridge.co.uk

That evening I listened to an enthralling talk by Tim Hannigan based on his latest book, A Brief History of Indonesia. Readers may remember that I attended his travel writing workshop last year and bought a copy of his book about Raffles and the British Invasion of Java, which I later reviewed on this blog earlier in the year. This latest book looked just as entertaining and I managed to by a pre-publication copy which Tim signed for me as it is not due out until September. I have to confess that I have more than a passing interest in that country as my daughter is there at the moment with her boyfriend.

Later on in the evening the festival organisers held their traditional literary quiz. I was able to reacquaint myself with the very charming team I participated with last year. However, this time I was part of another group. We did not do too badly but there so many more knowledgeable other teams taking part that we failed to gain any prizes.

The night ended with a party in the Acorn bar with live music performed by an energetic local band known as Gwenellin. It was a perfect ending to a fine festival.

Keith Jahans
Peatmore Press.