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The North: (And Almost Everything In It) [Kindle Edition]

Paul Morley
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Paul Morley grew up in Reddish, less than five miles from Manchester and even closer to Stockport. Ever since the age of seven Morley has always thought of himself as a northerner. What that meant, he wasn't entirely sure. It was for him, as it is for millions of others in England, an absolute, indisputable truth. Forty years after walking down grey pavements on his way to school, Paul explores what it means to be northern and why those who consider themselves to be believe it so strongly. Like industrial towns dotted across great green landscapes of hills and valleys, Morley breaks up his own history with fragments of his region's own social and cultural background. Stories of his Dad spreading margarine on Weetabix stand alongside those about northern England's first fish and chip shop in Mossley, near Oldham.

Ambitiously sweeping and beautifully impressionistic, without ever losing touch with the minute details of life above the M25, The North is an extraordinary mixture of memoir and history, a unique insight into how we, as a nation, classify the unclassifiable.

Product Description


Breathtaking tour de force . His youthful insecurities, set against the limestone and industrial certainties of the north, make the memoir strands of this book engaging and truthful. The sheer scope of his interest is a delight . A dizzy and delightful pleasure-beach ride. And I love the little asides; they are more than digressions or tributaries to the abandoned slip road in the sky just off the Mancunian Way. The North is a major achievement that has kept Morley at the coal-face of the keyboard for so many years. But it's been time well-spent: the result is as bold, broad and sweeping as the north itself, and just as quirky and contradictory ***** (Stuart Maconie, Mail on Sunday)

A personal odyssey going north by north-west and a tour de force (Simon Armitage)

An impressive, sprawling attempt by the former NME journalist to capture the north of England. In its springing from topic to topic, and its curiously arbitrary apportioning of attention to subjects that interest him, it almost resembles Morley's offbeat sleeve notes for 1980s agit-popsters Frankie Goes to Hollywood . Packed with raw emotions and ambivalent passions . Morley writes with care and precision, though, and his rhythm is such that his book is a lively, breezy read (Sunday Times)

A fascinating attempt to define what it means to be a northerner, to try to capture a sense of difference that cuts deeper than just an accent ... A journey that is part family memoir, part history book, part cultural and social commentary and wholly northern in its outlook ... Like an early spring walk in Wordsworth's Lake District or a stroll along Blackpool's breezy Golden Mile, the journey has its moments ... If there is one thing his ambitious work shows it's that we may not have the weather or the wealth of the south but true northerners will always have soul **** (Daily Express)

Morley's writing skipped and span, whirled out from specifics to ghosts, those hard-to-capture feelings around the north. He examined northern clichés, our "standardised national story", used the insights of musicians and writers to test theories and prejudices ... The ideas are insightful and the execution inspired (Miranda Sawyer, Observer)

He combines memoir with fragments of his region's own social and cultural background to show that the differences go deeper than just an accent. As a Midlands native, living in the south but with strong Northern roots, it's just my cup of Tetley (Bookseller)

Paul's book is a delight: as vast, mysterious and romantic as the north itself (Radio Times)

A loving portrait of England's other half (London Review of Books)

An idiosyncratic rumination on what it means to be northern . It's bound to deposit a certain amount of iron in the soul (Guardian)

A passionate, irresistible encouragement to listen more, and to listen better (Sunday Times)

Compulsive, thought-provoking and intriguing (Glasgow Herald)

There is an enjoyably subtle mordancy about much of the book (Financial Times)

At his best he's the Brian Eno of the sentence, setting the whole page buzzing with oblique strategies: the missing link, maybe, between Kenneth Tynan and John Lydon (Time Out)

Essentially a treasure trove almanac wedded to a wistful coming-of-age memoir. Some passages soar *** (Metro)

A typically sprawling, deliberately disjointed book - part memoir, part history (Guardian)

Paul Morley's weighty new work probably deserves a section to itself: the poetic, stream-of-conscious, socio-historical, non-linear memoir-cum-gazetteer ... He soars above the landscape with daring and verve and ambition and brings it to life with his usual heady and mesmerising prose gymnastics. There are delicious, dizzying switches of perspective, Escher-like switchbacks, blind alleys and diversions. He is catholic in his tastes, and thinks nothing of corralling the inscrutable novelist W G Sebald and blowsy Julie Goodyear, Coronation Street's Bet Lynch, in a single paragraph. This is the sort of stuff that's had many of us hanging on his every word (and there are generally lots of them) since his NME days. But there are things here that will surprise even devotees. There's history, geology, geography, all conveyed with clarity and concision. There are delightful, unexpected riffs and obbligatos, such as a paean to "the crystalline elegance" of cricket. This being Morley country, there are also constant but consistently illuminating digressions, meandering from Alan Turing through to Bernard Manning ... I learned something on pretty much every page ... He is superb at conjuring the orbit of a northern child in the Sixties and Seventies ... The illustrations alone give a flavour of the book's charming and eccentric eclectism ... The book unfolds like a recalcitrant OS map, opens up like an advent calendar, accrues meaning and detail like barnacles, but core themes and threads anchor it in Morley's experience ... For everyone who is exasperated by Morley's oblique, mazy, impressionistic style, there will be others who will be seduced by its heft, even if they don't realise quite how good it is. Yet it is more than just an ox-stunning tome. It is rich and dense, and its sprawling nature encourages one to luxuriate, exploring it at your leisure and finding the odd tracks that link say, Ken Dodd to LS Lowry ... Morley has done well to find the right voice and tone for the huge, kaleidoscopic work and he sustains it, measured but lyrical and with a kind of bottom note of melancholy ... This is a book to lose oneself in, as long as you're not too worried about where you emerge or when you might get there (Stuart Maconie, New Statesman)

With this mournful, gentle memoir of his childhood and family ... Morley, only half-Northern himself, does his adopted region proud *** (The Lady)

Paul Morley's memoir of the north has been 50 years in the making - it's been worth the wait ... Irresistible, fragmentary new book (Irish Times)

This is endless fun for fact fans and it's hard for any Northerner not to feel stirred by Morley's pride in the area *** (Yorkshire Post)

A fascinating exploration of northern-ness (Grazia)

Such a joy ... This great, whirling, baggy compendium of a book is a travelogue, a geographical study, a potted history and a rich encyclopedia ... Where he triumphs is in his evocation of the rich life of the North ... This unfolding chronicle throws up a satisfying number of riveting facts. The oddness of the juxtapositions simply adds to the pleasure ... The North is both a star turn and a labour of love. Its weight meant I could barely pick it up; but once lifted, I could hardly put it down **** (Daily Telegraph)

Impressive and sometimes amusing (Catholic Herald)

With this mournful, gentle memoir of his childhood and family, particularly his father, mixed in with history, geography and touching on the lives of many Northern innovators from the present day to the distant past, Morley, only half-Northern himself, does his adopted region proud *** (The Lady)

Varied and illuminating pop-cultural content ... A wildly multi-stylistic book that sets memoir alongside socio-geographical history alongside postmodern pranksterism ... Let's reveal in the sheer wilfulness of this mad mash-up and highlight the highlights ... This long and winding road leaves you much more inspired than tired. The closing valedictory sections are memorably poetic **** (Mojo)

Impressionistic (Choice Magazine)

Fascinating ... This affectionate tribute is more a nostalgic bow to a largely lost working class community than an objective account of a region, but is no less endearing for that (Leyla Sanai, Independent On Sunday)

Morley's account of the ways in which he's defined by his Manchester roots is both a confessional memoir and a cultural history covering everything from music to poetry to the Blackpool Tower (GQ Magazine)

Beneath the grey council estate scene, author Paul Morley paints a romantic picture of everything above Watford Junction. Peppered with random facts (who knew the crossword was dreamt up in Liverpool or the first Corrie swear word was 'bloody'?) it's an anthropological look at the author's home province (Escapism)

There's a certain bravery in calling a book The North (And Almost Everything In It). But then Paul Morley has never been afraid to stick his neck out ... The North (And Almost Everything In It) is a part memoir and part-history, reflecting on his upbringing in Reddish, Stockport, in the 60s and 70s, and sprawling with digressions into the North and its people. Everything from the Romans to Bernard Manning, Jodrell Bank to Julie Goodyear is covered in an engrossing read (Yorkshire Post)

Rambling and vast compendium (The Times)

Personal memoir meets general history, a book as much about the mythology of what the north has come to mean, to those who live there and others, like me, who opted to move away, as it is an inventory of hard facts and figures (The Wire)

My favourite book this year is Paul Morley's The North . the book pushed me to go to the Lowry exhibition at the Tate and made me listen again to George Formby and the Buzzcocks. The book filled my head (Roddy Doyle, Guardian)

Book Description

A celebratory and beautiful mixture of memoir, social history and cultural observation, Paul Morley's The North is a unique portrait of Northern England and almost everything within it

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1813 KB
  • Print Length: 593 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (6 Jun. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CI6HE62
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,594 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A JOURNEY THROUGH THE NORTH WEST AND BEYOND 20 Jan. 2015
This was generally a good read. At times, though, I did get bogged down with some of the detail. This was an incredible well-researched book, the history of Manchester and its environs was comprehensive and interesting. The quotes that are interspersed in the book are informative and interesting. I never realised how many people that are famous were born or had strong connections to the north west of England. I have to admit towards the end of the book I did tire of the somewhat of the convoluted language and imagery that was being written about, especially the section on Liverpool, but I did find large parts of the book informative and interesting, and has certainly improved my knowledge and understanding of the North. I shall travel over the Stockport viaduct on my way to Manchester with new found knowledge and understanding. Paul Morley writes very well about the decline of his father, and his ultimate untimely death.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg of a book 9 July 2013
By JerryG
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I so wanted to love this book. I heard Paul reading some on Radio 4 and it sounded great. But boy what a tough read. The good parts are greatt. These are mainly his summary of key events that take part in or effect The North. These are not just key news events but little bits and pieces which are interesting and well written.
However, his attempt to define 'The North' in various ways comes across as windblown and, in most cases, highly tenuous. There is very little to connect the residents of Alderley Edge with the immigrant communities of Lancashire or the workers of suburban Leeds or the farming community of Yorkshire, to name but a few. To spend hundreds of pages trying to prove otherwise is a waste of time. Other negatives are his dwelling on some very dull aspects of his life which are of little interest to the reader. He also has a horrible habit of writing long lists of descriptives in an almost stream of consciousness way. As a reader this made me want to scream.
Really, this is three books in one. One is great (the post-war history of Northern England in random snipets), one is okay (the early life of Paul Morley) and one is dreadful (definition of the North in various pointless ways.)
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dropped Stitches 29 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
How come no one has reviewed this yet, more than a month after its publication?
Could it be that no one has managed to finish it?
Lots of people think that Paul Morley has too much to say for himself, and he does nothing to dispel that notion here - "The North" is a "thick 'un", going on for nearly 600 pages.
Lots of people think that Paul Morley has too much to say ABOUT himself, and again he does nothing to dispel that either. The title and sub-title present this work as the great biography of "The North" - it isn't - it's the author's own biography wrapped in a geographical setting and historical context that Morley claims as his own, even though he wasn't born in the north and in fact only spent about thirteen (admittedly formative) years living there. Cheshire is presented as the spiritual centre of "The North", and Stockport as the spiritual centre of Cheshire, and North Reddish as the spiritual centre of Stockport, and Paul Morley as the cultural custodian of North Reddish, and hence "The North" as a whole. So, lots to take issue with here - the title, the concept and the structure. Early on (or was it late on?) Morley refers to the revelation of the chronological back-spacing in the film "Lawrence of Arabia" and the realisation of the opportunities this represented to him for making a straight line narrative more interesting. So he takes this approach to an almost unreadable extreme, darting randomly through space and time lighting fuses, throwing out facts, introducing personalities, clambering up branches of his family tree, cutting-and-pasting the internet, opening up his teenage scrap-books, and generally throwing the kitchen sink (drama) at the reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed 6 Feb. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After reading the numerous reviews in the book which had been written about it from various sources, I was really looking forward to reading about the North of England and some of its history.

Instead I read about Liverpool and a bit of some other places.

It was very disjointed. Did not flow. At times repetitive.

How on earth has the author got such good reviews in print? Am I missing something?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Somebody ought to tell Paul Morley that for those of us who come from the proper north, i.e. Northumberland, think Cheshire is in the Deep South and Manchester and Liverpool not far off from there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent volume. 18 Jan. 2015
This book is Paul Morley's masterpiece. Being brought up in within a few miles of Reddish, where Paul grew up, I can relate to everything he says about it, and frequently visited many of the same places as him. Also, I learnt so much about the people, both famous and otherwise, and the north more generally. A lot of love and affection has gone into this volume, and this shines through the easy style in which it is written. For those who live in the north, and for those who live elsewhere, this is a truly monumental book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnetic North 16 Aug. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Morley's Book was Magnetic North for me.
It's North West bias suited this Lancashire lad, now living down south.
My personal journey from Fylde coast, via catering degree at the Holling's Toast Rack building, digs in Didsbury and Longsight, clubs and gigs across the city, to London and now family life in the home counties, mean that the books themes had some (coincidental) resonance with me.
However I also enjoyed the small town minutiae, in Paul's case Reddish, many of the less personal aspects, could be transported to wherever the reader bought their Holland's pies from or went to school at.
The changing prose styles encompassing Kerouac free form on Liverpool, add variety, with the sections on the history of the region, industrial, artistic, or otherwise, entertaining and educational.
The North is a different place for everyone, and where most of us, who are from there,  leave some of our heart.
This book was an enjoyable reminder of that for this reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 days ago by MARK
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent in every way
Published 3 months ago by Mrs Sandra J Wade
2.0 out of 5 stars not as good as i hoped
not as good as i hoped. some interesting facts and snippets and occasionally some good prose but very repetitive . Read more
Published 4 months ago by J. Connelly
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable and self-indulgent
I would have to pick this up again to review it properly but it was appalling, so I can't be bothered to waste any more time on it. Don't bother.
Published 6 months ago by MrsMaxted
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Depressingly good
Published 7 months ago by M Bowery
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at the North
An excellent,enjoyable and very personal view of the north. Well worth a read
Published 7 months ago by Michael Beach
4.0 out of 5 stars Whist I enjoyed the read and much of the pot pourri of ...
Having grown up in a slightly more leafy part of Cheshire a few miles from Paul Morley's Reddish and after being sent to De La Salle College in ‘Dirty Old Town’ Salford aged 11, in... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael McDonagh
5.0 out of 5 stars A What an absolutely splendid book which I thoroughly enjoyed
What an absolutely splendid book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading
Published 8 months ago by Noel Moroney
2.0 out of 5 stars PRETENTIOUS
Pretentious rubbish posing as a literary stream-of-conscious piece. Just saved by interesting factual vignettes. This bloke has spent too much time down south!
Published 8 months ago by Andy Axon
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