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What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion Paperback – 6 Apr 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (6 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847393209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847393203
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 253,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'I picked up this book thinking I'd get some history lessons and, obviously, a couple of jokes -- but it is so much more than that. Mark Steel has written a story which marries the personal and political and has lessons for all of us who care about socialism' Tribune 18/7 'Affably angry...his book -- which documents his dawning awareness that, in the age of New Labour, socialism is a busted flush -- bubbles over with amused fury' Telegraph 9/8 'Perceptive and engaging... Mark is, for example, eloquent about the immense power of the media and their culture of celebrity to deflect and to incorporate' Socialist Review Sept '08 'Steel situates his personal angst beneath the civic confusion of the mass of disgruntled voters who have discovered that they're helpless to change anything' Guardian 9/8 'Steel steers a finely judged course between the maudlin and the flippant, and the result is both funny and touching... [A] sense of being in a world where the old verities are crumbling makes Steel sadder and wiser, but far more likable, and no less witty' Independent on Sunday 3/8 'There is no getting away from Steel's talent as a comedian so brace yourself for embarrassing outburst of laughter if you read this on the train... This is Steel at his best' Sunday Express 24/8 'What's Going On? proves [Steel] is much more than just a grumpy old man' Independent 27/3

About the Author

Mark Steel is a writer, presenter and comedian. His TV and radio series include The Mark Steel Solution, The Mark Steel Revolution and The Mark Steel Lectures. He writes a weekly column for the Independent newspaper and is a regular on Radio 4's Loose Ends and The News Quiz. He lives in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Femmielala on 17 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Read only because this was lent to me by a colleague, this is not normally a book I would choose to read. My perception is that these days books written by comedians who turn 40 and have a mid-life crisis are ten-a-penny and I though this would be one of those books filled with pedestrian observations of hitting the big Four-O.

Oh, how wrong I was.

What's Going On paints a poignant, honest and at times heartbreaking parallel between the breakup of Mark Steel's relationship and his decision to part with his beloved Socialist Workers' Party (SWP). He writes without any pretension and is funny, thoughtful and insightful. There are some rousing passages peppered throughout the book about effecting change; but more than anything the book highlighted the desperate futility of the fight against the evils of Capitalism which the quote I have used in the title of this review I think sums up beautifully.

Whether you are sympathetic with Mark Steel's politics or not; I challenge anyone not to be a little bit moved by this book. Go on!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S Wood on 5 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
It's possible that even the hardest of hard right-wingers will feel some sympathy for comedian Mark Steels plight as he stumbles through his 40's. His relationship has gone belly up, the political party that he has been a member of since his teens has falling apart, one of his close political comrades has died, and if that's not bad enough, well . . . he's became a good friend of Bob Monkhouse.

Mark Steel weaves the belly laughs in with the more melancholy moments and creates a splendid memoir of his confused meanderings through the first half dozen or so years of the last decade. Whether he is talking about his failing relationship or his two kids, his experience of campaigning against the war in Iraq, super-markets, celebrities or schools, or even George Galloway there's a plentiful supply of wit and even a little wisdom too.

I found this one hard to put down and recommend keeping it aside for a long, empty and chore free afternoon. I doubt you'll be disappointed.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Goddard on 1 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read a couple of Mark Steel's other books, so I kind of knew what to expect. However, this has more depth and poignancy. That'll be due to age, I reckon (both his and mine).

His humour doesn't always work for me, but there is enough here to more than satisfy. Besides, I like it that his humour has a point to it and that, while he sometimes picks easy targets, he's never nasty or vicious. What I most liked was the sense of truth in his telling of how confusing things have become as he has got older. Also, the story of his marriage breakdown is told, as another reviewer mentions, withough bitterness and with due regard to privacy. Really not sure what one of the other reviewers means about him being 'grumpy'. Quite the opposite, I'd have said. Even when he is getting hacked off with the SWP, you can see there's more affection there than anything else.

Because of the honesty about the political changes he's seen, the book has contemporary relevance. Anyone who has had any experience of the left these past twenty years or so (and I'm on the pink, tepid, Labour Party edge of the left) will instantly get where he's coming from. Sometimes it helps to laugh, so long as you don't get cynical.

I loved it and would recommend it to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Reynolds on 7 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
Socialist comedian and BBC Radio 4 regular hits 40 and finds a world of confusion. His marriage is falling apart, the Socialist Workers Party isn't behaving like it should and absolutely everything seems to be determined by profit and monetary value. The book actually covers about 7 years of Mark's life and he articulates the confusion of his life in a meaningful way. While he finds the humour in his situation, he does so in a balanced and honest way.

There are a couple of shortcomings to the book. I hesitate to suggest hypocrisy but its hard to think of another word for when Steel complains that the Oxbridge set live in a world apart from ordinary people when he himself is mentioning his appearances on Newsnight, making series for the BBC and so on. While it is, no doubt, for comic effect he regularly uses very over-the-top similes; would having the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer giving a speech at the 20th anniversary party of The Independent really be like the president of France giving a keynote speech in the kitchen on your mother's birthday? Not really, no.

Overall the book is a good read and, as bleak as Mark's life seems sometimes, it is full of hope, humour and honesty. As long as you are able to put up with the sledgehammer-to-a-walnut similes and metaphors I would heartily recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nadeem Malik on 27 July 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mark talks us through his political and personal journey which is fraught with pitfalls, disappointments and the odd high. It is sprinkled with a dark and witty humour that not only makes you chuckle but also manages to focus the reader on the serious message he is trying to address. I loved every minute of it and he also appeared to gain our trust in allowing us to share his personal anguish and challenges when faced with a separation from his partner. A great read with enough to keep you enthralled and entertained.
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