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A Drink with Shane MacGowan
A Drink with Shane MacGowan
by Victoria Mary Clarke
Edition: Paperback

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lend me ten pounds & I'll buy you a book!, 12 Mar 2002
There's been a few attempts to write the seminal 'Shane Macgowan' story, but all have fallen by the wayside, frustrated by the complications of a 'living' subject, too entangled in his own myth to allow objective scrutiny.
Here instead Shane spouts his own murky blatherings to his Mrs and the tape recorder picks it all up, including Victoria's blunt & sometimes annoying questions & Shanes self aggrandising bull. There are raucously funny moments though, Shane describing how he painted himself blue on tour in New Zealand after Maori ghosts had persauded him to redecorate his hotel room, or where he's trying to persaude Victoria that Brandy is a truck load more deadly than crack cocaine.
His memories of childhood Ireland are intense as well, and his sensitive and depthy knowledge of Irish literature reveal a very clever man, who really never recovered from the break up of his beloved Pogues, which is evident in the bitter way he talks about them.
If your looking for a biography in the classic sense, this isn't it but then Shane is not exactly the 'classic' rock star celebrity. You can feel the warmth and passion of the man though through the pages when one of his rants occasionally ignites into something special. If he's p***ing himself about Samuel Beckett wanting to play cricket for Ireland, or musing on whether he could yet be the first Irish Pope you acn't help but revere the guy. You just have to wade through a bit of drool and spittle to get to the good bits, and at paperback prices it's worth it.


The Town and the City
The Town and the City
Price: £20.85

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lo Fi bombs from heaven!, 18 Nov 2001
This review is from: The Town and the City (Audio CD)
Like their namesake on BBC's 'The Lateshow', Tom Paulin are the slightly off kilter ones at the table, sweet sounding, poetic and a little intense.
The songs on their debut 'Town & the City' (named after Keruaoc's first novel)are up close snapshots of lives suffocated by small town tragedies. From the brass embellished opener 'My Life at the Movies', about a girl's obsession with female film stars, to 'Daydreaming' and 'Short Affairs' characters are found to be trapped by the everyday. In Tompaulin's portraits of lives gone wrong, 'Foreman' and 'Landlords' bang on the doors of dreams demanding work and rent while dreams of ' a house in the south' or 'Natasha Kinski' crumble and 'business clothes' fail to hide the cracks.
Tragedies out shadow any Shakespeare could write and unlike Samuel Beckett ther's no pretence that these characters are actually waiting for anything. It would all get too depressing if it weren't for the off key melodies and Stacey McKenna and Jamie Holman's airy vocals.
The real gem though is 'Richard Brautigan', an ode to the American writer of 60's San Francisco, with just enough country twang and off key piano to do his hanuting elegy justice.
The album falls a little short of expectations fuelled by previous single 'Slender', but even so the bards of Blackburn are definitely not going 'straight to video'.


Dylan the Bard: A Life of Dylan Thomas
Dylan the Bard: A Life of Dylan Thomas
by Andrew Sinclair
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don of the valley's, 18 Nov 2001
Andrew Siclair's portrait of the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, is long overdue. Paul Ferris's biography though more in depth and lengthy was in need of an urgent update and Sinclair succeeds in throwing the Dylan myth into the context of the 21st century.
Thomas's work with the BBC during the war is looked at in detail, as well as the artisan pub scene in London that lured young Thomas from the grey suburban confines of south Wales and the hills of the Gower. Thomas's most important trait as a poet of the thirties was to put the 'sound' back into poetry, the 'voice' and even though Thomas is accused of being a sell out in terms of Welshness his achievements at pulling verse from the Modernist 'text', back into oral realms are well charted by Sinclair.
He doesn't get bogged down by the intricasies of Dylan's verse writing nor does he milk the booze guzzling myth too much. Howard Marks and the super furry animals have more in common with Thomas than they might first think. Though the film 'Twin Town', mocks the chocalate box Wales Dylan created in 'Under Milk Wood', he still deserves to be seen as a rebel in love with the rythms of speech and Sinclair illuminates the struggles of a man who gave all for his poetry.
The description of drinking sessions with Richard Burton are captured perfectly and you can well believe some of Dylan's finest work was lost in the hubbub of warm London pubs during the blitz.


Benares Seen from within
Benares Seen from within
by Richard Lannoy
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Within and Without You", 30 Oct 2001
Richard Lannoy's inside view of Benares through the lens, the Hindu spiritual capital of India and one of the oldest cities in the world is not your 'average' book of snaps. If you've ever been to the place you'll know, even with the pllethora of western tourist's about, that it's one of the most disturbing and beautiful places on earth.
Lannoy captures the mayhem of bathing crowds, crumbling palaces and burning funeral pyres, along with the medieval drainage systems and silk sellers, with great intensity. But they often uncomfortable to look at and overpowering even though many of the images are not what you'd term traditionally dramatic. As he says himself in the accompanying essay a balance between aesthetic and journalistic photography was the aim of this project, to uncover the city without building it up or knocvking it down in western terms.
The sheer volume of photographs is itself overwhelming but it is a facinating visual read, especially if you know the city well.
The haunting spectral face carved out of the roots of a tree in a back alley caught on black and white film was probably one of the most stratling images of the book.


After The Wake (Classic Irish Fiction)
After The Wake (Classic Irish Fiction)
by Brendan Behan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bolshy, Brash, Boisterous, Benevolent, Behan at his Best, 18 July 2001
From the song's of Shane McGowan to the wall's of any Irish theme pub across the world, Behan is quite literally plastered into the Celtic myth, as a hell raising boozer who drank himself to death at the age of 41. Just as Dylan Thomas's litarary acheivements have been marred by the hell raising reputation he left behind him, Behan's work has to a large extent been summed up by 'quotes' and anecdotes of a baroomesque kind. In 'After the Wake', edited by Peter Fallon it's a rare treat to find some of Behan's fiction gathered together, short stories of an autobiographical nature, charting the politics and ritual of Irish life in the 30's and 40's. Behan's sharp wit, ear for dialogue and skill at putting down vernacular speech, as well as his masterey at blancing dramatic tension, all culminate in some short sharp masterpeices. In 'The Last of Mrs Murphy' we follow Behan on his fifth birthday being taken to 'Jimmy the Sports' for his first drink by an elderly neighbour. The way we're forced to wait in line at the snuff shop with Behan as the women in the queue natter, overhearing their dialogue, is Behan subtle and brash at his best. Or when the teenage Behan in "I Become a Borstal Boy', instigates a tribute to fellow terrorist inmates who have just been 'executed' in a neighbouring jail, only escaping the cosh because he's up in the magistrates court that day. Behan was all that Yeats or Joyce were not. While Yeats conjured visions of Cuchalainn and Joyce abhorred the Irish heroics, Behan lived it and wrote it with a skill averev born from experience.


The Journey to the East (Peter Owen Modern Classic)
The Journey to the East (Peter Owen Modern Classic)
by Hermann Hesse
Edition: Paperback

32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What goes around............., 15 July 2001
Hermanne Hesse's reputation flowered amongst the sixties 'love affair' with all things Zen and Eastern, but in recent years his Buddhist allegories of self discovery have passed people by. 'Stepponwolf' was to most people a rock band from Canada who were on the 'Easy Rider' soundtrack. But Hesse's fiction is getting re printed more frequently now and 'Journey to the East' is what 'Apocalypse' was for D H Lawrence, a kind of philosophical touch stone to his fiction and a must read for any fans. Following a group of characters through time,myth and the very nature of self, Hesse blends the experiences he had with people like Paul Klee, into a sprawling tale of awakening and re-discovery of the nature of being. The East like a giant philosophical focul point draws all Western strands of narrative toward it, the stories middle beginning and end are not exactly clear cut, but what is clear is Hesse's determined stride to re awaken something he thought the world had lost after the two world wars. This book floats on the river of re-prints like a lotus flower, bobbing back onto book shelves like a hopeful ray of light.


Busconductor Hines
Busconductor Hines
by James Kelman
Edition: Paperback

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'On The Buses' in Kelman's Glasgow, 15 July 2001
This review is from: Busconductor Hines (Paperback)
This is the novel James Kelman should have won the Booker Prize for, his powerful evocation of the 'daily grind' in 1980's Glasgow is haunting and darkly moving. Adhering to the Joycean ethic of making the 'ordinary man' on an 'ordinary day' the hero of the text, Kelman's modernist techniques take this to powerful extremes. This is socialist fiction in a dislocated and marginalised Britain where the character 'Hines' finds himself on the edge of sanity with no promise of the usual 'working class' escapes. There are no Glasgow street fights, drug excesses or football matches here, instead we are drawn into the interior monologue of an everyman, sensitive, intelligent, trapped and falling to pieces. Sounds a misreable read and when Kelman gets criticism it's usually because this is high brow lit which offers no 'plan of action' or 'dramatic entertainment'. But what Kelman does unequivicably is give the under dog a voice, and the everyday a place in art. This is an important book about the 'sectioning' of individual realities in modern Britain. Although this is about Thatcher's Britain, it's just as relevant today as it was when evryone ignored it back in the 80's


The Lost Weekend
The Lost Weekend
by Charles Jackson
Edition: Paperback

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Song of my Drunken Self"-- "Booze Lit. Classic", 15 July 2001
This review is from: The Lost Weekend (Paperback)
You can forget, Bukowski, Hunter S., Kerouac or Kingsley Amis, the harrowing masterpiece that is "The Lost Weekend" is the first and last word in 'Booze Lit.' Following the descent of failed writer "Don" into another weekend of alcoholic oblivion, Jackson's prose evoke the blackouts hallucinations terrors and cold turkey's of alcoholism with a stark reality that has never really been matched. Through the landscape of 1930's Manhattan, from well kept apartments to the smokey jazz bars, Don's journey from middle class surroundings into the low life desperation of the addict is swift and terrifying. While the bar scene's are tinged with the romanticism of the 'hard boiled loner' observing American bar life, the 'Yom Kippur' sequence and the hallucinations involving a 'mouse' when Don sits out the night waiting for the Off Licence to open, will make you put down your beer and think again. Addictive, harrowing and epic writing staring the reality of the 'broken drunk' right in the face of 1930's New York.


Revenge of the Lawn: Stories, 1962-1970 ("Rebel Inc")
Revenge of the Lawn: Stories, 1962-1970 ("Rebel Inc")
by Richard Brautigan
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surreal Americana. Nuggets of pure gold., 27 Jun 2001
As an introduction to Brautigan's writing 'Revenge of the Lawn' is the perfect read. Short sharp and breathtaking, his 'goofy illuminations' of childhood Tacoma in 1920's America and the era of 60's San Francisco where he spent his later years, have the ability of making you recall how strange and haunting everyday life is. Kind of cross between James Kelman and Gary Snyder Brautigan is master of capturing oddball moments of the everyday surreal, kind of zen-like bar room jokes that are as tragic and beautiful as they are fall down funny. My favourite of the lot is '1692 Cotton Mather Newsreel' where the narrator in 'beat' San Francisco recalls a childhood experience in Tacoma, when he crept into a woman's house dared by his friend. His evocation of what he call's 'child's time' is what Brautigan does best, the moment where the boy is stood in this strange womans house which is empty and full for some reason of bottled flowers, brings floods of childhood memories back to the reader. He manages to raise the "ordinary garbage" of life up into the profound without being pretencious. The ending lines of 1/3 1/3 1/3 seem to sum up Brautigans commitment to the marginalised offkey moments of experience that has carved out a special place for his writing. When we read these stories we too are sat in "that rainy trailer, pounding on the gates of American Literature". Nuggetts of pure gold.


Bound for Glory
Bound for Glory
by Woody Guthrie
Edition: Hardcover

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book still beats on against the current. Truly the best, 27 Jun 2001
This review is from: Bound for Glory (Hardcover)
No matter whether you know of Guthrie and his musical legacy, whether you care that the young Bob Dylan read this book and it changed his life forever, or that you like American folk music at all. This autobiographical novel is one of the greatest American poems of all time, a Whitmanesque folk song that engulfs the glory of the human spirit embodied in Guthries journey from Okemah to New York. This book was made for you and me and it demands to be read. An epic of dustbowl, oilboom, freight train, cyclone, wanderings that takes Guthrie all the way to the big apple, haunted by the plethora of American dreams he's seen sprout flourish and die along the way, this book contains one of the most awe inspiring passages in all American literature. When Guthrie walks out the Rainbow Lounge in New York, unable to sell out on the show biz circuit, and wanders playing his guitar into the streets of New York, it'll bring just about anyone to tears of joy. A triumph of the human spirit, this book was made for you and me.


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