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J.K.Andersen

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Felix' Revolution
Felix' Revolution
by Christoph Assheuer
Edition: Perfect Paperback
Price: £12.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tense account of 1970's protest and underground movement in East and West, 9 Jan. 2014
March 1976: Young left-wing activist Felix Guthammer, the main character, misses a train in London. Buying a newspaper, he suddenly finds out that he is wanted as a terrorist in West Germany. Completely on his own, having little to do with 'Baader-Meinhof' and similar urban guerilla groups, he ends up on top of the wanted list. At a time of high tension, he is confronted with existential questions and a vengeful establishment (the charges against him are negligible). Most of all, does he have the guts to be a revolutionary? And how does he define 'revolutionary'? His underground odyssey takes him to places like Frankfurt and Paris (later Iran and India). He bumps into other fugitives and revolutionaries and runs into the experimental communities of the time, from London feminists and punks to the dissidents who founded Charta '77 in Czechoslovakia (after the Russian invasion of '68). While his erstwhile comrades are shot or perish in Stammheim prison, his life on the edge brings out the best and worst in the people he befriends.

At present, "Felix' Revolution - Erzaehlung aus der Vorzeit" is only available in German. This is a pity as it's a straight-talking, sometimes painfully absurd account of a particularly unsettling period in European history. The underground metamorphosis of 20 year old Guthammer, taking on the assumed identity of 'Julian Roberts', is amazing to behold - as are the descriptions of the prevailing political ideologies on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The final chapters offer an uncanny resolution to Felix' predicament and can be read as the author's personal tribute to British and Czech freaks, dissidents and outsiders including those off on a "Magic Bus" to Delhi and Kathmandu (from the book and its website it becomes clear that the author has drawn on personal experience).


Attitude - wanna make something of it? : The Secret of Stand-Up Comedy
Attitude - wanna make something of it? : The Secret of Stand-Up Comedy
by Tony Allen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Give Me Some Truth Now, 3 July 2003
I first saw Tony Allen as a Master of Ceremonies at a Comedy Club in Soho in the late 70s. Audience participation was welcome and like my other friends, we were booed off stage after what felt like micro-seconds of trying to be funny. The glaring stage lights seemed to beta-block my brain; on top of that English is not my first language.
With "The secret of stand-up comedy" it is best to forget the aggro/attitude front cover and turn to page two (I think that the cover misrepresents him).
Rodin's thinker is pictured there, with the microphone attached. This is really what this book is about.
Tony Allen is a gentle giant of the stage who happens to be both thoughful and extremely funny. Behind the presentation of a history of comedy, from Lenny Bruce to RD Laing, is a commentary on existence itself.

No cheap thrills here, but an amazing range of observation. With Tony, the personal is political in an immediate sense as he describes ordinary and whacky situations (the work-van is about to pick you up in the morning, a therapist tells you to "stay with that feeling" or he briefly analyses the Thatcher years during the Falklands war). From meditation to chaos theory in the rain forest, from sexual experiments to the Kalahari desert nothing is left out.
If life seems a bit of a bad joke to you - whether you were a housebuyer with 'Northern Rock'
or at sea in a boat of refugees approaching Spain or Bognor Regis - then this book is for you.
Tony puts himself on the line to draw out of life what is most precious. "Much love, much passion, much power" was Allen's famous parting wish to audiences at the end of his act.
As a deeply religious, asexual and very straight person I must add that I am often offended by what he says. His dialogue with God in the book for example is extremely short. Yet He's of a searing honesty.
The acidity of the sixties, the street wisdom of the seventies, the great gap experience of the eighties - it's all in there.
On a different note, Allen is the guy who used to get arrested at Speaker's Corner in the 70s. For free Speech. Not once, but several times. He tried to explain to his audience that the thing you crawl out of as a newborn baby shouldn't be used as a swear-word (or was he talking about that German philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment, Immanuel...) The serious crime squad intervened during this birth process of non-chauvinist, tender thought. Allen was consequently put on death row and executed on behalf of all beautiful hippies. Read him before your death, not after.


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