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JW (London)

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Where My Heart Used to Beat
Where My Heart Used to Beat
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning Water into Wine, 13 Sept. 2015
Faulks' latest book achieves a rare chemistry, a reflection upon traumatic episodes of the 20th Century, the development of one man's attempt to make sense of these events and his parallel/professional involvement in the treatment of mental illness, and the elusive power of love.

The book can be thought of as a narrative of how one learns to cope with insanity, namely the impact upon human beings involved in senseless - and therefore para-sensual experiences - that fracture life from its proposed pathway, into the difficulty of marrying what one has witnessed with the desperate normality of what comes after the event(s). One subtext of the novel is that, following WW1, the 20th Century invented an advanced state of stress, leading to the still under-researched condition, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The central theme concerns how such a condition co-exists with the impact of sudden love, and its potential to compound loneliness, if the impact of traumatic experience fail to reconcile with its aftermath. The beauty of this book is that it manages to be savagely honest and yet hopeful in its resolution. It's a superb development of ideas pursued in Faulks' previous book, "A Possible Life".

by Michel Houellebecq
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bell, 10 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Submission (Hardcover)
Having read all of Houellebecq's books I've been looking forward to this since January - my French is not bad but I felt safer in reading it in translation, and still laughed out loud on numerous occasions having read it over the last 24 hours. I would laugh more if I was French, that's for sure.

The media profiling of the book's message is quite misleading. It's not simply a polemic about West vs. Islam, though it has plenty to say on the subject. Not what you would think, either. The author comes across in a far more compassionate way than in his previous novels, an element that has been overlooked, because it has always been there, Whatever, Atomised, all his novels, blind-side critics because of the dislocation between Houellebecq's persona/depiction, and what's actually written down on his page. Bit like a French Martin Amis, but H proves himself to be the better writer, and organiser of dark truths.

I'd recommend the book, as an academic might say, without reservation (there's a deep subtext about the state of University/higher education, which is spot on). You're gifted to be able to read such a piercing and entertaining account of the contemporary situation, and it strikes a bell that few artists and musicians manage.

Going Mobile
Going Mobile
Price: £7.59

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a worthwhile addition, 31 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Going Mobile (Audio CD)
Goodness knows why people would be moaning about the sound quality, it really is fine for a 1974 radio broadcast, and it's rare to have such a document of Jeff Baxter-vintage Steely Dan before they retired from touring.

Yes, there are numerous "lost in our vaults up till now" items appearing from the 60s, 70s and 80s that often disappoint, but this isn't one of them.

True Dan fans, worry not...
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2013 1:16 PM BST

Read & Burn: A Book about Wire
Read & Burn: A Book about Wire
by Wilson Neate
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In the yellow bulb light, 3 July 2013
This is a better book than 3 stars would credit it, but if you have been listening to Wire since the outset, it's very frustrating as well, by virtue of what it elides, and how it is essentially a transcription of a pub argument over the years.

There are moments when it reveals sublime insights into Wire's history and process, but it gets certain facts and "shifts in emphasis" completely half-cast - for me, it is most disappointing for its inability to properly document the Wire energy in 78/79 once they really got cooking -

Wilson Neate admits he never saw them till the 80's by which time they were a very different item, as he describes, maybe over-egging the retrospective dissatisfaction the band say they have with their Mute recordings. And a background echo of the book is "What's the state of Wire now that Bruce (Gilbert) has left"...

Bruce is happy. Wire is happy - they just released their best record for aeons, "Change becomes us".

The book is of interest to all fans, certainly. But it's presenting itself as a thorough and well-researched view, which it isn't really.

The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending
by Julian Barnes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is/was a masterpiece, 5 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The Sense of an Ending (Hardcover)
I cannot remember reading a story so compressed and so compelling for a long time.

It was also welcome to have a care and attention to the cover and size of the book.

I have the feeling that this work will endure.

All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
by Max Hastings
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awe inspiring, 18 Oct. 2011
WW2 is forever an enigma - how come the events of these brief years continue to yield such fascination? I read Max Hasting's account of Bomber Command which was an eye opener par excellence. In this previous book he accurately consolidated Len Deighton's previous fiction work, indeed both books were more like a documentary film.

This new item is acute, really a new appraisal. It cuts like a knife through butter, in making you imagine and elaborate (his) new observations, distilled through the voices of ordinary people. The account of 1940 is a book in itself: "The more upon a knife edge than you can imagine", and this is not the Battle of Britain stuff.

Jack Hennessy's previous review if fantastic, but I have to disagree on some crucial points. The old chestnut of Arthur Harris. He is in fact "the voice of the people" and he always gets short shrift in post-WW2 accounts of what actually happened. If anyone ever bit their lip and got on with it, he did.

The other thing I thought - what comes out is the deep ordinariness of so many of the German/Russian military leaders.

All of the true voices are hidden at the bottom. That I think is the subversive message in the timing of this publication and the irony of its author's background - Daily Telegraph etc.

Ignore all that, this is a great book.

The Retribution: 7 (Tony Hill)
The Retribution: 7 (Tony Hill)
by Val McDermid
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At the top of her game, 4 Sept. 2011
"The Retribution" won't disappoint Val McDermid's many fans, it's as finely written and as tightly plotted as anything she has published. In many respects, the book is bursting at the seams from its avowed genre - the crime thriller - its magnetic narrative full of critical asides concerning the state of contemporary Britain, seen through the lens of psycho killer Jacko Vance as he breaks out of jail to appreciate such advances as the better retail facilities at motorway service stations, the easier exits from municipal car parks, not to mention the benefits of appealing to the European Court of Human Rights over disability issues... To say nothing of the other finely drawn characters in this excellent book.

McDermid, as usual, loads her narrative with more ideas than a 402 page work can reasonably accommodate. There is a Catch 22 involved in such literature - a work that encourages re-reading, at the same time as its visceral pleasure can never be the same as it is the first time you read it. Some of her twists are truly shocking, appalling even; at the same time there is a moral undercurrent to the work that is closer to Dickens than WH Smiths.

Previous to this I'd been reading the Jackson Brodie books of Kate Atkinson, which, good as they are, are not in the same league as this. McDermid is truly at the top of her game and my advice to anyone who has yet to enjoy her writing... Don't hesitate. As a contemporary work, this book is ahead of Amis, McEwan, et al, as a social commentary, and as for the reader, you will be an accomplice all the way.

Message Music: Digital Productions 1986-
Message Music: Digital Productions 1986-
Price: £14.12

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Late and great, 2 July 2011
I stopped collecting AP releases after a couple of lacklustre items in the 80s that nowhere matched up to 'East of the River Nile'. This collection is a revelation, and an excellent edit of Pablo's later period. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

[It shows the sensibility of an artist adapting to digital whilst rejecting it.]

John Barleycorn Must Die
John Barleycorn Must Die
Price: £7.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barleycorn Lives, 15 April 2011
This is a rather excellent remaster of "John Barleycorn Must Die". That's a rare thing in itself.

It is true that the CD2 doesn't really match the new clarity of this classic, but anyone who likes this LP should think seriously about buying it in this version. I think I have 4 versions of it now. Bloody record companies.

Plus Minus: Singles 1978-1980 [7" Vinyl - Singles Box]
Plus Minus: Singles 1978-1980 [7" Vinyl - Singles Box]
Offered by Andthebeatgoeson
Price: £250.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the market ears, 3 Feb. 2011
This in its form is an excellent release. The "original tapes" have been mastered with a sensitivity of some kind. It's not perfect but what do you expect? The covers are presented as photographs of the covers because that was the best way of giving a visual unity to the collection, it's not 100% successful because the print quality isn't quite right. But if you are a fan of Joy Division you would want one of these, so I'd say get one while they are still available.

Like the last JD boxset in 2007 it's v. minimalistic - there is nothing new - but this is a thoughtful release that I'm happy to recommend to the die hards.

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