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GRBD "@TheMightyBuch" (Cardiff)

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Ghost of Chance (High Risk Books)
Ghost of Chance (High Risk Books)
by William S. Burroughs
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lemurs and diseased minds, 1 Jan. 2007
A short novella, Ghost of Chance is on the surface the story of Captain Mission, a supposedly historical figure turned pirate, with a unique vision for a utopian society on the island of Madagascar. His colony, dubbed `Libertatia', has no capital punishment, no slavery, and no influence on religion or sexuality. The one, rather strange, commandment is that all inhabitants respect the native lemurs. From this unusual but relatively straightforward starting point, Burroughs quickly abandons his linear narrative to indulge in the addressing of some familiar concerns, namely paranoia, drug use and the irrevocable human stain. Embodied by "The Board", a mysterious and sinister group propagating the "Big Lie", the human race, with its Cartesian belief in the lack of an animal soul, threatens the safety of the settlement and the population of the ghost lemurs, to whom Mission has pledged protection.

Touching a variety of philosophical bases and delivering a broadside on the viral nature of Christianity, yet with some oddly over-wrought footnotes, Burroughs' lectures are all the more apt for their prescience in a time of global ecological uncertainty, and his own chaotic illustrations add an extra dimension of impending doom.

Challenging, yet evocative, Burroughs haunts the imagination.


All Souls' Day
All Souls' Day
by Cees Nooteboom
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soles of Memory, 26 Dec. 2006
This review is from: All Souls' Day (Paperback)
Arthur Daane is a Dutch cinematographer, numbed by the death of his wife and child, attempting to capture the forgotten moments of life on film as he flits from job to job, from city to city. When he first appears, this lost soul is wandering the streets of post-Iron Curtain Berlin, feeling the history of the city through his feet, what his eccentric friend Victor calls the "soles of memory". His is an itinerant life, and near aimless with it, until he meets an intriguing female student named Elik.

Nooteboom's grasp of history, his playful toying with Dutch and German and his near didactic philosophising mean that the increased volume of what is a meatier tome than his usual slim fables allows scope for a breathtaking depiction of a scarred Berlin and a cacophonous echoing of digression. This is dark and edgy, yet beautiful and powerful, much like the mysterious and bewitching Elik Oranje.


The Angel Of History
The Angel Of History
by Bruno Arpaia
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Award-winning and voluptuous historical philosophy, 23 Dec. 2006
This review is from: The Angel Of History (Paperback)
A novel experienced in flashback, this is the tale of a Spanish militant and his chance meeting with philosopher Walter Benjamin on a remote mountain pass between France and Spain in 1940. It tells the differing stories of two men who have vastly contrasting experiences of World War II. Based on Benjamin's own life, this powerful and emotional story deals with the shifting perspective of history, where what we think we know is not necessarily what the world sees for itself. In keeping with Benjamin's own philosophy, and that of fan Cees Nooteboom, Arpaia illustrates with great humanity and a stylish characterisation that history isn't an easily digestible linear narrative, but rather a smorgasbord of individual actions and experiences that create a tapestry that is nearly impossible to take in in one glance. Historians are concerned with one area of the tapestry, and are in danger of missing (sorry for the cliche) the bigger picture.


Berlin Childhood Around 1900: Hope in the Past
Berlin Childhood Around 1900: Hope in the Past
by Walter Benjamin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.95

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Berlin again, 23 Dec. 2006
The German philosopher Benjamin reminisces about his formative years in his native Berlin in his own inimitable style. With a particular emphasis on the minutiae of everyday life in an upper-middle class Jewish family in the west-end, this manuscript, published posthumously, is less an autobiography than a hugely entertaining and moving series of childhood memories, of the intricate details of the familiar and the distorted perspective of the young. It's the small things that motivate the narrative, and it produces an intriguing evocation of a beautiful city.

If you want a typical "oppressed Jew"ish biography, then you don't know Walter Benjamin! This is a marvel of poetic prose.


Hark! (87th Precinct)
Hark! (87th Precinct)
by Ed McBain
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More of the same!, 4 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Hark! (87th Precinct) (Paperback)
The late, great, Ed McBain surprises everyone with the return of the Deaf Man, an infamous villain, thief and murderer, as Steve Carella, detective-in-charge of a seemingly motiveless killing, begins to receive cryptic messages with Shakespearean references that eventually point to only one man. McBain's oeuvre never fails to thrill, and with brilliant characters and densely layered storylines, the 87th Precinct series thoroughly deserves a place alongside the works of antecedents Hammett and Chandler in the Crime Writers' Hall of Fame.


Not Fade Away
Not Fade Away
by Jim Dodge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old rock and roll stars never die..., 4 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Not Fade Away (Paperback)
A novel with a dose of psychotropic drugs and a sound track only available on collectors' edition vinyl, Dodge's story takes unlikely hero Floorboard George Gastin on the ultimate road trip, to return the Big Bopper's '59 Cadillac to the site of his untimely demise, guesstimated from sketchy half-remembered details provided by the host of demented hitch-hikers picked up along the way. Told with the customary panache and élan expected from America's most potent story teller, Dodge leaves Kerouac and the other pretenders eating his exhaust fumes.


The Sweeter Side Of R. Crumb
The Sweeter Side Of R. Crumb
by Robert Crumb
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romantic?, 27 Nov. 2006
A step away from the occasionally misogynistic representation of the inner Crumb, this collection of oddly humane and emotionally mature material exposes the romantic end of the Crumb psyche. Feelings find form on the page with an eerie empathy, as he doesn't grope blindly for explanations, only drawing what he experiences. This is the Crumb that confounds his critics, the autobiographical aspect of his art that appeals to those whose interests lie beyond riding piggy-back style on the backs of powerfully large women.


R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country
R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country
by Steven Colt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.65

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Musically marvellous, 27 Nov. 2006
Robert Crumb is rightly regarded as the progenitor of "underground comix". His influence can be discerned in most of the so-called alternative comics on the market, and his artistic style and unique take on the absurdity of American life and life in general was and probably still is ground-breaking. Here, collected for the first time, are the widely sought-after trading cards, his heroes of blues, jazz and country music, which he illustrated and published in the 80s as a tribute, suitably idiosyncratic, of the music he has always loved. With thumbnail biographies of the featured artists and an amazing bonus CD of 21 tracks compiled by Crumb himself, this is another fine addition to his growing publishing credits, and a great gift for the music lover in your life.


Modern Toss
Modern Toss
by Mick Bunnage
Edition: Paperback

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes!, 24 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Modern Toss (Paperback)
More of the same, this time from the chaps behind the eponymous TV series. Starring Mr Tourettes, master sign painter, and the interminably disagreeable Alan, Modern Toss serves up a pointedly unpleasant and yet worryingly intriguing dish of profanity, violence and the odd Hitler joke, all tastelessly illustrated and with comically mundane titles on each page. This is NOT for children, unless they're over 18.


Should You be Laughing at This?
Should You be Laughing at This?
by Hugleikur Dagsson
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Naughty naughty, 24 Nov. 2006
Before swamping family and friends with `humorous' books about the amount of possessions one is able to place on a sleeping cat without waking it, it is worth noting that there are books such as this with the same puerile sense of fun, but that are actually funny. Icelander Dagsson, with plenty of time on his hands during the long winter nights, has come up with something sharp, vulgar, and excessively entertaining. Dolphin hatred, murderous families, and some wince-worthy stick-figure bullying find space in this sparely illustrated but deeply comical little book.


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