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Roman Totale "romanxvii" (Wakefield)

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I'm Not with the Band: A Writer's Life Lost in Music
I'm Not with the Band: A Writer's Life Lost in Music
by Sylvia Patterson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

4.0 out of 5 stars They drink it in the Congo, 26 Jun. 2016
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Great on the ethos of the music mags she worked for (Smash Hits, NME) and about their decline. Also really affecting about her upbringing and her mother's illness. And some familar misery for anybody who has tried living in London on a low wage, vividly evoked.

Less enjoyable for much of the middle passage of the book, which becomes in places a rehash of interviews she did with various pop folk. Vital and interesting where there is some point being made about the artist (the Cypress Hill and Eminem sections give some chilling insights into the misogyny and homophobia in hip hop then), but sometimes these seem a bit like filler.


A Little Life
A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Exhausting, 28 April 2016
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This review is from: A Little Life (Paperback)
Most obviously exhausting because of its colossal length. And within that a density of narrative at the expense of dialogue. And so few of the chapter ends that help a reader navigate such a huge book. The author asks a lot of the reader's time and persistence and I'm not sure wholly persuades that it is merited when much of the length, the heft could surely have been reduced by editorial rigour and authorial restraint.

And it is exhausting because of its subject matter. Death, disability, abuse, paedophilia. The core revelations about the character who emerges as the focus of the novel are gruelling to read.

I think the book works best when it is documenting the four central characters' relationships, and where there is a range of narrative. As the focus narrows the book gets weightier and sometimes leaden. And somehow amidst all this detail and backstory about Jude and Willem you end up not really knowing them. There's an emptiness there, filled with pages of text and awful revelations.

And I agree with the other reviewers that the chronology seems a little out


Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man
Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man
by Nina Lyon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.18

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A book about writing a book about the green man, 28 Mar. 2016
Not really all that informative about its supposed subject matter. It's a book about writing and researching, and it's about the author herself. It's vaguely diverting. It skitters around between different locations and theories. relies on our being interested in the author and the process of writing this book. I wasn't really, sufficiently.


Jumpin' Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock'n'Roll Underworld
Jumpin' Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock'n'Roll Underworld
by Keiron Pim
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars meh, 6 Feb. 2016
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t's okay but the problem is that litvinoff just isn't a sufficiently substantial figure to sustain a whole book. it carries it while there's stuff about gangland and rockstars, but for the whole second half of the book,, where litvinoff withdraws from london, it is almost wholly uninteresting. and the author doesn't have the iain sinclair knack of making the process of unearthing and writing about spectral figures a thing worth reading in itself.


Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life
Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life
by David Cavanagh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.59

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It would have been good to have some of the threads drawn together, 8 Nov. 2015
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Extraordinary undertaking to listen to 30-odd years' worth of radio and write a precis of each show within a sample range. The format is inevitably very linear and there is not much overall analysis. At the end, for example, there's just a short "and then he died" note.

It would have been good to have some of the threads drawn together. The endless mucking around with his slots, the tiredness, the "betrayals" by artists he championed. Also Home Truths is largely ignored. I would also have liked the lists of artists featured in each programme to include also details of tracks played.

These are quibbles. It's a fascinating survey of a unique, flawed talent.


Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids
Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids
by Meghan Daum
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Monotonous, pusillanimous, repetitive, 13 Aug. 2015
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Strangely repetitive read given the number of different perspectives here, and the complexity and variety of reasons why one might choose not to have children. This may be an unavoidable consequence of the format and the contributors enlisted, but the overarching impression seems to be that one should remain childless (sorry, child-FREE) in order to dedicate time to a career as an academic or writer.

They're all so careful to tell us what they do which is a bit like having kids (dogs, nephews, mentees on writing programmes), and many of the contributors also cite the not-great parenting they themselves experienced in their explanations. Nobody (other than Geoff Dyer) really comes out and says that parenthood is a bad idea because children are annoying and parents and parenthood are boring. This would have been more challenging and stimulating a read, and not the surprisingly bloodless tome we get.

So, in summary: monotonous, pusillanimous, repetitive


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Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie
Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie
Price: £4.31

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars thin, misses point?, 16 Jan. 2014
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Little more than a magazine article. Poor value therefore. Read most of it free on the guardian website. And obviously Jon toured with Frank/Chris and knew him, but doesn't he do a disservice by casting him alongside Daniel Johnston and the Shaggs? frank was satirical, witty. More akin to his more successful imitators John Shuttleworth and Harry hill than to the 'outsider' artists here.


The North: (And Almost Everything In It)
The North: (And Almost Everything In It)
by Paul Morley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lot, but not enough of anything, 25 Dec. 2013
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Two strands. A largely chronological autobiography up to Morley's leaving Stockport to join NME, with a countervailing sequence of vignettes of northern history in reverse chronological order. A few pictures too.

He's obviously inspired by sebald, but this lacks the energy and surprise of his work. It's leaden, overwritten, mannered. And it has way too much stuff in it. Compendious without being thorough. Neither use as a history nor ornament as poetry. And people interested in the north outside of Manchester will feel shortchanged.

Nothing is a far more affecting book.


Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s
Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s
by Tom Doyle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool, uncool, 10 Dec. 2013
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Brilliant book that wrangles with the conundrum of how the once coolest man on the planet (Helter Skelter, ffs) can have spent much of the 70s daring the planet to underrate him as he did whatever the hell he wanted, and just not caring. Sometimes it was great. Often it was pish.

Tom Doyle's book tracks the ups and downs of it all. The courage of standing his ground against the other Beatles and their huckster management as it all dissolved, the honesty of his musical output in the era, the devotion to his family. He was the one Beatle how stayed on the road and had the balls to front up the planet.

TD enjoys enviable access to his subject, but doesn't suck up. No hagiography and beautifully written.

Musical takeaway: With the rotating line-ups and the missus on keyboards Wings emerges as a prototype Fall, without the tunes.


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