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Roman Totale "romanxvii" (Wakefield)

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Submergence
Submergence
by J. M. Ledgard
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep, 14 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Submergence (Hardcover)
it's a wonderful book. commits what for me is normally the cardinal sin of moving between different plotlines, but here it works because the writers does it so elegantly and you're so interested in them all and they're so marvellously connnected. unlike other reviewers here, i couldn't read this quickly. i found some of the passages so moving and disturbing that i couldn't hurry on. also the writing is so dense. dense in the very positive sense that it carries a lot, is always elegant and doesn't take short cuts.


Smut: Two Unseemly Stories
Smut: Two Unseemly Stories
by Alan Bennett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.00

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Malvern Water or Perrier? neither, 7 July 2011
Bennett's famous response to the question of his sexuality is to liken it to asking a man crawling across the desert to choose between Perrier or Malvern water.

There's as little sexual refreshment in these two contes, which supposedly deal with err that kind of thing. We're in an odd middle-class sitcom world, full of racey doctors, handsome young bankers, widows with lodgers. You keep expecting Ian Carmichael to stride in clutching a tennis racquet. It's all just very insubstantial. It might have worked if the charm and humour (things Bennett normally brings in spades) had been there in sufficient quantity, but really this is post-watershed Terry and June.

I have to admit that I didn't finish either story, so probably ought to shut up. If they each improve markedly after 30-odd pages, then I'm sorry. Smack me on the bare bum with a doyley


Sunset Park
Sunset Park
by Paul Auster
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Pared-back return to what he does best, 28 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Sunset Park (Paperback)
Austerphiles who've struggled with his dalliances with magical realism, animal narrators and general tricksy set-ups and MacGuffins will welcome Sunset Park. It's a very understated, although structurally complex, look at family relationships and friendships. It's back to the stuff about mortality and the dignity and heroism of getting through life that made The Invention of Solitude so strong.

The characterisation is somewhat slight, a consequence of the interwoven narratives following a number of individuals, but this makes for an affecting and deft lightness of touch around "big" issues (fratricide for one).

It's the mature work of a writer who knows that he can do it


The Terrible Privacy Of Maxwell Sim
The Terrible Privacy Of Maxwell Sim
by Jonathan Coe
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If David Brent and not Kerouac had written On the Road, 24 May 2011
Road trip novel by wobbling mid-lifer.

It's very tightly plotted, juggling past and present, lots of characters and events who pop up and then come back in later. It's reasonably funny and reasonably moving and "true".

The problem is a certain so-whatness about the whole thing. We're learning about a guy whose whole tragedy is that he just isn't remarkable, and nothing remarkable is really happening to him. It's like a non-dark Reggie Perrin.

And I'm with the people who got cross with the ending. No spoiler alert required if I say that it involves an intervention by the author which I guess Coe likes to see in the tradition of Gide and BS Johnson, but comes off like duff Disney.


Solar
Solar
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny like Amis (K), Bradbury (M), 9 May 2011
This review is from: Solar (Paperback)
IM playing for laughs, uncharacteristically. The central character, Beard, is a lazy, sexually incontinent opportunist coasting through a career as a physicist on the strength of a Nobel prize won early in his career. There's some good knockabout stuff in here about academic life and the difficulties of resisting booze and fatty foods, cut through with some poignancy about marriage, ageing and, in the end, parenthood.


The Privileges
The Privileges
by Jonathan Dee
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars feels like a synopsis, 22 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: The Privileges (Paperback)
really odd. the opening chapter is vivid, engaging. you're all set for a substantial novel, but the whole thing evaporates. you're hurtling across decades as the couple at the heart of it grow older and richer. it's a series of increasingly sketchy vignettes, without the dots joined and with the reader losing a grip on who these people are.

themes and possibly interesting plots get thrown in and left hanging. insider trading, adultery, drugs, outsider art. it's like the author feels it's enough to throw it in there without bothering to develop it.

you get 70 pages of a better, longer book and the remaining 200 pages of the writer phoning it in.


The Wonderful And Frightening World Of... The Fall
The Wonderful And Frightening World Of... The Fall
Offered by ScreamingCd
Price: £44.74

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, certainly, 29 Oct. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
really nice job of curating one of the fall's often overlooked gems. wonderful album, supplemented by genuinely rewarding and helpful additional material. and great packaging and sleevenotes.


How I Escaped My Certain Fate
How I Escaped My Certain Fate
by Stewart Lee
Edition: Paperback

11 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't make me Stewart Lee. You wouldn't like me when I'm Stewart Lee, 3 Sept. 2010
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Lee's stand-up leans heavily on feigning complicity with his audience. The set is critiqued, signposted as it unfolds. he and the crowd are in this together, he tells them.

This book transcribes three such sets and adds another layer of critiquing and signposting, this time with us readers. We are told what he's up to, where he got it all from, how he's playing them. The result for the reader is the sense that one is being as duped as the punters at the shows. This guy can't be relied on: he's having his cake and eating it again, as he did in the shows. It's all very clever, but a lot of cake for Stew and a little irritating for us. Really good writers can pull this kind of thing off (try Nabokov's Pale Fire, Gide's Faux-Monnayeurs), but Stew is only really good at stand-up.

Enjoyment not helped by the format: most pages have 2 or 3 often lengthy footnotes. You're reading ahead, reading back. The guys over at Faber do help by aligning page endings of the transcriptions with the notes, even at the cost of pages of main text of no more than a few lines.

The book's okay. It's worth its existence because of the excellence of the stand-up sets. They're probably better accessed on DVD, though, as he says himself in there. I just wish I didn't suspect that this whole approach was just a way of lobbing out a book quickly by refrying old stuff (albeit very good old stuff): lengthily annotating the pages as they fall, tagging some old magazine pieces, etc. at the end, and job's a good un.

Personal observation: he retains an 80s sixth-former "them and us" approach to what he describes as "mainstream". He returns over and over to the issue of joke theft by the ITV brigade of "our" material. "We" are the alternative crew, and he seems to use that term without irony (unless he's playing with us again, gosh). So Simon Munnery, Daniel Kitson, etc. all get big respect. But it all gets a bit colder with your Jimmy Carrs and your Ricky Gervaises. People who are doing better than Stew. He's not jealous, is he?
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2010 10:12 PM GMT


Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music
Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music
by Rob Young
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hey nonny yes, 25 Aug. 2010
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It's full of great stuff. The centre of it is the late 60s folk/folk-rock scene. that gets tied back to Elgar and forward (somehow) to Psychic TV. There's some fascinating material about witchcraft (no such thing, all made up, it turns out) and a great repost to acoustic folkie snobs in the news that there weren't even acoustic guitars in the UK until the 50s, so they're every bit as non-folk-authentic as Telecasters. Also some great tittle-tattle: Sandy Denny was into the Only Ones; John Martyn once beat up Sid Vicious. And some amusing scorn for Trevor Lucas

It doesn't get 5 stars because it's just a bit formless, could have done with a bit more of an edit and some unifying threads and theories. And the detailed blow-by-blow write-ups on individual albums drag a little.

Discography at the back is good


Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records
Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records
by James Nice
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blow up and spill it all out, 18 July 2010
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Extraordinary rigour and thoroughness. He covers everything, and with about equal weight, so that you learn as much about Section 25 and Kevin Hewick as you do about Happy Mondays, Joy Division, etc. In that respect it's a vivid reminder of just how much of Factory's output was utter tosh. One for the fans, devotees and the scholars.


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