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Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3)
Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3)
by Bryan Waterman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 10 Jun 2012
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this is one of the best books about music I've ever read. it's engrossing, detailed and meticulously-researched. I'd maybe have liked a bit more about the influence of the album - and the worst bits of the book are those which talk about the songs (but this is a recurring issue with 33 1/3 books). if you have the album - or if not - this is a must read.


Slint's Spiderland (33 1/3)
Slint's Spiderland (33 1/3)
by Scott Tennent
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars good, not great, 10 Jun 2012
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this book is hamstrung by the fact that the two most important people declined interviews, but other 33 1/3 books get around this kind of thing much more convincingly than this one (eg the one on marquee moon which tom verlaine turned down). it's good to read up on the history of the band and their influences etc, but the book left me feeling that there is so much more to say on topics like - the way the lyrics seem to be inspired by the music - the fact that the lyrics are a bit sixth-form yet somehow work - and the influence of spiderland is surely worth more than the few pages at the end - the breakup of the band could also be expanded on quite a lot. equally, the analysis of the music is somewhat lacking in dynamism - in fact Tweez is covered in a more exciting fashion.


HTC One S Rubberised Back Cover Case / Shell / Shield - Solid Black
HTC One S Rubberised Back Cover Case / Shell / Shield - Solid Black

5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 10 Jun 2012
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i'm really impressed by this. it looks classy, all the bits on the sides you need access to are, well, accessible, and it feels reassuringly tough. it doesn't cover the front edges at the top and the bottom but the screen ends there, more or less, so i can see why it's designed as it is. m very glad i bought this.


The Finkler Question
The Finkler Question
by Howard Jacobson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.29

12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars woeful, 14 Jan 2011
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This review is from: The Finkler Question (Hardcover)
A terrible book. unedited (numerous basic spelling errors, before we get to the characterisation that repeatedly falls apart). uninteresting (largely because of the author's desperation to crowbar 'funny' material in wherever possible). unbelievable (none of the characters' situations make sense on even a basic level - for instance, one of them works as a celebrity lookalike, able to impersonate Brad Pitt and Colin Firth - who not only look nothing alike, but it's also a job nobody's ever made a full-time wage from - yet he manages to make enough money to not only live in a desirable part of North London but to be able to take both his sons on holiday to Italy). unfunny (only one decent gag in the whole thing, about a blogger who is a literal 'wanker', and even that doesn't work since it undoes any kind of realism - one of the main characters is meant to hang around with him - i know what HJ is trying to do, saying his desire for fame has blinded him to his mates, but it just doesn't work). politically fraudulent (antizionists are given a really hard time, zionists are much more 'rounded', and antizionism is pathologised as either entirely about 'father issues' or it's just outright jew-hatred). oh and despite HJ clearly wanting to create a realist depiction of London in 2009, in this novel it's a place where Jewish teenagers are routinely stabbed in the eyes purely on the basis of their Jewishness. HJ doth protest too much. You can either be realist, or not, and HJ tries to be both.

but most importantly, the book doesn't work as a novel. no reader in their right minds would care what happened to any of the utterly tedious main characters; and jacobson can't help himself either, inserting more or less totally perfect female characters later on to - well, to deliver Howard Jacobson columns as speeches.

If you're looking for a novel that's in any way elucidatory about contemporary British Jewishness, don't come here - all we learn is that, gosh, jews are human beings too and jewishness is a complex issue, and all antizionists are either messed up in the head or are just jew-haters. That's genuinely the sum total of Jacobson's ideas on the issue.

I don't know what's more embarrassing - that Jacobson thought this was actually a novel instead of a few poorly-thought-through, unfunny vignettes - or that the booker panel decided it was even worth shortlisting.

as for its being a book about grief - it isn't.

do not bother reading this - certainly don't buy it.


Football and Chess: Tactics Strategy Beauty
Football and Chess: Tactics Strategy Beauty
by Adam Wells
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.95

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and Entertaining, 11 Jan 2011
This is an expertly-crafted and engaging book which combines some of the best aspects of football writing with an analytical and well-expressed appreciation of chess.

The approach is refreshingly personal, like the best sports writing, but the justirfications and elucidations are expertly-weighted and convincing. Even to a relative outsider to the world of chess, such as this reviewer, the book is an excellent read.

Unlike the reviewer above, I found the diagrams extremely helpful, and indeed thought-provoking. Too often football writing can obscure the detail through tedious repetition of numerical formations.

The two disciplines are undoubtedly different - in chess one doen't have to worry whether one's knight is going to be in the tabloids the following morning, or whether the bishop has an undiagnosed drinking problem - but the way in which Wells combines the two is refreshing and convincing. This has given me a newfound respect for football managers, who can often end up, though their own commentary, seeming a lot less tactically astute than they are. I'm sure if I were involved in coaching this owuld be even more thoroughly recommended.


One Day
One Day
by David Nicholls
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars i cannot understand the good reviews, 15 April 2010
This review is from: One Day (Paperback)
I really don't understand the good reviews for this book. It veers all over the place, from serious state of the nation novel to mills and boon nonsense to lad-lit to chick-lit and ultimately doesn't really work as any of them, and it certainly doesn't work as a will-they-won't-they love story, in real life they'd have lost contact more or less as soon as they parted after thier first night.

God knows what jonathan Coe was on when he said that by the end you feel you relaly know Dexter and Emma as people, because they're cardboard stereotypes from first to last. It doesn't help that Nicholls tries to make them stand for so much more - Emma for deflated student radicalism, Dexter for the greed of the Blair years. It would have been a much more honest book if Nicholls didn't make them both end up doing the most cliched jobs imaginable (TV presenter and children's author). even by the end i couldn't work out a single reason as to why they liked each other.

The period detail is also really problematic. Dexter presents a show called Game on in the mid-90s? when there was a sitcom of the exact same title running at the same time? the headmaster discusses watching TV or DVDs with his wife in 1996?

That would be less of a problem if there was a mass of period detail but there isn't, these little flourishes are meant to date the show exactly. It's just so lazy. some of the clothing and actions of the main characters also seem very oddly placed.

Equally lazy is Nicholls's tedious penchant for throwing in his 'witty observations on life' in, like the rubbish stand-up comedian who gets such a hard time in the book.

oh and the 'one day' thing would work a lot better if it wasn't such a significant day almost every year of their lives. and if Nicholls didn't abandon it completely at the end. that was probably the most annoying thing about the book actually. There's a perfect place to finish it - those who have read it will probably be able to guess - but he just keeps going with a load of badly-written 'tying up the loose ends'.

Don't bother with this unless you want something seriously lightweight to read on the beach.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2010 4:42 PM GMT


Mother's Milk
Mother's Milk
by Edward St Aubyn
Edition: Hardcover

21 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly Overrated, 26 Jan 2007
This review is from: Mother's Milk (Hardcover)
This book is, apaprently, the overlooked true winner of the Booker Prize, if you believe what you read in the weekend broadsheets and on Amazon. But it was simply not that good. As several other reviewers on here have said, it was apparently 'social satire' but the world in the book is one that simply does not exist. No-one seemed to have a job or to have to do anything apart from agonise over their children and relationships. The children's voices being so developed were obviously an attempt to demonstrate the self-obsession even of the young members of this family, but the writing was scarcely credible nonetheless, and the author went out of his way to shoehorn in obvious 'satire' at the expense of credibility.

And that's before we get to the section set in America. Which was only put in there for easy cheap shots at the country - the fat person on the plane was an indication of the woefully poor stuff to follow, with the pizza being universally regarded as disgusting compared to the 'beautiful' stuff in France, which was presented with absolutely no detachment of the author from the narrative voice; or the tedious, seemingly obligatory argument about Iraq which of course all the intended readers will agree with.

I had high hopes for this book but for such an apparently meticulous 'prose stylist' it felt like it was written in about a fortnight.

Saying that it is better than Kiran Desai's novel which has an even more glaringly obvious anti-American agenda. Sarah Waters was truly robbed.


The World of Karl Pilkington
The World of Karl Pilkington
by Karl Pilkington
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.60

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars cash-in, 18 Sep 2006
Why was this book released? I thought Ricky Gervais was obsessed with quality control, not cashing in, staying fresh, etc.

.

But since the 'laugh at Pilkington' thing was going on 4 years ago on the Xfm shows then I guess we need to take what he says with a pinch of salt.

.

If people honestly want to buy this because he is a 'global village idiot' then it proves that Gervais's humour is not to do with challenging what PC is, it's outright exploitation and bullying.

.

Pilkington has some funny ideas and is genuinely interesting, but the idea of making this into a book is shameless profiteering. The clip of the video podcasts they showed of him discussing 'Brokeback Mountain' was not funny, it was demeaning. Half of the time on these 'good value' podcasts is taken up with two people explicitly mocking another one.

.

Five star reviews too, what are you thinking. How is this in any way worthy of five stars? You can get everything in it for free online.


On Beauty
On Beauty
by Zadie Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable, 4 Sep 2006
This review is from: On Beauty (Paperback)
This is the first Zadie Smith I've read and it will almost certainly be the last. The whole thing felt so half-hearted; the hip hop references were limited almost exclusively to Tupac, which shows how much 'research' Zadie Smith actually did for the book. It's very upsetting to see critics like Frank Kermoda earnestly falling for this as authentic writing engaged with hip hop. The characters - in particular the walking cliche 'street poet' Carl, and Howard Belsey who is little more than a convenient whipping-boy standing for 'theoretically-minded academics' - are caricatures, not, as Smith clearly intended, fully-rounded human beings. There is no progression of characters or ideas in the book and the prose is relentlessly gimmicky - witness the self-satisfied repetition of 'Googling' and the only occasional idiomatic spelling - the 'Pah point' joke is particularly lame, how many other characters are ridiculed in that way? The descriptions of academic life do not ring true to me at all either, it feels like the professors never do any teaching and spend most of their time at home furrowing their brows about their infidelities. The triumph of this book is meant to be that of beauty in art over theoretical analysis and deconstruction, but the book is so relentlessly tedious that I'd rather read Derrida and that's saying a lot. The idea of this being one of the 6 best books of 2005 is a joke; this is a middlebrow novel masquerading as high art.


The Accidental
The Accidental
by Ali Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.79

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A war novel for our times., 22 Aug 2006
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This review is from: The Accidental (Paperback)
Those who are giving this one star don't appear to think while they're reading. Why it changes style 'randomly'? because we're seeing the events through different characters. The children's viewpoints are very well written, the adults are less convincing. The book is not meant to be entirely literal; Amber is only a catalyst for the characters to move away from their interiorised world views.

But this is a vehemently anti-liberal and chattering classes book. The references to the war being in the background on television, and the mother's idle idea of writing a book about suicide bombers, highlight the hypocrisy of the lazy chattering classes in this country.


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