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D. P. Birkett (Suffern, NY USA)
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AUSTERITY BRITAIN 1945 - 51
AUSTERITY BRITAIN 1945 - 51
by David Kynaston
Edition: Hardcover

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too much of a good thing, 12 July 2007
It is well written and enlivened by many personal reminiscences and anecdotes. One trouble is that these inflate the length to 692 pages, which is rather too long for anyone who doesn't start out with a strong interest in the subject.
The subject of the decline of Britain's place in the world has a special interest for Americans, who wonder if it's their turn next. In 1945 a quarter of the world was ruled by King George, Emperor of India, Liege Lord of Canada etc. The Union Jack flew over Jerusalem and Hong Kong. Britain had stood for the world against Hitler and had won. Yet the British found that they were poverty-stricken. There were many theories to account for this. A favorite theory for Americans was that it was due to the British embrace of socialism and government controls. Kynaston does try to cover all the theories but I lost track. Maybe he should have been more polemical and less fair-minded. I found AN Wilson's "After the Victorians" much more readable in spite of its biases and lack of scholarship..
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2009 4:50 PM BST


Want to Play?
Want to Play?
by P. J. Tracy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.25

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serial killer thriller, 21 July 2004
This review is from: Want to Play? (Paperback)
Compilers of a new computer game find that a serial killer is bumping poeple off in ways predicted by the game. It's set in Minneapolis and rural Wisconsin and has good local atmosphere (oddly enough it doesn't seem to have been published in America and is not on the US Amazon.com).
It's well written with good colloquial dialog and a solidly crafted plot and it keeps you turning the pages.
My main reservation was simply the fact that it is a serialkiller thriller. The genre is crowded and I did not find enough originality to prefer it to the latest Hoag or Harris or Pattison.
Actually I liked the first few pages best,set in TF Powers country describing the life of a Catholic priest in chilly Lutheran Wisconsin. It's apparently a first novel. I suspect the writer or writers are capable of more highclass literary work but have decided that serial killers sell better.


The Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker
The Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker
by Robert Fraser
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why is this book so good?, 18 April 2002
Why is it that some biographies read like novels and keep you turning the pages all night? It doesn't seem to depend on the fame of the subject. Some biographies of the famous just plod on with fact after fact. This one has the tightness of structure and the elements of conflict we associate with fiction. Some of the narrative tension comes from the very fact that nobody nowadays has heard of George Barker (except maybe that he was the lover Elizabeth Smart wrote about in "By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.") Yet he was once hailed by such people as Yeats and TS Eliot as the rising young genius of English poetry. He took his role as a poet very seriously. He did not believe that a poet should have a day job. He also fathered fifteen children by five women. This caused problems. Keeping track of the problems keeps this wonderful book going. As he juggled mistresses and wives and offspring and as he wangled and manipulated to get money he drank and drugged (mostly amphetamines) through the literary life of the thirties and forties. Doing this involved a kind of seductive charm and street smarts (no pun intended). Was he really such a great poet that all this delinquency was justified? Fraser carefully analyses the rise and collapse of his poetic reputation but somehow manages never to go off track into literary theory. You don't have to have read a line of George Barker to enjoy this. Everything hangs together in a superbly organized story that never loses pace.
As you read you sense another story in the background, the story of the changing relationship between biographer and subject. You sense the admirer who started off as a fan but who uncovers episodes, such as ugly physical violence towards women, that cannot be written off as bohemian revelry and free love, and who is relentlessly impelled to chronicle them.
Probably the brightest aspect of Barker was his ability to foster talent. He was a flatterer but a constructive one. He gave impetus and encouragement to many literary careers. Contacts with him caused the writing of books that include two masterpieces; one is "By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept" and the other is "The Chameleon Poet."


Lifting the Sentence: The Poetics of Postcolonial Fiction
Lifting the Sentence: The Poetics of Postcolonial Fiction
by Robert Fraser
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literature lifts the colonial yoke, 3 Dec. 2000
Fraser prepares a poison pill for the reviewer by declaring at the outset that this is not intended as a survey and that anyone who questions which countries he includes is guilty of raising "sterile questions of geographical demarcation" Risking the author's wrath let me quickly say that it concentrates mainly on countries that became independent within the last 60 years, with some coverage of Australia and Canada and black writers from the United States. The claim of Ireland to be a colony is granted and South American magic realism is mentioned. The writer will be even more annoyed when I say that this is a most useful introduction to many writers, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa, with whom British and American readers are seldom familiar. His primary concern is with literary theory and with demonstrating stylistic nuances by which his chosen writers respond to, or protest against, the "cultural crunge." A witty and iconoclastic concluding chapter then calls the whole enterprise of the academic study of this literature into question.


The Keepers of Truth
The Keepers of Truth
by Michael Collins
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Depressing but riveting, 19 Nov. 2000
This review is from: The Keepers of Truth (Hardcover)
The depressed atmosphere is piled on, with a decaying town, a dead baby, a dead brother killed in Vietnam, four suicides, electric shock treatment, two murders, death from untreated cancer, rape, poverty, unemployment and child abuse. The narrator's motives are often obscure and attributed to him being drunk inheriting money and failing the LSAT exams. The flashes of humor are bitter and directed at targets like wearing polyester, dress shoes with shorts, and eating fast food. The small town atmosphere oddly misses out on the ethnic and religious dimensions I would have expected in an American town of this type. Nevertheless I couldn't put it down. The plot is ingenious and the final hostage scene is fantastic...


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