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Reviews Written by
Simon Barrett "Il penseroso" (london, england)
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Worst Journeys: The Picador Book of Travel
Worst Journeys: The Picador Book of Travel
by Keath Fraser
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars It's not all bad, 20 April 2014
Is this collection so underwhelming because it has a Canadian bias? Perish the thought! In this company even famous names (Umberto Eco) fall flat. But it picks up. Most successful are those pieces where the line between fiction and memoir is blurred, Janice Kulyk Keefer's being the first. (But Montpellier has two 'l's, Janice (or her editor); Montpelier is in Vermont.) Least successful are the poems, concluding with the dread Anne Michaels. Canuks both


Critical Observations
Critical Observations
by Julian Symons
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Barrel-scrapings R Us, 20 April 2014
This review is from: Critical Observations (Hardcover)
Russian Jew and as British as they come, impressively self-taught and a mere six years older than Richard Hoggart, who's just died (but seemed far more archaic). Love his memoir Notes from Another Country (oddly described in his Wiki entry as stories) as well as The Thirties, with the gorgeous dust jacket, and of course Bloody Murder is indispensible, but these snippets yield few pleasures. The NYT obit called him urbane - aah! Here we meet the hack


Some Time in New York City
Some Time in New York City
Price: £19.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't worry, 20 April 2014
This is a solid record (well, record and a half) and I don't care what anyone says. The conviction is genuine, the tunes are great and the naivete is part of the charm ('millions of political prisoners'? but maybe he meant 'political' broadly and 'prisoners' metaphorically). My kids grew up with it, along with X-Ray Spex and, um, Leslie Sarony


A Modern Dunciad
A Modern Dunciad
by Richard W. Nason
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Can caviar rhyme with behavior? It does now, 20 April 2014
This review is from: A Modern Dunciad (Paperback)
Rarely can Pope's metre have been employed with such relish. A bit hit and miss in its targets*, one can forgive the author much; he was having a ball. Though what on earth are 'practicing' poets (page 47)? As opposed to being a bit rusty?

* And sometimes its rhymes. I draw the line at woven and coven, and barrio can only rhyme with Mario, not rio, but Okie and trochee is good


For and After
For and After
by Christopher Reid
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Bouquet garni, 20 April 2014
This review is from: For and After (Paperback)
Attractive mix of translations (after..) and personal verses (for..). Reid's take on Animula Vagula, known to most of us, probably, through TS Eliot and translated gazillions of times (there's a site listing forty three*) is a winner. Why people persist in tackling Verlaine I find baffling (it's all about the music** and rien d'autre, like a superior Swinburne) but, undaunted, Reid takes on Valéry and Mallarmé aussi, as well as a pleasingly cosy Baudelairean paean to his pipe. The personal poems are generally less successful, but Reid's sustained late flowering is a joy to witness

* including Vaughan, Prior, Pope, Byron, Charles Tennyson Turner and all manner of lesser lights, including one Moribundus(!) - but not Stevie Smith

** Ô saisons ô châteaux, quelle âme est sans défauts. Oh, that's Rimbaud - my education is deficient - but he was channelling his sometime mentor. Whatever, French schoolchildren are put off this sort of thing for life (perhaps cunning aversion therapy is the plan?) along with La Fontaine - who wrote for ADULTS (and is another one anglophony persistently makes over, in this case to continued remarkable effect; this is a poet we are comfortable with!)


Mr Stanleys Hand Broken Toffee Tin 170 g (Pack of 2)
Mr Stanleys Hand Broken Toffee Tin 170 g (Pack of 2)
Price: £8.65

3.0 out of 5 stars Smithereen-fanciers' fancy, 19 April 2014
Superlative toffee, but smashed to bits so crudely that half of the contents were smithereens. Was mine a rogue tin?


No Title Available

2.0 out of 5 stars Conundrum, 16 April 2014
How did he get away with it? And for so long, too? This book, popularly supposed to speak for the working man, speaks down to him. It is fortunate that none of them, I'm sure, read it. They were much better off tending their allotments*. Would that the intelligentsia had done the same!

* of which, Hoggart tells us in one of very few informative passages, there were still, despite huge slum clearances and removals to houses with proper gardens (this was just before the tower block epidemic kicked in), one and a half million under cultivation. 'English working-class people like horizontal urban villages, not European-style high-rise flats', Hoggart wrote in 1988, typically wise after the event. Fat lot the planners cared in any case


The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-Class Life (Penguin Modern Classics) by Hoggart, Richard Published by Penguin Classics (2009)
The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-Class Life (Penguin Modern Classics) by Hoggart, Richard Published by Penguin Classics (2009)
by Richard Hoggart
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Period piece, 15 April 2014
Time has not been kind to this jaw-dropping congeries of assumptions, generalisations (from an extremely narrow experiential base) and pontification. Sadly, my dears, it - is - a - hoot!!


The Fictional Man
The Fictional Man
by Al Ewing
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.69

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars When it got to the screenplay I baled out, 14 April 2014
This review is from: The Fictional Man (Paperback)
After a Canadian taking over the London underground (253) and an Australian attempting Jewish epic (A Fraction of the Whole), now we have a Brit's spin on America. What was that about writing about what you know?


253
253
by Geoff Ryman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Same difference, 14 April 2014
This review is from: 253 (Paperback)
Apparently on line this is about 'how intrinsically similar people are', whereas in print it's about how different they are. Ryman is a Canadian writer of slipstream. Slipstream is genre with pretensions


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