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Gerald Cheshire

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Where My Heart Used to Beat
Where My Heart Used to Beat
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where my heart used to beat on my sleeve, 29 Oct. 2015
We have been here before of course many times; Psychoanalysis, Victorian Mad Houses, schizophrenia, lots of casual sex and love affairs. Dr Hendricks(aka Sebastian Faulks ) takes it upon himself dismiss the whole of the twentieth century and frequently quotes TS Elliot in his defence. Nothing is put in the way of him expressing his views. Its all rather cosy, drinks before dinner and self indulgent chats with Alexander Pereira as they congratulate each other on their percipience. Totally artificial breaks in their conversations so that further meetings can to be held.

Those of us who have never suffered total exclusion and alienation can barely comprehend what the poet Anna Akhmatova endured in Soviet Russia. As she put it 'There was a time when only the dead could smile'.

In my opinion Dr Hendricks suffers from a European tunnel vision view of the twentieth century. I found the novel great disappointment.

Walking Home
Walking Home
by Simon Armitage
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.54

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Drowning in mud and despair; very eloquently, 16 July 2012
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This review is from: Walking Home (Hardcover)
Interesting well written book; not at all like the usual nerdish walking guides. But my gut feeling is that it wasn't written as a result of the walk but rather the walk was undertaken in order to write the book. There's an awful lot of these book driven enterprises about these days. Some years ago Victoria Coren wrote a book about making a porn film but again I suspect the book deal came before the porn film.

As a former long distance walker myself I am baffled by Simon Armitage's mindset and psyche. I suppose it must come from his profession and the ability to write to order about virtually anything and make a drama about it; even when no drama really exists. Despite being equipped with mobile phone, satelite navigation, maps, guide books and numerous volunteer guides he plumbed the depths of despair when lost in the mud and mists along the way. And as for the ending; words fail me.

While his book isn't nerdish I was amused by his careful counting and recording of his takings down to the last penny every night. Apart from anything else, the books absurd notion of earning his living as a 'modern troubadour' is ridiculous. His careful income/expenditure audit took absolutely no account of the time spent by a great many people organizing his walk and poetry readings and helping along the way.

All that being said, I greatly admire his technical skills as a writer; mores the pity they couldn't be put to better use.

One final thought. What on earth was he carrying in that heavy pink suitcase? Surely not sales samples!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2012 11:05 PM GMT

Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World
Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World
by Norman Lebrecht
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preaching To The Converted, 4 Oct. 2011
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Why Mahler

First of all I need to declare an interest; I too am a Mahler obsessive. I love his music; it often moves me to tears and I am fascinated by the man and his milieu. I also have all the `grumpy old man' traits which Norman Lebrecht sometimes exhibits. I hate it when people start clapping between movements of an orchestral work. The cacophony of coughing which accompanies all concerts in this country drives me wild.

I had previously read Lebrecht's earlier more sketchy account of Mahler's life and works, Mahler Remembered, but his new treatment is far more detailed and must have taken an incredible amount of research to produce. However it is not a dry academic work and is infused without by Lebrecht's almost evangelical fervour about Mahler's music.

The book contains a straightforward chronological account of Mahler's astonishing and tumultuous life which was so tragically ended at the early age of fifty-one years. There is also a detailed analysis of all of Mahler's prodigious output as well as an exhaustive examination of all of the available recordings of his music. Mr Lebrecht has performed an immense service to Mahler the man and all is wonderful music. As Mahler famously said `my time will come'; and so it has; the world needs Mahler and his music more than ever.

The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending
by Julian Barnes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A life worth examining?, 28 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: The Sense of an Ending (Hardcover)
As one of the great philosophers said 'an unexamined life is not worth living'. Julian Barnes comes close to proving that an 'examined life' is not worth living either. It is all just too painful to contemplate. This is a totally uncompromising novel which will surely cause any perceptive reader some uncomfortable moments of introspection. It is all about the frustrations, randomness and compromises of life. The early promise so casually squandered and the arrogant egocentric certainties of youth. It delves deep into our psyche and awakens memories like sad music long forgotten. It really hurts.

In a previous review for Amazon I was taken to task for revealing the plot. So I will simply say that the ending of this otherwise perfect novel was overcooked. It should have been possible to reach the tragic denouement without so much clumsy contrived subterfuge. It is still one of the best short novels that I have read in a very long time.

by Philip Roth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations, 5 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: Nemesis (Hardcover)
I have never previously read any of Philip Roth's novels although I was aware of his reputation as the greatest living American writers. The reviews seemed to be mixed; in particular Bonnie Grear while conceeding he was an exceptional writer didn't think Nemesis was one of his best short novels.

When I started reading it I was immediately gripped by what seemed to be a morality tale about duty and responsibilty against self interest. The novel appeared to be written by an omniscient observer but suddenly the word 'me' appeared. This was mistifying since by then the cast of main characters had all been introduced. The plot developed beautifully until the point when the hero was diagnosed as a polio carrier and hospitalised. Thereafter the whole story went downhill as far as I was concerned with the final pages devoted to a rapid description of his degeneration into self pity with a refusal to relate to other people. Then absurdly the narrator was revealed as one of the hero's charges at the playground who also contracted polio but had never-the less made something of his life. All too simplistic and rather like a soap opera in the end. I was very disappointed.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2011 8:16 PM GMT

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