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Alan Moore "evilcat"
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Bright Shiny Morning
Bright Shiny Morning
by James Frey
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable rubbish, 18 July 2008
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book was so badly written, I couldn't even get past the character introductions.

I have happily read books by Burroughs, Henry Miller and Dostoevsky, so I'm not lacking in the intelligence to read 'difficult' books. You must have to drink the Kool-aid to believe this is a good book, when it's simply hard to read due to the author's lack of writing ability.


Man Like I
Man Like I

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential summer listening, 23 Jun 2008
This review is from: Man Like I (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Natty brings a very British outlook to what can only be described as Soul Reggae (even though he tries to avoid being branded as that). His lyrics travel the gamut between private drama (break-ups, abandoned kids, getting high) and bigger social issues (kudos for the phrase 'hug a hoody' and a comment on exactly how far £13,000 a year will get you in life).

Musically, this is acoustic reggae with everything from one guitar to a full band, and emotionally it does not hit as hard as perhaps it might. This is still a great summer album, going from the pure joy of opener July, to the stoner love song 'Stoned On You', the upbeat ballad 'Bedroom Eyes' to the downbeat ending 'Say Bye Bye,' in which Natty explains to his son why he shan't be seeing him any more.

When listening to this record, I was mostly finding 'Joyful Rebellion' by K-os springing to mind, which makes sense since he also performs a fair few reggae inspired acoustic tracks, but strangely, I also found The Stone Roses debut album coming to mind, at least in terms of tone, if not musical or lyrical similarity.

Recommended for afternoons in the garden in the sun.


The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An average book lifted by some novel touches, 18 Jun 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book tells the story of Denny Swift, his wife and daughter through the eyes of their dog, Enzo. Enzo is about to die, and is reviewing his life story, and remembering the events his owner and loved ones have endured over the last 10/15 years.

It's made pretty clear in the first chapter that Denny and family will (eventually) have a happy ending, and this unfortunately robs the book of any suspense. There is, however, one shocking development that had me pause for thought, so it's not completely obvious.

The plot line is barely lifted above the level of TV movie of the week on the Hallmark Channel, but what saves the book is the characterisation of Enzo, and Enzo's point of view. Enzo is exactly what one would expect of a loyal dog, and a great narrator. Enzo's charm carries the book through its mundane plotting and makes up for the fact that all the characters bar Denny, his wife, and his daughter suffer from weak characterisation.

Coincidentally, Denny is a racing driver, and it's obvious Mr. Stein has a love of Formula One. The sections describing F1 show great knowledge and passion regarding the subject, and make Enzo even more believable, but seem oddly placed within the rest of the story. It does, however, allow for a very touching moment after Enzo's death.

This book is neither brilliantly good nor offensively bad, but Enzo and his characterization lifts it just above the level of decidedly average. Buy it in paperback to read in 45 minutes on a bus or plane journey.


A Fraction of the Whole
A Fraction of the Whole
by Steve Toltz
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, absorbing, dense and quirky read, 24 May 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Steve Toltz has written a debut novel which he may not be able to match in the future. Writing with an independent voice, he hits the reader with a passion for his (ugly) family reminiscent of Dave Eggers' debut novel 'A Heartbreaking Work...'

Written from the point of view of one Jasper Dean, and opening in a prison in which Jasper is incarcerated, the novel instantly intrigues. For the first third of the book, however, the point-of-view switches to Jasper's father, or rather Jasper retelling the tales of his father's early life as best as he can remember them being told to him. Later in the book, we get an excerpt of his father's unfinished autobiography, offering an alternative take on the preceding few chapters. These devices are not as tricksy as they may sound, and make perfect sense in the course of the book.

This novel is about cause and effect. Jasper's father has a troubled early life, which impacts on his younger brother, Terry. Terry hogs the limelight, so Jasper's father reacts to this and attempts to make an impact on his local society. The results of his machinations lead Terry to a life of crime and celebrity, to which his brother responds poorly. As we reach the story of Jasper's life, we find a young man battling against everything his father believes in so as not to end up like his father. The irony, of course, is the more Jasper attempts to differentiate himself from his father, the alike they both become.

The plot may sound trite, but rest assured there is no convenient happy-ever-after ending to this engaging, jubilant, passionate and sordid tale. Indeed, apart from one mis-step in the final third of the book, Toltz makes the unlikely events which take place believable, and never resorts to allowing his characters to forget their deeply ingrained mutual mistrust and dislike, no matter how close to one another they get.

His prose is dense yet readable, full of detail. Indeed, some pages, especially those narrated by Jasper's dad, reach levels I have not seen since the final pages of Henry Miller's Nexus/Plexus/Sexus 'Rosy Crucifixion' trilogy.

Highly recommended.


The Singer [DVD] [2006]
The Singer [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Gerard Depardieu
Offered by videosanddvds
Price: £2.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A story stretched to breaking point, 6 April 2008
This review is from: The Singer [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The plot line is simple -- an aging singer, who in this country would be playing working men's clubs and the like, in between bingo games, meets a much younger woman and they have a one night stand. She's vulnerable due to her failed marriage and the loss of custody of her son.

She works as an estate agent and he employs her to find him a new home. She reinvigorates his life while he alternately charms and repulses her. That's pretty much it.

This is a long film -- too long for its plot. It is padded out by the music as performed by Depardieau. I expect the music is intended to indicate his character's emotional state, but it could have been better illustrated by playing a few minutes of the relevant tracks, rather than entire songs. Indeed, the effect the music has is that the viewer is on a never-ending Saga cruise, or locked in a British Legion club for a fortnight.

By the end, this film has said very little, and progression is non-existent. It plants both main characters exactly where they were at the start of the story, and only Alain's ex-wife and manager has seen any changes in her life.

For the first 45 minutes, the two main actors manage to make the characters believable and sympathetic. This should indicate their level of talent -- after all, this is not Catherine Zeta Jones marrying Michael Douglas, or an Anna Nicole Smith scenario. Alain the character has very little going for him, but he is imbued with some charm, as is Marion, who could have been little more than a foil. Both actors deserve praise for taking their characters to more complex levels than this film deserves.

The sleazy opening 15 minutes become charming for a half hour or so, but soon after the one hour mark, fatigue sets in, and unfortunately there is not enough art in this film to make up for the lack of story. This would have been a two-star review, but the film was rescued by the two leads.


Diary of An Afro Warrior
Diary of An Afro Warrior
Price: £9.38

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listenable and Danceable!, 4 April 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the first I've heard of the genre they call 'dubstep.' I really had no idea what to expect. This album mixes the slower, Moving Shadow style of drum and bass, the Miami/Baltimore bass scene, and minimalist techno such as Plastikman/Richie Hawtin, into a new, yet not entirely unfamiliar, style.

At low volume, this disc is really quite ambient. At higher volumes, it's eminently danceable. Benga is an extremely talented producer, making the music appear skeletal on first listen, yet revealing hidden details on repeat.

The tempo remains around 140bpm the whole way through (the rate of the human heartbeat) and makes the music both exhilarating and relaxing simultaneously, as it remains in sync with your body as you listen.

An excellent album which sounds great at high volume in a car, and also makes a good background to work to. Highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2008 4:13 PM BST


The Elements
The Elements
Offered by jonfergy
Price: £4.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Passes half an hour without offending, 27 Jan 2008
This review is from: The Elements (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's not too much to say about this (very short) album. Yet another LP that should be seen as an EP, and worryingly held together with a 'concept,' this record nonetheless holds the attention for its running time.

Second Person have some rather nice production values, placing this at the smoother end of trip hop, where they risk being too clean and well-produced, unlike, say, Portishead and their crackly production, or a kitchen-sink-and-all DJ Shadow.

In fact, the record this most reminds me of is the version of 'Milk' by Garbage which featured Tricky on guest vocals. The entire album stays in this Goth-lite region of trip hop, and although the first track is the weakest on the record, the rest maintain a standard of quality which makes the album worth a listen.


Kenny [2007] [DVD]
Kenny [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Shane Jacobson

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Heartwarming Comedy... About Poo, 27 Jan 2008
This review is from: Kenny [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Kenny is an easy-going, likeable Australian plumber, who travels the country setting up and maintaining portaloos for festivals and similar outdoor events. He's not the brightest, but he is happy, despite an ex-wife from hell, some strange co-workers, and the difficult circumstances in which he works.

Whether you will enjoy this or not depends entirely on your tolerance for poo jokes. In the first scene, he is heard on the phone, quoting for an event based on whether any alcohol or spicy food (curries, thai food....) are to be provided at the event. If you can't get past these jokes, which are presented as an everyday part of the man's job rather than puerile schoolboy jokes ("There's a smell in here that'll outlast religion"), then forget this film.

If you can get past the poo, what you get is a heart warming and surprisingly sweet film about one of life's losers, who is pretty content with his lot, as he goes about his day. Just as act 1 starts to drag, the narrative kicks up for act 2 by sending Kenny across the sea to the USA, and gives him a chance of true happiness. Act 3 maintains the mockumentary feel by snatching a pat romantic comedy ending from the man, and bringing to the fore his (to say the least) difficult father.

The documentary stylings never get in the way of the story, unlike, say, the UK version of The Office, and you'll finish the film with quite a positive feeling in your head and heart. Highly recommended.

(Even the extras are fun, including a Sky produced documentary following Kenny round the UK, visiting such portaloo meccas as the Reading Festival --"I thought everyone would be sat round, reading books")


Yesterday's Tomorrows: Rian Hughes Collected Comics
Yesterday's Tomorrows: Rian Hughes Collected Comics
by John Freeman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.53

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The words don't matter half as much as the pictures, 27 Dec 2007
I am in agreement with the other reviewer here regarding the quality of the stories contained in this book. They are very much of their time (late 80's, early 90's) and place (the British Isles).

However, Hughes's genius lies in his layouts, his illustration, his use of colour and, of course, his typography. This man wrote the rulebook on comic design in those halcyon days where the weekly/monthly comic attempted to be as adult as some graphic novels.

That time has passed. It would have been interesting for him to combine his skills with those of better writers -- perhaps an art deco League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?

Regardless, visually this book is a treat. Beautiful stock accurately reproduces every detail of each strip (Dare looks like it could have been made last week), and if the stories do not match the quality, that in no way lessens the brilliance of this book as a showcase for Rian's art. The slipcased edition is signed and limited to 350, and is even better than the standard.

Wholeheartedly recommended, but most definitely 'recommended for mature readers.'


The Early Learnings Of
The Early Learnings Of
Price: £8.04

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfinished and underperformed, 22 Nov 2007
This review is from: The Early Learnings Of (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The record label may call this an album, but at less than thirty minutes, it's more of an EP.

A lot of artists focus better and perform consistently with a shorter running time or fewer songs, and I'd love to say that this is the case here, but sadly, it's not.

There is promise here, but this feels like a demo tape with some polish applied, and I have to say that most tracks wouldn't make the grade with me. The lyrics are for the most part good and engaging. Perhaps Mr Mcguinness should write for others and let them do the performing!

There are some classic short albums out there -- Shame About Ray by The Lemonheads is perfect at barely 30 minutes, and Marvin Gaye said more with his half hour in What's Going On than one would expect to find in a double CD full of music. This comes nowhere near either.

Sorry Eugene, like Michael Moore, your intentions are good but your delivery is poor.


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