Customer Reviews


6 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE
In 'Born Yesterday: The News As A Novel' Gordon Burn guides us through the big British news events of 2007, focusing particularly on the handover of power from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown and on the dissapearance of Madeleine McCann - as seen through the prism of the modern, 24/7 mass media - with literary skill and journalistic exactitude.

Burn clearly has some...
Published on 27 April 2008 by Peter Hurst

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 2007 Through A Lens Darkly
Completed in February 2008, the book is a collage of events and coincidences culled from the UK news pages of summer 2007, in particular the abduction of Madeleine McCann and the transfer of power from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown. Gordon Burn's previous novels spun a web of detail about the British landscape and its fallen celebrities (from showbiz and crime) that weaved a...
Published on 11 Jan 2009 by A. Clancy


Most Helpful First | Newest First

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 2007 Through A Lens Darkly, 11 Jan 2009
By 
A. Clancy "T.Clancy" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Completed in February 2008, the book is a collage of events and coincidences culled from the UK news pages of summer 2007, in particular the abduction of Madeleine McCann and the transfer of power from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown. Gordon Burn's previous novels spun a web of detail about the British landscape and its fallen celebrities (from showbiz and crime) that weaved a rich portrait of Britain in the present and recent past. He takes this approach a stage further here, looking at the near present tense of the writing. He crams in detail from media reported news from 2007; there is a richness of detail but the casualty is the crafted complex prose that painted tangible characters and was so central to his previous fictional works. The writing here has none of the depth of his earlier novels (probably due to the speed with which he completed the book). There is really no character painting here (no fictional characters as such) and this is the book's loss. To compensate Burn brings together some powerful ideas around celebrity, glamour, death, and life as a media icon, harking back to 'Alma Cogan'. 'Born Yesterday' is more a cultural critique than a novel, but an engaging read anyway. I personally hope to see Gordon Burn return to his more fictionalised take on the shifting social landscape of Britain that serves as such good starting point for his observational writing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE, 27 April 2008
By 
Peter Hurst "peter hurst" (wigan, england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel (Paperback)
In 'Born Yesterday: The News As A Novel' Gordon Burn guides us through the big British news events of 2007, focusing particularly on the handover of power from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown and on the dissapearance of Madeleine McCann - as seen through the prism of the modern, 24/7 mass media - with literary skill and journalistic exactitude.

Burn clearly has some important things to say about the way the modern mass media effects our lives. The use of Marketing techniques to try to 'sell' an image to the public of Gordon Brown in order to win public approval and the attempt to 'sell' Madeleine McCann's image as a means of keeping her memory alive are both particularly salient in the book. The gap/discrepancy between media image and everyday reality, or in the words of Burn, between 'What is organic and what is artificially simulated' forms the heart the book.

'A narrative. A story. It is this...more than anything, a government must have if it is going to succeed. A story. A narrative to inspire supporters and enthuse the electorate.'

'Madeleine's eyes that had been styilised into media emblems...It had been a controversial decision to go big on the defect in Madeleine's eye and make this her distinguishing mark, the one certain way of identifying her. Because what follows from that, if the kidnapper wants to disguise the fact that the girl with him is the girl in question? Answer: damage the eye in some way...'Certainly we thought it was possible...But in terms of marketing it was a good ploy.''

Burn is a very good writer and one that makes you think about the society in which you live. The themes explored in the book are themes Burn has explored before but here they are brought to their obvious conclusion. Themes of obsession with fame and celebrity allied to a modern mass media feeding the frenzy predominate.

The line between the 'fake' world of what we used to refer to as showbusiness, and it's glorification of celeb culture on the one hand, and the 'real' world as represented by salient figures in the news in 2007 (like Gordon Brown and the McCanns) on the other hand are seen here to be blurrred by the refracted light of a modern mass media seemingly intent upon blurring that boundary ever further.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answering the age-old question, What is truth?, 28 July 2009
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel (Paperback)
Gordon Burn's final book Born Yesterday (he died in July 2009), is about as good a tribute to its author as you could get. It is a strange book, for at first glance it does not appear to be fiction at all, more like a rolling news review of 2007. Burn covers many of the major news events of the year, including the abduction of Madeleine McCann, terror attacks at Glasgow airport, Gordon Brown's succession from Tony Blair, the catastrophic flooding that affected great areas of the country. All these stories are interleaved throughout the book, but as you read them you realise that this is not journalism at all.

After the first couple of chapters, you realise that Burn is creating something new by looking at the connections between all the stories and the way they all interact with each other. Before long, the reader gets drawn into the conflation of real-life news events and sees that there really is a bigger picture, that in fact much of this so called "news" only really exists because of and through the media. Age-old stories are being told and re-created, and new myths are called into being but how much to they rely on "facts" and how much does the story exist because of itself.

Burn discovers linking themes in the news (the way the media created a picture of Kate McCann as a cold, unfeeling woman, somehow devoid of normal emotions, almost an "android". The focus on eyes in a sort of mythical way (Gordon Brown's loss of an eye, Madeleine McCann unusual "flaw" in her iris), the homo-erotic side of Blair's government.

By the end of the book, I was reminded (as I need to be reminded again and again) that the media creates the news. Or rather it takes a news item and turns it into a story, just as much a work of fiction as any novel. The bones of this book are the hard facts of "what really happened" but it is a work of fiction because it assembles a larger myth from the many smaller myths that were created on television and in the press.

The Guardian reports in his obituary the Burn said that, "the idea was to find a story, and the moment the news explosion happened to go there and write about it, turn it into a novel in the way that happens all the time through rolling news, newspapers, blogging". The novel was written in just one month, in an attempt to publish it while the news was still fresh in people's mind. Burn's editor at Faber, Lee Brackstone said that, "Born Yesterday was "an experiment as brave as anything attempted by Pound, BS Johnson, or Foster Wallace".

Born Yesterday is certainly a unique creation, crossing the border between fact and fiction and showing the impossibility of being certain where the boundary is. It will be of interest to anyone who follows current affairs with more than a passing glance and will definitely serve as a reminder that nothing is quite what it seems.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The news as a novel, 11 April 2008
By 
Christopher Ross (The North, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel (Paperback)
I feel compelled to tell everyone about this book. Gordon Burn has taken the top news stories of 2007 and turned them into a novel. It sounds simple enough but the author has used these stories to tell a tale of the modern age.
A single sentence in this novel is a hundred times more thought-provoking and insightful than all the column inches given in the press. He is able to point out coincidences without offering opinion. Part journalism, part novel this is one of the most exciting pieces of literature to be published in years. If you have any interest in the written word then I urge you to read this.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars news as a unsatisfying novel, 13 Feb 2010
By 
C. Cowan (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel (Paperback)
This is intended to be anovel based on the events and figures in the news in 2007, featuring Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the McCann's, with extra roles for Kate Middleton and John Smeaton (Glasgow Airport terorist confrontor), plus some political types in Sedgefield, Tony Blair's old constituency. The backdrop is the terrorist attempts (West End, Glasgow Airport)and floods of that period. It may be intended as a commentary on the distorting effect of celebrity and media interest on what makes news in contemporary times, or on how modern news has to be a story interpreting the facts, but the writing doesn't rise above the journalism of a long Sunday supplement feature. It an accurate account of the events of 2007, focussing as it does on Blair and Brown to the exclusion of so much else, nor is it biographical, lacking the necessary depth. Overall an attempt to treat contremporary events as a work of fiction which remains superficial.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANTLY IMPORTANT OR JUST A CHEAP SHOT?, 4 Jun 2008
By 
Eric Wilton - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel (Paperback)
I gave this book 3 stars because I am basically undecided. The concept behind the book is certainly thought-provoking i.e. that in today's real-time news environment there is a provider-consumer relationship that encourages the blurring of fact and fiction. However, as a news-junkie, I still believe that the truth can be discerned - or more importantly should be sought after. Certainly Gordon Burn's embellishment of the leading news stories of the summer of 2007 is both unsettling & quite entertaining. However I still have the strongest feeling that axe-burying is the primary purpose & effect of the book. But then again that may be the strongest proof of the validity of his thesis.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel
Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel by Gordon Burn (Paperback - 3 April 2008)
7.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews