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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnetic North
Morley's Book was Magnetic North for me.
It's North West bias suited this Lancashire lad, now living down south.
My personal journey from Fylde coast, via catering degree at the Holling's Toast Rack building, digs in Didsbury and Longsight, clubs and gigs across the city, to London and now family life in the home counties, mean that the books themes had some...
Published 12 months ago by Katherine E Pearce

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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dropped Stitches
How come no one has reviewed this yet, more than a month after its publication?
Could it be that no one has managed to finish it?
Lots of people think that Paul Morley has too much to say for himself, and he does nothing to dispel that notion here - "The North" is a "thick 'un", going on for nearly 600 pages.
Lots of people think that Paul Morley has too...
Published 13 months ago by Roger Risborough


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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dropped Stitches, 29 Jun 2013
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How come no one has reviewed this yet, more than a month after its publication?
Could it be that no one has managed to finish it?
Lots of people think that Paul Morley has too much to say for himself, and he does nothing to dispel that notion here - "The North" is a "thick 'un", going on for nearly 600 pages.
Lots of people think that Paul Morley has too much to say ABOUT himself, and again he does nothing to dispel that either. The title and sub-title present this work as the great biography of "The North" - it isn't - it's the author's own biography wrapped in a geographical setting and historical context that Morley claims as his own, even though he wasn't born in the north and in fact only spent about thirteen (admittedly formative) years living there. Cheshire is presented as the spiritual centre of "The North", and Stockport as the spiritual centre of Cheshire, and North Reddish as the spiritual centre of Stockport, and Paul Morley as the cultural custodian of North Reddish, and hence "The North" as a whole. So, lots to take issue with here - the title, the concept and the structure. Early on (or was it late on?) Morley refers to the revelation of the chronological back-spacing in the film "Lawrence of Arabia" and the realisation of the opportunities this represented to him for making a straight line narrative more interesting. So he takes this approach to an almost unreadable extreme, darting randomly through space and time lighting fuses, throwing out facts, introducing personalities, clambering up branches of his family tree, cutting-and-pasting the internet, opening up his teenage scrap-books, and generally throwing the kitchen sink (drama) at the reader. For a book that is in some ways highly structured (10 parts, 100 chapters, 10 acknowledgements) it is also incredibly fuzzy with no real beginning, an end that seems to be the bit that Morley wrote first, and a middle that wanders garrulously backwards and forwards through the streets, precincts and viaducts of the Stockport region, casting token glances to other areas to the west, north and east that probably have greater claims to tell the story of the north. In one of the 10 'parts', Morley takes a notional trip along the Mersey from Stockport to Liverpool - but the stream of (self)consciousness that follows has no sense of the author riding the river or walking the streets - instead it reeks of website wanderings and ticking off the icons that we would all rattle off under a listed titled "Liverpool". Yorkshire hardly gets a look-in and Margate gets more page-time than Newcastle. Accepting this then, as Morley's own story, the 600 pages really boil down to a couple of seminal years for him in the mid- seventies when his family was imploding and his own career path was just about to come clear to him with the explosion of punk. If the author's intention was to reflect Lancashire's great tradition of weaving by creating an intricately detailed and lovingly sewn patch-work quilt with a hundred inter-connected stories, settings, sayings and snippets of history, then I'm afraid he's failed. This feels instead like a thousand post-it notes of meticulously researched ideas stuck to a wall in a writer's study, waiting for someone to edit them, join them together in the right order, and then give them an appropriate title.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg of a book, 9 July 2013
By 
JerryG (Macclesfield) - See all my reviews
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I so wanted to love this book. I heard Paul reading some on Radio 4 and it sounded great. But boy what a tough read. The good parts are greatt. These are mainly his summary of key events that take part in or effect The North. These are not just key news events but little bits and pieces which are interesting and well written.
However, his attempt to define 'The North' in various ways comes across as windblown and, in most cases, highly tenuous. There is very little to connect the residents of Alderley Edge with the immigrant communities of Lancashire or the workers of suburban Leeds or the farming community of Yorkshire, to name but a few. To spend hundreds of pages trying to prove otherwise is a waste of time. Other negatives are his dwelling on some very dull aspects of his life which are of little interest to the reader. He also has a horrible habit of writing long lists of descriptives in an almost stream of consciousness way. As a reader this made me want to scream.
Really, this is three books in one. One is great (the post-war history of Northern England in random snipets), one is okay (the early life of Paul Morley) and one is dreadful (definition of the North in various pointless ways.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars PRETENTIOUS, 7 July 2014
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Pretentious rubbish posing as a literary stream-of-conscious piece. Just saved by interesting factual vignettes. This bloke has spent too much time down south!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnetic North, 16 Aug 2013
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Morley's Book was Magnetic North for me.
It's North West bias suited this Lancashire lad, now living down south.
My personal journey from Fylde coast, via catering degree at the Holling's Toast Rack building, digs in Didsbury and Longsight, clubs and gigs across the city, to London and now family life in the home counties, mean that the books themes had some (coincidental) resonance with me.
However I also enjoyed the small town minutiae, in Paul's case Reddish, many of the less personal aspects, could be transported to wherever the reader bought their Holland's pies from or went to school at.
The changing prose styles encompassing Kerouac free form on Liverpool, add variety, with the sections on the history of the region, industrial, artistic, or otherwise, entertaining and educational.
The North is a different place for everyone, and where most of us, who are from there, leave some of our heart.
This book was an enjoyable reminder of that for this reader.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul's North, my North, 28 Aug 2013
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Mr. Simon J. Barratt (Biggar, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I will admit from the beginning that being from Manchester I suspected that Paul Morley's North and mine would be similar! It suffers somewhat from a view of the 'North from afar syndrome' and yet I rattled through it, despite its weight. Stuffed with interesting and intertwined facts about key figures and events in history that shaped the North West, many of which I knew nothing or little about, I found the way he wove the history into his own on the whole satisfying. Yes it does jump about in terms the history, his own is chronological, but the local history is placed to tie in with his own journey and so moves forwards and back from late middle ages to the present and everything in between. Mercifully light on sport and surprising in how relatively little there is about Joy Division (he has done that I guess) I found that his journey and mine had echoes of each other and the details about how life was back in the 60s and 70s as a kid growing up in the Manchester suburbs superbly well observed and a very emotional reflection for me. To sum up, relatively heavy going but worth it.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unedited Pretentious Drivel...doesn't mention Get Carter...the North mostly Manchester & environs?, 30 Jun 2013
Fancy being trapped in a lift with a speed freak burbling on interminably with hardly any paragraph breaks extrapolating endlessly from his own stultifyingly dull experience, randomly throwing in half digested highbrow references to try to appear intellectual? Me neither.
At least there's an index so you can check if any of your favourite people or places crop up.
Stuart Maconie's Pies and Predjudice infinitely preferable.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite there, 30 Jun 2013
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Having lived in the North for almost the whole of my life I looked forward eagerly to reading The North by Paul Morley. I found its contents informative and interesting but completely lacking in any structure. It is part autobiographical (covering only the first twelve years of his life, when he decamped South), interspersed with with comments on the history, geography, industry and culture of the area. It was, however, presented in a completely random way. It was as though the author had done his research but then lacked the will to present this in a cohesive way and this made it a difficult read. This was a pity because there was much valuable information there.
One final thought. Is Cheshire really a true reflection of the North?

Paul Turner
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars yawn yawn!, 10 July 2013
By 
B. Crossland "Bazza" (Warrington UK) - See all my reviews
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I'm a Northerner, born in Eccles, 66 years ago, still live just outside Warrington, so I know about the North.
, but after trying to read and enjoy this interminable, dreary, self indulgent tome, I might move to Sunningdale!
I really hated this book with a vengeance.
Books I like, once I've finished them, go up onto our groaning bookshelves, sometimes revisited and re-read like welcoming old friends. This one goes in the dustbin.
Reading 'The North' was like paddling through cold, three day old porridge,(must confess, never tried it).
Full of flowery, hugely long sentences, with occasionally interesting facts sprinkled in, and leaving me with hatred of Reddish, an area I knew nothing of,(well I do now!)
Five hundred odd dreary pages of this, left me feeling as dumped on as I did one night in 1965, when fog and a flat battery caused me to miss a Beatles concert at the Apollo Ardwick..............
Whoops I'm turning into Paul Morley.
Avoid at all cost!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 15 Sep 2013
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I claim bias because I come from Stockport, am a few years younger than Mr Morley and used Reddish as my playground. The biographical parts are like welcoming an old friend and the history reveals The North's roots. Before you make fun of the northern accent or are bored by our boasting, read these and learn.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bricky old Stockport and more., 23 Jan 2014
First of all this book (hardback) is a beautiful object in its own right - from the atmospheric black-and-white photograph on the dust-jacket to the two elegant fonts used in the text. In my experience a beautiful book is a rarety these days.

Like Paul Morley I was born in the south but was brought up in Stockport and now live many miles away (much further north in my case). In some respects I found The North an uneasy read in some parts as I am roughly the same age as the author and shared a lot of the difficulties he experienced (suicide in the family, unhappy at school, feelings of not fitting in, unsatisfactory relationship with my father). Furthermore I had an indirect but traumatic link with the Moors Murders, which because they overshadowed the 60's (especially in this area)cannot in all honesty be omitted in any account of the time (but this is mercifully only briefly touched upon). In other respects it was a pleasure to be reminded of the Stockport we shared then although I lived at the other end of town from the Morleys in 'dowdy but proud Edgeley'. This is no cosy tin-bath-by-the-fire-on-Friday-nights, we-were-poor-but-happy, north of England memoir seen through the lens of a Lowry painting. His warts-and-all portrayal of the curate's egg that was, and is, Stockport is spot on - writing as he does of its centuries-old history, its occasional joys, the beauties of its surroundings, and the dispiriting drabness of some (if not most) of its areas. (Although I cannot agree with PM who hates Stockport Town Hall, to me it's wild -like Christopher Wren on acid.)

Despite the book's title though, be warned, this is a personal view of the North using Stockport as a kind of fulcrum, not all areas and aspects of the north of England receive an equally detailed scrutiny. Perhaps it should have been more correctly called The North West, but that would have been less in-your-face as the stark two-word title as it now stands.

I found the style of writing rather bewildering to start with consisting as it does of long, meandering, sentences some involving lists of seemingly random words and phrases, and several sub-clauses. Once I had perservered though I found it had a flow which bowled me along to some surprising places. For instance I've never really been keen on pop music and know very little about it (I had more conservative tastes and preoccupations compared to PM) but I found myself absorbed by his memories of the gigs of Bowie, Marc Bolan, and the Sex-Pistols despite myself. Similarly I don't know Liverpool very well, nor did the 1960s Merseybeat/Beatles sound appeal but the prose-poem chapter devoted to Liverpool was, for me, the highlight of the book.

I was fascinated too by the liberal sprinkling of facts (presented intriguingly in reverse chronological order)that punctuate the text chronicling the history and culture of the north: its battles, its food, its entertainers, its riots, its literature etc etc.

In many ways this is a book of the familiar and unexpected. I would recommend it should be approached without any preconceptions about biographical or historiographical style (or notions of what prose is or of poetry). I recommend you take it as it is and enjoy the highs and lows of the ride (like the North come to think of it).
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The North: (And Almost Everything In It)
The North: (And Almost Everything In It) by Paul Morley (Paperback - 5 Jun 2014)
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