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4.3 out of 5 stars26
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 31 December 2008
Mark Steel has written a really great book, I found it poignant and compulsive reading. More serious and personal than some of his previous works, but still with some huge laugh out loud moments, here he perfectly captures the wistful sense of how in your middle years you can feel so alone and out of step with things - exactly as he says "what IS going on?" His themes are both intensely personal, and apply in a wider more general sense.

I do love it when comedians I admired 10 years ago go on to become great commentators!
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on 31 August 2008
Mark Steel stands out in modern Britain as one of the consistent and committed unreconstructed socialists in public life, although he's much funnier than most.

This book is more melancholy though as he discusses the horrors of modern society (how the view that nothing is worth doing unless someone can make a profit out of it has become so dominant in the UK) in the context of the breakdown of two of his long term relationships- one the woman he had kids with, the other the Socialist Workers Party.

It's amazing that he can discuss the breakup of his long term relationship without ever really giving away the specifics, or with recriminating comments about his ex-partner, and yet at the same time articulating the confusion, hurt and despait such a break-up can lead to (and make some good jokes along the way).

The stuff about the SWP is harder to take as it takes him the whole book to realise that the SWP are a bunch of pointless, ineffectual idiots, whose only achievement seems to have been to helped reduce socialist principles in the UK to a laughing stock. At least he's realised this by the end.

As ever, like in his columns for The Independent, Steel is able with razor-sharp humour, logic and insight to pinpoint the absurdities of the modern age. His excoriation of how the logic of capitalist 'competition' and 'choice' have led to more and more homogeneity on the high street- in every town and city in Britain there's nothing but a sea of chain stores, many of which are global chains too- is particularly incisive.

Despite the rather gloomy tone throughout, Steel's sense of humour in spite of everything, and continued hope for the future wins through in the end.
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on 28 October 2012
Love it. He is my favourite comedian and I love all his work. A clever man with so much talent.
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on 12 March 2009
This hilarious book exactly mirrored my life at the time of reading - a disillusionment with marriage and the organised left (despite having faith in both). But still believing in love and socialism.

What's Going On is both hilarious and moving in the same sarcastic style as his Independent columns. At one point he realises life is not as cut and dry as his principles - smiling at a policeman and befriending arch Thatcherite Bob Monkhouse.

I have met him on a few occasions and he truly is a man of the people. I remember just before he gave a lecture on Thomas Paine and The Rights Of Man, he generously gave up his preparation time to discuss my modest little books. He also gave me half of his beef and horseradish sandwich pack - socialism in action!

If you like Mark Thomas, Frankie Boyle, Jeremy Hardy, Jo Brand etc you'll love this.

Paul Wellings (author of 'I'm a journalist...get me out of here', 'Spend it like Beckham' and 'Sex, Lines and Videotape')
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on 12 November 2008
I absolutely loved this book- as with most of mark steel's meanderings. He is brutally honest and still creates a sense of hope which makes such a marked change to the fashionably cynical times we live in. An absolute must for anyone who enjoyed any of the political riots in Britain during the last three decades. If you have the pervading political disillusionment that comes with age read it!
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on 14 August 2008
Another sublime tome from Mr. Steel. I had to actively restrain myself from reading it too quickly, but I still polished it off in less than a week such was the addictive reading it encourages. Warm, witty, inspiring and profound in equal measures. Hugely recommended.
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on 16 October 2015
His writing style gets a bit wearing and I can't help wanting to hear his missus ' side of events, but an enjoyable and educational-ish read.
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on 20 September 2014
Intelligent, and different (how many socialists do you know? Really?) and LOL funny. Want something different and entertaining? Go for it.
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on 20 February 2015
A book that reminds you that principles in life are important and that you can't always win, but you can enjoy trying.
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on 5 July 2015
Every paragraph makes you smile.
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