Pies and Prejudice: In search of the North Paperback – 7 Feb 2008
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"Stuart Maconie is the best thing to come out of Wigan since the A58 to Bolton" (Peter Kay)
"An heir to Alan Bennett ... stirring and rather wonderful" (Anthony Quinn Sunday Times)
"Funnier than Bill Bryson. There's lots to love about Maconie's North - even for Southern Jessies" (Metro)
"Maconie makes a jovial, self-deprecating narrator. Sharp and funny" (Guardian)
"A lyrical, passionate, humorous and argumentative tour du force ... Imagine Nick Danzinger meets Nik Cohen meets Ricky Tomlinson and you've got the perfect blend of humorously incisive northern-travel writing. An early contender for best travel book of the year." (Big Issue North)
A hilarious journey in search of the real North, northerners and northernness, from the bestselling author of Cider With RoadiesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
What is so engaging about Maconie's prose is that he is fully aware of the prejudices that exist about the North and about specific cities and nods to them jokily while leaving no one in any doubt that stereotypes and oversimplifications are just that.
His passion for music and history come out on almost every page but it is the humour that sells it - showing once again how a light touch can make some very serious social and political observations. I challenge anyone - Southerners included - not to enjoy this and learn from it.
Even when Maconie makes little mistakes (it's LOUIS Tussaud's in Blackpool and he seems to have merged two separate Viz characters into one) he's easily forgiven because he passes on such a wealth of fascinating and frequently laugh-out-loud material (a passing reference to how people mispronounce 'Clitheroe' being a case in point!)
I guarantee it'll change your perception of Wigan at the very least.
Stuart Maconies effort is much more to my liking, mainly because it is written by a Northerner who actually knows what he is talking about. Okay, both Maconie and myself are biased, but even so Pies and Prejudice is a much better read that I should imagine can be enjoyed by even the most died in in wool Southerner.
As Maconie states early on that this is not meant to be a comprehensive account of all towns in the North. Some major cities - Sheffield for example, are given only the briefest of mentions and some none at all. This, to me almost unbelievably, includes York, surely the Norths jewel in the crown. Also, a little too much is written about Manchester and Liverpool although as this is Maconies 'home patch' I can forgive him that.
There is the occasional factual error (Charlie Williams born in Bradford? Tetleys brewed in Doncaster?) but in a book containing as many enjoyable snippets of information as this book does, again this is forgivable.
What I most like about the book though is that although I have already been to almost all the places mentioned in the book after reading Maconies descriptions and stories I now want to visit them again.
Personally speaking, as a son of a miner and a textile worker I regard myself as a dyed-in-the wool 'Northerner' in the kind of spirit that Stuart Maconie discusses at the end of his excellent book. But am doubtlessly wholly suspect due to the lack of a strong identifiable regional accent - we have one but I doubt many outside of this part of the country would recognise it. Alan Sillitoe when he wrote 'Saturday Night, Sunday Morning' - rightly identified as a great film in this book - was conscious that the accents in the film were totally wrong but if they'd been accurate no-one would have understood a word!
Nevermind all that, this book is an extremely well-written tour around parts of the North of England. It had the effect of making me want to visit some of the places mentioned and revisit others. I last went to Durham 20 years ago and want to go back. The author's dead right when he says that if the city was in the South it would receive much, much more attention.
With that example alone, I think Mr. Maconie makes his point. There is a Southern if not 'bias' but perspective in much of our media. As he says at the outset, the BBC doesn't have 'South of England' correspondent. Nuff said.
Cheers, Stuart, I'll look up your other books.
Is it not possible to love the north without hating the south? Maconie lambasts southerners and the London media for their preconceptions about the north, but as a southerner I don't recognise many of these attitudes. Sometimes it's just good-natured regional banter but I must admit I grew tired of turning a blind eye to all the southern stereotypes that Maconie uses to make his points. He seems to think we're all called Sebastian and Jocasta and eat polenta three times a day. I don't know why Maconie feels southerners like Brian Sewell are worth responding to, or the taxi driver he clashed with in London. Irritating they both may be, but they're hardly representative of the south in general. He also quotes north-disparaging books by southerners that I doubt more than a handful of people south of Watford have ever read, and perhaps even fewer in the north.
Occasionally it gets plain bizarre. Apparently Maconie walked over London's Millennium Bridge and "felt nowt, mate, because I'm northern", in contrast to the bridge in Gateshead that moved him. What exactly does that mean? It's a churlish and even childish statement that undermines some excellent descriptive writing elsewhere in the book.
Picking more holes (presumably it's a southern trait) I'd have to say that the book does feel like it was written in a hurry and it's let down at times by some factual inaccuracies and proofing errors.
But for all that, I really enjoyed it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Stuart succeeded to keep the north south divide divided and to stoke the rivalry between Manchester and Liverpool burning, I thought it was going to be a good read but it was more... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Bill Wale
Anyone who can manage to squeeze Dexy's Midnight Runners, Tales from Topographic Oceans, Robin Hood's Bay and The Five Bridges Suite into one book has my vote! Read morePublished 5 months ago by TQ2Boyz
He's giving away too many of our secrets and exposing our warm culture while selling us by the pound.
A good read by any standards
A good holiday read.
It's not going to change your life, but if you're looking to Stuart Maconie for life changing ideas you've bigger problems than what book to read on the... Read more
Stuart stops working on this book and it becomes a labour of love in Marsden (I think.) Superb,from the introduction in ciabbata - ridden London to the knee-trembling finale in... Read morePublished 11 months ago by mike samuels
I am from 'the North' and found it really interesting on the difference between cities and counties re attitudesPublished 11 months ago by Mrs J F Buirski
I really wanted to like this book better than I did. Reading it in 2015 it seems very dated and too dominated by Stuart Maconie's own long held prejudices, or maybe I just can't... Read morePublished 12 months ago by H Llewelyn