What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion Paperback – 4 Aug 2008
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About the Author
Mark Steel is a writer, presenter and comedian. His TV and radio series include The Mark Steel Solution, The Mark Steel Revolution and The Mark Steel Lectures. He writes a weekly column for the Independent newspaper and is a regular on Radio 4's Loose Ends and The News Quiz. He lives in London.
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Top Customer Reviews
Oh, how wrong I was.
What's Going On paints a poignant, honest and at times heartbreaking parallel between the breakup of Mark Steel's relationship and his decision to part with his beloved Socialist Workers' Party (SWP). He writes without any pretension and is funny, thoughtful and insightful. There are some rousing passages peppered throughout the book about effecting change; but more than anything the book highlighted the desperate futility of the fight against the evils of Capitalism which the quote I have used in the title of this review I think sums up beautifully.
Whether you are sympathetic with Mark Steel's politics or not; I challenge anyone not to be a little bit moved by this book. Go on!
His humour doesn't always work for me, but there is enough here to more than satisfy. Besides, I like it that his humour has a point to it and that, while he sometimes picks easy targets, he's never nasty or vicious. What I most liked was the sense of truth in his telling of how confusing things have become as he has got older. Also, the story of his marriage breakdown is told, as another reviewer mentions, withough bitterness and with due regard to privacy. Really not sure what one of the other reviewers means about him being 'grumpy'. Quite the opposite, I'd have said. Even when he is getting hacked off with the SWP, you can see there's more affection there than anything else.
Because of the honesty about the political changes he's seen, the book has contemporary relevance. Anyone who has had any experience of the left these past twenty years or so (and I'm on the pink, tepid, Labour Party edge of the left) will instantly get where he's coming from. Sometimes it helps to laugh, so long as you don't get cynical.
I loved it and would recommend it to anyone.
Mark Steel weaves the belly laughs in with the more melancholy moments and creates a splendid memoir of his confused meanderings through the first half dozen or so years of the last decade. Whether he is talking about his failing relationship or his two kids, his experience of campaigning against the war in Iraq, super-markets, celebrities or schools, or even George Galloway there's a plentiful supply of wit and even a little wisdom too.
I found this one hard to put down and recommend keeping it aside for a long, empty and chore free afternoon. I doubt you'll be disappointed.
There are a couple of shortcomings to the book. I hesitate to suggest hypocrisy but its hard to think of another word for when Steel complains that the Oxbridge set live in a world apart from ordinary people when he himself is mentioning his appearances on Newsnight, making series for the BBC and so on. While it is, no doubt, for comic effect he regularly uses very over-the-top similes; would having the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer giving a speech at the 20th anniversary party of The Independent really be like the president of France giving a keynote speech in the kitchen on your mother's birthday? Not really, no.
Overall the book is a good read and, as bleak as Mark's life seems sometimes, it is full of hope, humour and honesty. As long as you are able to put up with the sledgehammer-to-a-walnut similes and metaphors I would heartily recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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.Published 9 months ago by ProfessorInkling
A book that reminds you that principles in life are important and that you can't always win, but you can enjoy trying.Published 17 months ago by A. Dolman
Intelligent, and different (how many socialists do you know? Really?) and LOL funny. Want something different and entertaining? Go for it.Published 22 months ago by Zaphod Beeblebrox
I am usually a big fan of this author but this account of the conflicts inherent in reconciling his socialist beliefs with the banality of everyday life - growing older, being... Read morePublished on 1 April 2013 by Anglolawyer
This was a gift for my husband who is a big fan. I chose a good one as I have heard him laughing and giggling a lot lately.
Love it. He is my favourite comedian and I love all his work. A clever man with so much talent.Published on 28 Oct. 2012 by Kate