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T. Gambrell "Brellers" (London United Kingdom)
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The Screen Savers
The Screen Savers
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sympathetic, eccentric and very funny., 3 July 2017
This review is from: The Screen Savers (Kindle Edition)
Literature has a long history of eccentrics and obsessives. In The Screen Savers Bryan Romaine has created another in that line of complicated, neurotic, eccentric, fallible and ultimately human literary characters in the simply-named Adam. I think anyone who has lived on their own for any period of time will be able to relate to Adam – either positively or negatively. But at a basic level this reviewer found him to be an endearing creation with a real sense of truth about him.

This is Bryan’s first novel, and stylistically it is a very confident work, displayed by the fact that it's very much under-written. Peripheral detail and description is scant at times, yet there are also occasions where detail and information is thrust at us with almost manic fervour. Somewhere within this uneven landscape of tropes and signifiers the reader gets a very real sense of Adam’s world and surroundings. Scenes don’t always pick up directly from where the previous one left off – although where there are narrative gaps or jumps the reader is very soon able to fill in the blanks. We may not get to experience every scene or every moment, but we still know pretty much exactly what’s gone on – and that displays the author’s skill; Bryan has an acute understanding of how to craft the text in an engaging way. Symptomatic of these narrative jumps is the pervading sense of the sections or chapters as a modestly sequential collection of flash fiction pieces, all adding together to create a cohesive whole.
The short sections gives the impression that the Reader is steaming through the book at pace – which can be a bonus for those who like to read on their commute to work. But The Screen Savers is deceptive in this; Adam’s voice, his worries, hang-ups and obsessions actually ferment a much deeper understanding in the reader’s mind than the simple words we read on the page in these brief scenes and moments. We start to fill in gaps ourselves; The Screen Savers is very much a collaborative text, with the reader constantly revising their understanding of characters and events as they progress through the work as more and more becomes clear.

In common with many previous texts fuelled by obsessive, eccentric characters, The Screen Savers is very funny. The prospect that someone could be mistaken for Clive Owen and also Martina Navratilova paints some wonderful images in the reader’s head, for example. The humour is situational and character-driven through reactions and mannerisms; it is never forced and ‘gags’ (such as any are) are never set up in a contrived way. For example – and this owes much again to the pictures that the text conjures in the reader’s head - there is a persistent reference to deceased Scottish actor Alastair Sim. Now, okay, some younger readers may need to contextualise him, but the conceit is planted with perfect legitimacy and once there the obsessive revisiting of it, and the resultant mental hoops Adam puts himself through, create some extraordinarily comedic moments and images.

There is a notional ‘story’ running through the book, but this isn’t a plot-driven page-turner; it’s more of a character study as Adam comes to terms with various aspects of his life and his own mental challenges. One thing the book does expertly is show that no one is normal, or ‘ordinary’. Everyone reveals themselves to be flawed in some way – either in their own eyes or through those of Adam. Everyone has hang ups or oddities that they accommodate and deal with on a day to day basis in their own way.
Even though the story of the fight for screen seven at the local cinema is somewhat ancillary the author skilfully creates a sense of increasing tension as the narrative builds towards its conclusion – again this is achieved organically and not through any forced manipulation of characters and incidents. This produces a real sense of elation at the conclusion, rewarding the level of involvement and commitment the reader has invested in the characters and the text. The conclusion itself is appended by some wonderfully humorous (and organic) moments. We don’t get a pay-off scene between Adam and Yvette, and if there had to be a negative I’d say that Adam and Yvette’s relationship is a little too scant and under-written after she returns from her weekend away, but that’s really a minor quibble amongst a whole load of positives.

To sum up, The Screen Savers is very well - and sympathetically - written. I felt I could relate to Adam and to his situation in life; I understood the mental hoops he puts himself through in his relationships with other people. I’ve relished the challenges of the text, it’s lightness of touch and the shorthand way it has of encouraging the reader to infill any narrative gaps. Most of all I didn’t want to put it down once I’d started it.


The Goon Show, Series 4, Part 1 (The Golden Age of BBC Radio Comedy)
The Goon Show, Series 4, Part 1 (The Golden Age of BBC Radio Comedy)
by Spike Milligan
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A taste of the time..., 30 Sept. 2011
Yes the sound is very low-fi - but I've heard worse - and the episodes themselves are great fun. So I'd recommend approaching this release as a way of sampling how the shows must have sounded at the time of the original broadcast on those creaky old wireless sets. Clamp your ear to a large single speaker and then thank your lucky stars you have the opportunity to listen again and again to these little pieces of comedic history.


Ghost Of A Rose
Ghost Of A Rose

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An over all disappointment with some great moments, 27 July 2008
This review is from: Ghost Of A Rose (Audio CD)
Having been blown away by the first three albums, unlike the reviewer above I was terribly disappointed with 'Ghost of a Rose'. There are some great moments on it, but the melodies are blander and weaker over all and the tracks less infectious than on previous (and subsequent) albums. Several of the tracks almost get somewhere great but not quite - which is a shame and a bit frustrating as I can see that this album could have been great.
Having said that, the title track is perfect (and better than the curiously re-recorded version on 'Beyond The Sunset') and 'Cartouche' and 'Loreley' are certainly worth buying the album for if nothing else.
I still enjoy it and play it, but it's always an 'almost' great album...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2008 9:36 PM BST


Secret Voyage
Secret Voyage

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haven't stopped playing it!, 27 July 2008
This review is from: Secret Voyage (Audio CD)
I have to say I am somewhat surprised by the claims made in the review above, but maybe they are the general views of fandom (in which I am not involved). 'Ghost of a Rose' was a terrible disappointment for me, no where near as good as their previous efforts (except the amazing title track). 'Village Lantern' was a tremendous return to form in my opinion and they have maintained and built on that here with 'Secret Voyage' which is an original-sounding and consistently great album. 'Locked Within The Crystal Ball' is possibly their finest track so far and must be a great opener for their live shows. 'Can't Help Falling In Love' (which seems to have divided opinion) I think is infectious - good on them for trying something different with an old classic, and also for sounding like they were at least having a lot of fun recording it. If I had a criticism I think it's a shame that there's nothing on the album that really jerks the tears but I've been playing it over and over all weekend (which I haven't done with anything else for simply years) and haven't got bored with it yet.
A great effort all round and it shows that they still have plenty to offer after 10 years or more.


'Joseph Andrews' and 'Shamela'(Oxford World's Classics)
'Joseph Andrews' and 'Shamela'(Oxford World's Classics)
by Henry Fielding
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a read!, 11 Jun. 2003
Joseph Andrews. This book has it all: double entendres, hilarious scenarios, wicked clergymen, frothing squires, physical violence and lewd women. This might sound like the 18th Century equivalent of a Carry On film - but maybe that's not a bad analogy. This is apparently a harmless, humorous read. It is spirited and lively. For the more scholarly reader there is also a lot of socio/political undercurrent to the work - as the experienced reader would expect from Fielding. A book to be enjoyed by all, and one that survives multiple readings.
Shamela. This is probably best read straight after Samuel Richardson's Pamela - of which it is a famous parody. If you do, this becomes a gut-buster of a laugh. If you don't, it's still very funny. Short, to the point and devastatingly successful. There is possibly even more going on in the way of Fielding's commentary in this little work than there is in Joseph Andrews.
Tom Keymer's introduction helps the casual reader without alienating them, and is also of value to students of the novel too because it is not 'dumbed down'.
This is where 'the novel' really started.


Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Oxford World's Classics)
Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Oxford World's Classics)
by John Cleland
Edition: Paperback

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An erotic Anti-Pamela with much to offer, 18 Jun. 2001
Literature, as with the other arts, has often courted scandal, and scandal often prevents an objective, rational appreciation of a work until that scandal has become a part of history. Such is the case with 'Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure' ('Fanny Hill'). It is only after the late Twentieth Century relaxation of taboos that we have easy access at the unexpurgated text and can look beyond the purely sexual aspects of it and consider its place as an Eighteenth Century text, and its importance in the development of the novel. Peter Sabor's critical introductory essay contextualises the piece well, not playing up the eroticism and astutely drawing the reader to comparisons with Samuel Richardson's novel 'Pamela' (1740). One cannot ignore the eroticism of the novel, though, and it would be wrong to do so for therein lie many of its strengths. It is never explicit - although one could claim that in allowing the reader to infer more and to translate mataphor the text becomes more erotic, more of a turn-on. It is a turn-on, even through its archaic metaphors, but one can't help but admire its boldness, energy and creativity. One feels it to be a more worthwhile read than modern, trashy erotic fiction with its expletives and explicit phraseology. Not by any means the best novel of the Eighteenth Century, but one of the better 'anti-Pamelas', and a vital piece in our picture of the development of the novel.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 22, 2017 9:58 AM GMT


New Essays: Contributions to the "Craftsman", 1734-39, and Other Early Journalism (1734-1739 and Other Early Journalism)
New Essays: Contributions to the "Craftsman", 1734-39, and Other Early Journalism (1734-1739 and Other Early Journalism)
by Henry Fielding
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Offers us a broader picture of the younger Fielding, 15 Jun. 2001
In Henry Fielding studies right up to postgraduate level it seems that we students run into the same problems regarding Fielding as a novelist and apparently not much else of consequence, even as a dramatist. Thus volumes such as this are a welcome addition, both to the Fielding canon as a whole and to what we have access to as students. There is no doubt that early writings by latterly more popular authors can only help us to see more clearly a development of ideas and style and how differing subject matter is handled. That is what this volume does, as we see Fielding in his early political phase when we would normally associate him as a dramatist. The writing is not always brilliant, but surely we are not looking for quality in a volume of curiosities like this. We are looking to broaden our knowledge of Fielding's output. He was a jobbing writer, some might say a hack, but this collection shows that even as a hack he had something special. That's what makes us read such things. As ever Professor Battestin's scholarship is thorough, but accessible. These pieces do require much contextualising and again the volume doesn't fail to deliver. Not to everyone's taste, but indispensible in Fielding studies and early Eighteenth Century journalism.


A Henry Fielding Companion
A Henry Fielding Companion
by Martin C. Battestin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £74.00

5.0 out of 5 stars An invaluable reference tool, 15 Jun. 2001
Martin C Battestin seems to have devoted his life to Henry Fielding studies and for that we students of literature should be eternally greatful. Not only has he provided us with many critical studies, scholarly editions of texts and an encyclopaedic biography ('A Life', 1989) but now all that knowledge and experience comes together in one easy-to-use reference guide. Backgrounds, sources, contemporaries, characters, settings and all manner of other information connected with Fielding in all aspects of his life are gathered here at one's fingertips.Thus, in it's scope, it is an invaluable reference tool - not just for Fielding enthusiasts, but for Eighteenth Century scholars as a whole. Yes, it is expensive, but the scholarship is beyond reproach and the volume looks and feels impressive. Besides, apart from his main novels, Fielding is still considered a more marginal writer, whereas companions to writers like Dickens have been around for a while. Our wait has not been in vain, though. Surely this is one of the most comprehensive companions to an English author we have seen. Professor Battestin is bequeathing the next generation of Fielding scholars a supreme legacy. It is our job to take works like this, to use them and build on them.


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman: Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Penguin Classics)
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman: Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Penguin Classics)
by Laurence Sterne
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.99

67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value for its sheer scholarly copiousness!, 13 Jun. 2001
What Laurence Sterne has given us in 'Tristram Shandy' is a landmark piece of prose writing, and what Penguin have done is to re-package that in an edition of equal status. The text follows the established 'Florida' edition of Sterne's work, and the editor Melvin New is right to acknowledge the scholarly importance of Christopher Ricks introduction to the previous Penguin edition, hence it is reprinted here along with New's up to date and equally copious editor's introduction. Thus we have two critical essays by major scholars covering much of what has been written and said about 'Tristram Shandy' for the last 50 years or so. Add to that a glossary and over a hundred pages of notes and annotations to clarify the text's obscurities and references and you've already got more than your money's worth before you've got to the text proper. And what a text too. It isn't by any means to everyone's taste, and some may think it a complete waste of six hundred-odd pages, but herein lies its charm. Yes, it doesn't really get anywhere, and yes it does do odd things like printing squiggly lines and black pages, but it is just this breaking of convention and questioning of novel writing that gives it its power - and humour. It has long been established that what Postmodern authors have been praised for in the last 30 years or so Sterne was doing in the 1760s. And here it is displayed with such exuberance and wit. This is a very funny book, even now, over 300 years later, and it is easy to see how it caused such a stir in a society which was rapidly becoming affected and prudish, with its sexual innuendo. A must for scholars and lovers of Eighteenth Century writing, humour and curiosities. Incredible value and not to be missed.


Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford World's Classics)
Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford World's Classics)
by Samuel Richardson
Edition: Paperback

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tedium with a twinkle of something special, 12 Jun. 2001
This is a book that Eighteenth Century scholars have been waiting for for a long time. The Penguin edition (ed. Pater Sabor, 1980) is useful, but it reprints Richardson's heavily revised text. Here we now have the original 1740 edition which caused so much of a stir on its original publication. It is easy to see why Richardson revised the text, as it does come across as vaguely pornographic - or at least titilating - in places, rather defeating the portrayal of virtue recommended by the book as a whole. It is tedious, overlong, affected and melodramatic, but one cannot deny its place as a major creative step in the birth of the novel and that is why it is important to us today. Keymer's edition serves the original text well, with a suitably thorough introduction and explanatory notes. The appendices, as ever, are little gems in themselves and help to make the package more useful to the scholar, whilst also being of interest to the casual reader. This volume can be seen in many ways as the companion to Keymer's revised Oxford Classics edition of Henry Fielding's 'Joseph Andrews and Shamela'. The connection between the books and their authors is well documented, and it has to be said that one of the joys of getting through this book is to be able to pick up 'Shamela' and 'Joseph Andrews' afterwards - or even John Cleland's 'Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure' ('Fanny Hill') - and enjoy a good laugh at Richardson's expence. That's not to say that the novel doesn't have merits in its own right, though. A fine edition of an historic book and a brave read, but you can't help thinking there's a little something special going on at the same time.


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