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G J Smith

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The Comedians
The Comedians
by Graham Greene
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyous Haitian Gloom, 14 Jun. 2011
This review is from: The Comedians (Paperback)
Paul Theroux, in his Introduction to this edition, says that this is not one of Greene's best novels. Perhaps that is true, but he does set the bar pretty high. It is, certainly, very typical Greene. It has the jealous, joyless love affair which seems to be his stock. There is the middle aged, disappointed Englishman, the slightly "stuck-on" Catholic theme. It could be seen as an almost photofit Greene.
I thought it was a superb read however. The Haitian setting is one which has been lightly trodden- and one Greene knew well. The pervating gloom was, as ever, superbly done and lifted by the oddly touching admiration of the cynical Brown for the preposterous but idealistic American Smiths. The slowly revealed, surprisingly improbable history of Brown causes the reader to constantly reassess him.
As often with Greene, his comic touches fall a little flat. Many (arguabley all)of his characters seem there to fulfill a role, rather than neccessarily have rounded lives of their own. However, I loved it.

Basil D'oliveira: Cricket and Controversy
Basil D'oliveira: Cricket and Controversy
by Peter Oborne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story- deserved better treatment, 14 Jun. 2011
The story of Basil D'Oliviera's life is a fascinating one. He is a essentially a simple, decent, non-political guy who through wanting to do what he did best became the focus of a political storm. Unfortunately Oborne biographical style intensely annoyed me whilst the tale gripped me. The first chapters of the book cover D'Oliviera's young adulthood in South Africa and are the weekest part of the book. Oborne layers the injustices of Apartheit on with a trowel, telling us three times per page of its iniquity with hyperbolic adjectives. I don't belittle these injustices in any way, but we probably get the idea rather more quickly than he gives us credit for. It gives the evens the feeling of a rather badly scripted and acted drama of stock characters which detracts from their impact.
Oborne is on stronger ground when he relates the meat of the "D'Oliviera Affair" where his journalistic thoroughness and seemingly meticulous research comes to the fore. But he still makes many of the protagonists somewhat cartoonish.
His treatment of D'Oliviera himself also grates. He is excessively fulsome in his praise and apologetic of his faults. I don't doubt for a moment D'Oliviera's essential worthiness of praise, but it would have rung much truer had it been less gushing and, frankly, patronising.
I would still recommend the book- it is a story which should be told, about apartheit, the English Cricket establishment and of Dolly himself. It just would have been a far better book if written with a it more subtlety.

No Holding Back: The Autobiography
No Holding Back: The Autobiography
by Michael Holding
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather disappointing, 28 Oct. 2010
Holding is one of my favourite of the latest batch of commentators and was a wonderful crickter to watch in his time, but I found myself a bit let down by this book. Having read the cricinfo review I expected to be disappointed by the shortness of the section on his playing days, but in fact this was the slowest part. Holding was very, very good and although I'm not suggesting it came easily to him- he worked very hard- his career seemed simply one of "started playing, was very good at it, stopped playing". The tribualtions of a more mediocre player like Simon Hughes are actually far more interesting. The book actually improves a lot after his retirement. Some of his anecdotes are a bit forced, but his views on modern cricket were at times enlightening. I still have a lot of affection for the guy, but there are far better sporting biographies out there.

A Collector's Guide to Swords, Daggers and Cutlasses
A Collector's Guide to Swords, Daggers and Cutlasses
by Gerald Weland
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 9 Feb. 2004
After waiting a long time for this book I'm decidedly disappointed. Less a collectors guide than a vague and misleading account of major sword types. The writing is clumsy and makes painful attempts at jocularity. There is scant information on the complex and confusing terminology of sword parts, nothing at all on metallurgy. Even given the limited space, the actual factual information provided by this book is very thin.
Some good photographs are the books only redeeming feature.

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