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Alexis Paladin (London)

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Time To Dance
Time To Dance
by Melvyn Bragg
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars unsettling but highly insightful, 25 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Time To Dance (Paperback)
When you read any work of fiction by a well known public figure you have to work a little harder on the 'suspension of disbelief'. I found the first few chapters, particularly the introduction of the sex scenes quite difficult to read for this reason. It felt a bit like being at school and reading an erotic passage written by your English teacher. It is a credit to Bragg's skill that I was soon able to forget such associations and became compelled by the drama he skilfully creates. A few things didn't quite work for me. I found the shifting narrative perspectives a little disorientating. There are effectively three voices contained inside one and it is sometimes difficult to work out whether we are reading a letter written in the present or if it is part of the broader letter which makes up the book. That aside Bragg's depiction of a middle-aged man, plodding routinely through his life and then suddenly, shatteringly awoken as if from a dream, by a young, vibrant woman is wonderfully constructed and developed. His hero (or anti-hero) is entirely believable, you feel every contrasting emotion with him and the object of his affections, Bernadette, is one of the most striking, life-affirming characters I have encountered for some time. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has ever experienced the pleasure, both physical and emotional and the accompanying pain, of love.


To Have and Have Not
To Have and Have Not
by Ernest Hemingway
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.09

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pulp Fiction, 16 Jan. 2009
This review is from: To Have and Have Not (Paperback)
If you ever have wondered where Quentin Tarantino or the Cohen Brothers get their inspiration you should read this book. Written in 1937 it anticipates many of the themes and techniques we have come to associate with these film-makers. The narrative from a range of different perspectives, the exploration of the lives of multiple characters from multiple social, ethnic and economic backgrounds and perhaps most significantly of all the presentation and exploration of violence, stark brutal often shocking violence, and the effect it has on perpetrators, their victims and those connected to both. It is a very visual book and crying out to be filmed. There have been three attempts but all have wandered so far from the text, both in terms of story and theme, that they can hardly be considered worthy of Hemingway. I would advise you to read this quickly if you can. Immerse yourself in Harry Morgan's depression-era Florida and Cuba. It will leave you moved, stunned and reaching for more.


Any Human Heart (Penguin Essentials)
Any Human Heart (Penguin Essentials)
by William Boyd
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Skilfully uncompromising, 16 Jan. 2009
Boyd's primary achievement with this novel is his steadfast refusal to compromise his vision of life, any life, as a haphazard often inconsequential, frustrating, baffling, frequently unfulfilling, occasionally profound, meandering journey. As humans we constantly search for meaning, for conclusion and most novels offer us these in some shape or form, but life rarely does and Boyd resolutely and unrepentantly reflects this. This is probably best evidenced by Mountstuart's struggle to discover why he has been incarcerated in Switzerland for two years. Despite his best efforts he cannot and is forced to accept that he never will. Mountstuart is not a particularly attractive hero, but he is a very real one, full of selfishness, self-righteousness and contradiction. He does not believe in much, and those people and things he does care about he generally gets wrong, destroys or loses, but he does it all with a muddled humanity which is ultimately very endearing. Sometimes the brushes with celebrity and historical moment which are scattered throughout the book don't quite work but they are engaging nonetheless and Boyd's feel for twentieth century movements and fashions is first class. You might not care much for Mounstuart the snobby schoolboy in 1923 but by 1991 having followed his winding journey through the century, he will feel like a member of your family.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2013 1:47 PM BST


Fugitive Pieces
Fugitive Pieces
by Anne Michaels
Edition: Paperback

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars deeply moving, 16 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Fugitive Pieces (Paperback)
It is difficult to know where to begin with this book. I have been interested to read the other reviews. It is rare to see such polarised opinions. I guess it is fair to say that if you are looking for a plot-driven yarn with a healthy range of realistic characters then this book is not for you. It is not so much a story as a complex linguistic journey of discovery which, by venturing deep within the damaged psyche of two Jewish men manages to expose fundamental truths about all men, all people, all living things, the earth itself. If this sounds pretentious to you then I would advise you not to read the book. Michaels is first and foremost a poet and it shows. Her language is dense with imagery and allegory, to read just one page is to dive into a swamp of words, some of them admittedly, rapidly pass you by but others will linger with you forever. Michaels' understanding of the relationships between men and women and both the world around them and the words they use to interact and define themselves is simply breathtaking. If you take this book for what it is meant to be and allow yourself to be pulled into the sometimes tortured, but always fundamentally human world Michaels skilfully creates, then I can guarantee that whether you be Jew, Gentile or Muslim, Canadian, Greek or Brazilian, you will connect with this book's profound humanity and it's haunting residue will stay with you forever.


9
9
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back with a bang, 13 Nov. 2006
This review is from: 9 (Audio CD)
The plethora of pretenders to his throne are duly sent scurrying back to whatever scruffy little bed-sits they normally inhabit with the much-anticipated return of Damien Rice and this collection of finely-crafted, flawlessly delivered songs. Famously media-phobic, he doesn't seem to have cheered up much during his five year sabbatical. The venom and self-loathing, hinted at on `O' are here in abundance, check out 'rootless tree' and 'Me, my yoke and I'. Once more however, it is the softer, sometimes painfully introspective tracks like '9 crimes' and the achingly tender 'Accidental Babies', which are most effective. Rice's ability to make you feel like you have just stumbled across your best mate weeping quietly by himself and haven't a clue what to do or say remains second to none.


Not Fade Away
Not Fade Away
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £3.16

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas, pointless ends, 29 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Not Fade Away (Audio CD)
Wouldn't it be great if all of a sudden a load of run of the mill solo artists decided to take a leaf out of Brendan Benson's book and join bands? David Kitt is a great case in point. No one would deny he has a good ear for melody, has an accomplished line in wry, well-observed lyrics and can do all manner of clever things with guitars. Trouble is, his voice is OK at best and is sometimes so lifeless and dull you forget whether you are actually listening to anything or just sitting by yourself looking at your mum's beige curtains again. Having said that, when he gets a couple of pals involved, (the Stoddart siblings from The Magic Numbers on `Up to You' or Lisa Hannigan on `Don't F*ck with me') all of a sudden you're wide awake again and the songs offer a vibrancy and depth he can never muster alone. So come on Dave, you know it makes sense, pick up the phone, call a couple of mates, get yourself in a band......


London O Hull 4
London O Hull 4
Price: £7.24

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wag you finger 'till your fingers sore.., 25 Jan. 2003
This review is from: London O Hull 4 (Audio CD)
Paul Heaton and Norman Cook have certainly followed very different paths since the glory days of this album and "The People Who.." For me neither of them have ever reproduced the energy and brilliance of these two seminal LP's. Even the Fat Boy with his super-popular sing-a-long-a dance music has never come close to emulating the raw exuberance of say "Get up off our knees" and has certainly never said anything as interesting. Paul Heaton's Beautiful South produced some nice ironic pop songs but surely he was at his best when belligerently battering the apathetic majority on songs like "Sheep: and "Sitting on a Fence" Never, in my opinion, has a band so overtly political, produced so many top tunes. Recently Paul has gone solo. I haven't heard any of his stuff yet but I hope he's gone back to his roots. Even better than that. Any chance of reforming just for a few gigs? London O Hull 4 is without doubt one of the albums of the eighties. Get it.


Best
Best

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where have all the Bad Boys Gone?, 1 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Best (Audio CD)
No-one can touch The Scorps. They have been riffing and caterwauling their way across four decades and show no signs of changing. The opening breathy vocal of "Still Loving You" never fails to have me diving for my Zippo and "Rock You Like a Hurricane" does exactly what it says on the tin. Hold onto your Anoraks! Having said all that, whilst I recognise that with any Best Of some fans are bound to be disappointed, I can't believe that they left The Scorps crowning glory off this album. I am talking of course, about "Bad Boys Running Wild" for me the rock song by which all others are judged... Gutted
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 16, 2009 8:30 PM GMT


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