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NAROLC "NAROLC" (Brighton, UK)

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The Demon (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Demon (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Hubert Selby Jr.
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BATTLING WITH DEMONS AS ONLY US NOVELISTS CAN!, 9 Aug. 2015
As a lifelong appreciative admirer of American novelists including Hubert Selby Jr. I was interested to read The Demon, particularly after being profoundly impressed by last Exit to Brooklyn. While it is a very different book to its predecessor. I was not disappointed. On the contrary, I felt Selby's bravery and sincerity(in dealing with a serial killer, which the protagonist becomes) provided a compelling narrative energy that kept me captivated from start to finish. I don't know if anyone has noticed certain parallels between this novel and Bret Easton Ellis's (later) American Psycho. but they immediately occurred to me after I saw the film version starring Christian Bale. This is not to accuse Ellis (whom I consider excellent in his own right) of anything less than honest influences. assuming, of course, he was even aware of The Demon. No criticism intended, just a point of interest book lovers might enjoy checking for themselves!


Finnegans Wake (Wordsworth Classics)
Finnegans Wake (Wordsworth Classics)
by James Joyce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.50

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars JOYCE IS A GOOD CHOICE, 23 Mar. 2014
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Words cannot express what inarticulate people want to say. Conversely, exceptionally eloquent people (including writers like James Joyce), while not struggling with self-expression, sometimes face difficulties making themselves understood. 'Finnegan's Wake', along with Joyce's other widely acknowlledged magnum opus, 'Ulysses', has an almost intimidating effect on people who have never read it. This is due to its reputation for being complex, lengthy and so erudite as to be virtually incomprehensible. Readers who might well think nothing of ploughing through Stephen King's weighty tomes (many of his titles exceed 700 pages, with Finnegan's Wake extending to a little over 600) are deterred by the famous book's reputation. I first read Joyce when I was a young boy (perhaps seven or eight-years-old) starting with A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man and I enjoyed then, as I do now, his richly inventive, playful prose. I suppose by the time I read Ulysses, many years later as an adult, I was comfortable with a familiar author and I found the epic volume easily accessible. I cannot influence another person's taste with my personal opinion, which is all I am offering here. Some people will not like his style and that's fair enough. For my part, I can't face Tolstoy, although my admiration for him as a writer and a man is genuine and great. I will simply say that if you enjoy words, give Finnegan's Wake a try. As for failing to understand it, who cares? Generations of critics have argued the case for the meanings they individually have built careers around identifying in the book, but you and I can simply read for pleasure. It is, after all, a work of fiction.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THESE PENS 'GEL' WELL WITH ME, 23 Mar. 2014
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The fact that these pens are so affordably priced initially attracted me to what I discovered is an excellent product. I have been using them happily for several years. So no one needs fear that cheap is synonymous with nasty here. As an artist, I am comfortable drawing with these pens (I like the smooth flow of the gel ink) as well as writing with them. They compare favourably with other gel pens I have purchased from supermarkets, both in terms of price (generally the cost in stores is around £1, or more, for two pens) and quality. I cannot recall finding a faulty pen in the Niceday boxed dozen; whereas pens from the superstores were often leaky, ran out quickly or simply were blocked and would not work. You'd expect to be dissatisfied occasionally with pens from any source, but I feel you have to draw the line somewhere!


A Confederacy of Dunces (Penguin Modern Classics)
A Confederacy of Dunces (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Kennedy Toole
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, A SAD BUT WORTHY LEGACY, 13 July 2012
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'When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.' This quote from Jonathan Swift provides the memorable title of this accomplished and bizarre novel by the hapless John Kennedy Toole, a suicide at the age of thirty-one. There has been considerable speculation since Toole's untimely demise in 1969 about how much his difficulties in publishing his novel contributed to his death. The unconventional relationship between him and his domineering mother has also been closely examined, with many readers perceiving paralells with Ignatius Reilly (the novel's protaganist) and his fictive mother. It is known that Toole's mother obsessively pestered the publishing house to get her son's book into print posthumously. It is less well known that she was equally determined to suppress publication of his only other work, 'The Neon Bible' but neither fact has any bearing on this review, which positively reacts to this young writer's interesting and impressive novel.

The story unfolds across fourteen chapters rich in prose and dialogue delivered in authentically reproduced dialects of the time (the 1960s) and the place (New Orleans, US). Toole presents the reader with an arena of offbeat characters, a world teeming with bigoted and blinkered eccentrics, each with their own axe to grind. Throughout the amusingly related shenanigans of these lowlife misfits, Ignatius Reilly is a central presence. He lives with his mother who is lonely and past her best in a cocoon of self-importance unpunctured by her repeated efforts to nag him into assuming an occupation. Her anxiety is fuelled by her fears of lifelong debt, which she feels might result from threatened legal proceedings against her following an accident in which she and Ignatius were involved. The jobs Ignatius gets provide abundant humour and irony, introducing fresh characters with their idiosyncratic weirdness of being and outlook. With his talent for self-alienation and losing jobs, Mrs. Reilly, in desperation, considers having her son committed. But help is at hand for our pompous hero in the form of Myrna Minkoff, the mysterious correspondent we meet early on in the book leading us to read more into their odd relationship than is spelled out for us.

This book is original writing from a talent whose development had he survived may have astounded us. If, as seems likely, this title stands alone as his most famous achievement it will not be too bad a thing. Most writers are grateful to be remembered for pretty well any of their books, irrespective of the size of their output and to be remembered for a classic is an honour aqrguably sufficient to offset the tragedy of an author's premature death.


Twilight Zone - Season 5 [DVD]
Twilight Zone - Season 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rod Serling
Price: £17.99

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STIRLING SERLING, INSPIRING PIONEER., 13 July 2012
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Rod Serling, creator of the hugely influential Twilight Zone series, wrote the majority of episodes included in all five seasons. The format and ideas featured in the famous cult classics, was ahead of its time. While some, weaker episodes, appear dated, the overall quality of this original and groundbreaking series make it a cultural treasure cherished by a huge fanbase. Serling was an articulate man and a gifted writer. His penchant for off-the-wall, surreal scenarios were drawn from the sci-fi genre he clearly loved and was influenced by. His black and white series afforded opportunities for many actors and writers who went on to become famous. The work Serling's brainchild created for others cannot be overestimated, nor can the amount of enjoyment and entertainment value for countless people be accurately estimated. Suffice to say, the Twilight Zone is securely fixed in the affections of numerous and diverse people from different generations. Serling himself regularly appeared throughout all five seasons, he is especially famed for his eloquent prefaces and epilogues in most episodes. His witty eloquence and distinctive turn of phrase has been much imitated and admired, while the compassion that tempered his clear intellect made him a likeable human being as is manifest in his on-screen presence.

The fifth season of TZ, sees a return to the half-hour formats of seasons 1-3, which was extended to an hour in season 4. Purists prefer the traditional, shorter length episodes and the series finale appears to benefit from the concise stories it includes. Solid performances from the typically prestigious cast lend to the stronger titles featured.

'The Last Night of a Jockey' starring Mickey Rooney, and 'The Self-Improvement of Salvador Ross' with Don Gordon are particularly worthy of attention, both having the perfect balance between good ideas and strong performances that showed TZ at its best. William Shatner fans will appreciate 'Nightmare at 20, 000 Feet' more than less impressionable individuals who tend to find the plot feeble and the 'Gremlin' risible. But this is a rare nadir easily compensated for by predominantly good material. Time as a theme and a rich seam for all writers after H. G. Wells (whose seminal debut 'The Time Machine' was first published in 1895) crops up entertainingly in 'A Kind of Stopwatch', 'A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain' and 'Ninety Years Without Slumbering'. Humour, pathos, the unexpected and poignancy are liberally mixed in the last season of the series.

Much imitated, TZ was a pioneering treat at the time of release that has not been equalled. ('The Outer Limits', produced some years later, was a disappointing attempt to rival TZ, the obvious source of its inspiration.) It served as the launching pad for the careers of many actors and afforded low-profile writers a platform to reach a wider audience. The fact it is so fondly regarded more than forty years after it first emerged is an impressive testament to the quality of Serling's unique vision. A more substantial endorsement than any review can provide.


Charlie Bubbles [DVD]
Charlie Bubbles [DVD]
Dvd ~ Albert Finney
Offered by babsbargains - *Domestic, EU & International Shipping*
Price: £24.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bubble Hasn't Burst!, 13 July 2012
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This review is from: Charlie Bubbles [DVD] (DVD)
Although I was born in 1967, the year Albert Finney's directorial debut 'Charlie Bubbles' was released, I saw a number of his films when I was a child. 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' from the novel by Alan Sillitoe was the film that immediately impacted on me; Finney's brilliant performance provided me with a powerful role model in the ebullient and rebellious character of Arthur Seaton. Since then, I have taken an interest in anything Finney has been involved with and I have seldom been disappointed.

This is especially the case with 'Charlie Bubbles', an atmospheric classic that is engaging from the start. Always compelling, Finney, plays the eponymous protaganist with strong support from a distinguished cast including Billie Whitelaw and a young Liza Minelli. I have noted other reviews here warn that contemporary viewers might find the slowly-paced, linear storyline minimal, almost plotless and in comparison with current blockbusters, saturated with action sequences, stunts and special effects, this places the film in the era of audiences with longer attention spans. If, like me, you are attracted to the charisma of the youthful Finney and enjoy realism and the portrayal of credible characters, you will appreciate the strengths of this movie. Widely praised for his direction, Finney never returned to it, which is generally viewed as a disappointment. The quirky sequence where Charlie and his friend, Smokey (convincingly played by Colin Blakely) arrive at Charlie's London residence uses multiple CCTV screens to show simultaneous action in various rooms and is one example of the clever innovativeness Finney displayed on the opposite side of the camera.

For Finney fans this film is a must. This affordable DVD is also a worthwhile risk for anyone curious about how a credible actor fared in his first and only directorial capacity. In addition, nostalgics might welcome the footage of the traffic in central London in the 1960s... Younger viewers might not believe it!


Black And White
Black And White
Offered by musicMagpie
Price: £5.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLACK AND WHITE IS NOT NEGATIVE, 3 April 2009
This review is from: Black And White (Audio CD)
BLACK AND WHITE IS NOT NEGATIVE, 3 April 2009
By NAROLC "NAROLC" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
Black and White, the third album from The Stranglers, was released in 1978 close on the heels of its successful predecessor, No More Heroes. At this time, The Stranglers, largely on the strength of their virtuoso musicianship (Dave Greenfield, keyboards, came from a classically trained background with the piano and bass player, Jean-Jacques Burnel deployed a plectrum to augment his bass lines with equal proficiency on a fretless instrument) had established their credibility with a listening public already tired of the punk revolution that had, indirectly, provided their launch. The Stranglers were far too intelligent to be punks, their often-complex music was too rich to be categorised under such a shallow umbrella. New wave was arguably a better definition of the band's dynamism and energy, while their earliest music soon drew comparisons with The Doors, which were not unfavourable.
Black and White, with its iconic sleeve and black and white 'sides' is a concept album produced by a confident band at the peak of their powers. Track by track, the material is powerfully catchy beginning with 'Tank' on which Hugh Cornwell sings of his aspirations to own and drive his own tank. Next up, the source of considerable controversy for the band (who had strippers accompanying them onstage for live versions), 'Nice N' Sleazy,' with references to the Hell's Angels (a group of people the band were then trying to distance themselves from) and allegedly irritated Frank Sinatra. The characteristic symbiosis between Greenfield's keyboard arrangements and Burnel's idiosyncratic bass lines introduces the third track, 'Outside Tokyo,' and is evident throughout this quirky song about time and the whole album. 'Hey! (Rise of the Robots)' could be an Isaac Asimov story set to frantic music. Then, Sweden, a pacy, semi-autobiographical song from Hugh Cornwell who lived there while studying for his chemistry degree (a qualification he shares with Margaret Thatcher!) 'Toiler on the Sea' concludes the 'White' side in typical Stranglers fashion (most Stranglers albums contain one track that is considerably longer than the rest) being an up-tempo sea shanty of epic proportions.
The 'Black' side is fittingly darker in both tone and material, being largely the contributions of Jean-Jacques Burnel, in contrast to Hugh Cornwell's other side. Opening with the apocalyptic 'Curfew,' JJ shouts about martial law and civil war in post-nuclear age Britain. 'Threatened' follows pounding and builds like a misanthropic mantra. Then, 'Do You Wanna,' offers slogans before a bridge leads straight into the next track, 'Death and Night and Blood (Yukio),' which refers to Japanese author, Yukio Mishima who committed hara-kiri in 1970. 'In the Shadows' is, for me, the album's nadir, a creaky filler. Black and White concludes with 'Enough Time,' which lends credence to George Melly's description of The Stranglers as 'musical dada.' The men in black were sufficiently touched by Mr. Melly's well-meant opinion to write a song for him, 'Old Codger,' which he sang and recorded with the band. The track made it onto the B-side of their single 'Walk On By,' which, originally, was given away with vinyl copies of Black and White--a fascinating and bizarre LP that has aged well and reflects a time of maturity and musical development for The Stranglers.


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