A magical century

23 04 2016

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

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Equally tragic, joyful and comical, Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a seamless blend of fantasy and reality, translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa in Penguin Modern Classics.

Gabriel García Márquez’s great masterpiece is the story of seven generations of the Buendía family and of Macondo, the town they have built. Though little more than a settlement surrounded by mountains, Macondo has its wars and disasters, even its wonders and miracles. A microcosm of Columbian life, its secrets lie hidden, encoded in a book and only Aureliano Buendía can fathom its mysteries and reveal its shrouded destiny. Blending political reality with magic realism, fantasy with comic invention, One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of the most daringly original works of the twentieth century.

Can’t believe it took me so long to get round to reading this. A huge sweeping narrative covering successive generations of one family in the town they founded it has simply got everything in there. Outstanding.

4.5 stars





Honour bound

3 04 2016

Sword of Honour by Evelyn Waugh

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Fictionalising his experience of service during the Second World War, Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour is the complete one-volume edition of his masterful trilogy, edited with an introduction by Angus Calder in Penguin Modern Classics.

Waugh’s own unhappy experience of being a soldier is superbly re-enacted in this story of Guy Crouchback, a Catholic and a gentleman, commissioned into the Royal Corps of Halberdiers during the war years 1939-45. High comedy – in the company of Brigadier Ritchie-Hook or the denizens of Bellamy’s Club – is only part of the shambles of Crouchback’s war. When action comes in Crete and in Yugoslavia, he discovers not heroism, but humanity. Sword of Honour combines three volumes: Officers and GentlemenMen at Arms and Unconditional Surrender, which were originally published separately. Extensively revised by Waugh, they were published as the one-volume Sword of Honour in 1965, in the form in which Waugh himself wished them to be read.

Comedy, chaos and Catholicism are all here in spades in this classic novel. It covers a big slice of history, features a great cast of characters and is entertaining throughout. Recommended.

stars-4-0._V5268001_





Cheggers played pop: approximation of a playlist §67

28 03 2016

Just a few of the artists who appeared on one extraordinary TV show

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Cheggers Plays Pop was a classic game show (with an impossibly enthusiastic host) which involved a series of quiz rounds for kids interspersed with some music. What I always enjoyed was the sheer variety of the bands showcased. As this eclectic sample of performers demonstrates:

Suzi Quatro – If You Can’t Give Me Love
Slade – Give Us A Goal
Showaddywaddy – I Wonder Why
Mud – Cut Across Shorty
Sailor – All I Need Is A Girl
Darts – The Boy From New York City
The Dooleys – Don’t Take It Lyin Down
Brotherhood Of Man – Beautiful Lover
Lindisfarne – Run For Home250px-Cheggersplayspop_logo_large
Brian & Michael – Ma, When’s Me Dad Coming Home/Matchstick Men…
Racey – Some Girls
Rocky Sharpe & the Replays – Imagination
The Real Thing – Can You Feel The Force
M – Pop Musik
The Monks – Nice Legs, Shame About The Face
Dollar – Who Were You With In The Moonlight
The Wurzels – Wurzeling Time in Somerset
The Grumbleweeds – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick/Do You Think I’m Sexy
The Krankies – Charlie Brown
The Buggles – Clean Clean
Shakin’ Stevens – Hot Dog
Barbara Dickson – January February
The Lambrettas – Poison Ivy
Dexys Midnight Runners – Geno
Undertones – My Perfect Cousin
Bad Manners – Ne Ne Na Na Na Na Nu Nu
New Seekers – Tell Me
Jona Lewie – You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties
B.A.Robertson – To Be Or Not To Be
Bucks Fizz – Making Your Mind Up
Coast To Coast – Do The Hucklebuck
Duran Duran – Planet Earth
The Beat – All Out To Get You
Toyah – I Want To Be Free
Department S – Is Vic There?
999 – Obsessed
Paul Shane & Ruth Madoc – Hi De Hi (Holiday Rock)
Tenpole Tudor – Swords Of A Thousand Men
Modern Romance – Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey
Altered Images – See Those Eyes
A Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran
Classix Nouveaux – Is It A Dream
Alvin Stardust – Weekend
Bananarama & Fun Boy Three – Really Saying Something
Madness – House Of Fun
Haircut 100 – Fantastic Day
Bow Wow Wow – See Jungle (Jungle Boy)
Tight Fit – Fantasy Island
Yazoo – Only You
ABC – The Look Of Love
Nolans – Crashing Down
JoBoxers – Just Got Lucky
Big Country – In A Big Country
The Police – Every Breath You Take
The Fun Adicts – Bad Boys
Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
Blancmange – Don’t Tell Me
Bluebells – I’m Falling
Captain Sensible – Glad It’s All Over
Matt Bianco – Sneakin’ Out The Backdoor
Kajagoogoo – Turn Your Back
Nik Kershaw – Dancing Girls
Hazel Dean – Searching
Pauline Black – Pirates On The Airways
Flying Pickets – When You’re Young And In Love
Boomtown Rats – Drag Me Down
Limahl – Two Much Trouble
Spandau Ballet – Only When You Leave
Scritti Politti – Absolute
David Cassidy – Someone
Strawberry Switchblade – Jolene
Erasure – Who Needs Love Like That
Depeche Mode – It’s Called A Heart
Level 42 – Something About You
Ruby Turner – Bye Bye
The Stranglers – Nice In Nice
Hollywood Beyond – No More Tears
Amazulu – Montego Bay
Curiosity Killed The Cat – Misfit
The Housemartins – Think For A Minute
Kim Wilde – You Keep Me Hanging On
Red Box – For America
And finally, in episode 82, on 7th November 1986:
Dr & the Medics – Burn

 





Indignant

26 03 2016

Indignation by Philip Roth

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It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. A studious, law-abiding, intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio’s Winesburg College. And why is he here and not at a local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hardworking neighbourhood butcher seems to have gone mad – mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in the every corner for his beloved boy. So Marcus leaves and, far from home, has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.

Indignation is the story of a young man’s education in life’s terrifying chances and bizarre obstructions. It is a story of inexperience, foolishness, intellectual resistance, sexual discovery, courage and error, told with all the inventive energy and with Roth has at his command.

It’s classic Roth territory. Brilliantly written and sharp as ever Roth crafts a story of real power here, highly evocative and with an unusual twist.

four stars





Would you buy a hoody from these people?

21 03 2016

An interesting sales pitch…

No. not that kind of iconic university clothing

No, not that kind of clothing

 

Text of a letter received (with a “clothe” sample) in Vice-Chancellor’s Office. I have changed the name of the company to protect the innocent. They really do need to get someone to work on that translation into English.

 

Dear Vice-Chancellor

I’m the responsible of the relationship between my company and the Universities.

ABC, an Italian fashion company, would like realise a merchandising line for your university.

I have sent you one of our iconic clothe to explain you the high quality of our production.

The University world is always in our D.N.A. and I’d like to speak with the person who cares the merchandising of the University of Nottingham.

I hope to have an help from you and to create a link between two big excellences like ABC and University of Nottingham.

Thanks for your attention.

Thank you indeed.





No time for a nap

19 03 2016

An After Dinner’s Sleep by Stanley Middleton

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One winter evening Alistair Murray opens his door to Eleanor Franks, a woman he has not seen for decades. A man apparently content with his life, even his retirement and bereavement have come as part of the natural order of things. But just when he thinks he must get used to the slow, lonely decline into old age, Eleanor arrives to make him call into question everything he has taken for granted.

Terrific to see Stanley Middleton’s books reissued after decades in the literary wilderness. This novel is a great example of Middleton’s understated, subtle and yet incisive observations of suburban existence in which a widower has his life turned upside down by an old flame who knocks on his door one day. Finely crafted.

four stars





Forgotten dreams

12 03 2016

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

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Robert Grainer is a day labourer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century – an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Shipped by train in 1893 into the woods of the Idaho panhandle, he grows up, works on logging gangs, falls in love, and loses his wife and baby daughter to a particularly pernicious wildfire. Derailed by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime.

Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West, Train Dreams captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.

A beautifully balanced and lyrical novella in which an ordinary labourer struggles to come to terms with his life in this rapidly changing country. Short and quiet but far from slight. An outstanding work.

4.5 stars








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