American Adventure

30 04 2016

American Interior by Gruff Rhys

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In 1792, John Evans, a twenty-two-year-old farmhand from Snowdonia, Wales, travelled to America to discover whether there was indeed, as widely believed, a tribe of Welsh-speaking native Americans still walking the great plains.

In 2012, Gruff Rhys set out on an ‘investigative concert tour’ in the footsteps of John Evans, with concerts in New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St Louis, North Dakota and more.

American Interior is the story of these journeys. It is also an exploration of how wild fantasies interact with hard history and how myth-making can inspire humans to partake in crazy, vain pursuits of glory, including exploration, war and the creative arts.
Myth and reality collide in this record of an expedition by musician Gruff Rhys to follow in the footsteps of the remarkable 18th century farmhand turned explorer, John Evans. The narrative (and accompanying album) cover the history of both tours into the heart of the American interior in search of the legendary tribe of Welsh-speaking native Americans. It’s a cracking read and the stage show, combining powerpoint and some great songs, was excellent too.
stars-4-0._V5268001_




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_








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