Amusing, but really not that alarming

24 02 2018

Going Off Alarming: The Autobiography: Vol 2 by Danny Baker

The dazzlingly funny second volume of Danny Baker’s memoirs: the television years.

Since my first book was published I have had countless friends and family members get in touch to say how come I hadn’t included this story or that tale. Was I ashamed of being shot twice, once up the arse, in Jamaica Road? How long should a man live with such a secret? If by retrospectively dropping my trousers every few pages I can reveal a fuller picture of myself during these years, then so be it.

Besides. Being shot up the arse. In front of your mates.

What else did he forget? Loads, and there’s undoubtedly plenty more to come. A couple of years after eventually getting to the first volume, I finally got round to volume 2. There are some laugh out load moments, a great set of stories involving the dog, Twizzle, and just lots of entertaining anecdotes from the world of Baker (plus the yarn about being shot up the arse). I have to say I found the final chunk of the book, focused on Paul Gascoigne, really not that interesting though.

 

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Ruptured

17 02 2018

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson

 

1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik, who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

It’s a pretty decent thriller, very atmospheric and rather spooky. Plenty of twists and turns and much to keep your interest right to the end. And the Icelandic setting really adds to the flavour.

 

 





Dead good

10 02 2018

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo – and as ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders’ inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices – living and dead, historical and fictional – Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?

Not at all sure it is better than some of the other books on the Man Booker longlist or shortlist but nevertheless it is a really excellent read. From some unfathomable principle I generally aim to avoid reading Man Booker winners for at least a few years. However, in this case I’m really glad I didn’t as it really is an incredibly original work, clever, funny and very moving in places.

 

four stars





Not as good as the Fall: Approximation of a Playlist §71

3 02 2018

Artists not wholly despised by Mark E Smith

 

 

Having commented on a collection of previous Fall-related posts I was reminded of the fact that MES was notoriously scathing of other musicians and bands but in his autobiography he did name a perhaps surprisingly eclectic group of artists of whom he didn’t wholly disapprove. Although none of them were a patch on the mighty Fall of course. There are some interesting inclusions…


Can
The Kinks
Sex Pistols
The Stooges
Led Zeppelin
The Las
Chuck Berry
John Cooper Clarke
Buzzcocks
T.Rex
Happy Mondays
Stone Roses

And, perhaps most surprisingly

Alvin Stardust
Gary Glitter

plus, in a recent interview, he did express some enthusiasm for Sleaford Mods

It’s certainly an interesting list.








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