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ALL GATES OPEN. THE STORY OF CAN by Rob Young (Faber & Faber, 2018)

All-Gates-OpenThis is a long overdue, but slightly disappointing, study of the career and legacy of a remarkable and unique Krautrock band.

Author Rob Young’s approach is workmanlike although perhaps a little too much in awe of his subject matter. That said, he is well qualified for the task of writing the band’s biography since as he has written articles and conducted interviews over the years, mostly for The Wire magazine.

Gaining access to the inner sanctum of Can’s rehearsal /recording spaces gave him some insights into how their sound was created but despite his thorough research and analysis, the band remain wonderfully enigmatic. View full article »


Less by Andrew Sean Greer (First published in the USA by Lee Boudreaux Books 2017)

lessAs a picaresque, comic novel this, at first glance, appears to be an unlikely winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Yet, although there are moments of high farce, there is a serious message behind the humour.

It is the bitter-sweet tale of Arthur Less, who is about to turn 50 and is described as “an author too old to be fresh and too young to be rediscovered”. He is far from being a failure but a long way from being the success he once dreamed of. He is a single gay man whose most significant of numerous relationships was with a Pulitzer prize-winning poet who is now gravely ill.

Aside from this, Less has recently ended a relationship with a younger man on such amicable terms that he has been invited to his ex’s wedding. Anxious to avoid this, he devises a plan. View full article »

Life during VAR time

fifavrThe mission of the video assistant referee (VAR) and his three assistants at the FIFA World Cup in Russia is to identify and eradicate human error.

In theory, the VAR room interventions mean that there will be no more ghost goals, hands of God and erroneous penalty decisions.

As a consequence, the days of diving prima donnas seeking to dupe the match officials would seem to be numbered. Desperate pleas of innocence by offenders will count for nothing as material evidence of their guilt is exposed via video replays. View full article »

DEADPOOL 2 directed by David Leitch (USA, 2018)

deadpoolThe seemingly unstoppable tide of superhero spin-offs and spoofs continues apace and, not coincidentally, is inversely proportional to the feelings of powerlessness we humble spectators face in our daily lives.

The R-Rated X-Men movie Deadpool 2 takes for granted that its target audience are well-versed in big screen incarnations of Marvel /DC stories. View full article »

EX LIBRIS: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY a film by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 2017)ex_libris_e28093_the_new_york_public_library

Zadie Smith expressed it well when in ‘North-west London Blues, when she wrote that: “Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy something to stay”.

Appropriately enough, this essay was published in the New York Review of Books for what applies to the London suburbs applies equally to the bustling metropolis of NYC.

This is more than clear from Frederick Wiseman’s painstakingly epic documentary film which presents many of the Big Apple’s library branches and buildings as beacons of anti-capitalist hope. Although not overtly political, it’s hard to miss the fact that these resources represent the polar opposite of everything Trump and his minions stand for. View full article »

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