Category: Books


WALKAWAY – a novel by Cory Doctorow (Head Of Zeus, 2017)

220px-walkaway_28a_cory_doctorow_novel29_book_coverWhat is it that derails dreams of utopia and resigns us to the notion that the future is fated to turn out dystopian? Cory Doctorow‘s ambitious and entertaining novel doesn’t provide any definitive answers to this plight but asks plenty of thought-provoking questions.

The problems of the soul-corroding world of work in the modern world are vividly described by Doctorow as one character  remembers a daily routine consisting of “early mornings crunched on meaningless deadlines with the urgency of a car-crash for no discernible reason”.

Cory Doctorow poses the question : If another world to this is possible, what would it be like? His answer comes in the form of a utopian vision of a “better nation” which takes the sociopolitical aims of the Occupy Movement to their logical conclusion. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE directed by Lynne Ramsey (USA, 2018)

you_were_never_really_hereThis breathtaking and riveting film is based on a novella of the same name by Jonathan Ames. As the title suggests, it is the story of a man (Joe) deep in the throes of an existential crisis.

We see him hovering on a train platform evidently contemplating suicide and in a very real sense he is already half-dead inside. Ramsey described Joe as “a ghost in his own life”. Continue reading

SILENCE IN THE AGE OF NOISE by Erling Kagge (Viking, 2017)

cover Blaise Pascal was exaggerating for effect when he wrote that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone” but I understand the point he was making. If you are not at ease with yourself, how can you be truly at peace with the world?

Norwegian explorer, publisher and Rolex model Erling Kagge quotes Pascal but his own lifestyle doesn’t involve much sitting around alone. He has climbed Everest and journeyed to the North and South Poles. He once spent fifty days walking across the Antarctica during which he had no contact with the outside world and no encounters with any human being until he reached his destination. In his Ted Talk (Another Lecture On Nothing) he says “I believe in making life more complicated than it needs to be”. Continue reading

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