Category: Books


To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine (Faber & Faber, 2018)

vivThis is not a memoir about music but if you come to it as a fan of The Slits you will not be disappointed by the embodiment of the punk spirit that Viv Albertine represents.

In it, she describes herself as questioning, militant, aggressive, secretly shy, awkward, mistrustful and solitary. Continue reading

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Making time for Ishiguro

A PALE VIEW OF HILLS by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, 1982)

paleviewofhills72436I can’t remember why , after reading and enjoying ‘Remains Of The Day’ in 1989, I didn’t follow this up by immediately seeking out other books by Kazuo Ishiguro. Maybe I was swayed by negative reviews of his other novels or perhaps I dipped into one without any real committment.

Certainly, if I had been looking for fast-paced fiction with a clear linear narrative structure I would have been disappointed. Ishiguro’s writing is built around emotional reflections rather than being preoccupied with standard plot-driven devices.

I have come to recognize that patience is a virtue when it comes to reading. Writers that are superficially accessible are usually the least rewarding. Thankfully, therefore, I’ve belatedly discovered how rich and powerful Ishiguro’s other novels are. Continue reading

NO LAUGHING MATTER by Anthony Cronin (First published by Grafton Books, 1989)

984085There are certain novels, like Robert Musil’s ‘The Man Without Qualities’, that I find too daunting to even attempt and others, such as Malcolm Lowry’s ‘Under The Volcano’ that I have tried but failed to complete.

‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ by Flann O’Brien was, until this year, gathering dust in my unfinished pile. I have Anthony Cronin’s candid and informative biography of O’Brien to thank for finally completing this short, comic but notoriously challenging novel.

Cronin skillfully puts the work into a literary and historical context while bluntly presenting the man behind it as a sad character. Continue reading

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

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

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