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THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang (Hogarth Books, 2015)
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By turns surreal and nightmarish, this is a short but complex novel which is full of secrets.

In very broad terms I would describe it as a book about descending into silence and , quite possibly , incurable madness.

The main character is Yeong-hye who is, by all accounts, an unremarkable woman. In the words of her brother-in-law: “The only thing that was especially unusual about her was that she didn’t eat meat”.

Her husband is beyond himself with a combination of rage and repulsion over his wife’s sudden change in eating habits. Her father turns to violence and attempts to force feed her meat. She tries to kill herself and is eventually institutionalized. She gives the impression that she would be happy to die and/or become a tree. View full article »

book circleFor the past three years I have signed up to the Goodreads challenge and set myself a target of reading 50 books a year.

By hook or by crook I have met my goal in the past two years helped by including a few novellas and children’s books as the end of year deadline approaches.

On the grand scale of things, my achievements are modest – other users set and meet much higher figures. Still, I like having a record of my reading habits and get a childlike satisfaction from meeting a goal. View full article »

AWOPBOPALLOBOP ALOPBAMBOOM’ by Nik Cohn (Vintage Books, first published 1969)

25324112This book was written when Jim Morrison, Mama Cass, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones were still alive and The Beatles were still together.

The main thing it has going for it is timing. In 1968, pop was still treated as a fad that would fade away so the smart papers didn’t give any serious coverage to its cultural import.

As a cocky, outspoken journalist Nik Cohn was in the right place at the right time and at just 22 had the added advantage of being the right age.

This is an insider’s guide, a fan’s view from the front row written in just seven weeks. Its strength is that Cohn captures the spontaneity of the age but it is seriously flawed by the lack of accuracy and astonishing lapses of judgement. View full article »

Richard Thompson  in concert at Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza, Italy.  19th June 2016

 rtHow great is this?  A pay on the door  chance to see and hear at close quarters one of the great figures in contemporary folk-rock,  and playing solo too.

This was meant to be an outside show in the grounds of Faenza’s elegant ceramic museum but the threat of rain prompted a late change of plans.

A makeshift stage was set up in the gallery space and plastic seats took the place of cushions.

The arrangements were made easier by the fact, that for a class act like Richard Thompson, all you need is a guitar and a glass of water. View full article »

Jo_CoxThis is a blog post in defence of a tweet I wrote this morning which read as follows:  “In honour of Jo Cox & in opposition to the haters & racists, Brits must vote remain on 23/6″

In an excellent article in The Guardian, Polly Toynbee wrote of the “corrosive” anger aroused by the forthcoming referendum on whether Britain remains or leaves the EU.The venomous reaction to my tweet could be construed as evidence of this. Here are a sample of the numerous comments I received:

  • You really are despicable – exploiting her death for political gain
  • Your comment is absolutely disgraceful and shames the Remain campaign
  • You are a heartless, opportunistic ghoul.
  • Shit for brains.

I stand by what I wrote but feel motivated to explain / defend myself beyond the 140 character limit. View full article »

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