Tag Archive: Penguin Books

The power games of Denial

DENIAL directed by Mick Jackson (UK/USA, 2016)

denial1It is something of a paradox that in our fact check dominated world, liars and cheats continue to flourish.

A quick Google search will expose the most blatant of falsehoods but, as the campaigns of Brexit and Trump have proven, you can win votes simply by repeating lies ad infinitum.

Holocaust denier and credited British historian David Irving was and is a pants on fire specialist but he has never wavered from his position as a Hitler apologist. This film gives a clue as to what motivates him and how he is a potent (and pungent) example of someone who redefines the ‘truth’ to justify his own ends.

The movie is adapted from David Hare’s stage play which was in turn based on Deborah E. Lipstadt’s book ‘History On Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier’.

At its centre is the Irving vs Penguin Books Ltd trial which took place in 2000 at the High Court of Justice in London and gave judgement on Irving’s claim that Lipstadt had made libellous statements against him in her 1993 book ‘Denying The Holocaust’. Continue reading


LIST OF THE LOST by Morrissey (Penguin Books, 2015)

“If you must write prose and poems, the words you use must be your own. Don’t plagiarise or take on loan” – lyrics from Cemetry Gates by The Smiths.

The kindest thing you can say about Stephen Patrick Morrissey’s first, and surely last, published work of fiction is that he follows his own advice and writes in his own words.

Some lines would even make admirable song lyrics :
“Accept the enslavement of my undying love,
Or bear my unpleasant cruelty,
For dearly I love you,
More than any other could”

Unfortunately, this is not a record but a novella and the results are positively dire. Continue reading

A CUP OF SAKE BENEATH THE CHERRY TREES by Kenkō (Translated by Meredith McKinney)

Yoshida Kenkō at work – just to prove that he didn’t just sit around all day doing nothing!

Kenkō was a Japanese Buddhist monk who was probably born in 1283 and probably died in 1352 (nobody knows for sure).

This pocket-sized book is one of eighty 80p  ‘Little Black Classics’ and is a much reduced version of his Essays In Idleness.

Despite its 14th century provenance it has a remarkably contemporary application. It illustrates that the vanity of human wishes change little from century to century or from country to country. Continue reading

MorrisseyWhat is up with Morrissey?

Recently he has cancelled more gigs than he’s played, is without a record contract and now comes news that his autobiography is not, after all, going to be published by Penguin.

Apparently, the book was due to hit the stores on September 16th,  a fact that frankly I find hard to believe as there are no review copies and there has been relatively very little hype.

All we have to prove that some writing exists (part of 600 pages) is a story The Bleak Moor Lies  which appeared  in The Dark Monarch: Magic & Modernity In British Art edited by Michael Bracewell, Martin Clark and Alun Rowlands (Tate Publishing). Continue reading


NW by Zadie Smith (Penguin Books, 2012)

“Ambitious though she was, she was still a NW girl at heart”.

What is true of her fictional creation Natalie Blake, is also true of Zadie Smith.

It’s another way of saying : ‘you can take a woman out of NW but you can’t take NW out of the woman’.

Zadie Smith’s last novel, On Beauty, transferred E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End to contemporary Boston. It was highly praised but met with some criticism from American readers for the lack of authenticity in getting the stateside vernacular right.

As a consequence, Smith has vowed never to set another novel in the U.S. and has returned to the safe and known territory of her manor, principally Willesden and Kilburn in North West London.

The loyalty to this zone is voiced by Leah Hanwell, the other of the two female protagonists in the novel,: “Leah is as faithful in her allegiance to this two-mile square of the city as other people are to their families, or their countries. She knows the way people speak around here, that ‘fuckin’, around here, is only a rhythm in a sentence.”

This is not to say that this is the most fashionable or desirable part of London. It is described thus: “Ungentrified, ungentrifiable. Boom and bust never came here. Here bust is permanent”.

I would hazard a guess that Leah, white, and the more ambitious Natalie (Keisha) Blake, black, represent two sides to Zadie Smith’s character – Natalie is swotty and conventional, Leah is more worldly, rebellious and less idealistic. Continue reading

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