Archive for Category ‘Book Reviews’

John Warner: The Funny Man

Reviewed by Declan Tan John Warner’s debut novel, about the rise and fall of an unnamed American comedian known only as “the funny man”, is a mulchy broth of satire, cultural commentary and La-Z-Boy philosophy that simmers away on lukewarm,

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PK: BibliOdyssey: Amazing Archival Images from the Internet

Reviewed by Sourav Roy How does one review a book like BibliOdyssey? This is not just a rhetorical question to open a book review, but also a genuine query. Because though BibliOdyssey feels like a book and looks like a (very handsome) book, is anything

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Judy Collins: Sweet Judy Blue Eyes

Reviewed by Robert O’Connor Life Magazine called Judy Collins the “gentle voice amid the strife” when it put her on its cover in 1969. The next year, her sublime voice brought the 18th-century hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ to the top of the pop charts. I

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James Sallis: Drive

Reviewed by Declan Tan If Camus had been at all interested in the crime or noir genre, then you could imagine he might produce something vaguely comparable to James Sallis’ novel Drive. Trotting in at a similar duration to Camus’ classic The Fall,

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Roger Ebert: Life Itself: A Memoir

Reviewed by Robert O’Connor “I was born inside the movie of my life.” That sentence starts off Roger Ebert’s new memoir, Life Itself. The first chapter, ‘Memory’ – which is numbered zero in the table of contents – shows the great arc of

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Future Media: edited by Rick Wilber

Reviewed by Jacob Knowles-Smith Norman Mailer hated television. He distrusted email. He even hated plastic. Marshall McLuhan was probably right, to some extent, to suggest that Mailer had a Victorian attitude towards technology. Other critics, past and

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Jonathan Walker and Dan Hallett: Five Wounds: An Illuminated Novel

Reviewed by Declan Tan Not every book looks and feels like an artefact when you pick it up. Oftentimes it is just words printed across cheap paper, the literal form of it separated from its content, cased in a merely functional cover with some gluey

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Kevin Avery: Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life And Writings Of Paul Nelson

Reviewed by Robert O’Connor Frank Zappa once said “most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.” However true that might be, Paul Nelson was one who

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Candice Millard: Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

Reviewed by Greg Houle Long relegated to history’s vast nether regions of obscurity, the twentieth president of the United States, James A. Garfield is best known for two things: he was the last of the American presidents to be born in a log cabin

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Dan Fante: Fante: A Family’s Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving

Reviewed by Declan Tan Opening with the familiar visions of snow from the likes of Wait Until Spring, Bandini and Dago Red (‘Bricklayer in the Snow’), Dan Fante kicks off, like Svevo and Arturo of his father’s novels, buried in an image of purest

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Suraya Sadeed with Damien Lewis: Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse

Reviewed by Amanda Simms Suraya Sadeed’s memoirs begin with a dramatic recollection of smuggling $35,000 across the Afghanistan border beneath a burkha in 1998. What follows is a blend of autobiography, the history of the post-Soviet Afghanistan, as

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Tequila Tales: An Anthology of Short Fiction

Reviewed by Declan Tan The Tequila Tales anthology (edited by Millie Johanna Heur and Roy Anthony Shabla) is an eclectic mixture of genre, style and content that unites a well-published group of writers on the single and divisive subject of, yes, tequila.

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Mark Kermode: The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex: What’s Wrong with Modern Movies? (Random House)

Reviewed by Jim McConalogue  Mark Kermode is his same old self in this book. Like your straight-talking granddad balling on about the price of a cinema ticket, it is littered with anti-Hollywood sentiments (which for Kermode, and for film buffs generally,

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100 Artists’ Manifestos – From the Futurists to the Stuckists: Selected by Alex Danchev

Reviewed by Ben Granger 1. The purpose of politics is to inspire art. The only useful thing it has ever achieved When Marshall Brennan argued “The Manifesto is remarkable for its imaginative power… It is the first great modernist work of art”, he

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Christopher Hitchens: Arguably (Atlantic Books)

Reviewed by Jacob Knowles-Smith The critic, wrote H.L. Mencken in his Prejudices, “makes the work of art live for the spectator; he makes the spectator live for the work of art”. If we take this as a fair and desirable definition of a critic; which,

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Heidegger: Hederated or With Hakenkreuz?

Martin Heidegger: Routledge Critical Thinkers (2nd ed.), Timothy Clark. 197 pages. Routledge, London and New York. Reviewed by Jonathan Reynolds As postmodernism has faded for professional intellectuals in the West and also, still, because of his engagement

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Dog Man’s A Star: Howard Hardiman’s The Lengths

A comic book that tells the story of dog-headed gay male escorts living in a London world of sex, drug dealers and porn stars isn’t going to be the easiest sell to a casual reader. Certainly The Lengths won’t be for everyone, but Hardiman has taken

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Ipswich Zero 6: A Meeting with Ray Hollingsworth

There’s nothing new about writers using real crimes for research, but Ray Hollingsworth’s involvement in the high-profile murders of Ipswich working girls became a lot more personal. Jeanette Hewitt met the author to find out more In 2006, my hometown

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Jill McGivering: Far from my Father’s House

Jill McGivering is a BBC foreign correspondent and has reported from all over the world, including some of its poorest and most conflict scarred countries. In Far from my Father’s House, her second novel, she employs her wealth of experience in the

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Caitlin Moran: How To Be a Woman

Bible, manifesto, rant, autobiography, and instruction manual rolled into one. Reviewed by Vikki Littlemore Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman, putting water on the fire of my own year-long hope, is far from a how-to guide to being anything. What

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Red Heat: Alex Von Tunzelmann

Alex Von Tunzelmann serves up a thrilling take on the Cold War. Reviewed by Vikki Littlemore Notwithstanding the racy title, it’s possible for Alex Von Tunzelmann’s Red Heat, a substantially detailed account of politics in the Caribbean, to

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On Curling Up In A Ball: Ronald Dworkin: Justice For Hedgehogs

Ronald Dworkin’s latest book attempts to engage with moral truths and the pursuit of a meaningful life. Jacob Knowles-Smith reviews No mention of Professor Dworkin’s latest work, Justice for Hedgehogs, can pass by without the following: “The fox

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Charlie Hill: The Space Between Things

Reviewed by Declan Tan Charlie Hill’s debut novel seems already to have been pigeonholed as a love-story, a certainly tragic one, between its narrator, Arch (a character who has already made appearances on the independent literary scene) and Vee, the

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Repackaged Misogyny: Natasha Walter: Living Dolls

Jacob Knowles-Smith considers whether gender politics have lost their direction and clout through the prism of two recent books Anyone who has even the briefest acquaintance with nightclubs in recent years will have seen girls dressed as Playboy bunnies

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Monster’s Ball: Trouble in the Congo

Greg Houle reviews Jason Stearns’ troubled history of the Congo Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. In one of the final chapters of Jason K. Stearns’ significant new book Dancing in the Glory

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