RSS

Tag Archives: literature

Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks – David Lavery

Full of Secrets contains virtually everything you need to know about Twin Peaks. This fascinating collection of essays considers David Lynch’s politics, the enigmatic musical score, and the show’s cult status, treatment of violence, obsession with doubling, and silencing of women. Also included are a director and writer list, a cast list, a Twin Peaks calendar, a complete scene breakdown for the entire series, and a comprehensive bibliography.

What a comeback event the first few episodes of the third season  of Twin Peaks was. No doubt one of the seminal shows of television history, this book analyses the first two seasons and prequel film Fire Walk With me but rest assured as ever, there are no spoilers contained anywhere within this review.

The twelve detailed analyses contained in this collection are part of the fascinating world of deconstruction that never ceases to revolve around this enigmatic show.  It is a shame, then, that it is such a challenge to tease out the interesting bits from a lot of overblown posturing.

Any attempt to intellectualise Twin Peaks (as written by these authors all with a Ph.d) will predictably straddle the fine line between pretentious and sometimes insightful.  There is a lot called on here to illustrate points from art and literature all the way through to Semiotics.  It underlines the point that when something is a mystery, more obscure references must be pulled in to explain points and thus widen and convolute the original enigma.

The selection of subjects is of varying interest, the internet chatrooms – in their infancy in the early 90’s – is interesting, as the state of US TV and how programmes are marketed to different demographics. Any mention of Umberto Eco is always likely to make my day as well. Read the rest of this entry »

 
31 Comments

Posted by on 23/05/2017 in Essays, TV

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Philippine Back A Few Days Now

I am finally back with a tan, photos, great and sometimes – mostly – unexpected experiences, and a whole lot of things to say about my escapades. Whilst I get all the photos and notes sorted for that, not to mention my sleeping pattern and such, I can, to keep up this spirit of the blog’s original intention introduce you to the books I procured whilst over there in the sun.  Also a quick thanks to Dreaming Robot Press who this morning offered me a review future copy of The Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide 2018.

First a note on the bookshops, I only visited three surprisingly, one had pretty steep prices for second-hand books but seemed more reasonable for new books oddly; a chain called National Book Store, which was one of those shops that has more gift ideas than books.  It’s always a sad state of affairs seeing the books diminish and the choice was lacking in my opinion, unless you are a fan of bestsellers that is.  My taste for obscure gems I so love to find was reserved for Fully Booked which had the best selection and a sexy set of Penguin Classics that had me caressing the spines with a one track mind.

To the books though and there seems little point in going to a country if you aren’t going to immerse yourself in its past, especially one which isn’t so popular on Western shelves.  Having chosen to start reading José Rizal’s incendiary classic, Noli Me tángere (Touch Me Not) for the journey (of which a review is coming soon),  I nevertheless picked up some books which will give me some insight into this fascinating country, which I can’t wait to visit again. Read the rest of this entry »

 
48 Comments

Posted by on 16/05/2017 in Lists/Ephemera, The Philippines, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Next Year in Jerusalem – John Kolchak

A brutal re-imagining of the Gospel story, Next Year in Jerusalem follows the footsteps of Yeshua Bar-Yosif–an illiterate, epileptic, bastard son of a Roman soldier on his ill-fated life journey through a land racked by terror.

As first century Judea bleeds from the oppression of Roman rule and the violent uprisings against it, Yeshua, tormented by familial guilt for abandoning his mother, eventually forms his own family of travelers who preach for peace and compassion in the face of internecine savagery. Their wanderings lead to encounters with false prophets, assassins, and a rapidly growing movement of extremist rebels whose leader Bar-Abbas’ mission is to expel the Romans and establish an ethnocentric theocracy. Chance sends both Yeshua and Bar-Abbas to the court of Pontius Pilate–the dipsomaniac Governor obsessed with leaving a name for himself in the scrolls of history–and the outcome of that meeting seals the fate of the world for the next two millennia.

With urgent parallels to contemporary issues of religious war, this book is both a lament and a warning. It is also a story about the passage of time, the nature of memory, and of mankind’s inherent yearning for life everlasting.

When a HBO researcher gets in touch and asks if you want to review his book, it’s a no brainer so this week I have been spending my time back in Biblical days, enjoying an interesting alternative and to some controversial version of the Gospels which has plenty of interesting theories about those accounts and will certainly inspire plenty of debate.

There is much to intrigue the reader about this book, including plenty of subversion to the original biblical stories as well as a solid depiction of the brutal world of the time, a land torn with rival beliefs which will resonate with readers today as we still see the effects of those ripples all around us.

The main characters of Yeshua and Pilate get plenty of backstory, their memories, philosophies and motivations are established quickly and explored in-depth.  Yeshua is seen as vulnerable, conflicted and frequently unsure of himself and his beliefs, whilst Pilate – the more intriguing of the two character for me – is lost,all alone in his own existential nightmare. Read the rest of this entry »

 
21 Comments

Posted by on 07/04/2017 in Fiction, Philosophy

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Taking the Long Way Around

After a week or two in the wilderness – by which I mean not on the internet much – I am returned (and will do a drive by commenting on all your blogs tomorrow) and it seems like a good time to recap on the books I have been picking up cheaply in the last few months from second hand places.

I Stared at the Night of the City will be the first book I have read which has been translated from Kurdish so looking forward to that and it is good to see that my quest to collect émile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart sequence in completely non matching editions is still going strong. Read the rest of this entry »

 
47 Comments

Posted by on 29/03/2017 in Blogging, Lists/Ephemera, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Holiday – Stevie Smith

Celia works at the Ministry in the post-war England of 1949 and lives in a London suburb with her beloved Aunt. Witty, fragile, quixotic, Celia is preoccupied with love — for her friends, her colleagues, her relations, and especially for her adored cousin Casmilus, with whom she goes on holiday to visit Uncle Heber, the vicar. Here they talk endlessly, argue, eat, tell stories, love and hate — moments of wild humour alternating with waves of melancholy as Celia ponders obsessively on the inevitable pain of love.

Alarm bells were ringing fairly early on with this one, it was all to do with the dreadful, disjointed, uninteresting conversation at a dinner party. A lack of speech marks didn’t help the book’s case either.

Getting over that hurdle early on, the book opened out into an assorted collection of meditations on the experiences of love and politics and the past, before becoming mildly irritating towards the end.  This is a book that will probably polarise opinions of all who read it.

There is little to add to the above blurb in terms of storyline, you are getting precisely what you read there.  It all rests on the quality of said writing and that is where this reader would have preferred more balance, what Smith says is much more interesting than the way She has written down.  Whilst the whimsical structure and thought processes of Celia and co. work well enough, it is the writing itself that troubled me.

There is plenty of repetition of certain words, whether in the same sentence or throughout a conversation, it’s distracting to be told four times within a page that the same character is saying something maliciously, for example.  Whether this writing is an intentional choice or through lack of a decent editor, I don’t know but it soon becomes tiresome.  There is a richness to our language and often I was mentally inserting my own words to avoid the repetitiveness.

It all feels very English, the countryside setting in summer is delightful and I enjoyed being there.  The novel possess a dreamy melancholia for the past (relationships and ways of life); as well as the uncertain future – to the backdrop of the Indian independence, and the waning of the British Empire – for the characters as well as the country. Read the rest of this entry »

 
29 Comments

Posted by on 18/03/2017 in Fiction

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Women Everywhere!

As you probably know it’s International Women’s Day today. which is a handy time to show my appreciation to all my lady friends and readers who are always writing inspiring reviews of wonderful books, especially those of women.  Thank you and big shouts outs go to Letizia, Claire, Lynn, Ali, Lucy and Sarah amongst others for championing such books and in particular the Virago series.

Reflecting on this blog as I often do, there is a disparity of the sexes, mainly because I pick up whatever I fancy rather than focussing on gender but thanks to numerous bloggers out there.  Still over the last eight or so months I’ve been keeping my eye out for a more diverse range of books to add to the collective.

Special thanks to Lynn for telling me about the Green spines and the apple thereon of Virago which allowed me to skim quickly over the shelves and not be tempted by many other books as I wandered around the charity shops in search of fresh books.  Over the rest of the year, I am hoping to give more balance to what I read and hopefully get more of an understanding of a wider range of literature which is always an exciting prospect. Read the rest of this entry »

 
39 Comments

Posted by on 08/03/2017 in Blogging, Fiction

 

Tags: , , , ,

Tally’s Corner: A Study of Negro Streetcorner Men – Elliot Liebow

thecornerThe first edition of Tally’s Corner, a sociological classic selling more than one million copies, was the first compelling response to the culture of poverty thesis-that the poor are different and, according to conservatives, morally inferior-and alternative explanations that many African-Americans are caught in a tangle of pathology owing to the absence of black men in families. The debate has raged up to the present day. Yet Liebow’s shadow theory of values-especially the values of poor, urban, black men-remains the single most parsimonious account of the reasons why the behavior of the poor appears to be at odds with the values of the American mainstream.

While Elliot Liebow’s vivid narrative of “street-corner” black men remains unchanged, the new introductions to this long-awaited revised edition bring the book up to date. Wilson and Lemert describe the debates since 1965 and situate Liebow’s classic text in respect to current theories of urban poverty and race. They account for what Liebow might have seen had he studied the street corner today after welfare has been virtually ended and the drug economy had taken its toll. They also take stock of how the new global economy is a source of added strain on the urban poor. Discussion of field methods since the 1960s rounds out the book’s new coverage.

I first became aware of this book through reading the excellent The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighbourhood; which would eventually form the bedrock of so many storylines in The Wire.  In many ways that book is the perfect follow-up to Tally’s Corner, which in itself is a dynamic study of relationships in poorer neighbourhoods and their place in wider society.

This seminal work focuses on a cross-section of a Washington DC street corner society (poor African-American men who work only intermittently if at all) and the local environs.  It gives the reader a glimpse into a different world, where the choices both men and women make have come about through the struggle against poverty through generations. It’s a world where different rules apply exclusively to them no matter how absurd some will appear to outsiders.

It is thus, a book that rewards reading and learning not so much with pleasure as with the painful recognition that American race troubles remain so stubbornly at the center of social and economic life.

The above quote underlines the lack of understanding still prevailing all these years on, or perhaps the lack of interest in solving the problems that affect us all in some way.  Focussing on the men – who pass mostly under the radar – and their relationships – both work and family – the reader is given an intimate portrait into the life of the time. The cast is fairly sizeable and diverse and all the stories are equally fascinating of challenging in different ways. Read the rest of this entry »

 
12 Comments

Posted by on 05/03/2017 in Sociology

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: