ghost of miles

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3 hours ago, A Lark Ascending said:

I find it really odd reading books about the 60s and 70s written by people like Sandbrook and Bray who came of age some time later. 

 

 

 

I feel much the same way about books like Simon Spillett's - admittedly brilliant - biography of Tubby Hayes. Simon is the acknowledged expert - justifiably I think - on Tubby Hayes, but he never heard him play, while I, just an ordinary Joe Soap in the jazz world, heard him play many, many times.But I will grant Simon this - he did seem interested in my recollections of his idol.<_<

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13 hours ago, A Lark Ascending said:

It's a book where you enjoy the journey but I'm not sure what he thinks in the end. At times he seems enthusiastic for the changes, at other times fogeyish. I don't think he lived through the period. I find it really odd reading books about the 60s and 70s written by people like Sandbrook and Bray who came of age some time later. Not sure why. Most history books are written by people who weren't there. 

Have my eye on this one next:

Image result for 1966 the year the decade exploded

Imagine we will be deluged in the next couple of years with 67 and 68 books (the two most mythologised years of the 60s for different reasons).

(The 'year that changed Britain' seems to be in dispute. We also have:

Image result for happened in 1956 uk )

 

I've got the Jon Savage book but it's on my ever-growing 'to read' pile. I'm not sure that there's much of a case for 1956 being the 'year that changed Britain'. It certainly saw the early stages of the birth of the teenager (skiffle, Elvis, Lonnie Donegan etc) but it was all fairly self-contained. I'm surprised that more isn't made of the claims for 1963 with the explosion of Merseybeat, pirate radio, the Profumo scandal (and the breakdown of deference), the Lady Chatterley trial, the Great Train Robbery etc. But maybe there was a book and I missed it. Perhaps the truth is that every year changed Britain in some way.

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2 hours ago, Jazzjet said:

I'm not sure that there's much of a case for 1956 being the 'year that changed Britain'. 

Suez?

Hungary?

Look Back in Anger?

Rock Around the Clock?

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I'm about halfway through James Clifford's Routes, which is an anthropological study of travel and dislocation.  It is quite similar to most modern anthropology tracts/treatises in that it is written in academicese.  I think it is quite possible that the last anthropologist who could write for a general public was Clifford Geertz.

I'm also starting Lem's Memoirs Found in a Bathtub.

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10 hours ago, BillF said:

Suez?

Hungary?

Look Back in Anger?

Rock Around the Clock?

Yes, that is what I was thinking too. The year the dream of Empire came crashing down and the year the idea of the 'special relationship' was revealled publically as little more than window dressing (2016 or 17 might well be a reminder!). 

You could do 'important year' books on most years (and be very controversial by picking a non-obvious one - I'd go for 1955 because I was born then; I'm sure I could construct some arguments from events of that year). Most popular history is inevitably written in linear form - 1945-73, 1815-1914 etc. These year books do serve a useful purpose in slicing down through a very compact period and they tend to be particularly good at covering areas of social history that otherwise might get passed by. I'm not convinced you can assess significance particularly well that way but they make for good reads. A very good one from ten years or so back (maybe it started the trend) was Mark Kurlansky's ' 1968: The Year that Rocked the World.' A year I remember as a 13 year old only just starting to become aware of world affairs (I was convinced World War III was going to break out in August) - I was amazed by how much I had no memory of. 

23 hours ago, BillF said:

I feel much the same way about books like Simon Spillett's - admittedly brilliant - biography of Tubby Hayes. Simon is the acknowledged expert - justifiably I think - on Tubby Hayes, but he never heard him play, while I, just an ordinary Joe Soap in the jazz world, heard him play many, many times.But I will grant Simon this - he did seem interested in my recollections of his idol.<_<

Perennial problem. Who knows most about the Battle of the Somme? The soldier who survived the trenches or the historian 100 years later?  The latter wasn't there but the former only saw a fraction of what went on. From what you say Spillett is doing what a good historian will do - constantly taking in fresh primary evidence and adjusting opinions accordingly. Bet you didn't think you were primary evidence. 

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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2 hours ago, A Lark Ascending said:

Yes, that is what I was thinking too. The year the dream of Empire came crashing down and the year the idea of the 'special relationship' was revealled publically as little more than window dressing (2016 or 17 might well be a reminder!). 

You could do 'important year' books on most years (and be very controversial by picking a non-obvious one - I'd go for 1955 because I was born then; I'm sure I could construct some arguments from events of that year). Most popular history is inevitably written in linear form - 1945-73, 1815-1914 etc. These year books do serve a useful purpose in slicing down through a very compact period and they tend to be particularly good at covering areas of social history that otherwise might get passed by. I'm not convinced you can assess significance particularly well that way but they make for good reads. A very good one from ten years or so back (maybe it started the trend) was Mark Kurlansky's ' 1968: The Year that Rocked the World.' A year I remember as a 13 year old only just starting to become aware of world affairs (I was convinced World War III was going to break out in August) - I was amazed by how much I had no memory of. 

Perennial problem. Who knows most about the Battle of the Somme? The soldier who survived the trenches or the historian 100 years later?  The latter wasn't there but the former only saw a fraction of what went on. From what you say Spillett is doing what a good historian will do - constantly taking in fresh primary evidence and adjusting opinions accordingly. Bet you didn't think you were primary evidence. 

Well, I don't appear in the acknowledgements page. ^_^

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Oh dear! Academic not citing his sources. The book clearly wasn't peer reviewed!  

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20 hours ago, BillF said:

Suez?

Hungary?

Look Back in Anger?

Rock Around the Clock?

Yes, all important events but how many of them had an impact on society as a whole. I remember my parents taking in a couple of Hungarian refugees and me learning to play table tennis (and enjoy goulash) but I'm not sure it changed the way society behaved. The same with Suez, although it might have hastened the process of public mistrust of politicians. The impact of 'Look Back In Anger' was probably limited to the liberal elite. There's more of an argument for 'Rock Around The Clock' which did have a real impact on popular culture, as did skiffle. It probably did a lot to raise the profile of the teenage, although not in a positive way.

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Image result for turner wilton

Large coffee table book I bought some years back and only just got round to actually reading. Helped put the pictures I am aware of in context but rather dry. The author is a custodian of some sort at the Tate. Over-relies on lengthy quotations (to be fair he does say he intends to do this in the intro) and has rather more than I needed to know about his business practices. Had my work cut out distinguishing my picturesque from my beautiful and sublime. 

Brilliant pictures of course, especially towards the end. Though it would seem that some of those semi-abstract pieces were just foundations that he would eventually add the detail to in the gallery but never got round to. 

Image result for minimalism schwartz

Short but informative book. Had no time for Minimalism until about ten years back (apart from Adams whose neo-Romanticism struck chords much earlier). This book gave me some pointers on where to look beyond the few things I have (Spotify has been well used today). A 1996 book so misses more recent developments. The author is essentially very keen on Reich, less so on Glass after the mid-70s (which, from what I've read, is the authorised interpretation). 

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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thissideparadise.jpg

F. Scott Fitzgerald's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, for the jazz age and the post-WWI generation. Touches of brilliance but rather uneven too. 

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13 hours ago, A Lark Ascending said:

Image result for turner wilton

Large coffee table book I bought some years back and only just got round to actually reading. Helped put the pictures I am aware of in context but rather dry. The author is a custodian of some sort at the Tate. Over-relies on lengthy quotations (to be fair he does say he intends to do this in the intro) and has rather more than I needed to know about his business practices. Had my work cut out distinguishing my picturesque from my beautiful and sublime. 

Brilliant pictures of course, especially towards the end. Though it would seem that some of those semi-abstract pieces were just foundations that he would eventually add the detail to in the gallery but never got round to. 

Image result for minimalism schwartz

Short but informative book. Had no time for Minimalism until about ten years back (apart from Adams whose neo-Romanticism struck chords much earlier). This book gave me some pointers on where to look beyond the few things I have (Spotify has been well used today). A 1996 book so misses more recent developments. The author is essentially very keen on Reich, less so on Glass after the mid-70s (which, from what I've read, is the authorised interpretation). 

Any book with a Sempé drawing on the cover can't be all bad.

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51SrOGi25WL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Excellent book about the WWII experiences of five American film directors.

Edited by ghost of miles

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Carl Hiaasen - Razor Girl

Funny as hell (as usual) with the expected gross caricatures, That's what I like the most about Hiaasen. He has characters do the stupidest things, but by the time they do these stupid things, you almost expect it because he'll have crafted their character flaws to the point where you go, "Yeah, he'd do that".

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Image result for the buried giant

"The Remains of the Day" is one of my favourite novels and I also liked "Never Let Me Go". But I really had to force myself to finish this.

Set in the 'Dark Ages' at the time of the Saxon invasions - more specifically in a post-Mount Badon period of relative peace (Gawain, Arthur and Merlin have walk on parts either in person or as references). Right from the off you realise Ishiguro isn't concerned with historical reality and what unfolds is a sort of saga/fairy tale with supernatural elements. I can suspend disbelief where the author is not pretending to be authentic; but the story line failed to hold my attention. There seems to be some grand philosophical statement going on - a mist from dragon's breath has erased the populations' memory, burying resentments of the past between Britons and Saxons; yet the book seems to imply that left unresolved they only fester. 

I do like stories with ambiguity but this one left me puzzled. Thought for a while it might be about our forgetting of the world of conflict in the early 20thC and the likelihood of its return in a time that has grown complacent ('we want our country back'); but that does not quite work.  

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1 hour ago, A Lark Ascending said:

Image result for the buried giant

"The Remains of the Day" is one of my favourite novels and I also liked "Never Let Me Go". But I really had to force myself to finish this.

Set in the 'Dark Ages' at the time of the Saxon invasions - more specifically in a post-Mount Badon period of relative peace (Gawain, Arthur and Merlin have walk on parts either in person or as references). Right from the off you realise Ishiguro isn't concerned with historical reality and what unfolds is a sort of saga/fairy tale with supernatural elements. I can suspend disbelief where the author is not pretending to be authentic; but the story line failed to hold my attention. There seems to be some grand philosophical statement going on - a mist from dragon's breath has erased the populations' memory, burying resentments of the past between Britons and Saxons; yet the book seems to imply that left unresolved they only fester. 

I do like stories with ambiguity but this one left me puzzled. Thought for a while it might be about our forgetting of the world of conflict in the early 20thC and the likelihood of its return in a time that has grown complacent ('we want our country back'); but that does not quite work.  

I am also very keen on the two earlier ones, but have been put off reading this one by the blurbs and reviews. So your comments fit right in!

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Reading around various reviews after finishing it a number compare it to 'The Unconsoled' which apparently has a similar indeterminate feel. Never read that - the reviews weren't encouraging and it's very long! 

Some reviews suggest 'The Buried Giant' is about ageing and marriage; one even suggested it's about dementia. 

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On 9/2/2016 at 5:31 PM, A Lark Ascending said:

Image result for 1965 the year modern britain was born

... Also argues the point I first came across in Ian MacDonald's book on the Beatles that the counter-culture and the later Thatcherites, rather than being on either side of the 'permissive' divide, were actually part of the same cultural trend - the abandonment of collectivism in favour of more ego driven individualism...

Going back to this one, there was an article in yesterday's Guardian by Polly Toynbee that explores similar lines:

Did we baby boomers bring about a revolution in the 60s or just usher in neoliberalism?

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a_farewell_to_arms_0.jpg

Finished my re-reading of the novels of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and came away with a new appreciation off their work, which I suspect is rather unfashionable these days. For me, they more than stood up. 

Edited by Leeway

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1 hour ago, Leeway said:

a_farewell_to_arms_0.jpg

Finished my re-reading of the novels of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and came away with a new appreciation off their work, which I suspect is rather unfashionable these days. For me, they more than stood up. 

Unfashionable, but accurate!

Just finished another revisit to Penelope Fitzgerald. Set in the BBC in London at the height of World War II, this doesn't quite attain the heights of The Bookshop or Offshore, but was well worth re-reading IMHO:

518RiZlDNGL.jpg

 

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Image result for american pioneers alan rich

Another short but useful one. Chapters on Ives, Varese, Cowell and Cage and then a catch-all with very brief references to the likes of Crumb, Partch etc. 

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10 hours ago, BillF said:

>> Finished my re-reading of the novels of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and came away with a new appreciation off their work, which I suspect is rather unfashionable these days. For me, they more than stood up. 

Unfashionable, but accurate!

 

Of the two, I tend to prefer Fitzgerald, but I appreciate both of them.  I recently acquired the rest of Fitzgerald's novels and most of his short stories.  I will probably plan my next pass through both of them through their stories and then to some of the lesser-read novels.

I've wrapped up Lem's Memoirs Found in a Bathroom.  On the one hand, it is a sustained mediation on a building full of paranoid spies and counter-spies.  (And I have to think that Terry Gilliam knew of this and was at least somewhat inspired when creating Brazil.)  But it ends up feeling extremely one note.  How many times do you have to hear that everyone is at least a double agent, and probably a triple agent or beyond?  And everything written or spoken is encoded and meaningless at the same time.  It's kind of exhausting, even though it clocks in at under 200 pages. 

I'm about to read a fairly obscure book by Hugh MacLennan called Voices in Time, which is about a world where after a nuclear apocalypse the government tries to suppress all history related to WWII and the Nazis.  I'm not quite sure why, but I presume that is part of the story.

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Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven

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ozick.jpg

FOREIGN BODIES - Cynthia Ozick

Ozick's book is loosely based on Henry James's The Ambassadors. Ozick is a fan of James, but she is also a fan of Saul Bellow, and I detected a rather strong Bellovian influence in the novel. It makes for an interesting mixture. 

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On 9/9/2016 at 7:11 PM, ejp626 said:

I'm about to read a fairly obscure book by Hugh MacLennan called Voices in Time, which is about a world where after a nuclear apocalypse the government tries to suppress all history related to WWII and the Nazis.  I'm not quite sure why, but I presume that is part of the story.

This was definitely a strange book, but one that didn't really succeed for me for lots of reasons, not least of which he tried to thematically link up the FLQ and its brief reign of terror in Montreal in 1970 to much broader and more dangerous movements, primarily the Nazification of Germany.

I enjoyed the philosophical crime novella One Way or Another by Sciascia.

I just got Christodora by Tim Murphy from the library.  There are a lot of holds on it, so I'll have to make sure to wrap it up in one borrowing period!  The reviews have been pretty good, so I hope it lives up to them...

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nutshell.jpg

Just read McEwan's much-hyped latest, which I ordered from the public library. As always, clever but slight. I never feel I want to buy copies of his books to keep.

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