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What’s Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion
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What’s Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  182 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Paperback, 256 pages
Published (first published August 4th 2008)
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MJ Nicholls
I devote a large percentage of my viewing activities to political satire, probably more than is culturally healthy, and do so now almost on autopilot whenever I have mealtimes to kill or crave laughter. This comedian and activist I relish in particular, partly through his brilliant lecture series on philosophers, poets and troublemakers, The Mark Steel Lectures, 96% of which are available on the old YouTube device. The design of this book irritates me. Why can’t any book by a comedian—especially ...more
Nimue Brown
This is the political book I have most enjoyed so far. It’s one of the few to have offered any kind of suggested ways forwards. It is the first political book I’ve read that hasn’t depressed the hell out of me. It also helps that the author has a sense of humour and an eye for the ridiculous. The analogies are pant wettingly funny, and disturbingly accurate at times. We’ve got so complacent about the many things that are wrong. Pointing and laughing can be a good antidote to that.

This, is the be
Anna Grady
A good read for people roughly in the same age bracket and with the same political sympathies as it trots you through recent political times and how faith with New Labour was lost and the SWP STILL couldn't get any new members. He writes well and it's amusing (rather than laugh out loud funny) but I found the humour becomes a bit predictable after a while ie take an example and then exaggerate it outrageously. I enjoyed his take on the morals of reality TV and the downfall of the Respect party a ...more
The book is an autobiography telling 2 main stories that are intertwine throughout the book with smaller anecdotes justifying Mark Steel’s views.
The first story is the breakdown of his marriage, Steel writes it very well, I was taken in by the story, most of the relating anecdotes are very funny and although bits of the story that make you depressed, the next page has one throwaway line that has you laughing aloud.
The Second general story in the book is about another crisis in Steel’s life; his
Simon Wood

It's possible that even the hardest of hard right-wingers will feel some sympathy for comedian Mark Steels plight as he stumbles through his 40's. His relationship has gone belly up, the political party that he has been a member of since his teens has falling apart, one of his close political comrades has died, and if that's not bad enough, well . . . he's became a good friend of Bob Monkhouse.

Mark Steel weaves the belly laughs in with the more melancholy moments and creates a
A very entertaining read which should make you cackle out loud if you've caught yourself swearing at advertisments on a fairly regular basis. Steel is a wildly entertaining left wing comedian who writes regularly for the Guardian UK, perhaps now column has moved to The Independent. His history of an obviously daunting mid-life crisis (breaking up with mother of his children on top of leaving 20 year connection to socialist grouping) is admirably free of maudlin self-pity, and he always finds thi ...more
Jerry Hall
Really enjoyable read. As an ex SWP member from the eighties when everything seemed possible and politics felt connected i share Marks analysis of what's happeed since then and why we are where we are in terms of socialism. Ironically, I'm writing this as Greek workers and students are telling the bosses and their backers in the corrupt world financial system they don't believe their view of the world and they don't want to take their medicine - it is optional despite the bankers protestations. ...more
Derek Ide
Very funny, and addresses a variety of issues that anyone familiar with left-wing politics should know quite well. From the sectarianism to strange left-wing political culture, Mark Steel takes a very entertaining but critical look at his (and my own) tradition. He weaves a lively tale of corporate domination (his anecdote on IKEA had me laughing endlessly) of every aspect of our lives, and the often valiant but misguided attempts to change it. The primary theme or moral I found in this book, ho ...more
Steven Pilling
This can be seen as a companion to his earlier volume.

This is interesting you feel Steels pain as some of the things he cherishes seem to be falling apart. Steel is able to apply his own world weary view to events, explain why he feels the way he does and show annoyance over the things that dont in his mind work.

He is a very strong writer , you hear his voice and feel that it is authentic and real. If you wwant to read a social history of the 80's to the present and especially one that deals wit
I picked this up on a whim, and it wasn't exactly what I expected it to be.

Mark Steel had always seemed very assured and committed in his viewpoint to me. This book shows how he hit his 40s and then life began to unravel, and he begins to question his beliefs and approach to life.

It's obviously quite raw and painful in places, and the humour is very self deprecating.

It's an interesting read, to see someone apparently so committed begin to lose that verve and passion.
Paul Smith
I've always had a soft spot for Mark Steel, since watching his lecture series some years ago. The intelligence, warmth and humanity of the man shine through every word of this book, which as a bonus is utterly, utterly, hilarious. If only the Left was more like him and Tony Benn, I'd follow it anywhere. A theme of the book is the split from his wife which is handled brilliantly - if he continues to put out material like this, I'll marry him myself.
Steve Gillway
Some good jokes in here and some great insights. However, somethings just do not go together. Basically, it is a hodgepodge - bits of standup routine - bits of current affairs and the the demise of the two great loves of his life (in far too much detail). When a comic gets too self-deprecating and just plain sad, somehow the jokes do not work. In Marksteelese "It's like a BP cut and paste job , with all the walruses left in".
At first it seems to be a rambling account of early 2000's politics interspersed with vague references to his marriage breakup, but I only realised quite late on that the author is paralleling his disillusionment with the Socialist Workers Party to his marriage breakdown.

Neither part is very successful. although I did learn a bit about the politics of a period when I wasn't paying attention.
Very good. Easy to read. And for me it has so many references that I understand that it has a cosy comforting effect - even when describing all the woes of both the world (some very astutely indeed) and his personal life, the familiarity makes it easy to read.
So - if you're a british, left wing, forty-something you'll probably like it too. And of not then you might like it anyway.
Yannis Cosmadopoulos
Very funny description of the confusion felt by a 40 something lefty coming to terms with today's realities. Corporations in control of everything, the left becoming irrelevant, wars proceeding despite massive opposition and failure of his marriage... Throughout all this he finds ways to laugh and find reasons to keep fighting.
I finished this a while ago- and I can't remember anything about it!
I would guess it was very good- but I honestly can't remember, which makes me think it wasn't as unusual as I would imagine it should be.
I think I'll have to re read it sometime!
Mark Nunn
A fantastic book, he describes wonderfully how your perspective changes as you age with the realisation that you can measure your life in the number of bananas you will eat. Going to be very picky about my bananas now.
A self-affirming volume for those who feel there's no-one left (either sense of the word) to vote for, and are still mystified at the disappearence of serious or significant socialist slants.
Abi Rhodes
Fantastic book! Society does need a way out of the mess it has found itself in and Mr Steel is right that there needs to be a more unified Left in the UK.
Peter Sharpe
Entertaining autobiography/commentary on current affairs post 1997. The prose is easy to read and full of Steel's wit.
Jennie Smith
Lots of facts, but very entertaining.
Oct 14, 2010 Lucia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Absolutely everyone.
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Mark Steel (born 4 July 1960) is a British socialist columnist, author and comedian. He was a member of the Socialist Workers Party from his late teens until 2007.
More about Mark Steel...
Vive la Revolution: A Stand-up History of the French Revolution Reasons To Be Cheerful Mark Steel's in Town It's Not A Runner Bean.. The Mark Steel Lectures

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