The Elephant and The Balloon is a masterpiece of children's literature about loss and the search for that which is most dear for us.
Whilst the origina...moreThe Elephant and The Balloon is a masterpiece of children's literature about loss and the search for that which is most dear for us.
Whilst the original 1030 page draft, a sprawling emotional epic set in Russia about emotional truths and that of the Stalinist purges, will remain forever lost to wider readership - I believe much of it has survived in this second draft depicting an elephant who loses his ballon and searches for it.
It asks our children deeply philosophical question ("Where is it?"), the search itself involves a menagerie of animal friends and it ultimately ends in a catharsis of lemonade. The Elephant and the Balloon is a work of clean, plain-prose with wonderful illustrations and is extremely re-readable.
In keeping with our elephant protagonist's construction as an everyman character one cannot but wonder though - are we not all searching for our own "balloons" and if so - will we ever find our monkey.(less)
The 007th Minute is a compilation of a series of off-kilter, wittily-acerbic retrospectives on all the Bond films up until Skyfall published on the Bo...moreThe 007th Minute is a compilation of a series of off-kilter, wittily-acerbic retrospectives on all the Bond films up until Skyfall published on the Bond fansite CommanderBond.net, with the premise of being conducted mostly in "real-time" up to the film's seventh minute.
Not only are these reviews often hilarious but occasionally provide some interesting insights with a healthy dosage of cynicism about the cultural phenomenon that is Bond films. This is no gushing bit of fanboyism, this is Shaun Micallef doing film criticism.
Compiled into an ebook for easy consumption (though "I prefer bourbon") it is with great hope that this may well get a proper publication so I don't have to print and bind my own bloody copy and so we can all start referring to Dame Judi as The Dench.
Thankfully the author is now doing a sequel series of articles on the Bond novels which I currently wait each installment with bated and we can all look forward to the PDF like we all look forward to Sean Connery's shocking puns.(less)
Apparently you can write a post-modern novel that isn't by an American combining abhorrence of the realities of WWII and the Cold War with smart-aleck...moreApparently you can write a post-modern novel that isn't by an American combining abhorrence of the realities of WWII and the Cold War with smart-alecky witticism (not that this is a bad thing of course), and Frank Hardy's "But The Dead Are Many" proves this.
It's a flawed masterpiece that presents us with the apparently futile search for the reasons why the author's friend committed suicide, an exploration of the reactions to the realities of Stalin's Soviet Union by Australian Communists within the structure of a musical fugue and the dogmatic language of Communism, Christianity and Freudian psychology. It's also about the moral implications of writing a novel, a character study of two Communists and a myriad of other things.
Yet even with what some would regard as mere intellectual mumbo-jumbo, you have an incredibly human novel that truly tries to address the human condition and one that truly got to me in places that I never thought it would after reading the first 50 pages.
It's enough to make me want to steal my university's copy with copious underlining.(less)
Tony Wilson's "24 Hour Party People" is probably the greatest novelisation of all time precisely because what could have been nothing more than a half...moreTony Wilson's "24 Hour Party People" is probably the greatest novelisation of all time precisely because what could have been nothing more than a half-arsed cash-in on the Tony Wilson biopic cum post-modern comedy/drama film about Factory Records, Joy Division/New Order, the Happy Mondays - is a post-modern novelisation/chatty memoirs/rock history book written by the man in question - full to the brim with wit and just sheer cultural...no, I can't use energy. It wouldn't be proper. Pride, perhaps?
Wilson, who was everything from TV journalist to rock label manager for Factory Records to owner of the famous/infamous Haçienda, takes the comic fictionalisation of the film and runs with it - injecting (probably not the greatest verb to use with the amount of drug use depicted) his acerbic wit and expanded reminiscences to the point where he provides an absolutely brilliant look at his life throughout this era and a tale of rise and fall (that notion of Boethius' wheel will be engrained in you by the last page).
The first half of the book does carry it in my view, with the sections on the rise of punk with a Manchester focus being particularly breath-taking and I felt so much for what that era must have felt like. Honestly, it was just pure musical reading ecstacy (again probably not the greatest choice of verbs given what the second half is about). That being said the real story is in the Joy Division/New Order side of things and to a lesser extent the Happy Mondays and the Hacienda and whilst you do not get a comprehensive history (or even a comprehensive personal history like in Deborah Curtis' "Touching from a Distance" which was used as a basis for Anton Corbijn's "Control" - both of which I highly recommend to Joy Division fans who haven't read/seen either) - you do get a series of sketches that form a great whole.
Wilson may be a minor character in his own story but through tearing the notion of the novelisation to shreds, he gives us a truly amazing little piece on his role in music history and the cultural revival of Manchester that truly had me as enthralled as I was the first time I listened to Unknown Pleasures.
If you haven't heard that album, great, but you should probably listen more.
[And you Goodreads readers will end up adding at least five to six books to your To Read pile - guaranteed.](less)
A nice, short sharp guide to Australian Rocks and Minerals that has a special place in my heart for starting up my minor amateur obsession with geolog...moreA nice, short sharp guide to Australian Rocks and Minerals that has a special place in my heart for starting up my minor amateur obsession with geology when I was a kid.(less)