‘The Stone Diaries,” by Carol Shields

Novel, 1993 Beautifully told story of Daisy Goodwill Flett, whose seemingly ordinary life is told through a narrative which moves around between different members of her family and uses other devices and points of view to build a picture, not only of Daisy, but also of the relationships with her family members and friends. There’s a real depth and warmth in this book, right from … Continue reading ‘The Stone Diaries,” by Carol Shields

“A People’s History of London,” by John Rees and Lindsey German

Non-fiction, 2012 Very decent book looking, essentially, at protest movements based or operating in London. Some of the events are more well-known than others, although the streets upwards viewpoint, rather than a view looking down from the point of view of the power structure, will be unfamiliar to most. Occasionally, an edit or two may have helped things appear more objective, and inevitably, the more … Continue reading “A People’s History of London,” by John Rees and Lindsey German

“The Last Metro”, directed by François Truffaut

Movie, 1980 Fairly straightforward historical thriller, in which romantic intent, the German occupation of Paris in World War II and the survival of a theatre are put together. This is a film which looks great and plays at a nice pace. The lack of tricks and gimmicks gives the actors plenty of space, and they handle the screenplay and action very well. There are levels … Continue reading “The Last Metro”, directed by François Truffaut

“The Death of Stalin,” directed by Armando Iannucci

Movie, 2017 The story of the struggle for power following Stalin’s death in 1950s USSR, made comically grotesque and rendered cartoon like. The effect is of making power look throwaway and ridiculous; always destructive. Some liberties are very likely taken with the source material, but done so in order to keep the film fresh and zipping along. Sometimes things happen almost too quickly; the key … Continue reading “The Death of Stalin,” directed by Armando Iannucci

“Good Night and Good Riddance,” by David Cavanagh

Non-fiction, 2015 Examination of John Peel’s radio broadcasting career, through a chronology of some the dj’s shows. A book by an admirer rather than a blinkered fan, and obviously a music enthusiast with a turn of words. If some of the contextual details feel a little particular, this is no disaster, as the book moves along nicely, painting a picture of Peel and some of … Continue reading “Good Night and Good Riddance,” by David Cavanagh

"John Coltrane," by Martin Smith

Non-fiction, 2003 A book focusing on the socio-political environment into which John Coltrane emerged in the 1950s and 60s. There are touches of biography and descriptions of the music, though this book’s simplicity is its main strength and weakness; the idiocy of racism is writ large, in black and white, although at other times, the simple language struggles to reflect the lyricism and complexities of … Continue reading "John Coltrane," by Martin Smith

"Suffragette," directed by Sarah Gavron

Movie, 2015 Really solid, likeable, worthy though somehow flat film about the women’s suffrage movement leading up to Emily Davison throwing herself in front of the King’s horse on derby Day. There was, however, a lack of a spark in the telling of the story, as if any disrespecting of the narrative or misrepresentation of any of the characters would have caused the movie to … Continue reading "Suffragette," directed by Sarah Gavron