celticman's blog

Elena Ferrante (2006) The Lost Daughter, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.

Nobody that's a nobody ever asks what are you writing? There’s no reason to think I’m writing anything. But if that nobody ever did ask I’ve got a ready-mix answer. I’m writing about us, and I’m trying to get it right. Elena Ferrante writes again and again about Naples. Its crude dialect and its even cruder people who are not to be trusted, even among themselves, especially by themselves. Here are some crude notes about this novel and its place...

Chris Leslie (2016) Disappearing Glasgow: A Photographic Journey.

http://www.chrisleslie.com/portfolios/red-road-underground/ As part of Book Scotland I went to talk Chris Leslie gave in Clydebank library. He overran a wee bit but I could have listened to him all night. Disappearing Glasgow is about us. Glasgow’s full of ghosts, one of the punters in his book says. And they’ve all got the same refrain – that used to be my house. I always presumed the Red Road flats would last forever, but when you see it now...

Blue Planet II, BBC 1, BBC iPlayer, Presenter David Attenborough.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p04thmv7/blue-planet-ii-series-1-1... The Golden Record carried by the Voyager I spacecraft by NASA on the infinitesimally small chance that it would bump into an alien lifeform that would be able to understand it missed a trick. They should have just sent David Attenborough. He would have told them we live in a wee blue planet, seventy percent water that we’re heating up like an egg. Then David could whip...

Jackie Kay (2002 [2011]) Why Don’t You Stop Talking.

I’m one of the few that reads short stories. They don’t sell. There are exceptions such as Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahari and George Saunders. Poets sell even less of their work than short-story writers, but usually make the best writers. I like Jackie Kay’s autobiographical writing and I admire her parents, who I’ve met on the page. They’re the kind of people that make the world a better place. But for all her awards and glitz and glamour I found...

Blitz: The Bombs That Changed Britain, BBC 2 9pm, BBC iPlayer, director Ben Chrichton.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09hzrvg/blitz-the-bombs-that-changed-britain-series-1-episode-3 The focus of this episode is the Clydebank Blitz which took place on 13 th March 1941. Only twelve houses in Clydebank were left undamaged. Over three-quarters of the sixty-thousand Bannkie trekked away from the bomb sites into the surrounding areas. John Brown’s shipyard with upwards of 5000 workers and Singers’ Factory with 40 000 workers...

Denise Mina (2017) The Long Drop.

Denise Mina’s The Long Drop won Bloody Scotland's William McIlvanney Prize for crime fiction. You expect it to be good. The first-year philosophy student in me, or indeed William McIlvanney’s, Detective Laidlaw, would be the first to ask, what do you mean by good? I mean I did like it. But if I hadn’t read it that wouldn’t bother me that much. I wouldn’t be pressing a copy of the book on acquaintances and saying you must read this. There’s good...

Celtic 0—1 Anderlecht

I’m delighted with European football after Christmas and I love Celtic playing in the Champions League. It doesn’t bother me that much that Celtic get whopped 7-1 by PSG, obviously I don’t like it, but funnily enough there were encouraging signs and on another day Celtic might have sneaked a draw or even won, as the newly-promoted French team recently did. Hyperbole? Here we’re back to reality and I said before the game that it wouldn’t surprise...

Kit de Waal (2012 [2017]) My Name is Leon

Poverty is always a simple story full of missing people. In a week when American Congress has passed a Bill to give over a trillion dollars American taxpayer’s money to the obscenely rich, Kit de Waal’s, My Name is Leon , is a fictional, child’s account, of what it means to be poor and forgotten in Britain in the nineteen-eighties. The irony here is things were better then. Leon is nine and he takes care of his mum, Carol, as best he can, his...

A Frozen Death, BBC 4 iPlayer, 9pm, written and directed by Harve Hadmar.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09h3nwt/witnesses-a-frozen-death-episode-1 I love Wallender and I’m a big fan of The Killing , wouldn’t say no to A Bridge or two, in fact, put subtitles on it and stick it on BBC 4 and there’s a more than fair chance I’ll be watching. The eight episodes of A Frozen Death will take us up to Christmas. Time to clean out that freezer and make way for fifteen dead bodies found frozen like turkey-wings on a bus...

Where are all the working class writers? Radio 4, BBCiPlayer.

Where are all the working class writers? http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09fzmjt That’s the question Kit de Waal asked. She published her first novel, My Name is Leon , at the age of 55. I’ve placed an order to read this book. Well, you know what happened next. International acclaim and all the happy-ending stuff. If you read very carefully between the lines you’ll see the lie that works so well in politics and book publishing and in real life...

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