celticman's blog

Elizabeth Strout (2017) Anything is Possible.

Elizabeth Strout is an internationally and critically acclaimed bestselling author of My Name is Lucy Barton. Lucy Barton, as a stock character, is also an author who writes mostly about farm life in Angash, Illinois. How her family were so desperately poor they ate scraps out of dump trucks and were shunned. The first chance she got to get away she took it. Later she became a successful writer in New York. The maxim ‘write what you know’ seems...

Robert A. Caro (1990 [2006)] The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 2, Means of Ascent.

On page 402, towards the end of this second volume of the rise and rise of Lyndon Johnson, Robert A.Caro offers an insight into the former President’s personality. 'For a President to preserve as a personal memento a photograph showing the notorious Box 13 in the possession of his political allies—a photograph which by implication provides that someone was indeed in a positon to stuff it—is startling in itself. For him to display the photograph...

Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p0535lq5/billy-connolly-portrait-of-a-lifetime Billy Connolly might well be Scotland’s greatest export after whisky. Both ITV and BBC are competing to squeeze the last dregs of life out of The Big Yin. I’ve checked, he’s not dead yet. But he does have motor- neurone disease and he’s coming up for seventy-five. He said it himself, other people’s success tend to form an inverted U-shaped curve. His success is...

Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, Director Ben Steele.

Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, Director Ben Steele. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000dbq7/exposed-the-churchs-darkest-secret-series-1-episode-1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000dbjd/exposed-the-churchs-darkest-secret-series-1-episode-2 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the...

Louis Theroux, Selling Sex, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, Director Joshua Baker, written and presented by Louis Theroux.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000dbcf/louis-theroux-selling-sex Louis Theroux is repeating himself. He’s done this before, tackling the sex industry, but now he’s looking the British model. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, in a Carry On kinda way. Sex sells even if it’s documentary sex and Theroux has pretty much a free hand with the BBC who buy any old muck he wants to sell. Selling sex is legal in Britain as long as it doesn’t involve...

Max Porter (2015) Grief Is The Thing With Feathers

I’m a bit stupid. I wasn’t sure if this was fact of fiction or fictionalised fact. I’m still not sure. This short book had me thinking, which is often a good thing. But I don’t really get it, which is a bad thing – right? I’ve been to a few funerals this year and I wrote in memorial that ‘Grief was too small a word’. Setting the tone in Max Porter’s book, split into three short chapters –beginning, middle and end—is not so much a prologue as an...

Storyville, Terror in the Jungle, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, Director Shan Nicholson, Executive Producer Jennifer Davisson and Leonardo DiCaprio.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000d27r/storyville-jonestown-terror-in-the-jungle-episode-1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000d28j/storyville-jonestown-terror-in-the-jungle-episode-2 Most news stories start their pitch with the headline and in an inverted triangular shape begins to tell the rest of the story in terms of cause and effect. I’ll modify this a little here. Jim Jones was born in rural Indiana at the height of the...

Robert A. Caro (1982) Lyndon Johnson volume 1 The Path To Power.

History doesn’t run in straight lines. Robert A. Caro has focussed on a fixed point to talk about power. What it is? How it comes about. Who wields it? And how do they use that power? And in his biography of Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), in this first of four volumes, we follow not only the tale of LBJ, who becomes 36 th President of the United States, but the story of the United States, a modern history. Novels begin with flawed characters that need...

The Third World War

Seventy-five years since the end of the Second World War. We’ve had a few close calls. The Cuban Missile Crisis, for example. Like an old Corporation bus running late the apocalypse rumbles into view. All writers are prophets for hire, waiting for the Virgin Mary to make an appearance before we take the fare. Here we have a Vision of Geronda Ephraim Addressing the Ukrainian Situation and casually flinging in his bombshell, don’t worry about that...

Antonio Inurbe (2019) The Librarian of Auschwitz (based on the true story of Dita Kraus) translated by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites.

Reading is my religion. This book is billed as a true story, marked down as a genre somewhere between The Tattooist of Auschwitz a nd The Choice . The latter was a life-affirming, marvellous book, beautifully written with a clear moral message. The former – I only read the first fifty pages. I find myself in the same misgivings with The Librarian of Auschwitz as I did with The Tattooist Here are a few examples. A black shadow, darker than all...

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