celticman's blog

Simon Sebag Montefiore (2007) Young Stalin.

Young Stalin was winner of the 2007 Costa Biography Award. You can imagine historian Simon Sebag Montefiore after his acclaimed biography, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar , wondering what he would write next. Then hitting on the wheeze, I’ll write the same thing, but younger. It depends what you mean by young, of course. As Montefiore declares workers in the Baku oilfields, died around thirty-years old, on average. Young Stalin is around 39-...

Xan Brooks (2017) The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times.

Xan Brooks takes as his starting point something grotesque and twists it. Four men, ‘the funny men’ with such grotesque physical and mental injuries after the First World War that they have been marked down as dead, a telegram sent to their nearest and dearest to inform them of this—fake news—while they shelter in a cottage in the grounds of the aristocratic Grantwood House. Four children, three girls and a boy taken in a covered lorry to meet...

The Australian Dream, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, writer Stan Grant, director Daniel Gordon.

The Australian Dream, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, writer Stan Grant, director Daniel Gordon. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000lpv7/the-australian-dream I’d never heard of Adam Goodes. Let me put this into context he plays Australian Football League. A sport I don’t know the rules, or follow the game. The easy part is telling who Adam Goodes was, by making a comparison with David Beckham. He was the David Beckham of Aussie Rules Football. He...

Andrew James Grieg (2020) Whirligig.

A whirligig is a spinning top, a small predatory beetle, and a way of describing, for example, coming and goings. I quickly ripped through Andrew James Greig’s short, breakout, novel. Glen Mhor (Inverness) provides a Highland setting for skulduggery in this whodunnit. Four murders and a former top policeman forced to commit suicide, run in tandem with eight children that went missing from a home run by the Sisters of Mercy. Five shallow graves...

Preti Taneja (2017) We That Are Young

Preti Taneja’s We That Are Young was listed as Sunday Times Book of the Year, Guardian Book of the Year , Spectator Book of the year, all in 2017. Since I’ve just read it, it’s also my book of the year for 2020. When I say it’s Shakespearian in scope, I mean that as a compliment. I’m not really into Shakespeare and find his plays boring. The usual response I get is along the lines of I don’t really understand his work, which is true. I also don’...

Jordan Belfort (2008) The Wolf of Wall Street.

As a reader it sticks in my craw that sometimes the film is better than the book (e.g. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ben Hur and Spartacus are examples of the former) but here I think it’s a honourable draw. If you want to save several hours of your life, and don’t fancy reading over 500 pages, watch the film and save several hours of your life. Leonardo DiCaprio is great as the twenty-odd-year old Jordan Belfort beginning his meteoric rise...

Anthony, BBC 1, 8.30pm. BBCiPlayer, Writer Jimmy McGovern and Director.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000lb9c/anthony I’m a fan of writer Jimmy McGovern's work rooted in Merseyside and working-class life. His production company can pretty much sell what he produces to the BBC. His focus here is the murder of eighteen-year-old Anthony Walker. A black kid murdered by an ice-pick through his head in a Liverpool park, in an unprovoked racist attack in 30 th July 2005. His two assailants received life sentences...

The Last Wave, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, Writers Raphaelle Roudaut and Alexis Le Sec, Director Rodolphe Tissot.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000l9rg/the-last-wave-series-1-1-five-hours https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000l9rl/the-last-wave-series-1-2-the-return I’m a bit of telly snob. If it’s on BBC 4 and its got subtitles I’m usually watching it. Part of my hangover from bingeing on Wallander . The Last Wave is a French drama with subtitles, therefore it ticks one of the boxes. Unfortunately, there’s no introspective morbid detective...

Miriam Margolyes – Almost Australian, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, Director Liz Allen.

Miriam Margolyes has done England, she’s done Trump’s United States and now she’s been sent on another two month road trip to see how Australia works (or doesn’t). Honeyed days indeed for an 82-year-old ‘fat, Jewish, lesbian’ (her words). Same old faces, popping up everywhere. I like the idea of Miriam Margolyes being unshakeable and having shock value, but this just seems like more jobs for the boys, although of course she’s not and it’s some...

Bernard Hare (2005) Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew.

I picked up this book and put it down a few times. I doubt if I’d have read it, but for one thing—it was Bob’s book. He carried it around like a lucky rabbit paw in his rucksack (not so lucky for the rabbit). Mostly in the first 150 pages of the book, around the middle of the book, Bob scribbled messages to himself in biro. He underlined words like Urbie and wrote things like ‘Visible From Space So We r Told’. Adding a tick mark to quote from...

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