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    Originally posted by ale View Post
    Cold Water-Gwendoline Riley. Been wanting to catch up on this author for a while & have started with her debut novel. Slight at 160 pages the narrative follows a 20 year old Carmel during her 'wilderness years' in Manchester. Working behind bar at a night club its her journey through the underbelly of the city life-as such its about characters rather than plot. The city is changing-the book was written 2002 although not being familiar with Manchester its not clear whether the changes are contemporary to this era-but Carmel isnt despite her dreams of get away. It could be that this story has an autobiographical slant and it does offer the promise of an author who will develop in future novels.
    Finished this last night. It is definitely not exactly plot driven, I agree. The one thing that really stood out for me was how well Riley draws Manchester (and I'm always a sucker for writing that evokes a place – any place – so strongly). Ultimately I enjoyed it but I don't think it would have stood up to being much longer than it was. And as someone who was familiar with Manchester as a kid and then lived there for three years from 2003 to 2006, I'd say that yes the changes to the city itself described in the book feel right.

    A bit later I'll be starting The New Age of Empire by Kehinde Andrews.

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      I finally read The Handmaid's Tale -consciously waited for the memory of S1 of the TV adaptation to recede in memory (not entirely successfully).

      I didn't know it was published as early as 85, incredible 'finger on the pulse'/prescience (I'd give an example but spoilers).

      But even the familiarity of some of the material was swept away by admiration of some of the writing. I was really impressed and wish I'd read it before.
      Got the sequel to look fwd to, which I gather isn't connected to S2 etc. Though 2 students told me it wasn't very good...

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        Julian Barnes-Lemon Table. Another close your eyes & pick a book from towards bottom of unread pile. That it published in 2004 made me realise how long since read any Julian Barnes. Though it still shouldnt have been so surprising how much I enjoy his work. A series of short stories and meditations on the subject of human life & bodies heading towards their inexorable end there is no little shortage of humour among the melancholy. It also left an awareness that had I read it at publication date -in mid forties- it wouldnt have resonated as much.

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          Originally posted by Sam View Post
          A bit later I'll be starting The New Age of Empire by Kehinde Andrews.
          Quite near the beginning of this still, and the author has reported as fact the debunked-about-25-years-ago claim that ancient Egyptians taught Mesoamericans everything they know about pyramid building and other markers of civilisation. It doesn't detract from the central thesis (which is that many institutions in the modern west were founded on fundamentally white supremacist and/or Global-North-prioritising grounds), but it's a bit offputting. It's mentioned only in passing, so I'm sticking with the book for now, but it's one of those things where you think, if he's mentioned this one thing that I happen to know is bollocks, how can I be sure about all the other stuff without looking up every fact he mentions for myself?

          (To be clear, this book was published much more recently. The edition I'm reading has a foreword about how COVID-19 has brought lots of the issues it discusses to the fore.)

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            Stiff Upper Lip-Alex Renton. If like me you never went through the process (industrial according to author)of prep & public boarding education but are aware of the stereotypes & cliches be warned. The author is just going to confirm any prejudices you likely hold. Harrowing if at times a little bit mind numbing-once you have been introduced to the head teacher who flogged every single of the boys at his school in a single day what matter the ones who didnt. But it all documented-the repetitive cycle of abuse whether verbal or physical. The parents who underwent it all and still choose to put their own children through it-Evelyn Waugh gets drawn to attention more for fact that he didnt send his own kids through the same system that abused him. Teachers get recycled from school to school rather than being convicted. And at the end of the day the children who lose day to day contact with their parents at the age from which they most need them and are subject to the lack of emotional displacement along with the subsequent flagellation and sexual depredation are mainly those of the elite who will be making life affirming decisions on most of the rest of us.

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