Steve Kidd's Review Pages

Books

(not very well read am I?)
Atonement by Ian McEwan
(1999) Mark: 9
Finished Thu 5 November 2015

"At last! I think it is a while since I had read what would be termed an 'unputdownable' read. Believe it or not, there was a moment during this that I actually contemplated abandoning it for being too much of a stretcher. I am so, so glad I didn't. It was never too challenging a read, though I really think it helped to try to memorise the carachters, and open the reader guides to help (even then I didn't make a perfect fist of that). I picked it up at the YHA in Beer, and have just finished it some 60 hours later, having cycled the 50 miles to Portland, and come back up north on the train.

The thing is.., once you have swallowed the basic premise, evrything else about this book is between good and absolutely superb, not least the surpriseing structure and pleasing shifts and revelations. I was crying twice (gaaaay) and suddenly feel clever for reading it. This Booker nomination is so much better than some winners. (Oh and BTW I have read lots of books, but not so many recently, as films are very much easier on the eye and investment. Without too many plot revalations.. About that basic premise. I spend most of my entire life complaining how mean, blind, untruthful, gullible and plain sheeplike people can be. I spend the remaider of my entire life pointing out that the scale and irrationality of these human traits passes by the understanding of the majority. So perhaps me not buying the premise is a denial of my own, well founded, beliefs?"


Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
(1999) Mark: 7.5
Finished Tue 14 July 2015

Not a tough read, this reminded me a lot of American Beauty, but with less of the comedy. A challenging, and commendable approach to human sexuality, presented in a startingly non-judgemental way, it is wierd to think how depite the illuminati bestowing the Booker award upon this book and the Nobel prize on the author, how society in general does not seem to learn from their message. Would I love to listen to a private conversation between David Laurie and Lester Burnham


Drugs Without The Hot Air (book) by David Nutt
(2014) Mark: 8
Finished Wed 28 January 2015

The book of the lecture. A book which holds the interest and illuminates. Anything which casts light onto how thoroughly damaging politics is can not be too bad a thing, even if not many people pay heed. I'm not quite sure that he got everything quite right, and it finished with a fade out rather than cannons and fireworks, but as with any good text book, this wasn't just just informative it was thoroughly entertaining and very thought provoking.


Injustice by Danny Dorling
(2015) Mark: 8
Finished Mon 7 March 2016

Where do I start? From the heads up I get on the first page? Go on then. That's that out of the way.

It is weighty (The references are the size of a small novel), relentless (it never lets up the torrent of evidence, applied examples, maths and pure logic, it is readable (there were very few parts where I gave it the CJ nod (The nod which CJ de Mooi gives after Pat and Kevin on Eggheads have explained an answer when it is patently obvious he never had a clue and they might as well be talking Swahili), and the message is... unambigous?. It's a page turner, but I reckon that there must have been a hundred quotes which I want to take with me and trot out when explaining things to people (which, unlike Danny, I am not particularly good at), so now I feel I need to read it again just to keep post-it notes for "Words that are weapons"

Injustice and social inequality (they are not put together as a false dichotomy), do no favours for the rich. Winning a game of Monopoly may be fun, but it does not really negatively affect your life quality and expectancy. The aquisition of inordinate wealth does, and herein the evidence is compelling and overwhelming. I, personally, have little faith that a populous that has been bred for surbservience is going to be an easy target for the marketing of social reform. In 19th century London, the rich may have been proximate to the suffering we read about in Engels, but they never had to see it. We now turn our televisions on every day and eat our tea whilst watching it in glorious 48" HD; the powerful and their minions (us) giving us just enough to make us think we are OK and keep them (the man) in a position of pointless, unusable, unfair wealth. Fuck me, I don't want to hang The Duke of Westminster, but I wouldn't object to it if he refused to take on board the truths which Danny carpet bombs us with.

I pray that that human intelligence can overcome human instinct, and that the very powerful will learn that they do not have to subcribe to a Stark scenario to improve their own lot. Go Danny!


Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
(2013) Mark: 8
Finished Thu 10 July 2014

My sister Barbara gave me this to read, and it was quite lovely. Very Curious Incident It combined humour and plot with some devastating social insight. The conflict resolution passage is a masterpiece, along with many others within this eminently readable book.