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Manchester book reviews
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Manchester book reviews

Glass is Elastic by Jon Glover

Glass is Elastic by Jon Glover

Publisher: Carcanet Press, 128 pages

Reviewed by Denis Joe July 2012

 

I first came across Jon Glover’s work a few years ago with the collection Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It was a collection that joined a trend of poetry publications at the time, which included Maurice Riordan and Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s Dark Matter: Poems of Space. Of course using Science as a theme for poetry is nothing new, John Donne’s poetry is testimony to that, and one can even go back as far as Lucretius’ On The Nature Of The Universe.

 

The drawback to creating thematic genres of poetry is that the theme becomes the primary concern rather than the poetry itself, which can be a drawback if you create a narrowed audience. For someone who has done so much for the poetry in this country, and is one of the few real artisans (who I would rate along with Geoffrey Hill, for the real workmanship that goes into their poetry), being seen for autobiographical or propagandist dabblers that populate much of the poetry scene in Britain, would be a grave mistake.

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Weirdo. Mosher. Freak by Catherine Smyth

Weirdo. Mosher. Freak. by Catherine Smyth

The Murder of Sophie Lancaster

Reviewed by Simon Belt June 2012

 

From the outset, this book is direct and down to earth. It reports the violent assault, in their local park in the early hours of Saturday 11 August 2007, on Sophie Lancaster and Rob Maltby from the Lancashire town of Bacup, the subsequent court case and development of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Sophie never recovered from her injuries and her life support machine was turned off on Friday 24 August 2007. Aged just 20, Sophie suffered her fatal injuries while cradling her boyfriend Rob’s head in an attempt to protect him from the cowardly assault which started on him. Although Rob was released from hosiptal the same day, his injuries have profoundly affected his life since. So what insights do we get from this book?

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Apocrypha by Peter Clayfield

Apocrypha by Peter Clayfield

Reviewed by John Hutchinson February 2012

 

A recent local addition to the North West’s literary scene is a novel, Apocrypha, by local author, Peter Clayfield, if novel is the right description, for this is a disturbing and rather violent fantasy. In fact, it reads like a graphic novel or a novelised version of a computer game.


Apocrypha is really a science fiction novel and a thriller combined, set in the future after a catastrophic nuclear war has devastated the earth. Its central character, Damon Carter-Brown, is a young scientist who has discovered time travel whilst researching in America. Everything is going for him at the start of the novel. He is shown convincing a Senator to invest public money into his research, is recently married to the delectable Val and a future teeming with success awaits him.

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Panic on a Plate

Panic on a Plate

by Rob Lyons (Societas Imprint Academic, 2011)

Reviewed by Richard Crawford February 2012

 

Rob Lyons tells us all to chillax about food in this short, wide-ranging polemic.

 

Approaching Panic on a Plate, I was looking forward to a dose of common sense and rational argument. Something along the lines of Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science or Francis Wheen’s How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World. An antidote to food scares. The reality was more wide-ranging and more thought-provoking, but also less satisfying.

 

Lyons argues that, over the millennia, the big problem that humanity has had with its food is a lack of it. There was also the fact that it was usually the same boring thing, meal after meal. Now these problems are essentially solved and we are ignoring that achievement and instead making up new problems that have only a thin relationship with reality.

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How to Direct a Play

How to Direct a Play: a Masterclass in Comedy, Tragedy, Farce, Shakespeare, New Plays, Opera, Musicals

by Braham Murray. Oberon Books, London, 2011

Reviewed by Dr Charlotte Starkey January 2012

 

A new book by Braham Murray, the fruits of his many years as a successful theatre director not least at The Royal Exchange in Manchester, is relevant to the interests of a number of groups: student dramatists, aspiring directors, designers, stage managers, in fact anyone directly involved in theatre; teachers of drama as a performance subject, teachers and lecturers and students of plays as texts both in school and university; and, most importantly, anyone who loves theatre and who loves reading a well-written narrative.

 

It is witty, anecdotal, informed, informative, intimate and frank. This is the work of a professional expert and Braham Murray’s account of ways to approach Shakespeare as a director (followed by a discussion of producing and directing Greek drama) is one of the best practical discussions of how to approach a Shakespeare play both as text and performance that one could find today. The book is not a bible in how to direct a play; it is one man’s account of what has, and has not, worked for him – a passionate, dedicated, lived and lively statement of what can happen when theatre is performing powerfully; and Murray believes deeply in the importance of theatre for the world beyond the stage.

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