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First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 8 January 7:00pm start

Tuesday 8th January: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

We'll discuss the stories breaking in 2019, introduced by Simon Belt

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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Manchester book reviews

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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Manchester book reviews

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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Manchester book reviews

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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Manchester book reviews

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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Manchester book reviews

Technology and the Philosophy of Religion

Technology and the Philosophy of Religion

by David Lewin (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011)

Reviewed by Charles Brickdale January 2012

 
What matters is what works’  Tony Blair.

 

Blair’s aphorism was meant to justify such departures from socialist doctrine as the Private Finance Initiative and, perhaps, taking money from the likes of Bernie Ecclestone.

 

What it also does is encapsulate a mode of thinking about and experiencing the world which David Lewin describes in his thought-provoking book as ‘technological nihilism’, an orientation based upon a ‘false anthropology which arises out of the failure to see things primarily as given.’ In other words, Lewin’s concern is with the implications of living in a culture which dwells entirely in the kingdom of means and has lost sight of the kingdom of ends.

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Baphomet's Agony by Marta Skadi

Baphomet's Agony by Marta Skadi

To be reviewed by Simon Belt July 2012

 

With a back cover pitch of:

 

"The mere fact you’re reading this means that it has all gone wrong and I’m probably dead so excuse all the blood.

 

This is a love story; my love story. Girl meets boy, she starts up a Norwegian black metal group, they have satanic orgies, everyone tries to murder them, people die and churches get burned. It’s just what you’d expect of a black metal love story. It’s going to be loud, outlandish and gruesome."

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Manchester book reviews

Nothing Matters by Ronald Green

Nothing Matters by Ronald Green

Published by Iff Books 2011

To be reviewed by Charles Brickdale July 2012

 

Is nothing everything? As strange as that question looks at first sight, it will definitely make sense after reading NOTHING MATTERS. Provocative and accessible, free of jargon, NOTHING MATTERS shows that there is more to nothing than meets the eye. History, the arts, philosophy, politics, religion, cosmology - all are touched by nothing. Who, for example, could have believed that nothing held back progress for 600 years, all because of mistaken translation, or that nothing is a way to tackle (and answer) the perennial question 'what is art'?

 

NOTHING MATTERS is a genuine attempt to look at the world in a different way, to give new angles to old problems and so to stimulate new thoughts. Sure-footedly, with flair and enthusiasm, Ronald Green takes the reader on a path through nothing to everything it touches, linking facts and information that lead to surprising conclusions.

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Manchester book reviews

On Tolerance

On Tolerance: A Defence of Moral Independence

by Frank Furedi

Continuum Publishing Corporation (ISBN-10: 1441120106)

Reviewed by Denis Joe August 2011

 

Eamonn was not the most enlightened person I ever knew. He was the epitome of today’s liberal caricatured working class white male. He was sexist, avowedly racist, hated ‘queers’ with a passion, and was the machine setter on the drills section, at Automotive Products, where I worked back in the late seventies. He was extremely witty and very intelligent and was quite a reserved man until he had a few pints down him. Then you found yourself in the presence of someone who was not entirely comfortable with the world he lived in.

 

I left AP in 1980 but I met up with Eamonn in 1987. It was a time when one of the biggest news stories concerned a group of men from Manchester, who were charged with assault, occasioning actual bodily harm, for their long held practice of sadomasochism, which was entirely consensual. They had videoed some of their sessions for distribution amongst themselves.

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Manchester book reviews

Kill All EnemiesKill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess

Reviewed by work experience school students Yasmin Redfearn, Kathrine Payne and Hannah Mason July 2011

 

Yasmin's view of the novel:

Yasmin RedfearnMelvin Burgess has been writing child fiction books for just over twenty years and continues to amaze his audience with the work he publishes. From writing his first book ‘The Cry of the Wolf’ in 1990 to preparing for the release of his new book ‘Kill All Enemies’, it is obvious that Melvin has a real passion for writing about very realistic things that are closer to home than you may think.

 

For someone who has never had more problems than just a little row between siblings at home, it is hard to imagine what having parents with drinking problems or an abusive step-dad is like, but for many teenagers it's just normal life.

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