Category Archives: 2017

Mitch Albom, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. Review.

3D-frankie-e1439344972792The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto starts off a little slowly as the narrator gets themself established. Considering that the narrator is music itself, this isn’t an easy task but it does make for a little of a slow burn. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Albom whose previous successes give him some leeway.

It’s like when JK Rowling spent pages and pages describing all the departments in the Ministry of Magic describing everything. It didn’t progress the storyline but by that point, no one was censoring her. Frankie Presto is a much shorter story than any Harry Potter could be, however.

Music, our narrator, is at the funeral of one of its beloved musicians, one of, if not the best one that there has been, Frankie Presto. A Spanish documentary is being made about Presto and the story cuts back and forth from Frankie’s childhood to his end. The book is full of cameos from all sorts of famous people such as Lyle Lovett, Duke Ellington, and Wynton Marsalis who either provide their best story or featuring in Frankie’s progress.

With such powerful emotions and dramatic tellings, long-time musician Albom keeps the telling sparse but appropriately wrapped in musical metaphors.

It’s a beautifully told story and I read it in one day. Highly recommended.

Downloaded from NetGalley.

Andrea Darby, The Husband Who Refused To Die

andrea-darby_coverAndrea Darby worked at the Bristol Evening Post in the early nineties as a sub-editor and played in the City of Bristol brass band in the early 2000s. She has never lived in Bristol and The Husband Who Refused To Die, her first novel, is set in the fictional town of Tetford but she does have some relevant links to make her Bristol-newsworthy. After all, Terry Pratchett used to be a Bristol journalist too – on the Western Daily News. If Darby makes it big, we’ll happily accept her as a local novelist.

 

What the book is about:

Her husband’s died …
Though he doesn’t see it that way …
So what next for Carrie?

Carrie’s husband Dan has died unexpectedly and left behind an extraordinary wish – to be frozen. He believes his life’s simply been ‘suspended’, that he can come back … one day … when science has moved on. He’d hoped his wife would want to do the same. But she doesn’t.

Two years on and mum-of-one Carrie tentatively reconnects with an old boyfriend, whose dramatic exit from her life has always been a painful mystery. But their romance is hampered by Carrie’s never-ending personal problems.
After Dan’s story is resurrected in the news headlines, some distressing secrets from the past are revealed, and Carrie is taunted by someone with a serious grudge.

But are the secrets true?
Will she discover who’s behind the malicious acts – and why?
Can there ever be closure for Carrie?

The author

Darby is a Gloucestershire-based journalist with a love of music and writing. She’s already working on her second novel. The Husband Who Refused to Die is out now and available from her publisher and from other book stores.

Reading challenge

My original reading challenge for this year (2016) was to finish 250 books and I think I read 21 or maybe 22. I’m quite happy with 22. I still love that number, though. The hugeness of 250 – the five-books-a-week of it – pleases me inordinately. However, the loveliness of reading 250 books is only fun in theory. At no point has it inspired me to actually read more than I do.

It’s a far-off adventurous challenge that I can dismiss as I knit and crochet and watch Four in a Bed on All4 as I dye yarn all night.

So this morning I had a more specific idea: I will finally make myself a reading list of the writers I have wanted to read for years but never got around to. I will read the MediaLens books I have yet to read, Chomsky, John Pilger, Naomi Klein, George Monbiot, The Racket, etc. Namely investigative and corruption-exposing books that are helpful. Helpful in what way? Um… in learning about the real world and not that proposed by the MSM. Primarily, using trusted sources for information.

Information about what? What do I want to find out?

I’m not sure. In the short term it’s how do we get to a place where the Conservative have 40% support while the state is being destroyed and public services eradicated?

On a broader theme, it’s: how to create a political movement that supports each individual in society? “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”

The world is facing imminent catastrophe and little seems to be said about changing behaviours and what we can do to save it. This is utterly bizarre to me. I also believe that change starts from where you are so local is where I need to focus.

My goal is to somehow see how Buddhism, capitalism, the propaganda model and Bristol all combine to demonstrate how the Green Party has failed to gain greater support. It’s quite lucky that my constituency, Bristol West, is one of the prize ones for the Green Party and one of the few in the country that have a chance at voting in a Green MP. Our leading candidate is Green MEP Molli Scot Caio so European matters will be on the list too.

Next up – the List.

MediaLens

  • Why Are We The Good Guys? (want to read) by David Cromwell
  • Newspeak (read) by David Edwards and David Cromwell
  • Guardians of Power (read) by David Edwards and David Cromwell
  • Free to be Human (want to read) by David Edwards
  • The Compassionate Revolution (own) by David Edwards
  • Private Planet by David Cromwell
  • Surviving Climate Change by David Cromwell and Mark Levee

Naomi Klein

  • This Changes Everything (own it)

Matt Kennard

  • The Racket (own it)

George Monbiot

  • The Age of Consent (own it)

Bristol

  • Strikers, Hobblers, Conchies & Reds (own it)
  • Bristol novels

Noam Chomsky

  • Noam Chomsky – Necessary Illusions (already own it)
  • Alison Edgley – The Social and Political Thought of Noam Chomsky
    • In his work, Chomsky employs recognisably theoretical perspectives, as well as bodies of values, assumptions about human nature and reality, claims, and conclusions which not only look like theories, but I argue are theories. A prevalent example is what I refer to as his theory of the state. This theory holds that states are not neutral bodies operating for the good of all citizens in that society. Rather, they systematically serve the interests of elites at the expense of many of their own citizens. Writ large, the theory also leads to the claim that western states operate at the expense of large numbers of humanity beyond their own borders and citizens.

The Propaganda Model

Climate Change

European Parliament? (to come soon)

(I also want to work on my Bristol Literature list but that’s another topic for another post)