Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Last Holiday: A MemoirThe Last Holiday: A Memoir by Gil Scott-Heron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This "Memoir" of Gil Scott-Heron, which he seems to have been in the process of pulling together piecemeal before his death in 2011 is a tantalising glimpse at the life of a unique individual. Much of the focus is on the Martin Luther King/ Hotter Than July tour with Stevie Wonder and no light is shed on the drug abuse and jail terms he went through. His early life is well represented here, which accompanies some of his later musical pieces on his early life and Lily Scott, his grandmother who raised him for many years. It would have been nice to find out more about what he was thinking during the 70's, this section reads like a chain of events he is watching from the outside. The story of being on Scottish TV and having to talk about football reveals us (I'm from Glasgow) as the parochial nation we know we are. The bits at the end about the Hotter Than July tour with Stevie Wonder are fascinating and more detailed, but he remains a very private man. In these last sections you learn more from his genorous comments on Diana Ross, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson about these people than you do about Gil himself. The short chapters at the end to his children give a glimpse behind the mask that never really slips during the rest of the book.

View all my reviews The Sense of an EndingThe Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoy Barnes's writing, he packs a lot of nuanced stuff into his books and many of the situations made me chuckle or nod in agreement. However I found this tale a bit self-conscious, like the main character himself, with twice the statement "if he'd/I'd acted like the character in a novel" showing this is acknowledged in the narrative. I just found it hard to engage with this effete bunch of smug characters. Sorry for my inverse snobbery.

View all my reviews V.V. by Tony Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The outrage over the film of this on Channel 4 in 1987 passed me by so this edition with the poem and the press clippings of the arguments for and against banning the TV program made fascinating reading. The poem itself is excellent and still very much relevant.

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