Author Archives: Johnny Mindlin

About Johnny Mindlin

Johnny Mindlin, the producer, spent 10 years in high-end speech radio, producing book programmes, entertainment / review shows and politics/discussion shows. Tim Haigh is a radio presenter and broadcaster and books reviewer. He also writes for national papers on books and literature.

Ben Burgis – Give Them An Argument: Logic For The Left

What is the purpose of debate? Is it to convince somebody, somewhere of something, or is it merely to undermine the other side and bolster your own prejudices? You may have noticed that political discourse is not always conducted in a civil and measured manner. Especially when the participants are physically removed from each other, say via journalistic writing or social media. In particular, right-wing polemicists are fond of throwing around terms like ‘libtards’, and claiming to have ‘crushed’ or ‘destroyed’ their opponents. There is an unattractive swagger to the claims of some of these people to have exclusive title to the use of logic. Ben Burgis, a philosophy PhD … Continue reading

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Joel Meadows – Masters Of Comics

We all have our guilty pleasures. Mine include horror films, prog rock and, for the purposes of this interview, comic books. For me it was American super-heroes: Batman and the Fantastic Four and speech balloons screaming, “Mortal, I say thee nay!” and “Not all my power can save me!” But actually, comic books have come a long way since the cheap paper and four-colour separation of my childhood. They are glossier, they are more detailed, much better presented, and much more expensive. Joel Meadows takes a tour of some of the finest and most illustrious practitioners of the art of graphic story-telling, bearding them in their lairs – or ‘studios’ … Continue reading

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Randy Ross – God Bless Cambodia

A man can travel well and he can travel badly*. The hero of Randy Ross’s God Bless Cambodia is on the ‘badly’ end of the scale. At 48 Randy Burns is tired of ‘the miserable game’ (dating). He has been laid off from his job. His friends are getting paired up and unavailable to him. And then in a bookshop he comes across a travel guide that promises marvels and delights if he were to take a four month tour of the world on the cheap. It is lying. A succession of red-eye flights takes Randy through South America, Europe, Africa and the far east, searching for romance, but more … Continue reading

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Julian Baggini – How The World Thinks

When we use the word ‘philosophy’ what we usually mean is “western philosophy’. But as the philosopher and bestselling author Julian Baggini points out in his new book, western philosophy accounts for only around 20% of the world’s population. Other peoples have other philosophical traditions, and as Dr Baggini argues, the underlying philosophical assumptions inform and shape the ways we think and live, even if we never consider them. Tim is perhaps the ideal reader for this book, insofar as he is fairly parochial in his philosophical outlook, and he found it stimulating to be asked to consider the bigger picture and see how other traditions chime with, contrast with, … Continue reading

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Ray Connolly – Being John Lennon

“Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? We will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an ‘A’. Thank you, mister man, they said, thanking him.”  So wrote John Lennon, shortly before he became the most famous man on the planet. And that’s all the background you’re getting. Tim is a self-confessed Beatles anorak. Many people have Chekhov’s Revolver on their mantelpiece, but only Tim has Stanislavski’s Sgt Pepper and Dostoevsky’s Rubber Soul as well. And he is only too delighted to delve into the minutiae of John Lennon’s … Continue reading

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Tom Kirkham – Pop Life

2016 was a bad year. Globally, it was the year of Brexit and was rounded off with a Trump!  It was bad for pop music too: David Bowie had died in January. And then it seemed the heroes were rushing for the exit.   Bowie was closely followed by Merle Haggard and Glen Frey (of the Eagles), and later in the year, Lemmy, Sir George Martin, Leonard Cohen, George Michael and a dozen others. And then on April 21st, Prince, died. On the personal level Tom Kirkham was already having a bad year. He was feeling his mental health wobbling. And Tom Idolised Prince. He was devastated. He felt the urgent need to … Continue reading

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Robert Kuttner – Can Democracy Survive Globalisation?

John Maynard Keynes said, “Above all, let finance be primarily national.” Keynes understood the dangers of unfettered finance, and if he’d had his way the Bretton Woods system of international controls would have been still stronger. In his new book, the distinguished journalist and commentator, Robert Kuttner, writes, “Government needs to explicitly assert its right to prevent global laissez-faire forces from undermining its capacity to devise and broker a decent social compact at home.” Kuttner’s book brilliantly sketches the construction before and after the Second World War of a system in which capitalism was effectively regulated and delivered widespread benefits, at least within the western democracies, and its dismantlement in … Continue reading

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Toby Litt – Wrestliana

When we visit Toby Litt in his office at Birkbeck University of London he tells us that all the books in the building have had to be removed because the Georgian building can’t take the weight. All, it seems, except those in his office, which appears to be single-handedly keeping the faith. This seems right. Toby is very much a man of literature – he teaches creative writing at Birkbeck and he has published thirteen fine novels and collections of stories. But Toby’s new book is not fiction. It is by turns a meditation on his ancestry, the meaning of being a father, an examination of the neglected sport of Cumberland … Continue reading

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Grady Hendrix – Paperbacks From Hell

You might think it eccentric to speak of a golden age of satanic possession, murderous infants, flesh-eating crustaceans and Nazi leprechauns, but for enthusiasts of paperback horror novels, the 70’s and 80’s were the glory days.  This was a time of the most lurid nightmares spawned, it seemed, from the very bowels of Hell. This was a time when books were proud to be horror rather than ‘chiller’ or ‘thriller’, and when the word Satan on the cover was a guarantee of sales (even if there was nothing supernatural inside). Grady Hendrix has written a hugely entertaining history and celebration of this splendid time. We talked to Grady via skype from a restaurant kitchen in … Continue reading

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Christopher Fowler – The Book of Forgotten Authors

Christopher Fowler is a good friend of this site, having appeared with us three times already. But then, he will keep writing books that we find irresistible. This time he has assembled an Aladdin’s Cave of writers who have been neglected in one way or another. Some of them have been completely forgotten, as the title suggests – Rosalind Erskine anybody? –  but then there are the writers whose names are familiar, but whose books we have forgotten to read – Ronald Firbank, Leslie Charteris? – or who have fallen out of favour (or print) – Dennis Wheatley, Sven Hassell, Barbara Pym? This is catnip to Tim. He dived into … Continue reading

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