Category Archives: Humour

Miracles of Our Own Making: A History of Paganism

Liz Williams – Reaktion Books – £15.95 In her discussion of Stonehenge, Liz Williams writes: “There is a legend that Merlin simply flew the entire circle from Ireland, which I think we can rule out.” This is typical of her approach. She is not embarrassed by the unprovable, but has a robust attitude to the wilder flights of fancy. Thus, she makes judicious assessments of, for instance, claims that present magic accesses ancient knowledge (weak), and considers what we can actually know about druidic practices (not much for sure), but she does find the roots and traces of pre-christian spirituality in a culture which didn’t take notes. We are on … Continue reading

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Chris Kirkham – Decoherence: A Quantum Whodunnit

Chris Kirkham – Wallace Publishing – £8.99 http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_bookspodcast_chriskirkham-decoherence_20200529.mp3Podcast: Play in new window

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Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights

Well-behaved women don’t make history, and we need to be a bit grown up about our approach to feminism. That is the starting point of the new book from Helen Lewis. Lewis is a trenchant and thoughtful journalist, and also an amusing and witty contributor to satirical BBC shows. Happily both these sides of her outlook are on display in this entertaining book. By focussing on eleven of the struggles that have got us this far in the quest for an equal society – Divorce, Education, Abortion, Safety and so on – she discusses the history, the current issues, the state of play and the women who got us here … Continue reading

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Ray Connolly – Sorry, Boys, You Failed The Audition

Ray Connolly – Malignon £7.95 “I’d like to say Thank You on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.” John Lennon on the roof of the Apple Building on January 30th 1969 at the end of the last public Beatles performance. It had been the Greatest Show on Earth, but what if it hadn’t happened? What if the Beatles had not passed the vital 1962 audition with George Martin at Parlophone which got them their recording deal? As well as being a friend of the Beatles, Ray Connolly is exactly contemporary with them, and comes from the same part of the world. He has … 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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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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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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Ben Aaronovich – The Furthest Station

You might think a man who had a couple of Dr Who serials under his belt (1980’s – the Sylvester McCoy era), might rest on his laurels, but like the rest of us Ben Aaronovitch has a living to make. Ben has a solid CV of writing for television and TV spinoffs, but he has recently been making serious waves with his series of supernatural police procedural novels and graphic novels, starting in 2011 with Rivers Of London. He allows that the success of these Peter Grant books has considerably exceeded his expectations. But we’re not surprised. There is always room for well-written, funny, urban fantasy, right?. We met Ben … Continue reading

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Robert Newman – Neuropolis: A Brain Science Survival Guide

Since his Entirely Accurate Encyclopaedia of Evolution, Robert Newman’s entirely iconoclastic re-examination of the evidence has excited readers and listeners with its unashamed linking of the science with wider issues, specifically socio-political ones. In his latest book, Neuropolis – a brain science survival guide, Newman targets a sub-species of pop-neuroscience that he dubs bro-science – a pessimistic, denigrating take on the brain that is based more on macho posing than on research. He sets out to destroy it using proper science. http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_thebookspodcast_robertnewman-neuropolis.mp3Podcast: Play in new window

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Tim Haigh – Z is for Zeugma

“Since his death in 1960, Timothy J Haigh has been widely recognised as the least gifted of the great mystery novelists of the golden age of travel writing…” So begins the introduction to Z is for Zeugma. Yes, Tim has killed himself off for fun. Switching chairs for the purpose, he finds himself as interviewee rather than -er, for this playful little book. John Mindlin is obliged to step and ask the questions just this once. In this not-really-a-novel-at-all Tim gives free rein to his propensity for embracing any joke that occurs to him in a loose narrative that sends up every cliché of crime writing, and quite a lot … Continue reading

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