Friday, March 26, 2010

LITTLE BIG MAN - Thomas Berger

We have here a 440 page western, first published in 1964.

This is the story of the first 34 years of the life of Jack Crabb, who as a 111 year old recounts his early life to a biographer.

Crabb's story starts when his parents wagon train is attacked by Cheyenne Indians. His father is killed and he ends up going with the Indians because of is mad sister.

We then have the account of his life living with the Indians, leaving the tribe, several marriages and children. He meets Wild Bill Hickok, watches his sister fight Calamity Jane and has a run in with Wyatt Earp.

The story ends with him being the only survivor at Custer's Last Stand.

This is a fascinating read- (from what I have read about the novel itself, it is very accurate regarding Indian customs and the history of the times.)

I am guessing that this was the inspiration for George McDonald Fraser to write the Flashman series i.e dress up history into a rollicking good yarn.

There is great humour and humanity in this novel. Parts of it are very very funny.

It also puts those spouting off regarding colonisation in their place - Crabb reminisces and states that looking back everybody made bad choices regarding events and the way people were treated, but at the time it was believed to be the correct way to behave and now you can't change what has happened, its happened so move on.

I think this is nicely put, it is always very easy to look back and be an expert, but much harder to do the right thing at the time.

I thoroughly recommend reading this, you a have little bit of history and some great laughs.

Finding it might be a bit of a mission, but most quality second hand stores will, if they haven't got it, be able to source it for you. Good luck

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This is really excellent.

The book is a collections of Nick Kent's writings on Rock and Roll before the drug monster took over his life.

I believe personally that Stanley Booth has written the greatest book on Rock and Roll, - Adventures With The Rolling Stones - but, this is the consistently best writing on a number of different bands and rock folk that you are ever likely to come across.

There are articles on Brian Wilson, The New York Dolls, Jerry Lee Lewis. The stand outs for me are an interview with Miles Davis, an interview with Neil Young and the Brian Wilson piece, all absolutely superb.

These are that well written that even if you are not into music or music writing they will entertain on a grand scale.

The Miles Davis interview is simply brilliant, it catches the personality of the man as I have seen him on film to a tee. Great great writing.

The only subject I feel had the better of him was Jerry Lee Lewis, who is mad anyway, but its still a good interview.

And the good news is that Monsieur Kent ( he lives in Paris) has cleaned up and has just had published a memoir of the 1970's - Apathy for the Devil. Looking forward to that as well. Rock on.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

AND THEN YOU DIE - Michael Dibdin

I bought this crime novel in a rush as Borders was closing.

I read it and it was not great actually. Actually it was a long way from the ...unputdownable.... on its cover blurb.

The hero is a Italian Detective Aurelio Zen who is hiding from the mafia who want to kill him. People about him start to die and the plot thickens.

Anyway I waited and waited for the revelation but it didn't come. What happened was 174 pages of tripe. I waited for the humour, the paranoia that drips from each page but it never happened.

This is one of a series, about number seven I believe and perhaps if I had been along from the beginning I might have got this but I don't think so.

The feeling I got was that it was written to fulfill a contractual obligation because otherwise it is a waste of trees.

If I read another one of this series it will be because it was a gift.


I had never heard of George Melly until I looked him up after purchasing his memoir.

He was a jazz singer, critic and a expert on surrealism.

He was also a sailor and what a gay young sailor he was.

This memoir relates his years during and after the Second World War when he was in the Royal Navy as a Matelot.

During his service he spent a lot of time drunk and not doing much but he relates all this in a very funny way.

His trouble was he was just too intelligent to be a sailor. When not getting very drunk he introduces himself to the world of surreal art,seduces other young men and then goes out for a drink, as you do when you are 20 years old. Again this is related in a very humorous way.

What is apparent that at this time people must have been physically very dirty,the way its written you can almost smell the unwashed bodies and dirty feet.

This memoir is short (182 pages) and covers a three year time period but its well worth the effort. Its very personal and rings truthfully throughout. Good fun