Sunday, October 31, 2010
Finally we have the true story from the man rather than the legend as written by others.
This co-written autobiography is a must for even the most casual "Stones" fan.
There is 547 pages of Keith from his earliest years up until the end of the " A Bigger Bang Tour."
Whats great about this is the confirmation and clarification of many of the urban myths that have grown up around the Rolling Stones e.g The Mars bar was nowhere near Marianne Faithfull during the police raid,- and when its explained here its perfectly logical. There are lots of examples like this throughout the book.
What this book will do ,as well as entertain, will put an end to the cottage industry that has built up over the years of repeating non-sensical tales - mostly made up by hangers on. This will happen because anyone wanting to publish out right lies will get found out very quickly because of this publication
He's frank about his junkie years and his survival. Its been mainly due to having access to top quality gear and only very rarely having to do the cliche druggy thing of scoring in the tenements.
What is apparent, and will be well known to anyone who has read the serious works on the "Stones", is his absolute commitment to the band, that's his sole purpose, always has been and will be until in his words, he croaks.
Although I am not the perfect father, even I can't help feel that as a dad he was a tad poor in regards to his first two children early on, and he admits this. With mum and dad seriously addicted to heroin the kids had a rather bizarre start to life, but it appears that have grown into pretty cool adults.
This is great considering their old man is one of the most famous people who has ever lived and any upbringing in Keiths world is as about as far from normal life as you can get. But Keith does own a caravan (Winnabago) for family holidays,so hows that for normality, and he uses it.
There are explanations regarding the rifts between him and Jagger, which are on going, but this is to be expected considering they have been together for nearly 50 years.
To readers who understand the mechanics of playing guitar he relates how he gets his sound,its very simple, he just does it extremely well.
We have a book here by a man who has through hard work early on in life, and continued hard work, has been able to live life completely on his terms. Something I am always envious of as there are so very few of us with a talent to be able to do this.
Keith is a big reader,very well read, novels and history, all which gladdens my heart.
And to top it off he even throws in his recipe for "bangers and mash".
Keith Richards, a man if you have him as a friend, he is one for life, but cross him and hell will freeze over very quickly.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
le Carre is back, I was really worried after his last novel 'A Most Wanted Man" that the master had lost it, but he hasn't and this latest work proves it.
We have a young British couple on holiday in the West Indies who meet up with a Russian gangster and after a game of tennis things rapidly get complicated.
It leads from this meeting to working for MI 6 and traveling across Europe until the rather sad ending.
Nobody can build tension with two men sitting across a table talking to each other like le Carre.
The only complaint is that we never really figure out who the main character is as feature characters seem to drift in and out- but this is only a small fault.
This keeps you guessing and is great entertainment, its not a 'Smiley" but its very, very good and I hope he keeps churning them out if he can keep up this quality.
Nice one Mr. Cornwell.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Goodness gracious me ,this is tedious.
James Earl Carter was elected the 39th president of the U.S.A for one term between 1977 and 1981.
This diary covers these years with a daily account ( abridged from 5000 actual pages!!!!) of how he has all the answers - with every suggestion and idea God sent and with anybody who has the effrontery to disagree, a fool or sadly misguided.
Carter is probably a decent man, but he has a mighty high opinion of himself even for a politician.
Everything that went wrong during his presidency, the Iran hostages, stagflation, high unemployment - was all someone else's fault.
It was Ted Kennedy's fault that he didn't get re-elected for a second term, not his, every ones fault except Jimmy's.
He is also blatantly anti-Semitic, Israel is a problem, Jews are a problem according to this, Egypt et el were never at fault and the Israeli's just wouldn't listen to Carter, who naturally had all the answers to the Middle East problems.
Of course my question was if he was so bloody clever ,why did the American public reject him like no one really before or since.
Carter has the distinction of being one of only four Presidents elected for just one term since 1900 before being shown the door. (exceptions - others due to assassinations, sudden death and resignations .)
He just does not seem to get it at any stage. All through his presidency he has the press absolutely against him, which is just about impossible, given the Democratic leanings of the New York Times and The Washington Post.
This fact, that he has trouble with the press, is the only fault he acknowledges in a postscript, truly staggering when you look back at the events that were occurring in the world in the late 1970's.
After struggling, and it was a struggle, through 537 pages of egoistic musings, I found myself actively disliking the writer.
And last, but not least, he doesn't even mention his "Playboy Magazine" interview where he admitted to having 'lustful thoughts". This at the very least may have added some humour to proceedings.
Jimmy is just not a fun guy,not a bad man, just boring and egotistical.( and with diaries you do not want boring)
What were the Americans thinking?
If they thought they were atoning for Nixon , they over compensated, just like I believe they have done with the incumbent POTUS
Monday, October 11, 2010
Described as the man who has met everyone, this is Michael Parkinson's autobiography detailing his early life and his television career.
He was born into a mining family in Yorkshire and his politically left leanings were embedded here. What comes through most strongly in the early part of the book is his deep love for his parents, especially his father whom he adored.
We are then taken through a short military career and then into his work in the media, primarily his television series.
Over the years he completed about 800 interview shows, so there is a lot of truth in the saying "he has met everyone".
The majority of the book is around his media life and the people he met.
Because he met so many people, each is given about a paragraph and then he moves on. I suppose if he gave a couple of pages to all the people he met the book would be several thousand pages long.
This is a nice easy read, Muhammad Ali, Billy Connolly and George Best were his favourites.
Even with all his success I still felt at the end of the book he would have been happiest playing cricket for Yorkshire and England.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Another memoir by a left leaning politician. Cath was married to Labour M.P and Minister, Bob Tizard, they separated in 1980. She went on to become mayor of Auckland and was then appointed Governor General.
This a good entertaining read, not brilliant writing but informative.
She was such a hard worker, really amazing, firstly being the politician's wife, when they got no government support, raising four kids at the same time, lecturing at Auckland University. Then being on the Auckland City Council.
There are lots of anecdotes about her private and public life and those she met.
For me there are lots of memories as I was working in Auckland during her mayoralty. She is however slightly mistaken regarding the Queen Street riot and how it began. I was one of the 5 police members rostered to work that crowd of several thousands so I had a first hand view. But that's just a slight quibble.
Another complaint is that in the early 80's Helen Clark regularly stayed with her at her home. I just wish that Cath had had the forethought to smother her one night while she lay sleeping. Never mind.
A good read, interesting and enlightening about the office of Governor General and how it operates.
Recommended as a Christmas read. Don't let the cover put you off, but the person who allowed this book to go out with this cover on it should be taken out and shot.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
I will never be a Labour voter ever, but I did enjoy this memoir by Tony Blair.
It is just a memoir rather than a full blown autobiography, which is a good thing because the latter can drag when we are taken through every class the subject attended at primary school and what they had for Sunday lunch served up by their dear old mum.
Rather this is written episodically, and as he states in the introduction you can dip into it at any chapter and not miss anything.
We have here 700 pages of Blair's views on everything,Iraq of course, New Labour, Gordon Brown and Northern Ireland and a lot on domestic politics and his personal life.
What is apparent he doesn't like Brown, admires his brain but that's all. I was left wondering why he was so close politically for so long and I concluded that it was all about power, getting it and holding onto it, nothing new then there for a politician.
The chapter on Northern Ireland is very interesting, having to deal with all the nutters involved there ( and they are nutters)was a test on all concerned.
The chapter on Iraq is pretty much a waste of time in that we will never know the truth of what really happened here for about 100 years when papers may be released telling the citizens how decisions were made.
What really sets this apart from other political writing, re-phrase, writing by a politician , is that it is laugh out loud in places, really really funny.
Where Blair has a MP explaining to him how he came to be arrested after being found with a male prostitute, will have you falling off the chair.
And it is very rare to find anyone, let alone a politician being as candid about themselves as Blair is i.e ..my wife, who can be very difficult..., this shows a man who is either very brave or runs his house like we would all like to.
At the end of the book I was still left in the dark as to whether New Labour under Blair actually achieved anything for Britain in the 10 years he was Prime Minister. I don't have to live there but I really don't think he did, certainly nothing earth shattering that he will be remembered around the world for.
I do know that he would have been a brilliant barrister if he had stayed with law, a very quick witted man.