Three book reviews: “The Strangler Vine”, “Smålands mörker” and “In A Lonely Place”

The Strangler Vine

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a well-written first novel in a planned series of three, where young William Avery from England appears in India, under The Company, i.e. The East India Company. The year is 1837, and at the start Avery gets orders to follow an older, morose and eccentric man, Blake, in order to find a poet laureate, Mountstuart.

This is an adventure along the lines of Indiana Jones, Agatha Christie, Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle. The language is spot-on and the action is thrilling; the tempo holds throughout the book, and I really wanted to find out what was happening next.

All in all: an adventure, almost veering more towards the young adult way than towards older persons, but it’s a well-researched book, recommendable to all who like the above.

Smålands mörker

Smålands mörker by Henrik Bromander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Henrik Bromander’s books are often on the border of fiction and non-fiction; they’re about human life at the core, where Bromander rarely seems to care about the big, bombastic stuff that often make the core of the twists and turns of other persons’ novels. This is conversations, between the self and between people. Inner thoughts, controversies, boredom, war, politics, poetry, Morrissey and hate.

I love Bromander’s use of space in his stories. Even if there’s violence in a lot of his tales, there’s still reflection in nothing, in very well-used pauses where human existance lies, whether it be through his expression of depression, of protest, side-tracked stories of other people’s lives – as with Genet’s life as displayed in this book – he does this very well, and it makes the tempo of the book work excellently.

The main character in this book, Erik, creates a fanzine that’s published in the book. That’s also excellent, as are the views into his psyche where politics, love, sexuality, crime and art are concerned.

All in all: should be read by all.

In A Lonely Place

In a Lonely Place by Gregory Crewdson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The introduction for this collection of photographic series mentions David Lynch. Indeed, the pictures of persons next to houses in suburban USA envelop me in two ways: one, I’m captured by some visceral fear, and two, I think the pictures are completely normal.

The pictures grab me much like Lynch manages to make the everyday seem scary, as he did in “Twin Peaks” and “Blue Velvet”.

I didn’t like the other photo series in this book much, but the mentioned one’s very good indeed. The pictures take on a quality as though they are super-realistic paintings, not photographs.

View all my reviews

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Movies I've watched recently:

  • Young & Beautiful (2013) - IMDb 7/10

    2014-08-10 20:42
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    This film is quite beautiful in more than one way. It weirdly reminds me of what Marilyn Manson said when interviewed in "Bowling For Columbine", when Michael Moore asked him what he'd say to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community: "I wouldn't say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, and that's what no one did." Isabelle is the lead character in this film and as such, she leads. But not as much by talking constantly or doing a lot of extravagant stuff, as in most Hollywood-esque films; of course, Ozon's films aren't really Hollywood, thank Bog. She does as she pleases, and we're left to ponder her inner life, which is not spelled out to us. Her family life is interesting, especially where her mother and brother are concerned. Speaking of which, most of her relations with other people are interesting and her "reactions" to them left me interested a little longer. The scene where the bridge-with-the-locks is, to me, the least interesting and left a schmaltzy and redundant impression, yet all in all, the film works. Not one of Ozon's best, but definitely not one of his worst, and compared with other directors' works, this is a vital shot in the arm.

    0.3
  • Ken Park (2002) - IMDb 7/10

    2014-07-20 20:51
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    Due to all the controversy that surrounded this film - where I live, in Sweden, posters that advertised the film were actually removed from subway carts as one could see a boy going down on a woman - I have somehow let that silliness seep into my mind; while watching this quite beautiful, mobile still life, I wondered exactly what it was, that made people go insane from this film. I mean, the sexuality is just part of human life, right? The start of the film - no spoilers here - was much more disturbing. Having written that, I really liked this film. It's written by Harmony Korine, which does give some details away. Young persons are on display, seemingly directed by dictator parents, possible exception being Tate, a person who yells at his grandmother and isn't the most sociable character. Interesting throughout, it's a bite of life and a good watch.

    0.3
  • Inside the Smiths (Video 2007) - IMDb 1/10

    2014-07-20 18:41
    *

    This is an extremely piss-poor version of events from The Smiths. It starts of with some kind of vampirical person swooshing all over a cemetery while no music by The Smiths will play (over any of the documentary). Joyce and Rourke aren't even recollecting interesting anecdotes; would have loved to hear Joyce's words regarding the famed court travesty where he won millions of pounds from Morrissey/Marr, but none of that is shown. The most interesting stuff in the documentary is pictures of Marr and Morrissey, and I am not lying. Everything is so amateurishly made, and the documentary is just embarrassing in the extreme. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

    0.3
  • No Distance Left to Run (2010) - IMDb 7/10

    2014-07-19 18:41
    * * * * * * *

    Lovely filmed, a little warts 'n' all biography on the comeback of Blur, as Graham and Damon get together and start over again. Songs are meshed with old footage over a quite chronological timeframe. Recommended and lovely. "Tender" at Glastonbury is a high point.

    0.3
  • Tommy (2014) - IMDb 1/10

    2014-07-13 19:54
    *

    Started out interestingly, but the main character is so incredibly weak one may be deceived to think she's in a coma - but really (spoiler) she isn't. This is not a mystery movie either, where one is to guess how come this film got made in the first place; Ola Rapace is a fairly good actor, but I waited for someone to hand him some good lines. Or something good to do. And what about the kid? Not interesting, thank you. There's nothing really good about this film. Tommy's gone - and I can't wait to forget him.

    0.3

What Okkervil River live feels like: a Songkick entry

Okkervil River by Ben Sklar

I wrote a review of what attending an Okkervil River gig can feel like as Songkick asked for it, and it seems they have accepted it.

Here’s my writing:

Okkervil River’s back catalogue ranges between folk rock to experimental noise and lands firmly in the land of traditional rock instruments. Despite this, and having toured almost incessantly for a number of years, Okkervil manages to instil depth, hip-shaking grooves and lyrics that make you cry, scream and shout along.

I’ve seen them in intimate venues and on big festival stages. They’ve surprised me every time while providing back-breaking versions of their songs that made me reach for the skies and connect with other fans, knowing full well that our voices would give in tonight. Their stuff is diversified.

I’ll say that the lyrics are worthy of your time at any given moment, and there are few artists that I feel I can say that about; and how many lyricists can you name that match Will Sheff, who write about self sacrifice, about exposing their ass, of living and loving and painting the stars with their words of pain, love and a whirlwind of emotion, paired with those guitars, the lovelorn piano, the horn, violin and the attack of the drums, and a deep, deep bass…

It’s just a lovin’ experience! Okkervil’s a funny, meaningful band that’s out for fun, for love of what they do and they truly are into what they do. See them live and you’ll know.

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This is 2014: blaming rape victims

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The above, brilliantly augmented image, is courtesy of neverjessie, from this tweet.

I just read the below tweet1 and basically exploded; not as much from seeing it, but from yet again realising that it happens over and over again, and it needs to stop. We men need to stop it, mainly as we are the perpetrators in almost every single case where sexual violence is concerned.

There’s a lot to read about these things, and in the UK, there are resources; from the latter link:

Around 90 per cent of victims of the most serious sexual offences in the previous year knew the perpetrator, compared with less than half for other sexual offences.

This article from The Guardian, written by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, is also very clear-headed. From the article:

[...] it seems not a day goes by when a publicly expressed opinion on rape is met with cries of victim-blaming. This week’s target for censure was Judge Mary Jane Mowat, who chose the occasion of her retirement to express her thoughts on how the rape conviction rate will only improve when women “stop getting drunk”. In a country where most rape victims are raped when sober and by someone they know, surely such a statement encapsulates the very nature of victim-blaming?

There’s a lot of statistics surrounding rape, but get the gist, fellows: nobody should ever be raped. If you’re naked in the street, passed-out, wearing a shirt saying “FUCK ME”, that still means you NEVER, EVER should be sexually harassed in any way. Rape is getting subjected to something you do not wish to happen. As this page states:

Alcohol is not a cause of rape; it is only one of many tools that perpetrators use.

And then anti-feministic shit like the below remains:

Fight. The. Fucking. Patriarchy. Use facts. Stand up against anti-feministic prejudice that’s strewn about like truths, always by men. I’m so fucking tired of that.

Once again, as Zach De La Rocha said: “Your anger is a gift”.

  1. Courtesy of The Daily Mail, a horrid magazine.[back]
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Johnny Marr’s hair – a visual, chronological journey

OK, I must confess I still believe, still believe that the text below was submitted by yours truly for the lovely gentlepeople that helm the Johnny Marrvellous site, as they’re making a fanzine for the release of “Playland“, Johnny’s coming second solo album. My submission was rejected but here it is in all its non-glory for you to delve into. So, without further ado…

When I first pondered what to write about for the zine, my initial thought wasn’t about how “Last Night I Dreamt” and “There Is A Light” changed my life, nor of how Johnny’s interest in books has spread throughout my own literary life, but of the very first thing that struck me as I laid eyes on him for the very first time: the hair.

So, naturally, here’s a tome about Johnny’s hair and how it’s changed through the years. And what a journey it has been!

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Johnny and Rob Allman, White Dice.

A very early incarnation of Johnny’s hair while he played with White Dice, before starting The Smiths with Morrissey. An inventive person would say that the sheer thickness of Johnny’s hair displayed a wealth of opportunities, while a more critical person would say he’d mostly been paying attention to his guitar, his music and, well, possibly picking out that t-shirt. Or it could just as well have been a calculated homage to Keith Richards and punk.

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From The Smiths’ debut album.

While it’s impossible to know if Johnny had shorn his hair in the back for this pic, it’s apparent that he’s focusing on catching his hair, should it fall off at any minute.

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Johnny on TV. Apparently shorter hair but notably much more risque!

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Still keeping the fringe long and whirly. Oh, the days when volume ruled.

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Behold – the high-held mop top, the love child spawned from a tryst between Diana Ross and Keith Richards! Still disguising the eyes while giving off a 1980s do that makes you wonder if the hair’s real or a wig – in the best possible way, of course.

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Could be a bed-head version of the previous picture.

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Sunglasses have always come and gone from Johnny, and he looks good in them, but with certain hair styles…he almost eclipsed Morrissey here, bar the 1980s schoolboy dos that Mike and Andy sport. Even Andy looks incredulous here.

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While Moz is trying to own this shot, Johnny bombs it through means of style, placement and…a preppy yuppie hair.

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Other times, he just preferred a flowy, suave hair to a black leather look. Good cop? Bad cop? Johnny gives you both in one blow.

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The rockabilly backslick with a slightly bleached fringe went down a hoot.

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More rockabilly for the ages…

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Johnny’s current hair style did rear its head back in the day.

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Let’s not speak of the accessories, nor of Morrissey’s mood, but Johnny’s obviously hair-dressed to kill.

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The Lazy Sunday look.

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I’ll give Johnny the benefit of my doubt as he surely knew that The Pretenders weren’t a boy-band outfit, but it seems that Chrissie got the memo.
He later repeated that hair while in The The, but not blond.

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On the other hand, it seems that Mr. Marr later got back in spades with the above look, as though Oasis had influenced him.

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During Electronic, short shorn and minimalistic.

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The Boomslang era made the parted front return!

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At least Johnny was happy.

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Reader meets author.

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Today, things are different; Johnny’s sported the above look for a while now, and it’s integrated a bit before he kickstarted his solo career. A bit mod, a nod to Paul Weller perhaps, but ready.

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All clean-cut, it’s the Marr of today.

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David Cameron attempting to tarnish The Smiths’ legacy some more

The Smiths at Salford Lads Club

The above is one of the classic pictures from The Smiths appearing at Salford Lads Club in Manchester.

This, however, just turned up:

Morrissey‘s words on why he doesn’t like David Cameron are found here, and Johnny Marr‘s words on the same subject are found here.

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