A House for Mr Biswas

(by V. S. Naipaul)                   With Transparent Things, the best nihilist comedy ever: a long, lovely, sad, frustrating look at defiant failure Mohun Biswas.  Full of ‘amazing scenes’ and family strife in Trinidad.  When Biswas daubs brightly coloured spots of zinc cream on his face and goes out onto the footpath to watch the world go by, it is hard not to laugh till you cry. The notoriously scratchy Mr Naipaul has produced an impressive oeuvre down the years, but this is certainly his best book.  He has written that it is…

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His Girl Friday

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, Comedy Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Howard Hawks) (1940) High speed comedy with no feelings spared. Cary Grant’s and Rosalind Russell’s finest hour. Hilde has left Walter and the newspaper business behind, or so she thinks….

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Gyn/Ecology

(by Mary Daly) The Gravity’s Rainbow of feminism, an inspired sample-bag of misogyny, a panoply of male sadism.  Arguably an insane tract, nevertheless the facts are there – they are indubitable and to this mere male reader, quite compelling.

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The Green Man

(by Kingsley Amis) The landlord of “The Green Man” pub has an alarming drinking problem and wandering hands.  Also, there is some monolithic horticultural product about, that could cause further alarm.  Amis senior’s famous book, Lucky Jim is superior to this slight work but this novella is so weird and perverse it is almost decadent.

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The Great Terror

(by Robert Conquest) It is hard to understand why so many intelligent people admired the socialist experiment of Soviet Union c. 1934-1940.  These useful idiots defended and lauded systematic mass slaughter on an industrial scale.  Conquest’s book, originally appearing in 1968, helped convince those still impervious to, inter alia, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.  The case is made, with solid and well sourced evidence, that Stalin basically topped anyone who looked at him sideways, or didn’t look at  him, or whatever. Nor were the good and great spared: my battered 1971 Pelican edition has, as Appendix D, a list of Full and…

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