How Grey Was My Valley / Mor Llwyd Oedd Fy Nghwm

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This isn’t really a review. It’s more an overview. How Grey Was My Valley is a photo essay using images taken by Peter Halliday that explores various examples of post-war modernist architecture in Wales. It includes images and descriptions of buildings I have known, some in passing, others more intimately. Continue reading

Boy Parts

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Read 11/07/2020-12/07/2020

Rating 5 stars

Book 5 in my 10 Books of Summer reading challenge, a substitution in the original list.

I find it hard to believe that Boy Parts is Eliza Clark’s debut novel. It’s confident, fiercely funny and its chattiness belies the darkness at its heart.

Not since Chuck Pahlaniuk have I felt so delighted to be entertained by the vagaries of human nature. Not since James Kelman has a writer captured so well for me the hard edge of working class play and working class survival. Not since the translation of Virginie Despante’s Vernon Subutex trilogy into English have I been so pleased to meet a character that is so grotesquely charming. Continue reading

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War

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Read 24/11/2019-12/12/2019

Rating 4 stars

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse legacies of the Cold War is a collection of academic essays on the material culture of the Cold War and a multidisciplinary approach to its history. It makes a case for the influence that the Cold War has had on the world, from the domestic lives of those living under its psychological shadow in Europe and the USA, to those living alongside nuclear power stations (also sites of manufacture of weapons grade nuclear material) and nuclear test sites. It takes in archaeology, history, art, architecture and cultural studies in its examination of material culture and what that material culture can tell us about something that has been hidden behind military classification for so long. Continue reading

The Nakano Thrift Shop

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Read 08/08/2019-12/08/2019

Rating 3 stars

Read for Women in Translation Month and the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

Hiromi Kawakami’s second novel was a change of pace from my previous read this month. Set in a thrift shop that definitely isn’t an antique shop, it follows the lives of shop owner Mr Nakano, his sister Masayo and his two employees Takeo and Hitomi. Hitomi narrates the day to day happenings around the shop. Continue reading

Brad Pitt’s Dog

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Read 16/01/2018

Rating: 3 stars

I’ve had the occasion to travel to New York for work, to meet a man who collects the ephemera of counter culture. We’re hoping to acquire the collection of another man, a British man who also collects the ephemera of counter culture in order to comment on it. He’s a man I like very much. I can’t name names yet, because the acquisition isn’t secure.

The man I’m meeting in New York is Johan Kugelberg. He created the Cornell Hip Hop Collection, as well as Punk archives at Yale and Cornell. He has documented The Velvet Underground. He’s a collector, an academic, an archivist, a curator.

I thought I ought to read something of his work before we met.

Brad Pitt’s Dog is a collection of essays written between 2001 and 2011 in which Kugelberg reflects on the meaning of celebrity and the death of celebrity, and what makes a counter culture. Continue reading