Saturday, March 27, 2010


This is a new feature aimed at keeping up with the sharp increase in information, stories and feedback coming into The Generalist's post box every month.


SNAP 04 A few months back, The Generalist published a report from the artist George Snow about his first visit to Palestine [See: OUR MAN IN RAMALLAH]. Now delighted to receive news that he has set up an exciting new venture called Bike Palestine which is running three 7-day cycle tours of the region, starting 25th April, 26th September and 23rd October. You can follow developments on his Bike Palestine blog. George is collaborating with the Siraj Centre in Bethlehem, Palestine Siraj aims to create links between the Palestinian people and people from around the globe through educational tourism, interfaith and ecumenical dialogue,  culture and youth exchange programmes. every month. George teaches 3D animation from his home in Cortona, Italy. His school's web site is



imgsize Great as ever to hear from the journalist Chris Salewicz who has recently come back from Poland where he attended the launch of a new documentary 'Beats of Freedom' which he narrates, about the modern history of Polish rock and the part that it played in the transformation of the culture and the country from the 50s until the fall of communism. The film, which features great live concert footage, is directed by Leszek Gnoinski and Wojciech Slota.

According to the Krakow Post: 'The film features plenty of archival footage of some of the most iconic festivals and influential bands that worked to provide a voice for those without one under the communist regime, as well as present-day interviews with many of the musicians. Amongst the featured bands you'll find such names as Czesław Niemen, Maanam, Brygada Kryzys, Perfect, Republika, and Lady Pank.'

There are two great trailers on YouTube here and here.You can just about hear the interview with Chris on Polish TV (Chris's words are slightly obscured by the audio of the simultaneous translation). Like everything that Chris does, this looks to be a sterling and fascinating piece of work. Release details to follow.

[You can hear a great interview with Chris talking at length about his excellent biography of Joe Strummer on The Audio Generalist]


adverts_0 Contacted by WDF Productions who are currently producing a feature length music documentary called "Sell Me Something Cheap", about the career of singer/songwriter TV Smith and The Adverts. TV Smith is still performing (solo) and details of his latest releases and gigs as well as his large back catalogue can be found on his website.


fphotoani Have received news from The International Fortean Organisation (INFO) who are staging 'FORTFEST A-Wake!: A Tribute to John Michell & John Keel' on April 24th/25th at the Peabody Court Hotel in Baltimore, MD. Keynote speakers include Joselyn Goodwin, Doug Skinner, Stephen Braude, Daniel Pinchpeck, Gary Mangiacopra, Phyllis Benjamin and Orion Foxwood. Delighted to read that, on the Sunday, a coach will take you on a tour of 'Symbolist Washington (beyond Dan Brown)’. It says: 'Do ghost photography and EVP recordings on site. Bring water, a snack and infra-red film!

PD*29971405 John Keel died on July 3, 2009 aged 79. He was a prominent American ufologist (an observer and chronicler of UFOs – unidentified flying objects) and the author of The Mothman Prophecies (1975), a book about paranormal phenomena which was made into a successful film starring Richard Gere. Read his Daily Telegraph obituary here.




FIREHOUSE GOLDENVOICE #94/#95 poster by CHRIS SHAW AND RON DONOVAN. There are several variants available for purchase from Hangar 18 - but hurry. Most have sold out.

Those who plan to attend this years Glastonbury Festival should look out for Ron Donovan and Chuck Sperry of the Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company in San Francisco who have been invited to join  Chris Hopewell and partners from Jacknife Posters in Bristol to produce fantastic silkscreen posters live. Anyone at all interested in this great artform, which is gaining ground in the UK, should check them out. [For more about Ron and Chuck see Previous Post: PHOTOGRAPHING POSTER ART ]



One of the new re-engineered instant film cameras made public in January this year at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). For more details see Polaroid

Some while back  The Generalist  posted a story about The Impossible Project, whose aim is to produce Polaroid film for millions of Polaroid owners around around the world who still have their cameras  - an estimated three million are in circulation - but cannot get the instant film cartridges since Polaroid bankrupt in 2008. The two initial releases of film - PX 100 and PX 600 Silver Shade - are now available for $21 a pack.

To buy film and find out more, check out the Impossible Project shop. Sale started March 25th. See news report: Former Polaroid employees bring instant film back to life by Tim Bradshaw [Financial Times]

For background see the main Impossible Project site and a great Wired  feature; 'The Impossible Project: Bringing back P:olaroid' by Mic Wright. [Nov 2009]



London Calling Miles482 Just received my copy of Barry Miles' excellent new book 'London Calling: A Countercultural History of London since 1945' [Atlantic Books], a more detailed review of which will appear in the near future.

Saturday, March 20, 2010



Photo: Philip Ryalls

Not since the death of John Peel, has the passing of a DJ been so widely mourned. The tributes to this man have poured in from literally the whole world - such was his reach. Just check Google News. A massive outpouring. He has left us a huge legacy of broadcasts and recordings, of books, of memories. Charlie was one of the good guys who had impeccable taste above all, huge enthusiasm and a gentlemanly anarchic spirit. I am listening to one of his broadcasts as I write these words. He was a champion of 'world music' and introduced countless artists from many cultures to the fresh ears of a listening public hungry for new sounds. I join with numerous others around the world in celebrating his memory.

Charlie Gillett: The Sound of the World. Radio Archive Charlie Gillett. Wikipedia

Charlie Gillett: broadcaster and journalist. Obituary The Times

Charlie Gillett's legacy is his absolute love of records - Caspar Lewellyn Smith

World Famous

It’s 20 years since a bunch of activists labelled a box to help sell records. Elizabeth Kinder looks back on two decades of runaway success and waves a couple of fingers at the whingers. Happy birthday, world music!( fRom fRoots 289, July 2007).


Photo: Judith Burrows. Some of the World Music creation gang, reunited 20 years on… left to right: standing Chris Stapleton, Jonathan Rudnick, Robert Urbanus, Joe Boyd, Ben Mandelson, Philip Sweeney, Roger Armstrong, Simon Coe, Ian Anderson, and seated Amanda Jones, Charlie Gillett, Mark Kidel and Thomas Brooman

'One of those very few broadcasters who could claim - though he wouldn't have done, far too modest - to actually change the musical landscape. Him and Peelly, actually. Go into any substantial record shop and go to the section entitled World Music. That was his doing. Before Charlie Gillett you would have to go to one basement record shop in Soho, mostly folk music, and hunt in there. Now, a familiar sight on every High Street. Heard on Radio 3, Radio 6, and occasionally Radio 1 when they're feeling adventurous. An ingredient at every Music Festival worth attending. Others followed him and became more obvious proselytisers for the area - Ian Anderson at Folk Roots as was, Peter Gabriel at WOMAD, Andy Kershaw...but it was Charlie who led the way. I can point to a couple of feet of shelves of vinyl that was from artists I heard from him first...thank you for that, Charlie, there are thousands of little monuments like that, to you, all over the country.'

- Penfold. Posted on

'Charlie Gillett's The Sound of the City, published in 1970, was the first serious and comprehensive history of rock & roll, and remains one of the best. Other important rock histories and reference books had began to appear in the late '60s, most notably Nik Cohn's Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom (aka Rock from the Beginning) and Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia. The Sound of the City, however, was the first to detail the music's roots and evolution in a rigorously researched fashion, though it was still accessible to the general reader. Although much of what Gillett discussed would be expanded upon by subsequent research, which sometimes clarified controversies or uncovered inaccuracies, it remains an important reference tool for the serious rock scholar several decades on -- a remarkable achievement.'

- Charlie Gillett entry on


Radio 3 Presenter: Charlie Gillett

Wednesday, March 17, 2010



University of Calgary plant biochemist Peter Facchini with research opium poppies. (Credit: Ken Bendiktsen, University of Calgary)

Peter Faacchini has dedicated his career to studying the unique properties of the opium poppy. Now he and his research team at the University of Calgary have discovered the unique genes that allow the opium poppy to make codeine and morphine, thus opening doors to alternate methods of producing these effective painkillers either by manufacturing them in a lab or controlling the production of these compounds in the plant.

"The enzymes encoded by these two genes have eluded plant biochemists for a half-century. In finding not only the enzymes but also the genes, we've made a major step forward. It's equivalent in finding a gene involved in cancer or other genetic disorders." - Peter Facchini.

Fuller report at Science Daily [15 March 2010]

Researchers findings published in Nature Chemical Biology.



Scientists identify opium poppy codeine and morphine genes

Discovery raises possibility of manufacturing painkillers more cheaply using vats of microbes rather than fields of flowers.

More than 2,500 hectares of British fields have been turned into opium poppy farms to meet NHS demands for morphine, a potent painkiller that was first isolated in 1806.

Last year, Tasmania's attorney-general, Lara Giddings, raised concerns over the impact of opium poppy farms on wildlife. Farmers in the country, the world's largest producer of legal opium, reported that wallabies had been hopping around in circles after eating the plants.

In 2008, the European Union's drug agency warned that Britain faced a heroin crisis following a record harvest of poppies in Afghanistan, which accounts for 90% of the world's illicit opium. By blocking one of the genes, scientists said they could create a strain of poppies that produce codeine but do not go on to convert this into morphine, the source of heroin.

Source: Ian Sample (The Guardian 15 March 2010)


Source: Thai Photoblogs
Gene tinkering could produce medicine-only opium poppies - March 15, 2010

Canadian researchers have discovered the genes responsible for crucial steps in the manufacture of morphine by poppies, raising the possibility of plants that produce medically-useful codine but cannot be used for heroin.

Jillian Hagel and Peter Facchini, of the University of Calgary, report in Nature Chemical Biology that they have identified the enzymes responsible for two of the three chemical steps that convert the amino acid tyrosine to morphine. They also identified the genes that produce these enzymes.

Source: The Great Beyond: The Nature blog [15.3. 2010)


Calgary researchers unlock gene secrets of opium poppy

Codeine is one of the most commonly used painkillers in the world. In Canada consumers spend more than $100 million a year on codeine-containing pharmaceutical products.

Canadians are among the world's top per capita consumers of the drug, but must have it imported from countries like France and Australia, said Facchini.

While codeine is currently extracted directly from the plant, most codeine is synthesized from the much more abundant morphine found in the opium poppy.

In humans, codeine is converted by an enzyme in the liver to morphine.

Source: Edmonton


The Poppy’s Secret: Scientists Find the Genes That Make Morphine

Lastly, there’s the reality that about 10 times as much opium is made for the illegal heroin trade as for the legitimate manufacture of morphine and codeine [The Independent]. Theoretically, scientists could use engineered viruses to shut down the opiate-producing genes in the poppies of say, Afghanistan, to crush the illegal drug trade. But beyond the sheer difficulty of executing such a thing, the political consequences of such hubris could be unpredictable, Charles S. Helling of the State Department’s narcotics division tells Science News.

Source: Discover March 15th

Monday, March 15, 2010



Source: Betaphilings blog

Just watched Julien Temple's brilliant documentary on the decline of Detroit. Here is an extract from his article about the film in The Guardian -'Detroit: the last days'

Approaching the derelict shell of downtown Detroit, we see full-grown trees sprouting from the tops of deserted skyscrapers. In their shadows, the glazed eyes of the street zombies slide into view, stumbling in front of the car.

Our excitement at driving into what feels like a man-made hurricane Katrina is matched only by sheer disbelief that what was once the fourth-largest city in the US could actually be in the process of disappearing from the face of the earth. The statistics are staggering – 40sq miles of the 139sq mile inner city have already been reclaimed by nature.

One in five houses now stand empty. Property prices have fallen 80% or more in Detroit over the last three years. A three-bedroom house on Albany Street is still on the market for $1.

Unemployment has reached 30%; 33.8% of Detroit's population and 48.5% of its children live below the poverty line. Forty-seven per cent of adults in Detroit are functionally illiterate; 29 Detroit schools closed in 2009 alone.



Detroit is in a very interesting state. It’s simultaneously decomposing, and evolving into a new city. The Sweet Juniper blog has documented some of the evolution of Detroit in a series of photos they call “Feral Houses”. The images show how the yearly summer plant growth overtakes the many abandoned structures around the city, seemingly reclaiming them for nature.

One of the upbeat stories coming out of Detroit is Urban Farming.


Urban Farming began in 2005 with three gardens in Detroit, Michigan, which is the Urban Farming Headquarter City. In just four and a half growing seasons, Urban Farming has now expanded into thirty cities across the country and abroad with the equivalent of over eight hundred gardens based off of a twenty by twenty foot garden size. A twenty by twenty foot Urban Farming Garden takes two semi-trucks of topsoil to create.

In addition to the Urban Farming Garden programs, the Urban Farming Model includes solutions to some of the contributing factors to hunger such as unemployment, lack of access to healthy produce and poor educational opportunities. The Urban Farming vision is global and our mission is to end hunger in our generation by planting food on unused land and space for people in need and empowering suffering communities.

See also : Magnum Photo Essay: Detroit The Troubled City by Bruce Gilden

Thursday, March 11, 2010




Peak Oil: This issue is simple. We have reached the peak of oil production and its now downhill all the way. This is corresponding with a rise in demand, particularly in the developing world.

One of the key authors and advocates of this concept in the UK is Jeremy Leggett, someone who I first encountered when he was working at the Royal School of Mines on the issue of nuclear testing and the idea of using satellites to monitor illegal nuclear activity. 

Our next encounter was as a result of the musician Paul Hardcastle who, following the huge success of his chart-topping single '19' was  producing a new single about the threat of nuclear weapons. He had been talking to Jeremy and was shit scared, as I recall.

Next I remember Jeremy at Greenpeace, in the early '90s, attending international conferences of insurance companies talking about climate change.

In other words, Jeremy was always ahead and he is still there. He is now the CEO of one of Britain's leading solar companies, Solar Century, the author of numerous books, a blogger on The Guardian, and an acknowledged spokesman on energy issues. He is never less than challenging, is incredibly well-informed and is on the cutting edge of a number of key debates. You would be  very well advised to pay attention to what he is saying.

So Peak Oil is one of the major issues he is centrally concerned about. What he is saying that we are facing an Energy Crunch, a worse version of the Credit Crunch, and we have scant time to prepare for it.

His critics would say that he would say that. He is running a solar energy company. The oil companies dismiss talk of an oil shortage. Anyway, check out the following and get up to speed.


Branson warns that oil crunch is coming within five years

• Virgin chief and fellow business leaders call for action
• Energy crisis threatens to be more serious than credit crunch

Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower

Exclusive: Watchdog's estimates of reserves inflated says top official

The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.

The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.

The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply

Check out Matt Savinar's site: Life After The Oil Crash

Dear Reader, 

Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky proclamation of a doomsday cult, apocalypse bible prophecy sect, or conspiracy theory society. Rather, it is the scientific conclusion of the best paid, most widely-respected geologists, physicists, bankers, and investors in the world. These are rational, professional, conservative individuals who are absolutely terrified by a phenomenon known as global "Peak Oil."

Peak Oil: A Brief Introduction

Peak oil is not an Internet conspiracy theory or an urban legend or myth. It is fact. If one accepts that oil is a finite resource - that there is a certain amount of it in the earth, and more cannot be produced without millions of years - then it follows that one must also accept that the production of oil will peak at some point. All that is therefore questionable is the date when oil will peak and whether or not alternatives are possible. Oil geologists predict a peak before 2015, possibly sooner; scientists are currently failing to find a viable alternative, or even something close. It is quite possible - given the nature of energy - that an alternative does not exist.

Kuwaiti Scientists Say Peak Oil Will Arrive in 2014

New research out of Kuwait, using a new method of calculating the crude oil production potential of 47 of the world’s largest oil producing countries, has found that peak oil — the period in time when oil production reaches a maximum and then begins to decline — will come much sooner than expected… 2014 to be exact.

What Is Peak Oil?



Two of the most visited and downloaded stories on The Generalist are:

*A piece I wrote on Truman Capote and the writing of 'In Cold Blood' - supposedly the first 'non-fiction novel'


*A  lengthy series of posts on my friendship and encounters with the great Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński, - a mentor, widely considered one of the great foreign correspondents of our time.

  • Both stories have gained an added relevance due to the publication of a biography of Kapuściński - ' Kapuściński-Non Fiction' -   written  by Artur Domoslawski that has just been published in Poland that suggests (according to the British press at least)  that Kapuściński,was a dishonest reporter who made up stories and invented quotes. What follows is a miscellany of thoughts and perspectives, from many countries, on this important subject - the line between fact and fiction.

    Bearing witness is a sacred trust

    Every writer of reportage ought to learn from the Kapuściński controversy. Creative non-fiction is a slippery slope.

    Timothy Garton-Ash [The Guardian 10 March 2010

    Poland: Ryszard Kapuściński - Fiction or ‘Non-Fiction'?

    By Sylwia Presley. [Global Voice] Interesting aggregator of blog comments, many from Poland. 10 March 2010

    The Lying Traveler: The Kapuściński Case 

    Binoy Kampmark [Scoop Independent News/NZ 10 March 2010]

    Fact, Fiction and Kapuscinski

    By ROBERT MACKEY [The Lede/The New York Times blog 8 March 2010] This is an incredibly interesting corrective to the UK press coverage and contains a long interview with Artur Domoslawski.

    Poland Not Ready for Flawed Heroes

    by Malgorzata Halaba [The Wall Street Journal blogs. 8 March 2010]

    Liquidating the borders between fact and fiction

    Polish reporter Ryszard Kapuscinski's amazing stories may have been just that, a new book suggests

    Ian Jack [The Guardian 6 March 2010]

    Why Believe Kapuscinski's Biographer?

    Patrick Galey [The Huffington Post/6 March 2010]

    A brilliant writer who mistrusted clarity

    Ryszard Kapuściński's work may drift into fiction – but adherence to fact in war reporting can start to feel impossible and pointless

    Lara Pawson [The Guardian 4 March 2010]

    Kapuscinski biography flies off the bookshelves

    [Polish Radio website. 4 March 2010]

    Ryszard Kapuściński was a great story-teller, not a liar

    Critics of Ryszard Kapuściński's books miss the point – there is no sharp frontier between literature and reporting

    Neil Ascherson [The Guardian 3 March 2010]

    I suspected Polish reporter was a fake

    Jon Snow [Channel 4 blog. 3 March 2010]

    Ryszard Kapuscinski: He was hailed as the greatest reporter of his time. But how much did he make up?

    Ryszard Kapuscinski said he knew Che Guevara. He recounted how he met Patrice Lumumba. But according to a new biography, his books were more fiction than fact. Tony Paterson reports

    [The Independent  2 March 2010]

    Poland's top reporter accused of lying and spying in new biography

    Ryszard Kapuscinski, the late Polish journalist, has been accused of collaborating with Poland's communist government and of making factual errors.

    [The Telegraph 2 March 2010]

    Kapuscinski biography to be censored?

    [Polish Radio website. 16 Feb 2010]


    I was the first journalist in the UK to interview Kapuscinski. You can hear that interview on The Audio Generalist

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010


    image-1-for-oscars-2010-the-winners-gallery-821100843 72024674aee01701973c6aee0786821651f25e16 Down at the local Odeon to see 'Crazy Heart' on a bitingly cold Sunday afternoon, in which Jeff Bridges is playing Bad Blake, a down-at-heel country and western singer. The film is dedicated to the late Stephen Bruton, who died shortly after working on the soundtrack of this movie. Bridges sings and plays the role with his natural  humanity. Not a false move from this man. Not afraid to be seen with his belly over his pants lying on a bathroom floor. That night he won an Oscar for this role - or perhaps more specifically for a professional lifetime. He first appeared uncredited in a movie as a young baby. He was a baby at the time. That same night I watched him as Bill Django in 'The Men Who Stare At Goats'. I like to think Jeff would have approved.


    Check out his hand-drawn and illustrated website


    Longtime one of my favourite actors - certainly since the brilliant 'Thunderbolt and Lightfoot' with Clint Eastwood.

    cutters_way Winter_Kills_2

    Also 'Cutter's Way', 'Winter Kills' and obviously 'The Big Lebowski.'  the_big_lebowski___jeff_bridges1 

    Podcast by Charlie Schroeder on the Lebowski Fest, a two-day celebration of all things Big Lebowski. Held in a bowling alley in California, wouldn't you know it.

    'Starman' was great and 'Tron' was terrific.







    IRON MAN 2


    The Coen Brothers remake of 'True Grit'.

    See also: Total Recall: Jeff Bridges' Best Movies


    You can vote for this photoshopped version of Jeff Bridges in the Pinocchio contest here:

    COLIN WARD (1924-2010)


    Check this man out. Britain's leading Anarchist philosopher died this February aged 85. Throughout his life he espoused a form of anarchism that had nothing  to do with the cartoon picture of black t-shirted violence but everything to do with mutual aid and cooperative self-help. He believed that social policy should be formed from the ground up. His interest in housing issues led him to support squatting movements, housing co-ops and self-builders. He wrote a history of allotments in 1988. At a time in Britain when none of the politics on display holds out any hope for a human future, Colin Ward's collected works offer a warm, wonderful resource of thinking that we all need to pay attention to. They are a blueprint for change and for fresh actions. We need to build this world anew. Check out the man and his works here and read the personal tributes.

    Copy of ward.Maincontent.0001.Image


    For a list of his main published works and basic intro

    'Colin Ward – an obituary and appreciation of the chuckling anarchist' 

    by Roman Krznaric on 'Outrospective', his 'empathy blog' on which you can also find this posting Five Ways to Expand Your Empathy.

    He died...leaving a legacy of over thirty books and a huge following of activists, educators and writers – amongst them myself – who were inspired by his approach to radical social change, which always favoured practical, grass-roots action over utopian dreamings of revolution.

    Colin was a gentle man and a wonderful storyteller. He had a boyish chuckle, a mischievous glint in his eye, and would often break out into song while munching on a sausage, drawing on his astonishing memory recollect lyrics from his 1930s Essex childhood.

    What I really loved about Colin was his capacity to see the good in people. He didn’t expend his energy attacking those whose views he did not share, and could usually find a kind word for them.

    Boyd Tonkin: The good life of a gentle anarchist [The Independent]

    'He championed the twilight world of allotment-diggers, unofficial smallholders, prefab dwellers, caravan habitués, rural squatters, estate children, multi-tasking traders, DIY artisans and house-builders, most as remote from the trim land of planning applications as they were from tax demands.

    Too few of his landmark texts exist in a form that non-specialists can reach. As every pundit and politician gestures towards a more congenial, more self-organising nation, and so few have the slightest notion of how to get there without grandiose top-down schemes, we need a handy volume of the Selected Colin Ward in every bookshop, or on every screen. Then the millions of eager fugitives from greed and fear can really get down to digging for victory.

    Copy (3) of ward.Maincontent.0001.Image

    Colin Ward: pioneer of mutualism

    on Next Left - The Fabian Society blog

    Anarchy', for Colin, is simply any social space in which the techniques of mutuality predominate. It is a social space which people enter (and leave) freely; relate as equals; and do something creative, to solve a problem, meet a need, or just enjoy creativity for its own sake. And the aim of anarchism is to try to push and shove society in the direction of greater anarchy in this sense.
    Thus, Colin emphasised that anarchy is, in fact, already very much part of our social world.

    Anarchy is there in the meeting of a 12-step group, whose members grapple together with a shared problem of addiction. It is there in the adventure playground, the Friendly Society, the RNLI, and in thousands upon thousands of other free, egalitarian and cooperative social spaces. And his propaganda - not a word he was ashamed of - was frequently aimed at showing how some outstanding social problem could be better addressed by techniques of free, cooperative self-help.


    The hidden history of housing

    by Colin Ward [Sept 2004] on the

    History & Policy Site


  • Up to 1945 'plotlanders' were able to make use of small patches of land not needed for agriculture, gradually building up weekend shacks into permanent residences, by using their own time and labour rather than large sums of money.
  • Immediately after the Second World War, homeless people in their thousands squatted in recently-vacated military camps, organizing their own communal services. Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, a similar movement erupted across vacant local-authority properties, evolving into long-term housing co-operatives.
  • Copy (2) of ward.Maincontent.0001.Image

    A Tribute to Colin Ward on the Five Leaves Publications  blog.

    Housing, environment, transport, architecture, unofficial uses of the landscape, the education of children - Colin’s subjects were always full of positive examples of the way some people live now, and the way we could all live later.

    [Incidentally, found via ReadySteady Blog , the Bookaholic's Guide to Book Blogs]


    Colin Ward

    Submitted by Rob Ray on

    Colin wrote in 1973: “The tenant take-over of the municipal estate is one of those obviously sensible ideas which is dormant because our approach to municipal affairs is still stuck in nineteenth-century paternalism.” Surely now ...would be a good time to consider          re-introducing Colin’s plan.


    A 'Colin Ward Reader' available as a PDF download on the New Statesman site

    Tuesday, March 02, 2010



    Having discovered Colum McCann through his latest novel [See Previous Post: TWIN TOWERS: MOVING STORIES & SPECTACULAR STUNTS], decided to immediately read some more. These are both wonderful powerful stories - about Zoli, a Romani poet and Rudolph Nureyev, the dancer of the title. In the first, the story is loosely based on the real-life Roma poet Papusza, which McCann acknowledges. In the second, McCann skilfully brings a depth and skill of storytelling to his imagined history of Nureyev.

    The way McCann tells the stories, through multiple viewpoints - something he has developed and refined to a high art - without losing the storytelling drive, is something I find most interesting. McCann likes to do detailed research reading combined with travel - to modern-day Romania (for Zoli),  Russia for Nureyev.

    Zoli haunted me but Dancer made me cry. Both books will take you on remarkable journeys of the soul and the spirit.