Sitting Up with the Dead by Pamela Petro Reviewed by Steve Rudd
In the manic style of Bill Bryson, Pamela Petro gets in her car and heads out
around America in search of exciting new people, places and - above else -
Confining her extensive travels to the Eastern side of North America and,
in particular, the South-East states of Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas
(to name a few), Pamela embarks on a fascinating and hugely engaging journey
in order to embroil herself in the age-old tradition of story-telling,
a past-time that is still popular in such areas of the USA where entertainment
in the form of television (for example) isn't a priority.
When many people think of America they wrongly assume that almost everybody
over there is blessed with hard cash and little poverty, but in the deep
south times are still hard in certain areas, while in the beautiful
Appalachian mountains there are farms and small villages that remain
as far removed from modern-day civilisation and technology as they were
perhaps one hundred years ago.
Pamela sets out scooting about on four separate journeys, meeting fascinating
people as she goes who all tell her a story: a story that more often
than not has been passed down to them over the years from past generations.
The type of short stories she is told (all of which she recorded on a
Dictaphone and then painstakingly transcribed for inclusion in this book)
range from quirky moralistic fables to chilling ghost stories, and old
Brer Rabbit even gets a look in.
Sitting Up With The Dead is a magnificently refreshing read, providing a
glimpse of America that is rarely seen or acknowledged as being in existence.
Many of the stories have been borne out of the American South's troubled
history, given the extent of slavery that consumed the Southern States and
the violence that naturally exploded over time as a byproduct of the
inhumane way that the blacks were treated by white people.
Each and every one of the twenty short stories that are reproduced within
are charming, compelling and occasionally haunting in their own rights.
What's more, Sitting Up With The Dead does also read like a travel book
(the city of Charleston - in South Carolina - we learn, for example, is
the oldest English city south of Virginia, one of only three walled cities
in North America, and was the richest city in America before the Civil War),
seen as though Pamela gets around to so many places and is such a skilled writer.
As a result, such intoxicating elements of travel, historical heritage
and sheer human drama all coalesce to make this book one of the most
riveting, informative and touching reads in recent times... and the type
of book that every kid should be given to study in schools, Amen.
Reviews, Books - Mick Ronson: The Spider with the Platinum Hair by Weird and Gilly Reviewed By Steve Rudd
Born and bred in Hull, Mick Ronson indeed did come from extremely humble beginnings to
become one of Britain's most respected musicians and producers.
Born in 1946, it was in the early seventies that Mick first became well known
through his work with David Bowie, with ace guitarist Mick
Reviews, Theatre - Gaffer! at York Theatre Royal By Nick Quantrill
Gaffer! is a one-man black-comedy which sees Deka Walmsley deliver a convincing
portrayal of a variety of comedy football characters and caricatures.
The central character is George, manager of struggling Northbridge Town.
George and Northbridge Town are old school. George has strong socialist values
Reviews, Films - Alien VS Predator By Steve Rudd
Whoever came up with the bright idea of violently pitting Alien against Predator
sure deserves a pat on the back and a raucous round of applause, for this big-budget
movie scores on many levels.
Whereas the bulk of the Alien franchise has long relied on
atmospheric tension rather than all-out action
Reviews, Books - The Promise of Bruce Springsteen by Eric Alterman. Reviewed By Steve Rudd
Brucie, we need you - and more than ever!
A true rock 'n' roll star in every sense and then some, Bruce has had a truly staggering career in the music business, and even as we maniacally rush headlong into the 21st Century he is more popular than ever.
This biography of
Reviews, Films - Open Water By Steve Rudd
I really don't understand why this movie was ever made.
Based on true events, this follows a couple of young lovers (Daniel Travis and blonde bombshell Blanchard Ryan)
on a diving day-out as part of a vacation they're taking together.
Before we know it, they've been stranded in the middle
Reviews, Books - The Beach by Alex Garland Reviewed By Steve Rudd
Escape through travel works. Almost from the moment I boarded my flight, life in England became meaningless.
Seat-belt signs lit up, problems switched off. Broken armrests took precedence over broken hearts.
Before the hit movie there was the cult novel written by an unknown
Reviews, Theatre - Fields of Gold at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough By Nick Quantrill
For some time now thisisUll.com has been bringing news
and reviews of events that are happening in Hull.
It is quite noticeable that what is going unreported is what's happening in the near-by towns
surrounding the city of Hull.
Reviews, Books - The Body by Hanif Kureishi Reviewed By Steve Rudd
I imagine that to participate in the world with curiosity and pleasure, to see the point of what is going on, you have to be young and uninformed. Do I want to participate?
This is an incredibly compelling novel from Kent-born Hanif (who proves himself to be ever-the-philosopher)
Reviews, Films - Five Children and It Reviewed by Ruth Wilson
The other day I went to the UGC cinema in Hull to see 5 Children and It.
It was a very good film, based on a book by E. Nesbit. It's about 5 children
(surprise, surprise! I can't remember their names, though!) who get sent to live
with their loopy uncle in the country during the
Kids, Reviews, Books - Freak-Outs and Very Secret Secrets by Karen McCombie Reviewed by Ruth Whitehouse
I have recently read a brilliant book called Friends, Freak-Outs and Very Secret Secrets by Karen McCombie,
a teenage book, part of the Ally's World Series. If you want me to be precise, it's number 4.
Now, onto the actual review. It is about a teenage girl called Ally who has a best
Reviews, Books - Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer Reviewed By Steve Rudd
Reaching the top of Everest is supposed to trigger a surge of intense elation; against
long odds, afterall, I had just attained a goal I'd coveted since childhood.
But the summit was really only the halfway point. Any impulse I might have felt toward
Reviews, Books - Down Under by Bill Bryson Reviewed By Steve Rudd
As I write this review it is the height of British summertime, and as I'm staring
outside the window at 8:30 PM it's almost black dark out there and pouring it down with rain.
Which is - to extents - to be expected, given the UK's terminally unpredictable climate.