Wobegon Boy by Garrison Keillor Reviewed by Steve Rudd
I have a responsible job and pay my taxes and keep my lawn mowed, but because I dare to be
an individual, people whisper about me behind my back. Why is life like this?
This epic novel is an absolute masterpiece that is drama-driven and hugely poignant, as it
follows a man called John Tollefson as he bumbles through his life over a pronounced period
of time, with the novel beginning in the American Midwest before re-locating to
New York City when the character feels drawn to the metropolis for a variety of reasons.
The grand, Legends Of The Fall-fetched scope is breathtaking, with much of the drama
transpiring in the face of the death of John's father, the novel intimately focusing on how
he deals with the grief while trying to get his own life back on track after such an immense loss.
If you don't show the people you love that you love them, then what's the point?
As with most novels that deal directly - and unflinchingly - with the issue of mortality,
there is a chance that the story might seem a little depressing to some people, but
ultimately this is a novel that is somehow a life-enhancing experience because
Garrison Keillor is such a skilful writer when it comes to encountering raw human emotions.
Almost every sentence is poised with a profound sense of graceful poetry, and those readers who have
experienced the close death of a loved one will surely find a great deal of comfort and consolation
as a result of reading this.
The drama might be slow-moving and uneventful (save for the aforementioned death in the family),
but from start to finish Wobegon Boy is fantastically thought-provoking and fuelled by humility,
modesty and good old fashioned tenderness.
Time is a timeless concept that has led mankind badly astray, especially as we record age,
which we do from the time of birth, and yet it is not elapsed time that really concerns us,
but time remaining, and that is something that we cannot know.
And so we should not concern ourselves with time, except as we must arrange meetings or
journeys by public conveyance.
Above all else, this is a bold novel that teaches you to cherish your family and friends -
and to take nothing at all for granted - as though the author's life depended on conveying
such important matters of fact. My best advice, then, is to read and respond...
Mistakes make better artists of all of us as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives -
and you better believe it.
ISBN:0-571-19351-X (Faber, first published in 1997)
Reviews, Books - Down By The River Where The Dead Men Go by George P. Pelecanos Reviewed by Steve Rudd
As the novel title must suggest, this is a crime thriller... and one of the highest order.
I first heard of the author in Pelecanos through him heaping praise on
the 'action-thriller' writing of Steve Hamilton.
Like with Hamilton's work, Pelecanos weaves an engrossing story around a
series of hugely believable and genuinely exciting set-pieces.
Interestingly, many authors
Reviews, Books - Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller Reviewed By Steve Rudd
You can get something out of a book, even a bad book.
First published in France in 1934, this extraordinary piece of writing never saw the light of day in the United States and the wider world at large until after 1961, following a mighty legal battle that resulted in the book finally being published elsewhere.
Human beings make a strange fauna and flora...More than anything
Reviews, Books - Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis Reviewed By Steve Rudd
Bret's work, it seems, is either loved or truly loathed.
Almost all of his past novels have been as controversial and as feared by some people as
hell itself, especially as Bret focuses on taboo subjects with intense abandon.
His best known book is the huge-selling American Psycho masterpiece, yet his other
work is most definitely worth reading too - if you like that kind of thing.
Alright, Less Than Zero isn't half
Reviews, Books - The Hunting Wind by Steve Hamilton Reviewed By Steve Rudd
This is the fourth thriller of Steve's that I've devoured with a heady, stance-steady vengeance. He really does reside in the top drawer of American-based thriller writers, living in New York but writing about the state in which he was raised… the often cold and bleak Northern state of Michigan, near to the border with Canada.
The previous three novels that I've read of his
Reviews, Books - Fury by Salman Rushdie Reviewed By Steve Rudd
I must live until I die.
Perhaps best known for his hugely controversial book The Satanic Verses, Indian writer
Salman Rushdie is one of the most famous writers in the world, which is understandable
when his writing is so utterly extraordinary in timbre.
Mysteries drive us all. We only glimpse their veiled faces, but their power pushes
us onward, Read more...
Reviews, Books - The Nineties by John Robb Reviewed By Steve Rudd
If you remember the Nineties... you were there!
This incredible book, written by the singer for punk rock 'n' roll band Goldblade in
truly is a breathtaking overview of an exhilarating decade.
And it isn't just music that is covered, as the always-opinionated Robb proffers his honest
opinions about anything and everything that had a
Reviews, Books - Lost Souls by Michael Collins Reviewed By Steve Rudd
We only live once. I don't think we ever really confront that until it's too late.
Understandably shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Lost Souls is not your average mystery-thriller
novel, with this engrossing 'whodunnit' focusing on a small-town cop trying to get to the bottom
of the mysterious death of a three-year-old girl.
The prime suspect is the local football star,
Reviews, Theatre - Sep 20 - 25th - The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Northern Broadsides Company at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough by Patrick Henry
The scandal school of the title locates itself in tea-parties gathering mostly at the home of
Lady Sneerwell, who has a voracious addiction to gossip amid the Darjeeling and cream cakes
passed around her close acquaintances equally hooked on rumour-peddling.
Suspectedly, no-one has any friends in this circle or in upper-class society at
Reviews, Books - Harry Potter Series by Mark Petherbridge
In my opinion, the Harry Potter books are fantastic, whether it's read to escape into the intriguing, yet marvellously complex world or to read in third person about a boy whose life is a series of amazing adventures, in a secret yet in-your-face wizarding world.
According to recent studies (the source being Newsround) these books have
Reviews, Books - Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck Reviewed By Steve Rudd
People don't take trips - trips take people.
It's almost impossible, in this day and age, to not have heard of John Steinbeck.
First and foremost, his Of Mice And Men short story is the staple part of almost every school
curriculum, while his Grapes of Wrath novel is equally as well-known.
Steinbeck was born and raised in the Salinas area of California,
Reviews, Books - Fiesta by Ernest Hemingway Reviewed by Steve Rudd
No, I wasn't naïve enough to be fooled into thinking that this exquisite novel from the legendary Hemingway was an in-depth car manual designed to accompany the latest Ford creation.
Far from it, in fact, for this story follows a bunch of friends who travel from Paris to Spain, and to the town of Pamplona in particular to witness the bull-running and -fighting events of the infamous
Reviews, Theatre - June 6-11th - The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare and Sweet William by Alan Plater. Northern Broadsides Company at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough by Patrick Henry
These two works played in a week of repertory constitute essentially company productions,
without star actors nor prominent leading characters, giving all-round strength to the
enterprise, but also some weaknesses.
It is absorbing to watch how the actors from the classic comedy are deployed in the cast
of the new Plater piece.
Reviews, Books - Swan Song by Robert Edric Reviewed By Nick Quantrill
Swan Song is the third and final part of Robert Edric's cycle trilogy. Although Edric does not describe himself as crime-fiction writer per-se, he skilfully demonstrates the strength of the genre. Although crime-fiction is generally criticised for not being literary enough, Edric uses it as a vehicle with which to explore contemporary society.
Reviews, Books - The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth Reviewed by Steve Rudd
So, The Phantom of The Opera is perhaps one of the best-known stories in the world, but how many
of you good people realised that a sequel to the story has actually been written - and has been
kicking around for some years now - by the one and only Frederick Forsyth?
The original, horrifying Phantom of The Opera story was penned by Frenchman Gaston Leroux, but the world at
Reviews, Books - The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac Reviewed by Steve Rudd
He doesn't need any money... all he needs is his rucksack.
There really was no end to Jack's writing talents after all! This is the fifth book of his that I've had the pleasure of reading, and it is by far and away my favourite.
When you get to the top of a mountain, keep climbing.
Packed with all the excitement of his classic masterpiece On The RoadRead more...
Reviews, Books - I'm a Teacher Get Me Out of Here by Francis Gilbert (Short Books) Reviewed By Cathy Walker
As I am about to change career to become a primary school teacher, I picked up
I'm A Teacher Get Me Out Of Here with a little trepidation. I'd heard that it presents the
reality of working in a 'tough school', of what a hard and challenging job being a teacher truly is.
I can't wait to become a teacher and I didn't want