Reviews

BAT BOY by Chris Barraclough — Reviewed by Graham Sclater on Venture Radio (mp3)

***
THE SEARCH FOR CHARLIE CHAPLIN by Kevin BrownlowREVIEWED by Graham Sclater on Venture Radio

“Brownlow’s importance cannot be over-estimated…Brownlow is regarded not only as the preeminent historian of the silent film era, he is also one of its leading preservationists…read moreThomas Gladysz, The Huffington Post

“A few months ago I wrote a story about a film collector in Michigan who found a 16mm print of a 1914 Keystone comedy called The Thief Catcher, which features a previously unknown guest appearance by Charlie Chaplin. The story went all over the world, and said film collector is doing the same thing, showing the film at museums and festivals.
As discoveries go, it was impressive, but it paled next to the discoveries made by Kevin Brownlow andDavid Gill beginning in 1977, when they accessed a vast trawl of Chaplin outtakes from 1916-1917, followed by that holy of holies, the Chaplin vault itself, which held sequences that he had cut from his films as well as a lot of fascinating miscellaneous footage.
All this resulted in The Unknown Chaplin, a TV series that, along with Heart of Darkness, still stands as probably the documentary about the filmmaking process. The Search for Charlie Chaplin (UKA Press) is Brownlow’s story of the process of finding the films and piecing the show together, and it palpably communicates the difficulties as well as the primal enthusiasm that it takes to persevere in a necessarily incremental project such as The Unknown Chaplin.
Brownlow made himself a scholar, but I suspect he was born a wonderful writer, simultaneously lucid, elegant and witty. His gifts are on full display here, on a topic that’s worthy of them.
The book is illustrated with a slew of wonderful stills.” — Scott Eyman, author and editor of The Palm Beach Post
“A must-read publication. The book is a collection of previously unpublished testimonies from those who worked with the great Charlie and from those who came into contact with him in various ways, such as The Kid, Jackie Coogan; the flower girl, Virginia Cherrill; script associate, Alistair Cooke; King Vidor; Lord Mountbatten; Oona Chaplin; and Lita Grey.
“It has been constructed like an investigation into trails of unedited material and has the whiff of a detective story.” – Cinecittà News

“In-depth and moving, and brings greater insight into the portrayal of a man who was shy and determined, modest and self-deprecating and unaware of his own genius.” – La Stampa

“A wonderfully well-written book that delights in its own anecdotes” – Il Sole

***
WINSTANLEY: Warts and All by Kevin Brownlow — “Last week I read what may be my favourite movie book of the year, Kevin Brownlow’s Winstanley: Warts And All…” — John Patterson, The Guardian

***
HOW IT HAPPENED HERE by Kevin Brownlow — “or how to make a film legend, over eight years and without any money.
I consumed this book in the space of one long train journey. By the time I had finished it:
1) I really wanted to meet Kevin Brownlow because of the stories he probably missed out of HIHH
2) I knew vastly more about film-making than I did before I started the book.
Kevin Brownlow comes across as one of Nature’s gentlemen: the story he tells is principled; unassuming; generous in its praise for those who helped him and remarkably restrained in its condemnation of those who hindered.
It’s a very funny book too in its own way and certainly one of the best film memoirs I have ever read.
By the end of the book my admiration for Brownlow and his co-director Andrew Mollo was very deep. The only irritating thing about the story is that their marathon dedication certainly left me unsettlingly aware of my own shortcomings in terms of perseverance” — Barton Keyes, UK

“I found this book in my university library and picked it up based on what I read from the back cover. I had never heard of this movie but I had read Brownlow’s amazing The Parade’s Gone By and figured I could spend a few minutes flipping through the pages. The minutes turned into hours and I forfeited my studies to concentrate entirely on this book.
Not only is it a very interesting and exciting account of two teenagers growing up as they try against all odds to make a historically accurate film for no money, but it also addresses issues such as the artist’s responsibility to be honest to his subject and what lengths are necessary to achieve it.
A great autobiographical account, I would highly suggest this book for other film students planning their own films, as well as those interested in film history or the work of Kevin Brownlow. I did eventually see the movie, and felt that my viewing experienced was enhanced in part from having read this text.” —Sean C. Batton (Los Angeles)

***
FRANKIE by Judy Walker — “I found this story enthralling, wonderful and moving. The twists and turns will take your breath away.” — GP Taylor – best selling author of Shadowmancer and Mariah Mundi series.

***
KEITH MOON STOLE MY LIPSTICK by Judith Wills — “Enjoyed every minute of your book – didn’t we all have charmed lives? It was a delightful read from the perspective of an innocent in the 60s/70’s lion’s den. Every time you met someone I expected them to jump on you! I think that is one of the many strengths in your story.’ — Tony Prince ex – Radio Luxembourg DJ now boss DMC

“I was sent a press copy – and couldn’t put it down! There IS a fleeting Queen reference, and a funny one at that. But anyone of ‘our age’ who lived through or just after the 60’s will love this book – remember Fab 208? Luxembourg Radio? The Osmonds and David Cassidy?! Even if you don’t I think you’ll enjoy this anyway – name dropping of the highest calibre! Fab!” — Queen Fan Club

***
FOOTPRINTS IN THE ASH: A Pompeii Mystery by Stanley Salmons — “Suspenseful from page one – fast and original … Completely involving and unpredictable. Best read this year.” — UKA Crime Writers

Salmons’ vivid descriptions successfully depict the fear and uncertainty Pompeians must have felt over the eruption of Vesuvius. Craftily written, this mystery is full of absorbing puzzles and characters. Even though the main plot takes place in the present, history intertwines throughout, creating a fascinating look at Pompeii and its people. — Rebecca Roberts, Historical Novels Review Online

“A fascinating, richly detailed look at the past, in a gripping present day mystery…” — Barnacle Reviews

***
THE MMM GIRL; Marilyn Monroe, by herself

“…You actually feel it’s Marilyn’s thoughts and words you are reading. You can almost hear her voice in your head…a personal insight into Marilyn’s world and the people she knew, from her own perspective…this really gives the book its edge and a great authenticity which makes it less like a novel and more like an autobiography, had Marilyn written one…a great deal of sensitivity, giving Marilyn’s “words” dignity and her story the respect it deserves…Tara writes in such a tender and tasteful way you imagine Marilyn herself would have written with the same beautiful sublime style…instead of being too explicit or provocative it’s just right, very sensual but sensitive to the reader’s taste at the same time…” — Immortal Marilyn
Full review HERE

‘…Tara Hanks’ novel “The Mmm Girl; Marilyn Monroe, by herself” – a novel about the life of Marilyn Monroe as she might have told it…gave me chills. In her book, Tara delves into the mind of the legendary actress and tells her story from Marilyn’s own perspective. I’ve read several biographies of Marilyn’s life and always thought to myself, “I wonder how it must have felt for her coming from a broken home and making it so big …” and here, Hanks has found a way to attempt to answer that question…’ — Susan Heidi, artist

***
WILD WOMEN by Simon Leigh — “A well-written, witty, ribald and rollicking journey into the dark ways of men and women.”
Paul Quarrington, author (Home Garden, The Life of Hope, King Leary, etc), artist, musician, screenwriter, CA.

“A campus novel all about motor racing? I’m not interested in cars, and it’s too late for me to be interested in education, but I was held by this till my wheels came off… A must for anyone intending to leave Australia. Or drive in a Canadian winter. Or take up with a woman. Or crash at high speed in a car race… This guy writes beautifully; he’s good at funny and good at serious… (If this novel is at all autobiographical, don’t ever accept a lift from the author. But do rush out and read the book).”
Miles Kington, columnist, The Independent, UK

***
REMEMBER, REMEMBER by Sheldon Goldfarb — “I am most impressed with your style. The sentences flow along at a good pace and young readers, I believe, will find the developing plot as captivating as I did.”
— Dr. Doris Meriwether, Emeritus Professor of Literature, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

“UBC professor Sheldon Goldfarb’s doctorate in Victorian literature, his life-long interest in history and his previous publications on William Makepeace Thackeray have served him extremely well for his debut young adult historical mystery novel, Remember, Remember. His story is an intriguingly entertaining mix of blackmail, murder, and youthful romance, shot through with large dollops of tension and suspense, and set in an age in England when the East India Co. was still an economic force to be reckoned with…”
— M. Wayne Cunningham, Books in Canada (Click HERE to read whole review.)

Remember, Remember was shortlisted for the 2006 Best Juvenile Novel in Canada, by the Canadian Crime Writers Assocation The Search for Charlie Chaplin by Kevin Brownlow.  Silent Film Archeology at its Finest.  — The Search for Charlie Chaplin tells the story behind the brilliant, award-winning three-part documentary, Unknown Chaplin (Photoplay Productions, Ltd., 1983). Comprised entirely of never-before-screened footage from Chaplin’s silent films (1916 to 1931), the program is a revelation–especially for a seasoned film collector like myself. One iconic scene from the Mutual two-reeler, The Pawnshop, wherein Chaplin exercises his improvisational genius using several everyday props, including a hammer, is as familiar to me as anything I have ever seen on a screen. So when Chaplin dropped that same hammer in one outtake, I almost jumped–the effect was that startling. Now, with the DVD of Unknown Chaplin readily available, I have viewed that episode so many times that when I see the original version of The Pawnshop, it almost seems wrong when he doesn’t drop it.

Just how the documtentarians Kevin Brownlow and David Gill came upon that amazing footage, and what metaphorical hoops they had to jump through in order to get their living subjects to tell their Chaplin-related memories on camera, is nothing short of incredible. Kevin Brownlow’s first-hand narrative (which is as honest as it is compelling) has only heightened my appreciation of the completed documentary. Accompanying the text are some rare photographs and razor-sharp frame blow-ups. The slim, 209-page volume does not waste the reader’s time with endless details of Chaplin’s life and career, all of which have been exhaustively covered in over 300 previous books. Instead, the material is fresh, candid–and fascinating.– Lon Davis, Author and Film Historian.

***
“…Fascinating, satirical and erudite, Chandola’s novel THE DHARMA VIDEOS OF LUST; A Book Of Indian Religious Mysteries touches on Hinduism, Sikhism, yoga, rationalism, religion, a woman’s right to choose and 9/11, creating a rich and ever-changing tapestry of experience. Each story becomes a thread added to the shining whole, as the past intersects the present with stories of pleasure, betrayal, lust and pain. Generous, humorous and full of linguistic pleasures, Chandola brilliantly melds the myths of ancient religions with the mysteries of modern life, immersing us in an entirely new and hypnotic world.” — Ellen Tanner Marsh, New York Times Best Selling Author

***
IN A WORD by Andrea Lowne — “…a joyous and abandoned foray into the world of comic verse and I have no doubt that it will entertain and delight everyone who wisely chooses to own a copy…the book reminds me of …a book of Spike Milligan poems that has accompanied me through life ever since I discovered it in my early teens and is guaranteed to cheer me up or bolster good humour…’ — John Webber, author of Slowboat to Moscow, Private Histories and Had Van Gogh Had A Day Job

***
HIDEOUS GIFTS by Liz Laighton — “Liz Laighton has a style to die for” — UK Crime Writers

“A killer close at hand…the lethal mind warp that ends in murder…I could not put the book down” —Maureen Ross, Leopard Magazine, Aberdeenshire

***
A NECESSARY KILLINGby Hilary Lloyd — “I cannot thank Hilary Lloyd enough for writing this book. Not only is it a great read that grips you by the throat from the first paragraph, it’s hugely informative about a subject people outside of the rural community know virtually nothing about – foot and mouth disease. I was one of those townies who sat tutting at the news night after night knowing what was going on couldn’t be right – the cull first, test later mentality – but until I read ‘A necessary killing’ I had no idea how very badly wrong the government got things. Everyone who cares about the countryside should read this, so should every vet. And it should be required reading for all the pen pushers at Defra.” — Cambridgeshire Review

***
EVERY GIRL HAS HER LIMITS by Jolen Whitworth — “Whitworth’s poetry is rhythmic, focused, sure of itself, as is the poet. Her voice is a voice of someone who has lived, who has known light and darkness, who retains a dignity and strength that endears her to true lovers of poetry.” — L. Ward Abel, Author ofThe Heat of Blooming, and Jonesing for Byzantium

***
JONESING FOR BYZANTIUM by L Ward Abel — “…a beautiful collection not only for its musicality, but also for the things its musicality illustrates. Not surprisingly, the things that make this collection a success are also the things that make any song a success: harmony, musical precision and a commitment to the wants and needs that make us human.” The Pedestal Magazine
Full review HERE

***