Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Six of the Best

Life by Keith Richards

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

Stuart – a life sdrawkcaB by Alexander Masters

True North by Kimberly Kafka

The Shack by Wm Paul Young

Old Filth by Jane Gardam

These are six of the best books I’ve read recently – all recommended to me by fellow bloggers with the exception of Life which was a Christmas present from our French son.

Life by Keith Richards

The great thing about Life – although it was written with James Fox – one could well be sitting in a bar, night after night listening to the man himself telling all that had happened in his rock and roll life in the last four decades. His childhood in Dartford -”Everyone in Dartford is a thief – it runs in the blood”, his obsession with the guitar , meeting Mick Jagger on a railway station and later Brian Jones, and forming a band.

The drug busts, falling in love, a disastrous marriage, addiction, tragedies and confessions – it’s all there. A ‘red mist’ seems to descend if anyone criticises his music and a knife and a gun is always to hand, which he is not afraid to use.

I learned a lot about him and his outlaw life; one of the most fascinating facets of the story is his love- hate relationship with Mick Jagger - “ I love the man.”.

One is thankful that the ‘red mist ‘ didn’t descend during their worst periods. Now in his late sixties he seems to be happily settled with his wife Patti Hanson living in Connecticut and presumably done with ‘the heavy shit’. The book is a hefty tome with fascinating photos taken throughout his life.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

This delightful book was recommended by Nea (side bar).

The writer is an American from West Virginia who became interested in the Channel Island Guernsey whilst visiting London in 1976. She visited the island and was stranded by a heavy fog. She read a book Jersey under the Jack-Boot and became fascinated with the Channel Islands. Many years later she wrote this book – her only novel which was published in thirteen countries.

The book is about a writer Juliet Ashton and the power of friendship, love of books and love. She receives a letter from a Guernsey man who has, by chance acquired a book that once belonged to her. Both admirers of Charles Lamb they start a correspondence and he tells her of the society which is the book’s title. Gradually other members of the society write to her and she learns about life under the German Occupation. The time is about 1946. Intrigued by the stories Juliet makes a trip to Guernsey and her life is changed forever.

I love everything about this book and learned much about the war-time Channel Island experience. It is of particular interest to anyone interested in the writing process. As Kate Long said : “Definitely a book to curl up with and simply enjoy.”

Stuart – a life sdrawkcaB by Alexander Masters.

When I wrote a post about a homeless person in Minehead, Kim( sidebar) told me about this book. Afterwards I told him I found it both gripping and gruelling but I’m glad I read it. Hopefully the more the dark under belly of life is brought into daylight the more it can be dealt with.

It’s the story of a friendship between Stuart a homeless beggar, who is an alcoholic and drug addicted, and Alexander, a reclusive writer who lives in Cambridge. They meet whilst Alexander is working with a homeless charity and their friendship covers the last two years of Stuart’s life. Alexander probes into Stuart’s past life and uncovers a hellish childhood which seemed to have happened under his mother’s nose.

The book is thankfully devoid of do-goodishness and Alexander’s frustration and exasperation with Stuart is often comic.

“Alexander, sort it out- you’re the writer, I just done the living.”

This book is an award winning memoir.

More Later.


kenju said...

I will check them out, Pat. I tried to read the Guernsey book, but I simply couldn't get interested in it. Maybe I need to give it a second go.

Pat said...

Judy: I'm saving the best till last:)

Guyana-Gyal said...

They all sound good, really good. I will see if our book-store has any.

The nice thing about a book is that, you can dip into the good bits again and again, or give the book to someone else to enjoy.

My mother keeps telling me to read the ones about the detective lady in Botswana, written by Alexander McCall Smith, she says they're hilarious, truly delightful.

Sausage Fingers said...

Can't wait to get my hands on the Richards book, I saw it in the airport but balked at the airport book prices. I read the Shack after my brother in law passed away, it helped with the grief.
Cheers, Sausuage...

Granny Annie said...

I always love to hear book recommendations from people I admire such as you:) One question: Is there such a thing as a "potato peel pie"?

Arlene said...

I loved the Guernsey Potato Peel Pie book. And I really loved "Old Filth". We obviously have similar tastes in books, so I will have to check out some of the others you mention.

If you haven't already ready Jane Gardam's "The Man in the Wooden Hat", you really should. Yes, it's the same story as "Old Filth" but from the wife's point of view and also a very good read.

Scarlet Blue said...

Poor Dartford!I'd like to say it's not that bad.... but...

Pat said...

GG: I saw the lady detective dramatised on TV. I'm sure the books must be as delightful.

Sausage : I'm so glad to hear that. It made such an impression on me.

Granny Annie: i hope I don't let you down. No potato peel pie to my knowledge. Unless someone knows different.

Arlene: I was so mesmerised by Gardam's writing skill I googled her and read of the TMUTWH and it's next on my list. Thank you.

Scarlet: I hoped I wasn't going to be blown out of the water but it was a direct quote from him.
I hope I've grown out of the north/south divide but just for instance compare the moral compass of East Enders with that of Coronation Street.
On second thoughts maybe there isn't that much difference.

angryparsnip said...

I love to see what everyone is reading.
I have been so sick for the last few months that reading had been so hard with all the coughing.

@ Gayana-Gyal I have read several of the "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" book they are fun, light reading and very enjoyable.

cheers, parsnip

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I think it is a strange coincidence that Keith Richards Co-Writer is WRITER James Fox and that Mick Jagger nade the film "PERFORMANCE" with the ACTOR James Fox.....
That book sounds fascinating. I especially like Memoirs so I will no doubt check it out.

Mike and Ann said...

Hi Pat. The only one of these I have read is The Gurnsey Potato Peel Pie and Literary Society. I, too was recommended it by my daughter, Nea, and it's lovely stuff - it would have to be with a title like that.
Now I must have a go at some of the others you recommend.
Regards, Mike.

Pat said...

Parsnip: you are so brave and I am so sorry you are having problems. I send all my best wishes for a healthier summer.xoxoxox

Naomi: now you've got me flummoxed. It never occurred to me that they could be the same person. I have googled but still can't get a definite answer but I think they are two different people.

Mike and Ann: I remembered that this was a favourite with you also. Wait till I tell you about my very favourite - although you may well be familiar with it.

TLP said...

Oh, I LOVED The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!

Haven't read the others. I'll be interested in seeing what else you've liked.

Kim Ayres said...

I read "Stuart, a life backwards" because we saw a drama of it on TV. I still rate it as one of the best books I've read in past year or 2. Yes it is gruelling at times, but as you say, the comic moments are superb. I think it was the first time I ever really got a genuine sense of the life of the "chaotic homeless" which was neither patronising nor sentimental.

Pat said...

TLP: I've just heard from the American writer Libby Cone and her book 'War on the Margins' was written before TGLAPPPS about Jersey during the war. I shall be reading it an reviewing it shortly.

Kim: It's extraordinary how such a tragic life can be both sad and hilarious. Hats off to the author.

Maggie said...

Yes, these are some wonderful volumes. I haven't read Stuart, but I will add it to my list. I've devolved to the Kent Bolitho books with an occasional Stephanie Plum non-thinker. Oh, what I've come down to.

Pat said...

Maggie: I had to google. The Kent Bolitho sounds just what MTL would enjoy and Stephanie Plum a good read. There's a book for all seasons I believe.

Nea said...

The man of the house asked for and got Life for Christmas. I hadn't thought of reading it myself, but I'm going to now.

Pat said...

Nea: again I'll be interested in your opinion.