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Bash the Rich by Ian Bone

I cannot help but be endlessly fascinated by the stream of intertextual inertia that ensures I drift from one absorbing (or at least intriguing) book to the next, and so I’m very happy that the present stream has pushed the intellectual boat out deep into the random waters of non-fiction.

Remembering my course back up river, I get a little lost around the Idler (either issue number 42 [Smash the System – sounds likely] or 43 [Back to the Land] attractive in its new hard-cover cloth binding but unattractive in its Idler-off-putting new price bracket) and the article with Ray Jones, laughingly self-monikered with the double barrel insert “Roughler” and his pursuit of unemployed bliss. I think that perhaps my periodical infatuation with all things idle (due no doubt in part by the periodical nature of its publication) was the catalyst, perhaps the inception point, so the search may be in vain. Nonetheless it has seen me wend my way through the Ray Jones biography (review coming soon, I suspect), two Crass albums and Hartmann the Anarchist to Ian Bone and his cliff-hanging chronicle of Class War and rich-bashing, and this here review-type article, so it is.

Having had no wish to develop a class consciousness myself up to this point, I was concerned that, recommendations from the Gnome and The Idler urgings aside, I would be bored to chuffing tears by the middle aged rantings of a man the Sunday People once branded “the most dangerous man in Britain”, a tag he doesn’t shy away from repeating ad nauseum. Indeed, there is quite a bit of content that I am unabashed to admit I cared for not a toss. For example, I suspect I am missing quite a few references, cultural and historical, to properly anchor his narrative in my understanding. My knowledge of Italian anarchists is sadly lacking, and despite the helpful if black-and-white pointillist-style picture of Lucy Parsons (now deceased I understand) I am no closer to caring who she may or may not have been. And frankly, the whole Class War team appear to have some serious growing up to do. Of course, they won’t, as it would mean becoming a part of the system they aim to seriously inconvenience for a bit, and also stopping drinking Special Brew.

All of these serious impediments to understanding are not, however, a barrier to enjoyment. In fact, the speed at which Bone trots out the acronyms means one is able to skip past them without them registering (although I did double-take at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, one of the rare series of capital letters that I recognised) and means that the next bit of drunken disorder arrives all the faster; for indeed, that is the fun part. Drinking six quick pints before barracking the toffs and boater hat-wearing lah-di-dahs at Henley, punching coppers in the face, chucking cans and bottles at Neil Kinnock, joining the fun on the streets in Brixton, creating rude collages for the covers and contents of Class War, and annoying the vegan hippies and pacifist anarchists of Crass by repeated calls to swift and violent uprising – that is the meat in this tasty anarchist sandwich.

But what happens next? The book ends just as Class War looks like it might finally get a piece of Thatcher, and Bone’s bookend piece about his father’s surprising rebelliousness seems tacked-on (although the photo of father Bone with placard and shit-eating grin is excellent). Will there be a second instalment? I sort-of hope so.


How's about that then?

Damned If I Do by Percival Everett

Where I should be recovering from a particularly nasty stomach bug, rather I appear to be on a Percival Everett trip today - first Strom, now Damned - but he really is that good. Good as in read-everything-he's-written-now good. Good as in I'm writing this on my iPad never more than two meters from the nearest toilet good. That's good. 

Damned If I Do is short stories, yes. That I have a curious relationship with short fiction is undisputed, but there are some like Breece D'J Pancake and Haruki Murakami that just have to be read, objections or no. Thankfully, it appears Everett has inherited some of their ability to write convincing, understated and ultimately addictive snippets of prose. And snippets they are. Somewhere I read once a quote from China Mielville where he says he just loves it when writers don't show the reader the monster in its entirety, that leaving something of the horror to the imagination of his audience adds a level of engagement and makes the …

A Death In The Family: My Struggle Volume 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard

I sit here, wearing my limited edition Knausgaard t-shirt, immensely grateful to the kind people at Vintage Books for their surprising gift of the first four novels (and aforementioned t-shirt) simply as a result of being able to post a comment on their YouTube Vlog. There may have been a hidden agenda, considering I'm a book blogger (What, interrobang, a book blogger, interrobang and so on...) but I prefer to believe they picked me at random. Because I'm ace. 
Nonetheless, I had no idea what to expect of these books. I did do a little reading, and found lots of very interesting articles about Karl Ove Knausgaard, including this entertaining one in the Wall Street Journal. But in all honesty, nothing prepared me for reading them, and I can see why they cause controversy and consternation wherever they are translated (which is pretty much everywhere).
First off, being intelligent and perspicacious readers as I trust you all to be, you will no doubt have spotted the whole Godwin&#…

A Bright Moon For Fools by Jasper Gibson

Ah, what would be a review penned by yours truly without some sort of grovelling apology at the outset? A better review no doubt, but that aside I can't help but continue the tiresome tradition with an apology. Sorry to my regular robotic readers (hi bots!) but I have been very neglectful of the blog of late, having been tied up with my pursuit of a broader spectrum of dilettantism; I've been taking part in a number of MOOCs offered by various HEIs on the FutureLearn platform. Worth checking out if you ask me.

(Subtle enough plug, you think?)
Anyway, the break afforded by a foray into further education has proved something of a test for Jasper Gibson and his fiction. In truth, it took me a little while to remember what exactly the novel was about, who was in it, and how I felt about the whole thing. Instant alarm bells. Of course, having had a break, I'd had a good crack at filling my head with a whole bunch of other things worth remembering, so maybe it all just got squeeze…

Open Door by Iosi Havilio

*Shame Klaxon*
I am ashamed to admit it but I know next to nothing about Borges. I know the names of his books. I know he crops up almost without fail when conversations include literature from South America. I know his words book-end so many novels that I have that habitual proving-my-bold-assertion-mind-blankness which means my brain knows it to be true and won't humour your scepticism with an example*. And I know it's likely the biggest single lacuna in my entire reading history**.
So you may imagine my lack of surprise, on finishing this novel and reading the afterword by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, lecturer at Birkbeck College, London, and author of works on the history and politics of Latin America, that Borges pops up, within three lines of text. Three lines! He wastes no time does Oscar. Of course, my shame bristled and I was ready to adopt the usual casual hostility to something of which I was ignorant. But straight away, I understood what he was saying. I have often consid…