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Miracle Brew by Pete Brown

...the lure of drinkability!
Assume the usual laudatory Unbound crowd-funding preamble has taken place and we're moving forward into the realms of legitimate readerly opinion making, and on with the story!

Straight into a hangover.

I can in no way blame Pete Brown for the singularly disappointing situation in which I find myself. Yes, he talks knowledgeably and enthusiastically about the wonder of beer, it's amazing diversity and unfathomable origins, the breadth of flavour and taste experience available to the adventurous drinker, and yes, hearing about such wonderful experiences that I am not currently having begets in me such powerful feelings of want, and need, and of missing out that I have to rush out and purchase lots (and lots) of exciting and unusual beers. However, he is not to blame, for the most part, for the two-week long hangover I've been having this past, well, two weeks. I can blame only myself*.

If you get the chance,
I don't have any fondness for Mr Brown. I saw him once at a book event in Abergavenny, and he was somewhat curmudgeonly. Perhaps he was on his way for a drink and I (and the rest of the audience) was stood between him and the bar. Nevertheless, I enjoy that he enjoys his subject with such obvious enthusiasm and that he is not afraid to admit the lacunae in his knowledge (in Miracle Brew we are taken on a shared voyage of discovery as much as being lectured by an expert). He writes quite simply and with an authentic voice (a little curmudgeonly perhaps, but demonstrably honest), and in this book, he discusses the building blocks of beer, the four ingredients (and quasi-mystical art) that are all it takes to brew the world's favourite alcoholic beverage. He also drinks quite a few beers around the world. You can smell the hops crushed between the heels of his hands as he wanders the hop gardens of Kent. 

To be fair, it doesn't take much to make me consider going out for some beer. In fact writing this I'm itching to visit The Wild Beer Co. website to buy a crate of something sour. However, I suspect that even those whose tastes don't quite run to Belgian lambics would be tempted to go out and see what the fuss is about. Craft brewing is something to be celebrated, and Pete Brown celebrates with the best of them. He delights in learning where he'd been accepting popularly believed myths as truths, talks to some of the most avant guard brewers in the world, and visits with the foremost brewing scientists to find out just how it all works. And gloriously, the science never ruins the mystery of the art of brewing. It's truly remarkable, the journey from barley grains to urine on the steps of the magistrate's court...

The only problem now is that I risk turning into one of those old c***s you find at 'real ales' pubs writing tasting notes on a little flip-up notebook and tutting when the publican apologises that they don't have anything on tap that isn't from Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller, Heineken International, or Carlsberg Group.

*Of course, I could also blame, alphabetically, Arbor Ales, Buxton Brewery, and The Wild Beer Co. (amongst others) whose fabulous beers I have been working my way through since starting this book. If you get the chance, go out and buy Buxton's Imperial IPA or Axe Edge, Arbor's Oz Bomb, and pretty much anything from The Wild Beer Co as I'm crying a little bit just thinking about their Sleeping Lemons Export and Breakfast of Champignons beers...

**Please note the quality of photography is not indicative of the quality of beer, but rather the inability of a man who has drunk all of these and more to hold still a camera.


How's about that then?

Metaliterature - what meaning to have is this for meaning?

Not a review this time, more of a curiosity. It seems I'm receiving lots of hits from Russia (Здравствуйте России!) from people searching for the definition of "metaliterature". As such, it is something of a bespoke word, created to fit a need and probably not yet recognized outside literary theory / criticism circles (Merriam-Webster Online certainly don't like it). I was wondering what they typed in to end up here, so, for fun (it's not fun, sorry) I thought I'd bung it in Google Translate and see what came out. As it turns out, one needs a little hyphen for the rather ponderous machine to understand it, and even then only does half the job (meta seems to be meta in any language). 
Incidentally, below is, ironically, a Google Chrome Thesaurus definition* of "meta":

met·a Adjective/ˈmetə/
(of a creative work) Referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referentialInterestingly (not interesting, sorry) it says this for the full term, t…

Under The Dust by Jordi Coca

So, wheel of fortune, count to 29, pin the tail, freebies off of peeps on Twitter etc. etc. Whatever the methods sometimes employed to pick the next book in my intertextual experience, the one that brought me to Jordi Coca brought me to a whopping great slice of nostalgia. Before I'd even opened it, it brought to mind Richard Gwyn, himself a published poet, author, biographer, translator and course director of the MA Creative Writing course at Cardiff University, who I recall for some odd reason gently encouraging me to read this novel, and by whose own work I was quietly impressed at the time. He was also an advocate of Roberto Bolaño, another writer in whose work I can immerse myself but from which I emerge drained, as mentioned previously. Before that, though, there is this sticker on the front, declaring 'Signed by the Author at Waterstone's'. It is indeed signed by Jordi Coca, not adding any particular intrinsic value to the book, not for me anyway, but more impor…

Hereward: The Last Englishman by Peter Rex

By all accounts, Hereward was the guerrilla scourge of the invading Norman armies in eleventh century Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, famous for isolating and dismembering members of the Norman nobility who strayed too far from home, and also for trashing Peterborough and hiding on an island. Called variously (and often erroneously) The Wake, The Exile or The Outlaw, his infamy was such that families in search of noble English lineage have usurped his "heroism" for their own glory even until this very day. Rex delights in highlighting one author's particular folly, entitled Hereward, The Saxon Patriot, in which Lieutenant-General Harward attempts to run his antecedents right back to the loins of the eponymous gentleman-rogue. 

Having only read the introduction to Peter Rex's myth-busting (and often ill-edited) work, I was already struck by an initial thought which ran thus: if as Rex asserts Hereward was the son of Asketil Tokison, a descendant of a wealthy Danish family …

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&#…