George McKay, Peter Mills, Sara Read, Peter J. Smith and Bruce Scharlau...

…on Eurojazzland, Twenty-One Locks, The Mystery of Mercy Close, The Great Gatsby and The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide

February 14, 2013

George McKay, AHRC leadership fellow for the Connected Communities programme, University of Salford, is reading Eurojazzland: Jazz and European Sources, Dynamics, and Contexts (Northeastern University Press, 2012). “An international collection that contributes to the shifting lens of jazz studies. How many musicians in early New Orleans were of Italian or Spanish origin? What rhythm and note choices of Scottish folk music were heard in early jazz? How have Jan Garbarek and Manfred Eicher shaped European jazz aesthetics? Full of anecdote and data about the fractured desires of Europeans for jazz.”

Peter Mills, senior lecturer in media and popular culture, Leeds Metropolitan University, is reading Laura Barton’s Twenty-One Locks (Quercus, 2010). “This Betty Trask Award winner tells of a young girl’s love and life under a Northern sky, exploring a monochromatic world that yields to colour through the author’s quietly dazzling musicality of tone. Maybe it’s 1963, maybe it’s yesterday: the struggles between love, family and the places we live ensure that, as James Joyce wished, this isn’t about something, it is something.”

Sara Read, part-time lecturer in the department of English and drama, Loughborough University, is reading Marian Keyes’ The Mystery of Mercy Close (Michael Joseph, 2012). “Like many of Keyes’ works, this book interweaves a cracking read with a presentation of a serious condition: here candidly depicting episodes of depression, just as earlier ones included alcoholism, grief and drug addiction. The mystery is the disappearance of pop star Wayne Diffney; Helen Walsh, a private investigator, is commissioned to find him. Both gloriously entertaining and revelatory.”

Peter J. Smith, reader in Renaissance literature, Nottingham Trent University, has just finished F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (Charles Scribner, 1925). “Fitzgerald’s pensive exposure of the fallacy of the American Dream is tinged with wistful nostalgia for the Jazz Age’s bohemian excesses. Paralysed by his adoration for Daisy, now married to the wealthy Tom, Gatsby stages party after party in the hope of winning her back. A hit and run and a case of mistaken identity sees him murdered by the jilted husband of Tom’s mistress. The setting is torn between the gossamer fantasy of Gatsby’s beachfront gatherings and the grim mountains of ash that line the route to the city and foreshadow Steinbeck’s dustbowl.”

Bruce Scharlau, senior teaching fellow in computing science, University of Aberdeen, is reading Allan Bedford’s The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide (No Starch Press, 2005). “This is a book I’d meant to read for ages. It will tell you about micro and miniland scales, as well as how to scale for macro objects, too. It’s an inspirational book you can come back to as needed for projects. Be warned, though: it can become obsessive as you start rummaging through Lego bricks trying out the ideas.”

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