What are you reading? – 12 April 2018

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

April 12, 2018
Books in a pile
Source: iStock

Carina Buckley, instructional design manager, Southampton Solent University, is reading Fiona Armstrong-Gibbs and Tamsin McLaren’s Marketing Fashion Footwear: The Business of Shoes (Bloomsbury, 2017). “We all wear shoes. Yet whereas clothes are often the subject of fashion’s critical eye, the footwear industry has had by no means the same level of interest. Covering the consumer, design and construction, trade, retail and branding, this attractive and clearly laid-out book tracks the business of shoes from market research to merchandising, and fills a much-needed academic gap. Each colour-coded chapter considers a distinct area, examines ethics in action and the industry perspective, and closes with discussion questions and exercises. You don’t have to be a student to find this interesting, though, just someone keen to learn more about global trade, consumer behaviour and, of course, the business of shoes.”

Paul Greatrix, registrar, University of Nottingham, is reading David Keenan’s This Is Memorial Device (Faber & Faber, 2018). “This is a very different kind of story of music, life, love and madness. It features a range of overlapping and interrelated accounts from an extraordinary cast of strange, damaged and altogether irregular characters all connected to a band, Memorial Device, that exploded into life briefly and brilliantly and then became the stuff of legend. The action and arty strangeness come from a time and a place, the West of Scotland in the 1970s and 1980s, that seem both real and remote. Far more than just a post-punk Spinal Tap pastiche – although that in itself would be no bad thing – this is a genuinely inventive and creative book. An extremely weird, rather dark and endlessly inventive novel, sad in some places and very funny in others, it is highly recommended.”

Peter J. Smith, reader in Renaissance literature, Nottingham Trent University, is reading Serge Gainsbourg’s Evguénie Sokolov (translated by John and Doreen Weightman; Tam Tam Books, 1999). “This parody of a Künstlerroman, or story of an artist’s development, is the first-person memoir of an uncontrollably flatulent painter who discovers that his hand moves in proportion to the force of his anal eruptions. The resulting artworks, known as ‘gasograms’, make him an overnight sensation: ‘the critics spoke about hyper-abstractionism, stylistic emphasis, formalistic mysticism, mathematical certainty, philosophical tension, exceptional eurhythmy and hypothetico-deductive lyricism, although a few also mentioned mystification, bluff and caca’. This ingenious and facetious novella is both a scatological delight and a withering attack on the art-collecting establishment, with its fancy restaurants and weekend yachts. Sokolov and Mazeppa, his farting bulldog, enfold the art world in a miasma of fetid gas, puncturing its pretensions and undermining its vaunted refinement. It’s a blast!”

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