What are you reading? – 7 July 2016

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

July 7, 2016
Pile of books against red wall

Julia Brannen, professor of the sociology of the family, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, is reading David Clark’s Victor Grayson: The Man and the Mystery (Quartet, 2016). “Everyone loves a mystery. Political thrillers are no exception. Victor Grayson was a charismatic Labour MP of working-class origins. A brilliant speaker but flawed politician, he disappeared in 1920 and was never heard of again. David Clark, a former Labour MP, has followed the trail of clues to intriguing effect, including honours scandals and cover-ups – matters of relevance today.”


Carina Buckley, instructional design manager, Southampton Solent University, is reading Deborah Levy’s Things I Don’t Want to Know (Penguin, 2014). “In recounting four tales from her life, Levy dissects and examines who she is, where she comes from and how she got to be where she is. As a response to Orwell’s essay Why I Write, this is an intimate yet politicised analysis of society, of women, and of writing, ultimately answering her own question of why she writes.”


Tony Mann, director of the Maths Centre, University of Greenwich, is reading Frank Key’s Mr Key’s Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives (Constable, 2015) and By Aerostat to Hooting Yard: A Frank Key Reader (Dabbler, 2014, Kindle edition). “Thanks to a reading at the excellent Greenwich Book Festival I have discovered the work of Frank Key, whose humour is reminiscent of both Wodehouse and Beckett. His stories of his imagined world, with evocative place-names and regularly recurring characters like the out-of-print pamphleteer Dobson and the ‘fictional athlete’ Bobnit Tivol, are unsettling, vaguely sinister and very funny.”


Uwe Schütte, reader in German, Aston University, is reading Clemens Marschall’s Avant-Garde from Below: Transgressive Performance (Rokko’s Adventures, 2016). “Who says pop music has to be pleasing and inoffensive? The radical punks examined in this fascinating volume pushed stage performance to new extremes. Through in-depth interviews and short essays, Marschall traces a transgressive aesthetic ‘from below’, focusing on Iggy Pop and other confrontational musicians. How low can you go, and still be able to consider it art?”


Sharon Wheeler, visiting lecturer in media studies, Birmingham City University, is reading Dominique Manotti’s Kop (Rivages, 2001). “I got fed up with waiting for Kop, the third book in the Daquin series, to be translated into English, so it was back to the original. Manotti’s gritty tale of Paris cops and corruption zips along with its unconventional tough-guy gay hero – and I knew my ability to curse and to discuss rugby in French would come in useful eventually!”

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