What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

February 3, 2011

Peter F. Gill, chair of the Energy Institute, London and Home Counties branch, and ex-chair of the Institute of Physics energy group, has recently read Terri Jackson's Climate Change Is Natural, Not Man Made (Stairway Press, 2010). "Up to about five years ago, Terri Jackson (founder of the energy and climate group at the Institute of Physics, London) argued positively for an anthropogenic explanation for global warming. However, it is clear from this publication that Jackson no longer thinks that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are the main driver of recent climatic changes and consequently she has indicated that current energy policy responses are seriously misguided."

Trevor Herbert, professor of music, The Open University, is reading Alyn Shipton's Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway (Oxford University Press, 2010). "I have always wondered whether there was more to the band leader Cab Calloway than the infectious catchiness of his music and his highly animated charisma. Shipton writes learnedly and intimately about jazz, but is not blind to the broader cultural fabric into which it is woven. He makes sense of this fascinating, eccentric and multifaceted character."

Chris Jones, senior lecturer in English, University of St Andrews, is reading Padgett Powell's The Interrogative Mood (Profile, 2009). "Never mind what am I reading; the real question is why am I reading? Is this a novel or a philosophical enquiry? Why is reading for some a basic everyday necessity, like eating and breathing, and for others an irrelevance? Can an entire book be written only in questions? And why is this one so strangely moving even as it irritates?"

George McKay is director, Communication, Cultural and Media Studies Research Centre, University of Salford. "I'm reading (OK, dipping into) Rob Young's massive Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music (Faber and Faber, 2010) less for its impressive detail on 1970s folk-rock than for the constant links it uncovers between music, the utopian impulse and a rural bucolic. It includes some free festival posters - Windsor, Stonehenge - I've never even seen before. And I love the idea of 'unearthing' - coupling and decoupling the scene's rural folk imaginary and the necessary power of rock's electricity."

Martin McQuillan is professor of literary theory and cultural analysis and dean of arts and social sciences, Kingston University. He is reading Nicholas Royle's Quilt (Myriad Editions, 2010). "I have always enjoyed Royle's theory and criticism for its subtle and eloquent writing. His first novel is an intelligent and lyrical account of mourning, madness and manta rays. It is a pleasure to move between Royle's dream of autobiographical fiction, a thesis on new writing, and his encyclopedic knowledge of rays."

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