What are you reading? – 4 June 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

June 4, 2015
Books on bookshelf

Maria Delgado, professor of theatre and screen arts, Queen Mary University of London, is reading Sahera Patel’s I’m NOT a Celebrity, I am a Muslim: One Woman’s Journey to a World of Faith (i2i, 2014). “Patel’s elegant, funny memoir offers an entertaining, perceptive window into aspects of Muslim life that are too often forgotten as fundamentalism steals the news headlines. Her tale of growing up in 1970s Bolton fuses amusing coming-of-age anecdotes (highlights include interviewing potential spouses) with reflections on faith, fasting, domestic abuse, arranged marriages and the ability to ask questions of yourself and others in the most revealing of circumstances.”

Richard Joyner, emeritus professor of chemistry, Nottingham Trent University, is rereading Geoffrey Willans’ Down with Skool! A Guide to School Life for Tiny Pupils and their Parents (Penguin Classics, 2009). “The Etonian having been returned, it seemed a good time to reread this alternative public school bible. Anti-hero Nigel Molesworth is clearly Bullingdon Club material. His ‘grate’ friend Peason will grow up to be George Osborne. Likewise, young aesthete Fotherington-Thomas (utterly wet and a weed) will turn into Jacob Rees-Mogg. Willans and illustrator Ronald Searle are as fresh and funny as they were in 1953.”

A. W. Purdue, visiting professor of history, Northumbria University, is reading Anthony Horowitz’s Moriarty (Orion, 2014). “Tiring of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle put an end to him in The Final Problem, in which Holmes and the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty fall to their deaths as they struggle above the Reichenbach Falls. But Conan Doyle was forced to recant, and his hero reappears in a subsequent book. What exactly happened at the Falls and the consequences are the subject of Horowitz’s novel, which captures Conan Doyle’s style and the ingenuity of his plots. He teases and misleads so skilfully that the denouement came as a complete shock to me.”

June Purvis, professor of women’s and gender history, University of Portsmouth, is reading the new edition of Sheila Rowbotham’s Friends of Alice Wheeldon: The Anti-War Activist Accused of Plotting to Kill Lloyd George (Pluto, 2015). “Rowbotham’s play, first performed in 1980 and now republished, tells the story of a Derby socialist militant suffragette who in 1917 was wrongly convicted of plotting to assassinate the prime minister, largely on the evidence of ‘Alex Gordon’, an undercover agent. New chapters and up-to-date research make for a poignant, haunting read.”

Uwe Schütte, reader in German at Aston University, is reading Test Dept’s Total State Machine (PC-Press, 2015). “Test Dept were one of the most radical British bands. Their extreme industrial sound fused sonic experiments with political activism, notably during the miners’ strike of 1984-85. In bringing together art, theatre, music and politics, they produced monumental events that assaulted all the senses. This richly illustrated book details a vigorous body of work that has lost none of its relevance.”

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