Life – Keith Richards’ Autobiography

By Stephen Marwell

Many of us loved ‘Life’. Co-written by writer and journalist James Fox, the book captures the natural story telling tendencies of the irrepressible rock and roller Keith Richards as he delivers anecdote after anecdote that defies belief and leaves you marvelling that the man is still standing let alone performing today. I found myself speculating what a movie based on the book would be like and then you start to realise that he has lived his life within or on the periphery of movies. In addition to the various documentaries on the Stones over the years there are a significant handful of films that either feature members of the stones, perhaps loosely influenced by their lifestyle at the time – such as ‘Performance’ – which featured both Mick Jagger and Richards as well as others that featured wives and girlfriends such as ‘Barbarella’ in the case of Anita Pallenberg.

The longevity of the man as a human being let alone as most iconic practitioner of rhythm guitar is truly impressive. It’s easy to make generalisations and exaggerations but when he himself says that everything that came after the early Stones in terms of rock and its illegitimate offspring was directly influenced by them you have to agree that he has a point. The two key things that the Stones did in the early days were a) go back to the roots of the Blues and completely deconstruct them in order to recreate them in London and b) fearlessly take the form forwards. You have to understand that at the time the purists, typically non-playing purists at that, did not mind young British musicians performing the sacred American music but they certainly did not expect to hear it taken forwards towards the upstart Rock and Roll that had any way become anaesthetised and commercial by then.

One of the most eagerly awaited and most complex and fascinating aspects of the book is of course the relationship with Jagger. In many ways there is perhaps less on this than you might imagine. What there is, is by turns both antagonistic and endearing and often both. Essentially, and inevitably, it is the classic sibling relationship of two brothers. Fight like hell for during the early and formative years. Live apart but in contact, and throughout undying and unquestionable love. I cannot imagine either of them not saving the other in the end but not before destroying their worlds.

Back to Richards, essentially a thoroughly decent chap. As he grows old, almost gracefully, the charm and mellifluousness shines through. If you are at all familiar with his music, and I cannot see how anyone really cannot be, then you have to be impressed by the longevity of the man. Decade after decade after decade, and the grooves are ingrained into our very psyches.

The book is very well written indeed. To take nothing away from Richards, he lived the life after all and probably recounted most of it, more or less, I am curious to know more about James Fox’s role as the below the line helper in the words department. But I guess we’ll never know, that’s the deal after all. It’s like asking who wrote what in all those great songs, you had to be there to really know. And this book is as close as most of us will ever get to the creative nexus.

Stephen blogs regularly about writing-related matters in this fast moving digital landscape on the key issues that matter to writers and and those interested in writing. Screen writing is a particular focus with regular tips and advice on story, character and plot matters. e-books and e-book readers are changing the way we consume and collect books and there is much to say about how this is changing our world. Thoughtful, comprehensive and always provocative and stimulating.

Read more on the []manifesto books blog.

Article Source: [—Keith-Richards-Autobiography&id=6468321] Life – Keith Richards’ Autobiography

Wondering What to Read Next? Read This for Seven Ingenious Sources for Book Recommendations

By Eliza Carter

If you’re feeling bereft having finished your book, it can be hard to know where to turn for advice on your next read. If your friends and family members are anything like mine, they’ll be keen to foist books on you that you must read – but it can be embarrassing to admit you hated the book that changed their life (The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho springs to mind), and aggrieving to realise how much valuable reading time you’ve lost wading through dross. Going it alone and simply stacking your trolley with whatever books are on Tesco’s 3 for 2 offer tends to yield similarly unsatisfying results. Here are a few suggestions for places to try for recommendations that will hit your literary spot.

1. Online tools There are a number of online tools for generating book recommendations. They generally don’t have a huge pool of books to draw from, and are quite limited in scope. Whichbook has a number of categories that allow you to set your reading preferences on certain scales: e.g. ‘Happy’ – ‘Sad’. It’s a bit simplistic, but its kind of fun to play with: I experimented with setting the preferences to maximise both ‘Disgusting’ and ‘Lots of sex’, and it yielded Filth – Irvine Welsh, and American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis, so I suppose it works after a fashion.

2. Book blogs These days the Internet is awash with book geeks blogging about their latest reads. Some are eclectic, based on an individual’s reading patterns, others are genre-specific. There are so many that it should be relatively easy to find kindred spirits, particularly if you’re into genre fiction.

3. Book reviews in the papers It sounds obvious, but reviews in the press can be a reliable source of recommendations. The best way to use papers is to find a publication or reviewer whose opinions you respect and check it regularly to see what’s getting hyped. Lots of review sections have twitter accounts (try @GuardianBooks) so you can get regular recommendations this way.

4. Major book awards For example The Costa Book awards, The Man Booker Prize, The Nobel prize for Literature. This can be good for picking up brilliant established authors. However, it’s best not to get too obsessive with this one – I had a friend who decided to work his way backwards chronologically reading a work by the Nobel prize-winner from each year. I’m not sure how far he got, but the prospect of ploughing through the lectures on Swedish medieval farming history by Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (Nobel Prize winner 1916) would be enough to send me running back to Richard and Judy’s book club.

5. recommendations Generally I find online store recommendations annoying, but if you do buy lots of books this way then they can be useful once they’ve been tweaked a bit. They are best for telling you the certain books that ‘everyone’ has read, and getting said book into your hands quicksharp – if you’re still cringing at the memory of being the only one at your book club meeting who hadn’t read Life of Pi.

6. Literary festivals and events To take your bookwormery to the next level, check out festivals and events showcasing upcoming and established authors’ work. Besides the big literary festivals Hay, Cheltenham and Edinburgh, there are numerous one-off events at bookshops that are sometimes free, and it’s fun to hear people read their work.

7. Local independent bookshops In my opinion there’s no substitute for heading to your local indie bookshop for a browse. Unlike in Tesco’s, the staff will be real enthusiasts and more than happy to help you out with some recommendations.

For your next read, you might like to try Honest Publishing, for fiction and non-fiction by unique writers neglected by the mainstream.

Article Source: [] Wondering What to Read Next? Read This for Seven Ingenious Sources for Book Recommendations

Image:© Fred Goldstein |

3 Great Summer Reads

By Patricia Anne McGoldrick

Summer reads are always top on my list for vacation plans.

Sure, it is great to visit the heritage sites, travel to the shores of lake and ocean; but, there is something special about settling down in a comfortable spot with a cool drink and an interesting book.

Fiction writers have a knack for taking us to haunting locations, introducing us to memorable characters facing conflicts in the now and then. Authors, Susanna Kearsley and Rosamunde Pilcher have a particular talent for this.

Kearsley, takes the route of historical romance in The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden. From page one in her books, she invites the reader to journey with present-day characters who somehow have a connection to the past. No spoilers here but, if you like stories that have a time element to them, you will not be disappointed. You will, also, grasp the historical settings in myriad details included by Kearsley who was nominated for the 2009 RITA awards plus a more recent win of the 2010 Readers’ Choice Historical Fiction Award.

Both Kearsley books take the reader to British settings in the present and past. The Winter Sea delves into Scottish history in the Eighteenth Century with its political turmoil connecting to the present in Kearsley’s romantic fiction. In The Rose Garden, the American main character Eva is drawn to Cornwall for reasons explained in the story. The magic of Cornwall comes through in this novel, definitely a great respite on a rainy day!

My third recommendation is a novel from the 80s, award winning Rosamunde Pilcher’s book The Shell Seekers. This best-selling novel is, also, a captivating read from start to finish as it traces the story of Penelope Keeling and her family through 20th century decades of troubled war-time years, summer days at the beach, a Greek island, Scotland’s Edinburgh and Penelope’s own country cottage in a small British village.

Pilcher’s portrayal of Penelope’s youth, as an only child growing up with a talented artist father and loving beautiful mother are intertwined with segments of Penelope’s own marriage and lives of her grown up children. This novel has been translated into a movie version,starring Angela Lansbury; however, if you want to savour the whole story, read this book.

By the way, upon rereading The Shell Seekers, it has stood the test of time! You may even want to check out Rosamunde Pilcher’s other novels and short stories.

These works of fiction by Susanna Kearsley and Rosamunde Pilcher are definitely the type of books you want to add to your vacation supplies. They will provide a great get-a-way to be sure!

Patricia Anne McGoldrick is a poet, writer, and freelance reviewer.

Author website:


Article Source: [!&id=6314297] 3 Great Summer Reads!

Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black: A Most Supernatural Beckoning!

by Janet Lewison

Snow, ice and then a hint of fog. Boxing Day a time for keeping warm and feeding off festive calories whilst dozing and sipping mugs of tea. I have had Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black for several years and nearly read it but then passed over it for something less forbidding and dare I say, more overtly thrilling.
But the fog did it. And then a few pages in and Susan Hill made my fog seem puerile, a mere gesture in the creepy stakes. For her novel is like a cold hand on the back of your neck. It begins with a seeming collection of familiar conventions and then progressively undermines our complacency, our sense of smug orientation lost in the quicksands of Eel Marsh House. The sinister or ghostly becomes malignant and the malignancy breeds an atmosphere and behaviour more disturbing than we have ever met before. The dead are not just tragic, they want to destroy us in revenge for incidents we have had no part in, no control over at all. Time is collapsed. Everything waits for revenge.

The chapter entitled ‘Whistle and I’ll come to you’ is truly horrible. Inspired by M R James’ famous story of supernatural beckoning! The spirited loyal little dog Spider,companion to the immature hero, is lured onto the quicksand and nearly sucked under to a desperately upsetting death. And this emanates out of the most seeming innocent of dog loving gestures. The beckoning whistle. Such cruel, premeditated betrayal.
Yet the ending subverts even this chapter’s malignancy and horror. It is rather like those films whose credits are rolling, as we are climbing relieved out of our seats and heading for the sanctuary of the door when…the ‘thing’ we thought was safely cauterized returns. The return of the repressed sends us shattered in search of a very well lit room!
I felt glad to shut the book and shudder. The novel conveys an atmosphere as disturbing and insinuating as the opening of Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend where the unknown figures rowing on the Thames, are we come to realise, unlawfully and gainfully, hunting for the dead. Hill’s novel progressively alarms us for we come to realise that the woman in black is really hunting out our own fears, our own complacency as readers, as sofa companions to anyone who feels brave enough to confront the inexplicable with mere rationality.

Makes you appreciate Ovaltine!

I am Janet Lewison and live in Bolton United Kingdom where I run Tusitala English Tuition and an NLP inspired Confidence site, both with blogs, which seem to feed into each other at the moment. I love reading novels and poetry and my particular favourites at the moment are Denis Lehane, Mary Oliver and David Almond.
Article Source: [!&id=6266437] Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black: A Most Supernatural Beckoning!