John and George the dog who changed my life by John Dolan

 

John and George the dog who changed my life by John Dolan 

Memoir

Source – review copy

King went a-runnin’ after deer
Wasn’t scared of jumpin’
off the truck in high gear
King went a-sniffin’
and he would go
Was the best old hound dog
I ever did know.

Old king by Neil Young source 

I had planned to write the review for this wonderful memoir the day Winston fell ill and al that happened since it has taken till today where i have felt like talking about this book .I have said in the past one of my guilty pleasure is memoirs of dogs or about dogs and owners .So John Dolan’s book is one of those books .John Dolan had spent many years homeless when two things changed his life ,a dog called George and a rediscovery of a love of drawing .He has now had a number of sell out art shows and is  making a living as an artist .

It was the winter of 2009 when George came into my life , and I was living alone in a temporary council bedsiit above a newsagents ,down the road from the tower of london .I’d been fortunate enough to have been there for two year on and off ,which was about the omly good thing I had going for me .I was struggling in just about every way a person could struggle .

The opening chapter of John and George .

George is staffy ,as you see on the cover he is a very pretty staffy and his life and John’s meet at just the right time .George was a dog that had a rough start and end up in John’s flat via a couple he knew that were looking after him for someone else .John had this small flat but for years had been struggling with living on the streets and drug habit .George was a timid fellow when he meet JOhn and JOhn didn’t know what to do with a dog but really thought he had to do what was best and take care of George .So they started their life together john start to draw again and drew the area of london he was in Shoreditch and of course George .He started to sell these pictures to passers-by ,one of these passers-by happened to been the owner of an art gallery that ask John if he would want to do a show ,from their the art and pictures sold well ,the project involved using one of John’s images of Shoreditch skyline and getting well-known street artist like Roa ,broken fingaz and sever’s .

“You can’t come back here ,” Gerry said

he was staring me straight in the eye ,like he really meant business .I had walked out of prison with a small carrier bag of belongings and taken a train straight to Presidents house .I kne Dot and Gerry wouldn’t exactly be hanging out the bunting ,but i had definitely not been expecting to be turned away flat like this .

John’s family story is a complex one of secrets .

The  book is more than the story of George and John it is the story of John’s life how do you end up homeless and on drugs ? well like John’s story it isn’t one big event it is a series of small events that over time wear someone done together with growing up in a family where there was a big secret that effected John  .I was touched when John talked about the effect George had on his life ,I could really connect with this feeling Winston came in my life at the right point .The power of dogs to do good in people’s life is what shines through the book ,George story as well is one of why people who treat their dogs right are important ,his life hadn’t been ideal before he meet John ,he was on the verge of being wayward and uncontrollable ,but John’s love and time made his life better than it ever was .Well that’s it I am already holding back the tears as I think if my boy Winston and our story .

IMG_1190

one of my boy I did with a photo app

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a wonderful drawing by John of his boy George .

Have you a favourite dog or even cat book .

Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla

meatspace

Meat space by Nikesh Shukla

British fiction

Source – review copy

The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Read more at

Now I don’t read many British writers ,but when the chance came round to review the second novel by Nikesh ,I jumped at the chance as I really enjoyed his first novel Coconut Unlimited I reviewed it .So I must first say I have met Nikesh on a couple of occasions before I review the book .

The first and last thing I do everyday is see what strangers are saying about me .

I pull the laptop closer from the other side of the bed and press refresh on my inboxes .I have a google calendar alert that tells me I have no events scheduled today ,an assortment of twitter and Facebook notifications ,alerting me to 7 new followers ,a favourite tweet thanking someone for liking my book ,an invite to an event I’ll never go to ,spam for play and guardian jobs .#

The opening lines of Meat space

Meatspace is a term in the internet world for the real world .The story is the tale of a few months in the life of Kitab Baisubramanym ,he is a guy whom life is at that point where it’s about to implode or explode .His long-term girlfriend has left him ,he has just lost a job for writing a book on the firms time .So he has come to live with his brother Aziz  .He has alll this time on his hands and being a modern man he has descend into the rabbit hole of the internet and ends up doing the think many of use has done and search for a doppelgänger the  namesake  online and in his case he finds one chap in the US that shares his name and the next thing he knows is this chap turns up at his door and this leads Kitab into a world of madness both online and offline as this doppelgänger is a little of  the rails .As they descend into a world of swingers and sex .

History :

The perfect CV – Google 

kitab Balasubramanyam – Facebook 

Hayley Bankcroft – Google images 

[104} – twitter 

The start of each chapter starts with the search history of Kitab .

Now I am a later come to the tech age I didn’t get my first laptop til seven years ago and ever since have felt like I’ve been playing catch up or at least get it ,I still don’t fully get the net but everyday seems more as thou I do .Now that said Nikesh is a child of the net this book is what it is like to live and breathe the net to tweet ,tumblr ,Facebook and get it .Kitab is the Everyman of the net ,but he hit that rabbit hole like in Alice he pressed the return button on something he shouldn’t have .The wit and realism drips of the page ,Nikesh is one of the funniest writers I’ve read in recent years .Now I was remind the time I read Fever pitch for me Nikesh has done for the net here in this book the same as Nick Hornby did for football and that is put on paper the Everyman experience of something .SO if you love the net and want be laughing and crying at times ,this is the book you need to read ,Nikesh missed the costa  with coconut unlimited ,but this should be a prize winner ,if there is any justice out there ,daring new and funny .The book comes out 3 july .

Caught By Henry Green

Caught is one of his lesser known novels now but at the time was heralded as a future classic ,when it was published in 1943 during the middle of the war and two years after the end of the blitz which is what the book is about Henry green or  Henry Yorke as he was in real life was in the Auxiliary  Fire Service in London during the height of the blitz ,this book was a result of the time he spent putting out fires during the war.

When Roe first joined the Service ,when nations were still declaring peace,it seemed ludicrous to be trained by fire men in a real fire-station .He signed on because he had for years wanted to see inside one of these turreted buildings ,and had also he had always been afraid of heights .

Maybe green describes the reason he joined the Auxiliary fire service

Caught is the story of a team of firemen and focus on two of them they have a link that goes back before the war and they joined the fire service .They are Richard Roe ,he is upper class and I would imagine this is Henry Green himself and Pye  the sub officer of the fire station ,who like most of the team is a working class chap but a man who has a lot more to himself and his life than it first seems .He has a very disturbed sister that Richard roe the other main character in the book  had a run in before when he his son  Christopher  was held  hostage by her in her room  for a time until Pye rescues him ,this forms a barrier initially between the two men ,but we see ebb and flow of them at work and rest  that at heart they are both flawed men. I always think this is one of Green’s strongest writing traits is that of the  flawed man a lot of his characters are flawed in one way or other  whether it is class or secrets  something always makes them seem more interesting than the normal characters in most novels .There are scenes of the blitz  which are exquisitely written and bring you into the heart of the blitz  but come towards the end as we also see the build up to the blitz ., but like all good drama based round the fire service it is the  quiet times in between that is the most interesting seeing the interactions of the men as they wait not certain what the night holds or even if they’ll be their next day ,This I feel this is  probably  as Henry Green experienced the war ,he was in Middle age when  he volunteer to join the fire service  in London something he didn’t have to do give his station in life as the fire service was made up mostly of working class men during the war  and sure he spent many hours chatting like Pye and Roe ( there is a clever pun by Green on the two leads Name ).Roe Has lost his wife and via the fire station finds a new love .This book is also a great look at class before during and in a way after the war when the barriers to classes interacting in everyday situations were broken down some what .The cialogue also forms the backbone of this book the interaction between character is all spoken never thought or described as Green said in the piece I quote from wood he thought what people said was the most important bit of the book .This book is out of print but second hand copies about I got mine cheap in Oxfam

Have you read this book ?

Have you read any other books based in London during the war ?

All these little worlds the second collection from fiction desk

Earlier this year I reviewed Rob of the fiction desk first collection Various Authors here .So when a few months ago (sorry for delay Rob) I was asked if I want to review the second in this quarterly series of anthologies ,I said yes as known Rob via twitter for a few years and I really trust his judgement at picking the stories for the fiction desk collections .

SO this time we have nine stories in this collection two of the writers that had appeared in the first collection also appear here Charles Lambert and Jason Atkinson .The collection like the first isn’t themed which I like I m not a huge short story reader but when I do read a collection I prefer it to be like a i pod on shuffle you never know what is going to appear next and this collection is like this .One minute your with a family as the put something strange in a fish tank .Then you’re at school where the is strange thinks going on due to a new dress code being brought into force .As ever I ll focus on a couple that caught my eye the first is one by Mischa Hiller called room 307

He took a drink of his beer and looked up to see a women in a pinstriped trouser suit come into the restaurant  .She was on the mobile phone and carrying a leather briefcase on a strap over her shoulder .The two businessmen stared at her like they’d never seen a women before.

Callum the main character in Mischa Hiller’s room 307 sees a women .

The story is about Callum he is  a businessman  away on a business trip when he meets a women called Susan and they chat and get on there is a spark ,he is married thou .The story has a thriller edge to it that slow telling of the story building the tension to the end as we find out who Susan was is she really his wife ,just a random women or something more sinister .this story for me does what great Short stories do with the bare facts a man in a hotel we have his name not much else.but as you see the scene with this women unfold you are there with him as it happens and that is what great short stories should do make you feel in their setting straight away as it is like  a butterfly only there for a short period of time .The other story I really like was Jagger’s and crown by James Benmore .

According to this mornings paper ,I am meant to have died sometime over the weekend .Go and buy a copy of the mail if you don’t believe me ,I’m on page 36 .

Kevin Crown reads of his own death .

Now this story shows another face of short story’s the mini epic ones as Keith crown reads of his own death he was part of a comedy double act ,I pictured some of the acts we used to see in the late seventies early eighties on british tv cannon and ball ,Les Dennis and Dustin gee so on (if you are not from uk maybe google them and you’ll have an idea of what I m,mean ) so this shock that he is thought to have died makes him look back over his working life with Sonny Jaggers from his first array as a solo act then he  meeting Sonny and the rise of them as a double act but then like Icarus all things that maybe fly to high fall to the ground and so it happen to them so in  the space of 22 pages we see a man’s life wonderful stuff and as rob noted on the top of the story Keith crown seems very real .

Last time I compared his collection to c86 so in the same  vein I m going to say this is like a this mortal coil album and Rob is like Ivo Watts Russell sticking together a collection of fresh talent to make a little gem .Below is a list of the stories plus links to Rob’s site where you can order a subscription .

 

 

where the devil can’t go by Anya Lipska

Anya Lipska is a journalist and lives in london this is her debut novel.She is married to a pole .

I like the concept of this book when I received a e-mail from its publicist Louise ,I often wander around my local supermarket which now has a section devoted to polish food and we also have a polish deli ,so a book set in the uk in the polish community seemed like a really interesting book to me .The book’s title is part of an old polish proverb about a women being often the cause of trouble ,I asked Anya on twitter about this and she said it fitted the main character Janusz Kiszka to  tee .He is an older chap a figure-head in the community ,The sort of  come to guy the man who knows everyone and every thing so when he is asked to find a missing young polish  girl by a priest ,this one event leads him to his own past as he returns to his native Poland and faces his own ghosts ,a dead body or two , a perky female police detective Natalie Kershaw ,she  is young and full of get up and go .She is a a new young detective  in what feels like a very male police force world and has  Janusz in her sights as he keeps cropping up in the case of a girl found by the river Thames .All this has repercussions in Poland in the upper reaches of Polish politics .

She followed him as he moved up the side of the bed .He bent over the girl .”No obvious injuries” he said eyes flickering impassively over the splayed body .

Kershaw notice a fuzz of underarm stubble beneath the girls out flung left arm – a detail so personnel it made her feel uncomfortably like a voyeur .

A body in a hotel room as Kershaw sorts this case .

I like my crime novels that break the mould or have well crafted characters and this book seems to have achieved both ,the narrative stream is told in alternating chapters by Janusz and then Kershaw this is clever as you see two pictures  of what is happening ,but then over time these picture merge and the true course of events becomes clear to the reader .The other strength in this book is Janusz he is like a fish out of water a pole in the uk ,a man with secrets ,but also not the most politically correct guy he is a bit of a misogynist ,he has a girlfriend but their relationship is in limbo a bit ,the way he talked and dealt with women took me back to the noir of the thrities and  forties ,he is like a modern Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe .Also you find out how he end up in the UK and also a bit about Poland in the Eighties and life under the communist state .I also loved the fact that early on I had to google as they described eating various Polish dishes ,so next time I m in the supermarket I may know what are on the shelves .So if you want a page turning winter crime novel that has something a bit different about it this may be the book for you .

Here is a interview with writer 

and Anya Lipska site

This is an e book her is the link to it on amazon 

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