Category Archives: Books

Monachopsis, Imposter Syndrome and the dissatisfaction of following the right path

Monachopsis is defined as the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place. It is also a made-up word. Probably, anyway. It comes from a subcategory of new language and words attempting to define feelings. Unique, niche feelings, granted, but feelings nonetheless. Notwithstanding the dictionary work from wordsmith John Koenig who penned The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, there is little else on this new form of dialect. Monachopsis does, by definition, encapsulate an odd and unique feeling of sorrow. It specifies a time and place for an individual, and the experience felt by that is distinct enough to not need or have a word. It does have a phrase, though. Imposter syndrome. A rare beast, but one that cements itself when success is thick, fast and incomprehensible.

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Jarvis Cocker – Good Pop, Bad Pop Review

Jarvis Cocker’s loft is full of tat. So is his book. Good Pop, Bad Pop is a nice play on words and a memoir that plays with the function of its genre. To avoid recounting the past with idyllic, tinted nostalgia, the former Pulp frontman ascends into the attic and drags out moments from his life and discusses them throughout his autobiography. He paints a picture using moments leftover in the loft, and that is a far better way of exploring the past than relying on a jaded memory hoping to present the ideal version of the past. Cocker spoke about it during an interview at his recent art exhibition, the fear of filling in the blanks of the past because reflection inevitably covers over the truth.

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Pointless Cleaning – Why Working in Clutter is Necessary and Impossible

It was physicist Michio Kaku that said it is “pointless to have a nice clean desk, because it means you’re not doing anything.” Naturally, there is a difference between a desk cluttered with paper, notes and ideas and a space dominated by empty wrappers, Waterstones paper bags and the remnants of what could have been good ideas for articles long ago. Extreme decluttering or an acceptance of the status quo. There is no happy medium for the burnt-out mind. The brain that has been working overtime, figuring out the next idea while three are already being stoked in the fire. It is fun, but when the temples begin to throb and the face goes a bit numb, it is time to take a step back.

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Edward Chisholm – A Waiter in Paris Review

Death of the social life, ruinous financial warfare and a genuine drive to be something are all topics contained in writer Edward Chisholm, who recounts his experiences as a runner, waiter and restaurant hand in A Waiter in Paris. It is the dying, noble profession that so many have tried to document and bring to life through various pieces of media, failing to do so because a blemish is missing or a character is out of place. To take it from the source is the best-case scenario, a scattering of scenes that add detail to a scattershot life in a Parisian restaurant. The ins and outs of the filthy business put in the limelight with an effective gaze on what it really means to be a waiter. What a nightmare.

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David Byrne – Bicycle Diaries Review

All creatives, especially songwriters, believe they have sussed the world out. Either that or they have resigned themselves to never understanding it. That binary shock, the on or off of being right or wrong about the world around them, makes for some startling reads and some interesting observations. David Byrne manages that with Bicycle Diaries, a collection of his thoughts as he tours the world from the seat of a bicycle. Byrne, like photographer Bill Cunnigham, takes to the streets and observes not just literal change, but the sweeping impact they make on an ever-developing culture that he has often infused with his work.

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Ewan Gleadow’s 20 Books to Read in Your 20s

Twitter makes the rounds once again with a good idea rightfully mocked by people posting gags and wind-ups almost immediately.

20 books for your 20s. Controversially, as a 22-year-old and part of the target audience for these many varied and often dullard social media posts, there are only so many books that can truly be helpful. The collected works of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of the Wimpy Kid series, while hilarious, is not helpful.

But books are helpful to those that wish to seek help from them. Knowledge is porridge. Only to those that wish to read are they helpful, and only those that want to read a certain topic or writer will benefit.

There is no universal setlist of 20 books to choose from, deliberate over or study. Important books, yes, but books are personable experiences, so it would be futile to pick out 20 books and recommend them to everyone.

What that opens, though, is the possibility to reminisce and explain the 20 books that shaped the early years of decade number three (or four, as my birthday rests on the dying days of 1999). Unfortunately, that does mean putting up with personal encounters, first-person writing and gushing recommendations of books that will not affect you as they did me.

10 books of fiction, and another 10 of non-fiction, for good measure and balance.

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The Godfather by Mario Puzo Review

“Never write in the first person,” is what three years of education threatened prospective students with. It is a message passed on through the current role, marking year four of this long and winding journey. For websites, this one and others, it is the lesson thrust at students, budding journalists and part-timers who wish to dabble their thoughts on this book or that film. Be personable without the person present. It is hard to do so when writing about The Godfather, the Mario Puzo novel that crashed through Hollywood and reshaped the narrative for ensemble features. But it is not the film that had such a profound and moving effect, one so great that the very barrier of first and third person is blurred, but the Puzo text itself.

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Later by Stephen King Review

“As I said at the beginning, this is a horror story.” – Jamie Conklin.

You’ve been playing this game a very long time, Stephen King, you needn’t remind us of what you write. Later is a horror story. It’s also a horror to read. “Books are a portable magic,” King once wrote. That they are. To remind us of that, he filters that and many of his life lessons in On Writing into Later, either intentionally or subconsciously. Either way, the outcome is poor. But how much can King really impose on his tales? His real-world experiences bleed into Later, for he writes of a young man early on in his life. King attempts to reflect and adapt that throughout Later, but his definition of youth is far from admirable.

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The Joke’s Over: Memories of Hunter S. Thompson by Ralph Steadman Review

“Don’t write, Ralph, you’ll bring shame to your family” – Hunter S. Thompson.

That he did. A sad shame indeed. Above my desk is a beautiful print of one of Ralph Steadman’s finest pieces. Thompson is pierced through the throat by the carriage lever of a typewriter. The keys of the typewriter spell out “Aaaarrgh,” which I find quite moving. I am not an art expert, but I know enough about the men behind the image to know that “Aaaarrgh,” was perhaps an understatement for the torture they put themselves through. Drinks, drugs and hard knocks settled these men for thirty-five years of knowing each other. Steadman’s book, The Joke’s Over: Memories of Hunter S. Thompson feels like a memoir, biography of the eponymous writer, cathartic release for Steadman and an attempt at re-working the wit and words of the great 20th-century writer.

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Jaws By Peter Benchley Review

What seems like years before has come back to haunt me. My final day at sixth form, and I was gifted Jaws, the novel from Peter Benchley, as a leavers gift. In the front, a transcription was left for me. 

“”Ewan, this is the only book in the world that’s worse than the film. Try not to read it. I have 128 copies”. – M.D.” 

How right he was.  

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