The North: (And Almost Everything in It) (英語) ハードカバー – 2013/9/5
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Here is the north, this is where it lies, where it belongs, full of itself, high up above everything else, surrounded by everything that isn't the north, that's off the page, somewhere else...
Paul Morley grew up in Reddish, less than five miles from Manchester and even closer to Stockport. Ever since the age of seven, old enough to form an identity but too young to be aware that 'southern' was a category, Morley has always thought of himself as a northerner. What that meant, he wasn't entirely sure. It was for him, as it is for millions of others in England, an absolute, indisputable truth. But he wondered why, when as a child he was so ready to abandon his Cheshire roots and support the much more successful Lancashire cricket team, and when as an adult he found he could travel between London and Manchester in less than two hours, he continued to say he was from the North.
Forty years after walking down grey pavements on his way to school, Paul explores what it means to be northern and why those who consider themselves to be believe it so strongly. Like industrial towns dotted across great green landscapes of hills and valleys, Morley breaks up his own history with fragments of his region's own social and cultural background. Stories of his Dad spreading margarine on Weetabix stand alongside those about northern England's first fish and chip shop in Mossley, near Oldham. And out of these lyrical memories rise many disconnected voices of the north; Wordsworth's poetry, Larkin's reflections and Formby's guitar. Morley maps the entire history of northern England through its people and the places they call home - from the frozen landscapes of the Ice Age to the Norman invasion to the construction of the Blackpool tower - to show that the differences go deeper than just an accent.
Ambitiously sweeping and beautifully impressionistic, without ever losing touch with the minute details of life above the M25, The North is an extraordinary mixture of memoir and history, a unique insight into how we, as a nation, classify the unclassifiable.
Breathtaking tour de force ... His youthful insecurities, set against the limestone and industrial certainties of the north, make the memoir strands of this book engaging and truthful. The sheer scope of his interest is a delight ... A dizzy and delightful pleasure-beach ride. And I love the little asides; they are more than digressions or tributaries to the abandoned slip road in the sky just off the Mancunian Way. The North is a major achievement that has kept Morley at the coal-face of the keyboard for so many years. But it's been time well-spent: the result is as bold, broad and sweeping as the north itself, and just as quirky and contradictory ***** * Stuart Maconie, Mail on Sunday * A personal odyssey going north by north-west and a tour de force * Simon Armitage * An impressive, sprawling attempt by the former NME journalist to capture the north of England. In its springing from topic to topic, and its curiously arbitrary apportioning of attention to subjects that interest him, it almost resembles Morley's offbeat sleeve notes for 1980s agit-popsters Frankie Goes to Hollywood ... Packed with raw emotions and ambivalent passions ... Morley writes with care and precision, though, and his rhythm is such that his book is a lively, breezy read * Sunday Times * A fascinating attempt to define what it means to be a northerner, to try to capture a sense of difference that cuts deeper than just an accent ... A journey that is part family memoir, part history book, part cultural and social commentary and wholly northern in its outlook ... Like an early spring walk in Wordsworth's Lake District or a stroll along Blackpool's breezy Golden Mile, the journey has its moments ... If there is one thing his ambitious work shows it's that we may not have the weather or the wealth of the south but true northerners will always have soul **** * Daily Express * Morley's writing skipped and span, whirled out from specifics to ghosts, those hard-to-capture feelings around the north. He examined northern cliches, our "standardised national story", used the insights of musicians and writers to test theories and prejudices ... The ideas are insightful and the execution inspired * Miranda Sawyer, Observer * He combines memoir with fragments of his region's own social and cultural background to show that the differences go deeper than just an accent. As a Midlands native, living in the south but with strong Northern roots, it's just my cup of Tetley * Bookseller * Paul's book is a delight: as vast, mysterious and romantic as the north itself * Radio Times * A loving portrait of England's other half * London Review of Books * An idiosyncratic rumination on what it means to be northern ... It's bound to deposit a certain amount of iron in the soul * Guardian * A passionate, irresistible encouragement to listen more, and to listen better * Sunday Times * Compulsive, thought-provoking and intriguing * Glasgow Herald * There is an enjoyably subtle mordancy about much of the book * Financial Times * At his best he's the Brian Eno of the sentence, setting the whole page buzzing with oblique strategies: the missing link, maybe, between Kenneth Tynan and John Lydon * Time Out * Essentially a treasure trove almanac wedded to a wistful coming-of-age memoir. Some passages soar *** * Metro * A typically sprawling, deliberately disjointed book - part memoir, part history * Guardian * Paul Morley's weighty new work probably deserves a section to itself: the poetic, stream-of-conscious, socio-historical, non-linear memoir-cum-gazetteer ... He soars above the landscape with daring and verve and ambition and brings it to life with his usual heady and mesmerising prose gymnastics. There are delicious, dizzying switches of perspective, Escher-like switchbacks, blind alleys and diversions. He is catholic in his tastes, and thinks nothing of corralling the inscrutable novelist W G Sebald and blowsy Julie Goodyear, Coronation Street's Bet Lynch, in a single paragraph. This is the sort of stuff that's had many of us hanging on his every word (and there are generally lots of them) since his NME days. But there are things here that will surprise even devotees. There's history, geology, geography, all conveyed with clarity and concision. There are delightful, unexpected riffs and obbligatos, such as a paean to "the crystalline elegance" of cricket. This being Morley country, there are also constant but consistently illuminating digressions, meandering from Alan Turing through to Bernard Manning ... I learned something on pretty much every page ... He is superb at conjuring the orbit of a northern child in the Sixties and Seventies ... The illustrations alone give a flavour of the book's charming and eccentric eclectism ... The book unfolds like a recalcitrant OS map, opens up like an advent calendar, accrues meaning and detail like barnacles, but core themes and threads anchor it in Morley's experience ... For everyone who is exasperated by Morley's oblique, mazy, impressionistic style, there will be others who will be seduced by its heft, even if they don't realise quite how good it is. Yet it is more than just an ox-stunning tome. It is rich and dense, and its sprawling nature encourages one to luxuriate, exploring it at your leisure and finding the odd tracks that link say, Ken Dodd to LS Lowry ... Morley has done well to find the right voice and tone for the huge, kaleidoscopic work and he sustains it, measured but lyrical and with a kind of bottom note of melancholy ... This is a book to lose oneself in, as long as you're not too worried about where you emerge or when you might get there * Stuart Maconie, New Statesman * With this mournful, gentle memoir of his childhood and family ... Morley, only half-Northern himself, does his adopted region proud *** * The Lady * Paul Morley's memoir of the north has been 50 years in the making - it's been worth the wait ... Irresistible, fragmentary new book * Irish Times * This is endless fun for fact fans and it's hard for any Northerner not to feel stirred by Morley's pride in the area *** * Yorkshire Post * A fascinating exploration of northern-ness * Grazia * Such a joy ... This great, whirling, baggy compendium of a book is a travelogue, a geographical study, a potted history and a rich encyclopedia ... Where he triumphs is in his evocation of the rich life of the North ... This unfolding chronicle throws up a satisfying number of riveting facts. The oddness of the juxtapositions simply adds to the pleasure ... The North is both a star turn and a labour of love. Its weight meant I could barely pick it up; but once lifted, I could hardly put it down **** * Daily Telegraph * Impressive and sometimes amusing * Catholic Herald * With this mournful, gentle memoir of his childhood and family, particularly his father, mixed in with history, geography and touching on the lives of many Northern innovators from the present day to the distant past, Morley, only half-Northern himself, does his adopted region proud *** * The Lady * Varied and illuminating pop-cultural content ... A wildly multi-stylistic book that sets memoir alongside socio-geographical history alongside postmodern pranksterism ... Let's reveal in the sheer wilfulness of this mad mash-up and highlight the highlights ... This long and winding road leaves you much more inspired than tired. The closing valedictory sections are memorably poetic **** * Mojo * Impressionistic * Choice Magazine * Fascinating ... This affectionate tribute is more a nostalgic bow to a largely lost working class community than an objective account of a region, but is no less endearing for that * Leyla Sanai, Independent On Sunday * Morley's account of the ways in which he's defined by his Manchester roots is both a confessional memoir and a cultural history covering everything from music to poetry to the Blackpool Tower * GQ Magazine * Beneath the grey council estate scene, author Paul Morley paints a romantic picture of everything above Watford Junction. Peppered with random facts (who knew the crossword was dreamt up in Liverpool or the first Corrie swear word was 'bloody'?) it's an anthropological look at the author's home province * Escapism * There's a certain bravery in calling a book The North (And Almost Everything In It). But then Paul Morley has never been afraid to stick his neck out ... The North (And Almost Everything In It) is a part memoir and part-history, reflecting on his upbringing in Reddish, Stockport, in the 60s and 70s, and sprawling with digressions into the North and its people. Everything from the Romans to Bernard Manning, Jodrell Bank to Julie Goodyear is covered in an engrossing read * Yorkshire Post * Rambling and vast compendium * The Times * Personal memoir meets general history, a book as much about the mythology of what the north has come to mean, to those who live there and others, like me, who opted to move away, as it is an inventory of hard facts and figures * The Wire * My favourite book this year is Paul Morley's The North ... the book pushed me to go to the Lowry exhibition at the Tate and made me listen again to George Formby and the Buzzcocks. The book filled my head * Roddy Doyle, Guardian *
Paul Morley grew up in Stockport, Cheshire, and has worked as a music journalist, pop svengali and broadcaster. He is the author of a number of books on music Ask: The Chatter of Pop, Words and Music: A History of Pop in the Shape of a City, Joy Division: Piece by Piece and Joy Division: Fragments as well as an acclaimed memoir of his early years, Nothing. Paul has written for a number of publications, including the New Statesman, the Sunday Telegraph, NME, the Observer and the Guardian.
The premise of this book is a good one. The "North" stands apart from the rest of England in so many respects, but what this book should really be called is "The North - Or That Bit Which Falls Within A 10 Mile Radius of Picadilly Station". Paul Morley is qualified to write about Manchester and Stockport and not much else and most of the research here appears to have been gleaned from a few idle days spent on Google. Put simply, the author offers very little insight into the true diversity of "The North", where Yorkshire, with it's fading steel and wool towns and large rural areas, could be considered a different country from the cities on the Tyne, the Tees and the Wear in the Northeast to the imposing Derbyshire Peaks and to the border country of Northumberland & Cumbria.
The book is at it's best when we move away from the tediously long tracts describing Paul's Northern childhood with it's endless lists of adjectives to the little stories that intersperse the main narrative with their tales of great Northerners such as Gracie Fields, George Formby, Alan Turing and Bernard Lovell. This is a 600 page book that, with a little discipline on behalf of the author, could have been condensed into a really interesting 350 page collection of vignettes with a brief history of the influence of his small corner of "The North" on Paul Morley. Still, brevity of language has never been this authors strong point and one always suspects that within Paul Morley there is a true Southerner struggling to escape.
I would stretch to 2.5 stars if Amazon would allow me.