Archive for comedy

BLAST FROM THE PAST By Ben Elton – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2017 by stanleyriiks

I read Stark, Elton’s first book, when I was at school. It was funny, political, interesting. I watched The Young Ones, Blackadder, and The Thin Blue Line. I’d seen some of Elton’s stand-up on TV. I wasn’t obsessive, but I considered myself a fan.

I probably bought this book around the time it came out in 1998 and just haven’t got round to reading it. Nearly twenty years after the book came out it hasn’t really dated. It’s still as relevant as it was back then.

It’s the story of a young woman, Polly, who, after having an affair with a US soldier based at Greenham Airbase in the 80s (she was a protester), gets a phone call from him at 2.15 in the morning. She’s also being stalked by a man she called the Bug.

Although the book follows the conversations, it’s about the lives of these characters, their interactions with each other, and the impact of the initial affair.

But, it’s not classic Elton. It’s not particularly funny, there are no laugh out loud moments, and only the occasional smiles. The characters are fairly well rounded, but occasionally come across as typical stereotypes. The plot feels like a writing exercise: can I write a whole book based on a few hours of conversation one night. And it’s all fairly predictable.

That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, and despite some issues I have with Elton’s all over the place writing style, it draws you in and you want to find out what happens next. It is easy reading.

Not Elton’s best by a long shot, out of his first five books (this is the fifth) this is the least successful.

I still have about four Elton books hidden on my shelves somewhere, but on the strength of this one I won’t be searching them out immediately.

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Morpheus Tales Supplement July – Coming Soon!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Want to know what’s coming up in the July issue of the Morpheus Tales Supplement? There might be a little bit more coming, and this is not the final order, but this will give you a good idea of what’s coming!

Author and artist interviews, regular columns and loads of reviews! And it’s all free!

Coming in July!

THE DEPARTURE By Neal Asher

ZERO POINT By Neal Asher

GREAT NORTH ROAD By Peter F. Hamilton

CREAKERS By Paul Kane

THE FICTIONAL MAN By Al Ewing

Interview with David Lear of Firestone Books

MISSPENT YOUTH By Peter F. Hamilton

RAILSEA By China Mieville

VURT and POLLEN By Jeff Noon

BETWEEN TWO THORNS By Emma Newman

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES

REVIVER By Seth Patrick

THE SERENE INVASION By Eric Brown

THE BLOODLINE FEUD By Charles Stross

Juliet E. McKenna Interview

Duane Myers Interview

GENERATION LOSS By Elizabeth Hand

Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones

GRIMM AND GRIMMER: VOLUME TWO Edited By Theresa Derwin

STARING INTO THE ABYSS By Richard Thomas

MONSTERS ANONYMOUS By Theresa Derwin

UNCLEAN SPIRITS By Chuck Wendig

Jack Skillingstead Interview

AGE OF SATAN by James Lovegrove

TELLING TALES OF HORROR

11/22/63 By Stephen King

BLACK RAIN By Joshua Caine

RISE OF THE ZOMBIES

THE BARRENS

REC 3: GENESIS

THE BAY

Karen DiStasio Interview

THE PSYCHOPATH TEST By Jon Ronson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Never judge a book by its cover, so goes the saying. Well, as far as I’m concerned that’s arse. The first book I picked up and bought as an adult (at the tender age of fourteen, but I consider that as adult as I’ve ever got) was a Conan book with a lovely cover. It wasn’t a Frazetta but it was that style, and it was awesome. The fact the cover didn’t have hardly anything to do with the contents of the book didn’t put me off at all. I continue to purchase books because they have great covers. I can barely put back on the shelf a book with artwork by Jon Sullivan.

What I would suggest though, is don’t pick a book because of a title. That’s how Jon Ronson got me. The Psychopath Test sounds like a quality book. There’s likely to be madness in it, and may be some murder. And there is, just not the sort I thought there would be.

Perhaps I need to explain a little further. I don’t read blurbs, those paragraphs on the back of the book that tell you what’s going to happen. Why would I? It’s like a film trailer, it shows you the best bits, it tells you what’s going to happen. If I’ve seen the best bits why watch the rest? If I know what’s going to happen what’s the point in reading the story? So I had no idea that this book was even non-fiction.

I also don’t read quotes, not before I start reading anyway. This book has quotes all over it. I can’t help but think they were reading a different book to me.

I didn’t realise this was written by the same bloke who wrote The Men Who Stare At Goats, that’s a film I’ve been meaning to watch because it has a great title. Ronson, it seems, is pretty good with titles.

So, what’s this book about? It’s about an investigative journalist (Ronson) searching out the meaning of mental health, or rather, psychopathy. He meets people in mental hospitals, he tells the stories of child bipolar disorder, he meets the man who created the psychopath test, a scientologist who believe psychiatrists are con-men, ex-dictators, and ex-CEOs. From the quotes all over this book you might expect it to be funny. I didn’t expect it to be funny until I read the quotes, and up until then (almost at the end), I had found some vaguely amusing parts, but nothing that made me do more than almost crack a smile. This isn’t Ben Elton or Stephen Fry.

So, what is this book?

It’s a look at the crazy world of the madness industry. It’s quite interest, mildly amusing in parts, quite frustrating in others. Repetitive, not particularly insightful, but quite short. Never judge a book by its title, a lesson learned.

PYGMY By Chuck Palahniuk – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Pygmy is a diminutive teenager from an unnamed totalitarian state, who arrives in the United States, with several of his comrades, to infiltrate and destroy the corrupt nation of America. Having been fully trained and brainwashed from a young age, Pygmy is an assassin and terrorist, who one family of Americans takes into their home.

Not really material for a comedy you may say, not exactly something that sounds like a social satire. But that’s exactly what this is. When Chuck isn’t poking fun at the totalitarians, he’s poking fun at the Americans. There’s also some teenage angst and hi-jinks involved.

Not only does Chuck provide a few laughs, but some brutality (made all the more disturbing by the humour), and some poignancy. This isn’t comedy or horror or sf, although it could claim to be any of those. This is literature, a marvellous mix of all of them, told stunningly well.

Despite the initial difficulty in getting into the first person prose (in broken English by Agent Number 67, otherwise known at Pygmy), you find yourself involved and urging him on, or not, as the case may be.

There has probably never been a funnier terrorist novel, and as Chuck goes where few writers have gone before – a Walmart toilet anyone? – he does it with style, substance and a light touch that makes it all worth while.

MY SHIT LIFE SO FAR By Frankie Boyle – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Frankie Boyle is a very funny man. This acerbic wit, and irreverent humour find a perfect venue on Mock The Week on BBC 2. Boyle is a man who writes for Jimmy Carr, and has written for numerous other comedians I’ve never heard of. But for a comedy writer he doesn’t really seem to get how to write a story.

This book traces Boyle’s history, his impoverished childhood, his loner years, and his discovery of drugs and alcohol. We watch as boy grows to man, his university years, all imbued with vast quantities of alcohol. We get a hint of the life of a nomadic comedian. All interspersed with anecdotes. But actually, interspersed isn’t really correct, the story of Boyle’s life is riddled (interrupted!) with anecdotes of varying quality. The best jokes will be familiar to anyone who regularly watches Mock The Week and what really lets the book down is the lack of insight into the man.

We have barely any more knowledge after reading the book than watching Mock The Week. Frankie is a funny man, you can see that on the programme, but from the book you would hardly guess at just how funny he can be. The editor should have fixed the major problems, lack of insight and hideously unfocused, but then perhaps it wouldn’t have worked at all.

But does it work? Not really. Frankie doesn’t allow the reader in, and from what we discover of his personality, that’s just him.

Not refreshing, not insightful, not even very funny. If you want a funny book try Ben Elton and Stephen Fry, both of whom can supply the goods on a regular basis. Frankie Boyle is obviously much better suited to a few one-liners on a TV show than a full-length book.

Sadly disappointing.

STAIRWAY TO HELL By Charlie Williams – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I approach all new authors (new to me anyway) with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, wondering whether this new bloke is likely to be added to my list of authors to collect, or to go in the pile for the charity shop.

Charlie Williams is neither, but not through any fault of his own.

Let me explain…

Stairway To Hell is told by our erm… hero (which he truly is, although unconventional) Rik Suntan, a mustachioed singer and winner of the Pub Idol contest two years in a row. Rik delights his fans with his renditions of Cliff Richard classics at the Blue Cairo in the small town of Warchester, whilst waiting to hit the big time.

But one terrible night Rik gets hit with a bottle thrown at him while he’s performing on stage, he gets the sack and his girlfriend dumps him. To top if off he’s attacked by a midget.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, Rik finds out that his body is in fact, home to the stolen soul of David Bowie, and he joins a group of other interred souls to try to get back into their proper bodies, by any means necessary. Even if that does involve murder, robbery, and black magic.

Stairway To Hell is in some ways perfectly modern, but in some ways completely retro. It has the feel of returning to a British seaside town you used to visit when you were young, it’s familiar, it’s fun, and it feels comfortable. It harkens back to a yesteryear that never really existed except in your own rose-tinted memories.

The book draws you in completely, Rik’s narrative is warm and funny, you can’t help laughing with him as well as at him. A difficult trick for Williams to pull off.

This is what the BBC call “Light Entertainment”, a kind of Dad’s Army or Last of the Summer Wine, but with young people, and music, and madness, and black magic! It’s also got a bit of mystery going on to help things along.

This is not top of the heap comedy, it’s not going to compete with Stephen Fry or Ben Elton but who possibly can. But it is certainly funny, it’ll make you smile a lot, and even a few chuckles and a lol!

This would make a perfect British Comedy film, and perhaps someone should send a copy to Richard Curtis, the maker of many a perfect British Comedy.

Williams should sit beside Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby, he’s not really as insightful as either of them, but he’s funnier than both. In Rik Suntan he has created a legend in his own lunchtime, a character so realistic, so pathetic, so empathetic, and in the end so heroic, that you can’t help but laugh at him and see a bit of yourself in him at the same time, as sad as it is to admit that.

Stairway To Hell is the perfect book for the man in your life who has everything, and everyone has one of those. Unique, funny, and in its own small way, brilliant.