Sasha Simic

Tell it Like it Is

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Review of 'Persepolis 2' by Marjane Satrapi, Jonathan Cape £12.99

Marjane Satrapi's outstanding biography continues with this bittersweet graphic novel. In 1984 a 14 year old Marjane managed to leave the repressive Iran of the Mullahs to continue her education in Europe. The first part of the book deals with her years in Austria in which she copes with the disorientation of puberty and the temptations of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The most charming scenes in this section are her ventures into politics. Her encounter with an 'anarchist revolutionary group' turns out to be a nothing more than a good natured barbecue in the Viennese woods.

Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane?

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Review of 'Superman: Red Son' by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett, Andrew Robinson and Walden Wong, Titan £10.99

The abstract 'S' symbol which Superman sports on his chest is, like Mickey Mouse or the Coca-Cola logo, a universally recognised icon. Paradoxically, very few people actually buy or read his comics any more. Figures released in early 2004 show that Superman comics sell fewer than 35,000 copies a month.

Come on Ali

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Review of 'Hobson's Choice' by Harold Brighouse, Young Vic, London, then touring

When I heard that the Young Vic was planning to do radical things to Hobson's Choice I wasn't happy. My only previous contact with the play had been the wonderful David Lean film version in 1953. I'm very loyal to that straight retelling of the stage play, which has a magnificent central performance by Charles Laughton as the grotesque patriarch Henry Horatio Hobson.

Nothing Natural about War

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I joined the protest outside parliament on the night of 18 Much 2003 when our leaders decided to help the US butcher innocent Iraqi civilians.

Watching the charade unfold was sickening. Parliamentarians agreed to state murder and then congratulated themselves on the 'high level' of their debate. Blair won his vote by relying on the support of the Tories, and by arm-twisting spineless and unprincipled labour backbenchers. The antics of Clare Short alone showed how low New labour has sunk

Paler Sun

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Review of 'Solaris', director Steven Soderbergh

The first film version of Stanislaw Lem's science fiction story 'Solaris' was directed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972. Thirty years later Steven Soderbergh--the man responsible for 'Erin Brockovich' and last year's re-make of 'Ocean's Eleven'--gives us his version. Both films use the bare plot of Lem's story and develop themes implied in it, but the difference between the two films is startling.

Imagine There's No Europe

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Review of 'The Years of Rice and Salt', Kim Stanley Robinson, Harper Collins £16.99

A community of souls are reincarnated time and time again, experiencing various lives in a kaleidoscope of relationships--as lovers or family, rulers or ruled, oppressor or oppressed. After each lifetime they meet in the bardo, the antechamber to eternity, to have their karma assessed and a judgment made against them which will determine the nature of their next life.

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