Books

The Invention of Angela Carter

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Since her untimely death in 1992 there has never been a full length biography of the English writer, feminist and socialist Angela Carter. Thankfully this first foray into biography by author Edmund Gordon manifestly rights that wrong.

Carter famously described herself as “a born fabulist”, and Gordon takes that as his cue to deconstruct many of the myths that have sprung up around his subject, delineating Carter’s deliberate reinventions of herself with unprecedented access to her diaries, letters and manuscripts.

The Rules do not Apply

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A decade has passed since Ariel Levy’s ground-breaking book on raunch culture, Female Chauvinist Pigs. Her exploration of women being sold back their own oppression as empowerment preceded a number of other books on this “new sexism”. And this phenomenon has since produced a fightback and a renewed interest in feminist thought and the politics of women’s liberation.

Sound System

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One thing I learnt from this book is that the military are the biggest employers of musicians in Britain.

As someone who expends a fair bit of effort supporting and promoting music, I know the struggle and sacrifice of new and exciting musicians just to get by. As a teacher, I am also well aware of the continuous fight to protect the place of music, and to defend children’s access to it, in schools. It came as a shock, then, to find that in one sector there is more than enough public money for musicians to live on.

Materialism

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The thread linking Thomas Aquinas, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Friedrich Nietzsche to Karl Marx may seem tenuous to many, but with typical verve and bravura and not a little waspish humour Eagleton has made these connections in his defence of materialism and critique of the metaphysical. In the preface he nails his colours to the mast of “unabashed universalism” which he hopes will scandalise “only those postmodern dogmatists for whom all universal claims are oppressive”.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

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Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is an exciting new book for kids which is creating a stir. When I was a kid it was hard to find books with inspirational female characters for younger children. Michael Foreman’s All the King’s Horses was one of our favourites, as well as his retellings of classic fairy tales (both criminally out of print for years), but similar offerings were hard to come by.

A Revolution Undone

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H M Hellyer was both witness and participant in the momentous events that shook Egypt in 2011 and the subsequent developments that finally led to the military coup of July 2013. From visiting and staying in Tahrir Square to helping form one of the numerous local committees that sprang up to guard and look after local communities when the regime sent out its thugs, Hellyer was joyously drawn to the revolution and his world outlook was transformed.

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