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The Russian Revolution which led to the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 began one hundred years ago. The effects of the revolution reverberated around the world and still have a significant influence on global politics today. This momentous period in modern history also began a period of ground breaking art and it is this which is explored in this thoughtfully compiled exhibition.
It focuses on the 15-year period between 1917 and 1932 when Russian art flourished across every medium and includes many forms of painting, photography, sculpture, filmmaking by pioneers such as Eisenstein, and evocative propaganda posters from what was a golden era for graphic design. There is a full-scale recreation of an apartment designed for communal living, and with everyday objects ranging from ration coupons and textiles to Soviet porcelain.
The exhibition shows how the revolution stimulated the imagination of artists of the time but also shows the harsh realities of its aftermath. The exhibits are both beautiful and stark and are well worth viewing as an example of how the influence of sudden change can stimulate the imagination and also lead to disillusionment. It continues at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London until 17 April.
This is the second novel in the Phil Allman series but the reader need not worry if he or she has missed reading the first as it stands well on its own in its own right.
In this story Private Investigator, Phil Allman, is hired to find a missing eleven year old girl while at the same time battling with his ex-wife over the custody of his own eleven year old daughter and the nine year old girl he adopted at the end of the first book. His investigations are met with various twists and turns during which he encounters some very shady characters and several murders. We find out more about the psychology of the central character and the story becomes very dark as he attempts to resolve the tasks before him. The characters are exceptionally well described and Allman’s fondness for quoting lines from English and American popular music adds to his personal appeal.
I have already reviewed Book 1 of Allman’s story (see below) and I thoroughly recommend that it be read even if you have read this story first. In this tale we find out more about Allman’s personality and the unravelling of the truth behind what motivates him makes this a fascinating read.
Phil Allman is a gumshoe in the Raymond Chandler tradition. He is contracted to find the missing twin brother of Elvis Presley who was mistakenly believed to have been stillborn when the legendary King of Rock and Roll was born in 1933.
At first I thought the plot implausible, but Presley did in fact have a twin named Jesse Garon Presley who did not survive when their mother gave birth so it is conceivable as he was born into an impoverished family he could have been given away at birth.
The story starts slowly with the detective narrator explaining that he was an Elvis fan and why the star’s twin was adopted and registered as stillborn. Then as the tale progresses the characters take over and it becomes more interesting. Private Investigator, narrator and protagonist, Phil Allman, is well rounded, likable and struggling to come to terms with the separation from his wife and to maintain contact with his eleven year old daughter while at the same time unravelling the mystery surrounding Elvis’s twin. Characters are expertly introduced and neatly described with amusing asides from Allman. His search for Jesse Garon is intriguing and is complicated by some murders he encounters along the way.
The novel is well crafted and absorbing and, because of my concern for the wellbeing of the central character, I was compelled to read on to the end. The author is a talented storyteller. His skill in this genre is clearly evident and he should be congratulated. I can thoroughly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
In August 2011 I published a blog about the rebirth of the short story (see https://peatmore.wordpress.com/2011/08/22). Now it seems that this form of fiction writing is going from strength to strength. The BBC is once more running its annual competition for its National Short Story Award and all this week the short listed stories are being broadcasted on BBC Radio 4 until Friday 23 September (http://tinyurl.com/hzbtokk).
In addition the BBC Readings Unit have chosen some of their favourite Radio 4 short stories to listen to again (http://tinyurl.com/zrgva4y).
Not to be outdone Peatmore Press has launched my Kindle ebook short story collection, “New Beginnings” as a free download for 5 days beginning today.
Julie Round is an expert at describing the stresses and strains of family life. In spite of difficult challenges put in front of them her characters find a way through and this is the great strength of all of her narratives. In this story, the husband suffers a breakdown and commits a crime for which he is punished but manages to achieve atonement. The way this affects the family is beautifully described and illustrates how strong family bonds are important in overcoming adversity. The book is not quite up there with her earlier “Lane Trilogy” as I would have liked a more through introductory description of some of the subsidiary characters such as Lisa. But the novel is a good read all the same and is highly recommend it.
This is a well researched and well told fascinating story of Southeast Asia’s Largest Nation. The Author has obviously done an enormous amount of research to uncover the facts, myths and legends behind the history of this remarkable country. The book makes an ideal companion to his earlier work, “Raffles and The British Invasion of Java”, which I reviewed in March 2015 and is also well worth the read. Although, Raffles is briefly mentioned in this account, the book deals with the rise of Indonesia from prehistoric to modern times. It is an ideal buy for anyone wishing to visit Indonesia and I highly recommend this as a must read for anyone wishing to understand how colonial powers engage dominance over the countries they rule.
I bought a signed paperback copy from the author last July which I gave to my daughter before she returned to where she has been living in Indonesia in April and purchased a Kindle copy for myself. Of the two I prefer the paperback as the layout makes it easier to flick between the photographs at the centre of the book and the rest of the text.
A Brief History of Indonesia is published by Tuttle Publishing
Editor, Peatmore Press