Skip to main content

The Road - where was the journey?

I had tried to read the book but never got beyond the first few pages, unable to invest the emotion whilst also trying to write and research. Such books as Cormac McCarthy writes deserve that investment at the very least. So I eagerly awaited a condensed hit in the form of the film, directed by John Hillcoat. A friend in the States saw it towards the end of last year and didn't give too much away except to say it was 'bleak'. Far from putting me off this only encouraged me. So as soon as it came on at my local Everyman my friend and I booked seats. I actually wanted to walk out halfway through but thought it would be a little rude for my friend. It was only afterwards, during a telephone conversation the next day, that I learned she had also wanted to walk out. What went wrong? The question should be, what went right? Was it the appearance of the 'good' family to take care of the now fatherless child at the end of the film - 'good' because the parents had not yet eaten their own children AND they had a lassie type dog with a shiny coat as their pet? What I felt most angry about was the feeling that the film was dictating to me what I should be feeling - this was enabled by the soundtrack, by Nick Cave of all people (one would expect more from him - not some hokie Disneyfied score). And then there was the wheeling on of Robert Duvall as the ultimate cliche - the blind, wise old man! My arse! This film is divided into those who are good and those who are bad. Using the same black and white thinking for my review I would have to say the film was 'bad', in fact, worse than bad - just too damn 'hokie'! Here's what the film critics have to say: Rollling Stone Time Out, Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian, and here, The Times, and The LA Times.

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.

-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-

And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Midwinter Break - Bernard McLaverty

The only other book that I've read of Bernard MacLaverty was the sublime Grace Notes, published in 1997, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize of the same year. That prize was awarded to an author of another similar hiatus recently broken, Arundhati Roy, of the widely acclaimed The God of Small Things. I was certain, when buying the kindle version of Midwinter Break, that MacLaverty's first book in seventeen years (Cal, 2001, was his most recent) had made both the Booker Longlist and Shortlist - but having just double-checked - am disappointed and confused to find it had made neither. MacLaverty's prose style feels Yatesian, after the late Richard Yates, US author of Revolutionary Road, and TheEaster Parade
Midwinter Break, set in Amsterdam, is written in the same deliciously clear and poignant prose that so widely marked out Grace Notes. The husby and I have not long returned from a late summer break in that same fabulous city. With the visit to the Rijksmuseum still fre…