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  • Review: Urban Legends July 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Urban Legends

    Jan Harold Brunvand is the Urban Legend man, he has been writing books, since 1981 on modern folklore narratives, those curious stories that get passed from relative stranger to relative stranger or that are discussed earnestly at sleepovers among close friends. Three years ago JHB brought out his most important compendium yet, The Encyclopedia of Urban […]

    Review: Death of a Princess July 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Death of a Princess

    Death of a Princess, a modest British television documentary, turned out to be the most expensive film ever made. It cost perhaps  a billion pounds and this was in 1980 when that kind of money could buy your three or four aircraft carriers. The piece, made for British television, tells the story of a nineteen-year-old Saudi […]

    Review: Truffles May 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Truffles

    Truffles… Where to even begin? Think a five thousand Euro lump of tuber magnatum sweating in your hand; black truffles grated onto steaming pasta and stirred gently in; truffle salt mixed into white basmati rice; a bottle of truffled oil left open to spread that magic odour in a bedroom; the siren’s sweet sound as the […]

    Review: The Victorian Book of the Dead March 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Victorian Book of the Dead

    In the last thirty years historians have found a new way to pattern their vast bibliographies. Rather than just include twenty pages in alphabetical order – too easy for the scholarly mind – many have decided, instead, to split the bibliography in two. The first bibliography will be primary sources and the second bibliography will […]

    Review: The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick January 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick

    What do you want the good or the bad news? OK, let’s start with the bad. The two exquisite volumes on Beach desk today cost about 170 dollars…. each. One is entitled The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick I and the other is entitled The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick II, Oxford University Press, 2013. […]

    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union September 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union

    Books on the holocaust have, broadly speaking, two choices. They can either focus on the big picture and describe the liquidation of an entire people from this or that national territory, or they can focus on an individual, family or a village and concentrate, instead, on the micro-tragedies: an excellent example of the latter is […]

    Review: Mrs Wakeman vs. The Antichrist August 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Mrs Wakeman vs. The Antichrist

    Behind the Stars and Stripes wavering over corn fields and Malborough man coughing up his lungs, there is vast hinterland of American strangeness that European countries, cursed by more measured, deeper histories, fail to compete with. Perhaps it’s the melting pot, perhaps it is the relative lack of rules, perhaps it is the welcome failure […]

    Review: The Adventures of Hergé August 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Adventures of Hergé

    Georges ‘Hergé’ Rémi (obit 1983) was an exceptional draughtsman who published, between 1930 and 1976, twenty three comic books that contained the essence of the short twentieth century. It was all there: continental totalitarianism, arms dealing, South American dictatorships, the death of colonialism, the Cold War, Arab nationalism, the internatonal drug trade and the battle […]

    Review: Hobberdy Dick July 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Hobberdy Dick

    Katharine Briggs is the world famous folklorist, who wrote many books on folklore and fairies, some above average, some outstanding. Among her lesser known works are two folklore novels that she wrote in the 1960s, Kate Crackernuts and Hobberdy Dick. I’m trying to read KC at the moment and not having much luck, but the […]

    Review : The Book of Grimoires July 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review : The Book of Grimoires

    Claude Lecouteux is one of the world’s most interesting writers on folklore and magic: his work on the wild hunt, for example, is perhaps the best we have. However, this new book by CL, The Book of Grimoires: The Secret Grammar of Magic (2013 Inner Traditions, from the French original, 2002) is not strictly by […]

    Review: Seven Myths About Education June 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Review: Seven Myths About Education

    There is a lovely story from a successful scholarship school in New York. When the head was asked how he had managed to keep standards so high at his institution, when other nearby schools had lost their edge, he replied that it was simple. Every time a new instruction from the Department of Educaton or […]

    Review: Walter Starkie, An Odyssey February 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Walter Starkie, An Odyssey

    Walter Starkie is an in between figure. Born to the last of the Anglo-Irish in 1894, he added to his initial liminal state by: marrying an Italian (one of his better decisions); living abroad in Spain, Italy and the US; dividing loyalties between some of the twentieth-centuries less attractive regimes (Fascist Italy and Franco’s Spain) […]

    Review: Good Italy Bad Italy February 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Good Italy Bad Italy

    Italy is a total maverick: a country of extremes that breaks all the rules of how a modern western democracy should work and yet that does work and, in many respects, works quite well. Observers from other countries, particularly from the English-speaking world have long  been fascinated by this anomaly. On the one hand, they […]

    Review: Party in the Blitz December 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Party in the Blitz

    Elias Canetti was a Bulgarian-Swiss-British writer, who wrote autobiography, a particularly twisted form of central European sociology and who penned one important modernist novel, translated into English as Auto-da-fé. He won a Nobel Prize in 1981, which is, of course, no guarantee of quality: Dario Fo and the EU did, Borges and Calvino didn’t. But […]

    Review: Imaginary Animals November 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Review: Imaginary Animals

    Any parent will know that animals are important. Children make animal sounds before they make words. They draw and paint animals. They cherish animal toys. The books they read have animal characters. They pretend to be animals. Animals, in fact, become a kind of meta-language for their experience and their emotions: Little Miss Beach has […]

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