BOOK OF SKULLS
This is a book of skulls. There are some bones in there too so maybe if Thomas was to be perfectly, titularly accurate he should have gone for Book of Skulls & Bones. But then again Hooper is one of the greatest tattoo artists currently permanently scarring people with ink out there so he can do pretty much whatever he damn well pleases thankyouverymuch. If you don’t believe us on just how good he is then go check out his blog which we’ve handily listed down there. Still, even with all of this fawning it remains a book of skulls. And bones. So if you are into pictures of either of those things this is probably the best book you’ll ever own.
This one could have gone either way as, despite being amazingly well presented, it perpetuates a single joke: that it is a tribute to a made up musical genre called ‘HAM’. Written down that doesn’t sound so funny. Maybe it isn’t and I I’ve just lost any sense of humour but I was literally falling off my chair reading the mocked up interviews and fliers for nights at places like ‘Le Porcine’ in Marseille with lineups including Wiggy Fettel and Nicky Iberico playing HMNML to baying charcuterie loving French crowds. It’s a bit like that Cake episode of Brass Eye but about pork and not on TV.
Being forced out into the wet, freezing, windy, rain sodden outdoors for indulging in the simple pleasure of slowly killing yourself has been a hardship the smoking public have been putting up with, reacting and adapting to in this country for a year and a half now. This has been ample time for Chris Leah to gallop around the UK taking shots that are hilarious, depressing and sometimes even manage to be both at once. Some of the “you’re robbing us of our rights” commentary that accompanies the images grates after a while, even as a resolute twenty-a-day guy, but there is enough here to make it well worth seeking out. Even if only to show your kids the days when you could still smoke outdoors as opposed to just in the chained casket, in a basement, below the tube lines. Oh wait, don’t cigarettes kill your chances of having kids too? Whoops.
OK, deep breath, brace yourself, are you ready? Well, I don’t want to cause any minor strokes or major heart palpitations but this a review of, wait for it, a novel. Yep, an actual work of fiction as opposed to lots of pictures. Bear with me here, I’ve not completely lost the plot. Firstly, people still read these things and some of us here do too so we thought it timely to let you know about a new novel actually worth picking up. Secondly, this particular one is by Joe Dunthorne who you may remember wrote a wholly engrossing tract for us entitled My Appetite for our 2007 annual Fiction Issue. We hate to do a big “we told you so” but Joe’s debut novel is a perfectly pitched journey through what it is actually like being young and watching everything spiral out of control. We could compare it to The Catcher In The Rye but you probably stopped reading this review after hitting the word “novel”. If you haven’t: go out and buy it. Dunthorne is a genius.
BACK II LIFE: ALPHABETICAL BEGGININGS
Theboyking & Nefatron
Okay, okay, so this one isn’t even actually a book. It is a DVD. But it looks a lot like a book and it has chapters and it is by far one of the most interesting things to land on the desk in many moons. The guys behind this thing originally set it up so that if you wanted a copy you had to go see a guy called Rajah who runs the Mimi-Mart on Bricklane but these days you can get hold of a copy from popular information superhighway interface ‘the internet’. Back II Life is essentially a DVD mixtape with footage ranging from exclusive video clips featuring the RZA, Badness, Jammer and, well, you get the idea, all the way to spending time with a guy called Herman who hangs out in Bangla town, a feature on London forward thinkers Real Gold, and interviews indie band Let’s Wrestle and an old lady called Marion who seems to live in a hairdressers. Eclectic then.