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Opera North - The Little Greats

4 Nottingham Books To Read

19 September 16 words: Write Lion
If your eyeballs are feeling a little bored, fear not. We've got your back with these words about words
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The Daylight Thief
Alan Williams
£8.99 (Self-Published)
Want a book that is impossible to put down, immersive and leaves you with a renewed enthusiasm for life? Of course you do. And The Daylight Thief is everything you want in a novel. Simon Smith is trying to piece together the life of elusive Nottingham-born Jack Follows through his 200-year-old diary and discovers many parallels with his own life. A story of love, family and self-determination woven throughout our city, Simon figures out Jack’s purpose and discovers his own through this highly satisfying and unique plot. Williams makes Nottingham magical without the use of tricks or gimmicks; it is his attention to human nature and the timelessness of our dreams that allows this novel to be both heart-warming and heart-breaking. Not bad for a debut, I’m already looking forward to what he will do next, which is why I’ve had a natter with him on the latest WriteLion podcast. Stacey Wylie

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Nottingham: A History
Jill Armitage
£12.99 (Amberley Books)
When an Anglo Saxon called Snot settled in the NG, the first thing he did was lob a wall around the town and call it Snottingham. The caves were quickly converted into homes and workplaces, and thus began the oldest subterranean industries in history. Next up, the Normans built a fortified castle on the hill and we became the cock of medieval England. The following centuries would see us go from a Garden City to some of the worst slums in Europe once industrialisation sunk its teeth in. Armitage crams in a lot over 128 pages, exploring city life via trade, crime, industry and transport with a scattering of local celebs at the end. It’s factual, functional, and perfect for a pub quiz. But it lacks personality; there’s no reflection on how the past has shaped the present. For example, does our reputation as binge-drinking capital have anything to do with the caves that kickstarted the home brewing, or that novel that said it was alright to be out for a good time? Nicholas Grrl

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The Sleeping Dead
Richard Farren Barber
£1.99 (Kindle)
Jackson is on a bus heading into town. It’s taking a bit longer than usual and he starts to notice his fellow commuters are acting a bit weird. We know he’s off to a job interview, so perhaps he’s feeling a bit over sensitive this morning. That might explain the voices in his head. His nerves aren’t helped when the bus comes to a grinding halt because a suicidal man has just jumped off a bridge. And so begins Barber’s novella. It’s a captivating introduction, perfectly balancing the mundane and the extreme, and you can’t help but feel sympathy for the poor sod who just wants to get a job and get his life back on track. He manages to compose himself and make it to the interview on time, only to witness another suicide. What started out as a monotonous sketch of an ordinary life turns into a post-apocalyptic nightmare with everyone topping themsens. It’s well-paced, intriguing, but let down by an ambiguous ending. James Walker

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The Theatre of D.H. Lawrence
James Moran
£13.29 (Bloomsbury)
There’s probably been more books written about D.H. Lawrence than Hitler. But this is the first sustained study of his plays in over four decades. Lawrence’s potential as a playwright wasn’t recognised during his short life, probably because only three of his eight plays were published, and it didn’t help that cultural critic F.R. Leavis was dismissive of drama because the actors got in the way of the critical process. In this illuminating study, Moran argues DHL’s novels were suffused with theatrical thinking and authentic dialogue and that he was a modernist writer in the spirit of Brecht and Joyce. He takes Kate Millet to task for not picking up on the nuances of his writing, and highlights how Lawrence’s plays, usually set in mining communities, gave domestic drudgery “a kind of dignity” by “paying attention to the rhythms and conflicts” of everyday life. It’s elegantly written and completely accessible, a rarity from an academic, and well worth the very precise cover price. James Walker

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