Dave Ablitt’s fascinating book provides an idiosyncratic look at the lives of seven Sneinton residents from forty years ago. Conceptually, it’s a fascinating idea, offering an in-depth, conversational window into the everyday lives of those whose stories might otherwise have been lost to time. But in execution, the book is even better than I had expected.
Amongst the primary strengths of Ablitt’s endlessly readable book is the diversity of his chosen interviewees. From the vicar of St Stephen’s Church, to a reformed drug addict who became an officer in the Salvation Army, a veteran of World War One, to a couple who fled the aftermath of the 1978 Iranian revolution, his subjects are consistently fascinating and varied. They share certain commonalities, as all people do, but in understanding each of their opinions, lives and dreams, Ablitt has created an intriguing, manifold human tapestry of life in 1980s Sneinton.
Reading the book, I was reminded of the Margaret Atwood quote, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” I was left wondering whether perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is not seeing how much life has changed since the eighties, but rather how many things remain the same. Ashley Carter
Doing Single Well
Doing Single Well is billed as “book [that is] different.” Offering lived experience of “single women today,” it is a guide to “living, loving and dating without compromise.” With a premise like that, I’m all for it – we should strive for the best in all areas of our lives, including who we choose to partner with. The execution of this book, however, is what puzzles me.
I will admit, when it first landed on my desk, I couldn't put it down – but this was more to do with the bewildering one liners that kept catching my eye as I flipped through the pages. Although Cribb promises to help you find fulfillment in your single life, the majority of the book is focused on dating and relationships, with some really shoddy and outdated advice. One of the most perplexing sections for me was the chapter about dating a man who is “available” – Cribb argues that being busy more than 25% of his time, or consistently putting his teenage daughter’s needs ahead of yours makes him unavailable. Odd, considering only a few chapters earlier she warns readers from never agreeing to a date less than 24 hours away, to avoid looking too… available. Another baffling segment is one that details the “top seven sexy behaviours,” which included a high-pitched voice, neat and clean grooming, and ovulation.
Big up to Trigger Publishing – donating all proceeds of their publications to global mental health charity The Shaw Mind is admirable, but unfortunately I think they missed the mark when deciding to support Doing Single Well. However, all is not lost. While I don’t think I’ll be taking tips from her any time soon, Cribb sure caused plenty of amusement for me and my colleagues. Emily Thursfield
East Wood Comics Collection
DH Lawrence has left his mark on his hometown of Eastwood, with a pub named after his scandalous novel Lady Chatterley's Lover and his very own birthplace museum. This legacy is now joined by a collaborative project involving students from Hall Park Academy in Eastwood, as well as NTU students studying either Creative Writing (BA) or Illustration (MA). The project created six volumes of comics, each containing a multitude of small stories joined together by specific themes, each inspired by a different work from Lawrence’s legacy. These range from war and pacifism to censorship and the effects of industrialisation.Comics have never been a form of literature that I have spent much time reading, however after reading the Eastwood Comic Series I may have become a convert. These comics are witty, funny and retained a clear emotion, whether that be longing, excitement or fear. Humanity is at the core of many of DH Lawrence's most famous works, and this clearly flowed from his stories into these comic books.
The use of both school-aged pupils and NTU’s students created a sense of diversity in the responses to the theme of each volume. Lawrence would often pair together people who, in the time he was writing, would not often be seen together. Usually this was people who were of a different class having romantic relationships. The unusual pairing of youthful exuberance and learned technique in the comic books offers the reader a unique insight on the effect DH Lawrence’s work has today. No longer scandalous and banned for obscenity but inspiring works that lit an imaginative response in pupil and student alike. Kate Hewett