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SRB: Marx the Poet

Scoop Review of Books Picks of the Week 9 May 08
By Jeremy Rose for the Scoop Review of Books
How different would the World have been if the young Karl Marx had followed his heart and pursued his love of literature? What if playwright David Mamet had pursued his equally passionate love of professional fighting? And the Red Ballloon flies over Paris again. All this and more in this week's SRB picks.


The Corridor of Uncertainty
CRICKET SPEAK by Justin Brown
Justin Brown’s Cricket Speak was originally brought out as Father’s Day fodder. As such it’s fine – light and amusing, capable of being knocked off in the time it takes to put on the novelty tie and eat breakfast in bed. But has it got the ability to push on into the birthday market?

Glass Figurines and a Snog Bottle

‘Kiss’ by Jacqueline Wilson
Random House (RRP $40) Reviewed by HANAHIVA and JEREMY ROSE
A Kid’s View of Kiss
Kiss is about Sylvie, a teenage girl who lives in a fantasy world with Carl, her best friend from childhood. Carl has a huge collection of glass figurines, which he and Sylvie adore. At school, Sylvie befriends Miranda, a spoilt brat with a bad reputation.

Proudly Partisan NZ History
‘NO LEFT TURN’ By Chris Trotter
Random House 2007 ($37) Reviewed by MARK DERBY
Chris Trotter’s been addressing us from a distinctly gauche perspective for a long time now, but this is his first venture into authorship. How does it stand up beside his many pronouncements in shorter and more disposable forms, and how does his courageous attempt at a wholly reconsidered history of this country compare with existing versions? In a word – triumphantly.


No doubt there are a few die-hard Marxists who can find poetry in Marx's theory of surplus value, but the ABC Book Show seems to think the world was spared yet another second rate poet and novelist when Karl decided to pursue political philosophy.

Would the phrase, "Serve the People" have taken off in China without Marx's influence? Who knows, but it did, when I taught in China in the late '80s I knew a family that included a: Serve the People, Love the People, and Fight for the People." The New York Times has a series of reviews of recent Chinese novels including one of, Serve the People by Yan Lianke.

Die Hard Marxist Hugo Chavez has the enthusiastic support of Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover. Glover isn't so sure about Obama though.

Speaking of action movies, David Mamet has just released an action flick of sorts - Redbelt. He pays tributes to the beauty of fighters in the New York Times.

The gun-loving Mamet is a fan of a particularly muscular brand Zionism - once dismissing critics of Israel by saying they wanted Jews to all be like Janusz Korczak. Korczak being the radical Polish Jewish writer, educationalist and doctor who ran a democratic orphanage in Warsaw and was later murdered along with all the orphanage kids by the Nazis.

Israeli historian Benny Morris - whose father Yakov, was ambassador to NZ in the '80s - has a new book out on the '48 war (referred to by Israelis as the war of independence and Palestinians as the Nakba - or catastrophe.)

With ANZAC day just past I was intrigued to come across this piece about ANZAC graves in Gaza and Israel.

Clavichordist David Yearsley writes entertainingly about his surprise in finding himself featuring in a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides - author of the bestselling Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides - on Counterpunch.

Finally, the red star may be setting in the East but a red balloon is flying over a Paris again. A story for lovers of the photographic children's book The Red Ballloon .

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