Thursday, 2 January 2020
BOOK REVIEW: The Book Of Newcastle
The Book Of Newcastle
A selection of short fiction stories edited by Angela Readman
Published by Comma Press
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England's most northerly city, and once a great ship-building and coal production centre, is the focus of this collection of short stories collected and edited by Angela Readman and Zoe Turner.
As Readman's introduction to the book so rightly states, Newcastle is a city rich in culture and history, and is one that has had to constantly reinvent itself. After the closures of the ship-building and coal industries, the city fell into financial difficulties, but is now a modern, vibrant, and energising university city with a forward-looking attitude.
The book offers readers a selection of 10 short stories set in Newcastle although one doesn't need to be from the city nor know anything about the geography or socio-political climate of the area to enjoy the stories (I am from Manchester and have never been to the city). However, after reading these stories - most of them upbeat and with a positive slant - I do feel as though I have a little knowledge of the city now, and it is a good and interesting knowledge.
I have to admit I am not a huge reader, and it takes me forever to finish a book - so I hardly ever pluck up enough courage to even start. However, since my New Year's resolution was to try to be more positive about myself and challenge myself in different ways, I have started as I mean to continue; and I read the whole book in three hours... an amazing achievement for me.
The stories are long enough and detailed enough to be able to engage in and with them, but short enough not to be bored or bogged down by the kind of detail one finds in 'classic' novels and one of the reasons I had been put off reading. And of course, you don't need to do like me and read all ten straight off either. So if you have a spare ten minutes in your day, find out a little more about a city in the north of our country that has been somewhat neglected through engaging and easy-reading narrative.
The writings are all different both stylistically and thematically, and so you won't ever get bored either. It's a really lovely idea to do this, to make a book out of short stories which all have a connecting thread, and I'm very glad I agreed to read these today, they have given me the impetus to find other books which will continue to spark my interest and allow me to not be afraid of books again. (except perhaps War And Peace!)
Reviewer - Chris Benchley
on - 2/1/20