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Some recent reviews by MM

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  • Michael Moorcock
    Site Host
    • Dec 2003
    • 14278

    Some recent reviews by MM

    I wasn't sure where to post these, continuing my habit of putting up reviews after they've appeared in various newspapers and magazines.
    http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/s...757894,00.html

    This was rather badly cut for some reason. Only time Guardian has done that to a piece of mine. Rather messes up the argument:

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/s...733486,00.html

    Here's the original:

    COCKNEY IN TRANSLATION

    The New East End
    Kinship, Race and Conflict
    By Geoff Dench, Kate Gavron and Michael Young
    Profile Books, Price?, 265pp
    Too Many Mothers
    A memoir of an East End Childhood
    By Rachel Taylor
    Atlantic Books
    16.99 245pp

    __________________________________________________ ______________________

    ANYONE EXPECTING London’s contemporary East End to be like the TV soap opera would have a surprise strolling down today’s Brick Lane. The soap is peopled by cockney stereotypes from the last century. Oldsters talk fondly of the Blitz to crooks with hearts of gold. Who can believe that inhabitants of Walford, living in terraced houses worth half-a-million, should ever know a moment’s financial worry? We watch the series much as we read W.Pett Ridge or Arthur Morrison, whose Edwardian London is actually much closer to the TV series. The only family from the Indian sub-continent was phased out of Albert Square; the only regular black faces belong to two loveable old West Indian immigrants and a couple of essentially white stereotypes (Gus the Crossing Sweeper and Jules the wide-boy). My familiar Cockney-Jewish East End has given way either to Bangladeshi working poor, speaking an English as rich and strange to the suburban ear as Cockney used to be, monied City types or, most recently, Russian mafiosi, whose global operations make the Krays look like provincial amateurs.
    I have children living in the new East End. One daughter had to learn Bengali in order to teach effectively in Tower Hamlets. My son, married to a middle-class professional of Jamaican origin, runs a culturally diverse pre-school nursery. Their friends are drawn from every social and racial group in London and their experience, profoundly multicultural though definably English middle class, is considerably different from mine, though I lived in Notting Hill when it was still considered a dangerous area full of poor immigrants.
    While I celebrate this transition in my fiction, my own roots remain in London’s white, lower middle class culture, celebrated in The Likes of Us, Michael Collins’s recent book about his Southwark family, which referenced Dunn’s Up The Junction. That old world can also be found in actress Roberta Taylor’s engrossing memoir Too Many Mothers, though even she had an Uncle Korim who taught her to say salaam alaikum. She must have felt odd appearing on a time-warped East Enders. In her memoir people dine regularly off pie and mash and are scandalised when their sisters have brown babies, yet the frustrations, warmth and continuity shared by generations of mothers, sisters and daughters is pretty much the same as Monica Ali describes in Brick Lane while the ‘Benglish’ used by East Ender Tony White for his marvellous Foxy T is as vividly expressive as the yiddish-flavoured cockney of my own generation.
    The East End of 17th century merchants still exists where it escaped Hitler’s bombs and Thatcher’s developers. Houses of Jewish shopkeepers remain off Brick Lane. In Rodinsky’s Room, Sinclair and Lichtenstein found Princelet Street and a small synagogue behind a house originally used by Huguenot weavers. Sinclair, of course, remains the area’s greatest living recorder, celebrating its revivifying immigration while urgently warning against conglomerate developers. The tsunami of exploitation accelerated horribly once London won the Olympics site. Even as fresh groups of immigrants bring their own cultural identity to East London, the developers threaten it in a way no well-meaning blanket funders or Mosleyite fascists ever could.
    That said, The New East End is a wonderfully readable study of its subject, carrying some of the approachable flavour of the best Mass Observation Penguins of the thirties and forties and intended to chart social change as it occurred. The authors discuss the difference between old and new Bethnal Green and Spitalfields, using Michael Young’s and Peter Willmot’s Family and Kinship in East London as their main comparison. That was the first major study from the Institute of Community Studies in 1957 and remains a classic, though later sociologists found it distorted and sentimental. Nonetheless, the study survived sociological fashions as thoroughly as the East End itself. While The New East End has a similar emotional investment, it flags a new kind of change involving gentrification and property development and tensions between Pakistani and white neighbours which its predecessor could not anticipate.
    Even though I’d happily see a London stretching from Oxford to Folkstone, I share this anxiety, not from conservative nostalgia, but because the threatened sub-culture, enduring and benefitting from many transitions, represents a currency of memory, identity and political power. Its loss to London would attack the depth and balance of our national narrative. Our rich inheritance would be replaced by a commercial heritage industry substituting a sentimentalised and corrupted version of what it destroys. The layered memory of the East End, which so profoundly moves Peter Ackroyd, might soon only be accessed through valuable semi-academic accounts like this one.
    Family and Kinship mourned the death of an old cockney chirpiness, yet it’s easy to detect similar qualities in the defiant cadences of Benglish. Traditional trades still flourish in Bethnal Green and Spitalfields. Livings are still made from food and clothing as well as electronics and therefore the new communications industry. Ambitious parents still seek to educate their children through public educational institutions which, by 1900, had already produced one generation of professionals, artists and intellectuals.
    But this new East End is now seriously threatened by the vestiges of a colonial logic encouraging xenophobia and racialism, still useful to the new imperialists, the developers with a financial interest in disempowering existing cultures. The enemy is identified by its characteristic impatience with history. Where government serves such forces, it has a common aim in denying or sentimentalising history and cultivating a self-interested amnesia.
    If it is the responsibility of our nation’s representatives to preserve our memory and dignity as well as our material wealth, then government is clearly failing in its duty. One understands from The New East End’s descriptions of Bengali families and their clashes with earlier cultures how neighbours too frequently turn against one another rather than against the common threat. Left to themselves Londoners intermarry and mix sturdy bloodlines as thoroughly as they mix culture and religion. Stronger, they are able to promote change which benefits them and resist that which attacks them. The East End does not need to stay poor, but these days it certainly can’t afford not to be proud.

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

  • Peasily
    Corsair of the Second Ether
    • Feb 2005
    • 80

    #3
    The Guardian edit is definately puzzling to me, compared to your original.

    Comment

    • Michael Moorcock
      Site Host
      • Dec 2003
      • 14278

      #4
      Yeah, it's the only time they did that and it baffled me a bit, since I thought my argument was perfectly good and they rather hacked it to bits. Not like them.

      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

      Comment

      • Governor of Rowe Island
        Orgone Accumulator
        • Aug 2004
        • 5266

        #5
        Her Fuchs is probably ahead of me, but I think your reviews deserve a thread of their own, as so many are still available online. Saying that though, I don't have a clue which forum they should be in.
        You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

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        Image Hive :-: Wikiverse :-: Media Hive

        :-: Onsite Offerings :-:


        "I am an observer of life, a non-participant who takes no sides. I am in the regimented society, but not of it." Moondog, 1964

        Comment

        • Michael Moorcock
          Site Host
          • Dec 2003
          • 14278

          #6
          The Financial Times

          Can't seem to start a new thread. I had a diary column in The Financial Times for Sat 27th October 07 in which I talk about flat hunting in Paris and the problems of healthcare in Texas and a review of London Lights in The Daily Telegraph, about some of the great innovators of the early 19th century in London.

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

          Comment

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