Friday, 16 December 2011

Book Review: "The Space Between Things" by Charlie Hill

From the moment I learned of the existence of this first novel by an up-and-coming author (ironically, from a slagging-off it received on another site) I just knew I had to have this book.

It's only a slim volume (barely a centimetre thick), weighing in at under 200 pages. But it happens to be set in a time and place I, or somebody I once used to be, once passed through: Birmingham in the early 1990s, around the time of the Criminal Justice Bill.

Ah, Moseley, Moseley, Moseley. It's time to tell you a little bit more about Moseley. Moseley was two B&H out of town on the number 50 bus, just past the inner city, just before the 'burbs. Travelling through, it may not have seemed that Moseley could have provided much in the way of distraction ..... The houses were fronted by common or garden gardens full of flowers and flowers gone to seed and weeds that were flowering and flowering weeds. Moseley may once have been the best looking district of south Birmingham, now it was fraying round the edges, an unremarkable place.

The main protagonists are Arch, a wannabe poet who doesn't take life too seriously; Vee, a photographer who travels to the former Yugoslavia; Stripe, an up-his-own-backside activist; Sorrell, his girlfriend; and Tom, Arch's sidekick, all desperately trying to make sense of things somehow through all the drink and the drugs.

This is a bog-standard tragic love story that, as it unfolds, provides hooks on which to hang some vivid descriptions, and Hill's writing style never disappoints. The characters and the situations are palpably, scarily real. If you were there, you will remember and sigh wistfully, and perhaps wonder where it all went. If you weren't there, you'll wonder WTF?

Published by Indigo Dreams. ISBN 978-190740120-6. RRP £6.99. *****

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A moving story

It's difficult to read this story without tearing up a little: Led by the Child who Simply Knew.

Now, in case you missed it, in between all the emotional stuff, Nicole and Jonas are identical twins. That means they have exactly the same DNA. You could hardly contrive a better experiment to show that gender differences are learned, as opposed to genetic.

Friday, 9 December 2011

TV Review: "My Transsexual Summer"

This was a recent series of programmes on Channel 4. Seven mutual strangers -- four transwomen and three transmen, all at various stages on their respective Journeys -- met up for a series of weekend retreats in a beautiful house in the countryside and to explore their similarities and differences.

Now, four programmes that run to about 47 minutes each without the advert breaks is not nearly enough time to explain all the issues. Still, the "road movie" approach (where you meet the characters full-on first and then learn a bit about their respective backgrounds through situations as they unfold) seems to work quite well here.

They bonded well -- particularly touching was how Drew -- five years into womanhood -- adopted Sarah, who had begun transitioning barely a month beforehand; and how everyone rallied around to help Lewis raise money to pay for his top surgery. It was also good to see "normal" people (presumably they weren't primed off-camera beforehand) accepting the "magic tranny[*] seven" for who they were.

Though, as Max reminded us, a transperson is attacked somewhere in the world every 72 hours, by 2009 statistics.

The programmes are unfortunately no longer available from 4oD, but you might have some luck at your favourite Torrent site, or from someone who recorded them.

****. If there is going to be a follow-up anytime soon, then *****.

[*] She said it first. Please don't use this word casually unless you have been given clearance, or unless it's prefixed by "line output" and you are discussing restoration of an old television set.