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Pick of the paperbacks June 2023

Simon Evans makes his pick of the latest paperbacks. 

Shelia_Hancock_Old_Rage_book_front_coverOld Rage, by Sheila Hancock

Taking the form of a diary covering the years 2016-2021, Sheila Hancock’s memoir finds the actress raging against the dying of the light as she faces up to Brexit, bereavement, a challenging diagnosis and family illness, but still finding joy in the everyday as she turns 90. This new edition features up-to-date material, and finds Sheila musing on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the bizarre reign of Liz Truss and the unsettling, dangerous times we are living through.

Published by Bloomsbury Price £9.99 Pages 305 ISBN 9781526647467


Too_late_to_stop_now_more_rock_n_roll_war_stories_book_front_coverToo Late to Stop Now, by Allan Jones

The second volume of rock and roll memories from Allan Jones, former editor of Melody Maker and Uncut magazine, follows much the same format as its predecessor, Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down, a collection of hilarious, raucous tales of on-the-road excess from the front-line of music journalism’s golden age. But it’s not the memories of louche behaviour in sleazy hotel rooms with Nick Lowe and The Damned that are the real gold dust here, but Jones’s baroque descriptions of some of the people he encounters. For instance, meeting Elton John in 1974, he described the pop legend as having “the look of a pampered boy dressed by his mother for a party, possibly involving clowns,” and there’s much more in this vein, Jones skewering everyone from Bryan Ferry and the Rolling Stones to Sting and Bob Geldof.

Published by Bloomsbury Price £16.99 Pages 384 ISBN 9781448218257


Chris_Bowers_Roger_Federer_The_definitive_biography_book_front_cover.Roger Federer: The Definitive Biography, by Chris Bowers

Based on extensive interviews with those involved in the rise of this most regal of tennis stars, this is an excellent – and fully updated – overview of why this consummate ambassador for his sport was so special. Among his many accomplishments, Federer won his first junior title at Wimbledon at the age of 16, and went on to win the adult title eight times – this year’s tournament just won’t be the same without him.

Published by John Blake Price £9.99 Pages 465 ISBN ‎9781789461473



The_Monkees_made_in_Hollywood_book_coverThe Monkees: Made in Hollywood, by Tom Kemper

Belittled at the time of their creation in the mid-Sixties, as made-for-TV Help-era Beatles clones, The Monkees’ music has stood the test of time, and then some. Tom Kemper suggests, in his excellent book, that the initial snobbery surrounding the group, at least in elevated critical circles, came about because of the rise of a new rock culture based on authenticity, individual expression and idealism. The Monkees, by their very nature, were the antithesis of this, or at least seemed to be, but for Kemper that doesn’t matter – their early records – which they did not write or play on (only contributing vocals) – were no more or less manufactured than Andy Warhol’s screen prints and soap boxes, and, as such, should be celebrated as pop art in its purest form.

The Monkees were only made possible by the network of TV studios, publishing companies, recording facilities and ace session musicians around in Los Angeles in the mid-Sixties, but what made the group so interesting was how they eventually kicked against this pop production line to find their own voice and create some great, and sometimes genuinely strange, music.

Published by Reaktion Books Price £10.99 Pages 216 ISBN 9781789147070


The_Definitive_Desert_Island_discs_book_front_cover.The Definitive Desert Island Discs, by Ian Gittins

One of the BBC’s longest running and best-loved radio programmes marked its 80th anniversary with this hugely enjoyable collection of reminiscences, from Dame Judi Dench recalling her first experience of jazz in America, to Dame Edna Everage choosing her long-suffering bridesmaid Madge as her luxury item. Screenwriter Russell T Davies hit the nail on the head when he described the show’s appeal as being that it “lays open a person’s life” but in the kindest possible way – and long may it continue.

Published by BBC Books Price £12.99 Pages 478 ISBN 9781785947964 

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