Emily Berry, Stranger, Baby

Can Emily Berry’s second collection of poems live up to the impossibly-high standard of her first? Oh yes.

What’s The Book? Stranger, Baby by Emily Berry

What’s It All About, JG? It’s the follow-up to Berry’s first volume, Dear Boy (reviewed here). Published in 2017, Stranger, Baby is a deeply personal, lonely and melancholic piece that reflects on the death of the author’s mother and how she comes to terms with it – or indeed if she can and has. While Berry’s first collection covered a wide range of different types of relationship – from the personal to the clinical, from the human to the inanimate – the focus in Stranger, Baby is much tighter and, perhaps, even fixated as Berry uses poetry as a medium for dealing the loss of such a pivotal figure in her life. That it is a deeply affecting piece pretty much goes without saying, but – as is often the hallmark of writing this good – it can be hard to explain just how powerful the work is when not actually sitting down and reading it.

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Billy Connolly, Windswept And Interesting: My Autobiography

Billy Connolly puts pen to paper to give up his autobiography, but will the writing be as windswept and interesting as the man himself?

What’s The Book? Windswept And Interesting: My Autobiography by Billy Connolly

What’s It All About, JG? It’s an autobiography, so I have a feeling you can probably figure it out. Anyway, as you would expect, it’s a rambling amble through the life of Scotland’s best-loved comedian, one Sir William Connolly, told partly through anecdotes and partly through sketches and stories (and some very tall tales) from various live performances. It covers Billy’s life up until basically now – even the Pandemic gets a mention – and gives the former welder, folk musician and generally windswept and interesting person the chance to look back over a life of unexpected yet greatly embraced success.

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Phil Wang, Sidesplitter

What’s The Book? Sidesplitter: How To Be From Two Worlds At Once by Phil Wang.

What’s It All About, JG? It’s a not-exactly-a-memoir book that addresses a bunch of topics that stand-up comedian Phil Wang feels the urge to write about – food, comedy, culture and so forth. The book is divided into ten chapters, each dealing with a relevant topic, as Wang explores each one in his own rather rambling but appealing style. Ranging anywhere between the serious to the extremely silly, Wang takes each subject and devotes his attention to it in his own inimitable style.

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Dear Boy, Emily Berry

What’s The Book? Dear Boy, by Emily Berry

What’s It All About, JG? It’s a debut collection of poetry, first published in 2013, by Emily Berry, a short series of poems which vary greatly in style and tone, capturing the moods and passing moments of a variety of lives lived across all of the pieces. It’s also a deeply beguiling piece, at times almost painfully intimate and revealing, which dives into the emotions, motivations and lives lived of its characters, sometimes straightforwardly but usually fractured through the lens of the world, straying into a number of different, subjective worlds – emotional, personal and deeply felt. Throughout it all, Berry’s distinctive, skilled voice remains our guide as we weave in and out of the rich, complex and, yes, sometimes funny conditions of life.

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