Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Greater London by Nick Barratt: review
Greater London by Nick Barratt, a history of the
capital’s sprawling suburbs is flawed but highly entertaining, says Tim Lott.
A model 1930s housePhoto: Topical Press
The Telegraph 10 Dec 2012
The London suburb is as much an idea as a reality. For most people, the image
of the suburb is leafy, dull, conservative and fundamentally safe – an idea that
has been reinforced by sitcoms and cinema.
Suburbs also exist in the imagination as 19th- and 20th-century
constructions, coming to fruition between the wars with the development of
extensive road and rail links.
However, the “real” suburbs described by Nick Barratt are more nuanced and
reach back more deeply into the history of the metropolis. In fact, Barratt
makes no bones about the fact that he chooses to define the suburbs as anything
outside the original Roman city walls, noting that the word “suburb” was first
applied to settlements outside those walls as early as the Middle Ages.
This rather renders dubious his modest initial assertion that “this is a
history of the suburbs – not a broadly based history of London”. Perhaps this is
modesty, perhaps an attempt to keep a focus on the book, perhaps a device to
avoid being put up against other towering London biographers such as Peter
Ackroyd and Jerry White. Read the full review here.