Book Reviews – November 2018
by Elizabeth Kay
Elizabeth Kay offers Sussex Living readers her thoughts on recent reads that have caught her attention. She gives her views on a selection of books from different genres which may capture your interest
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
by Maurice Sendak
This book first came out more than fifty years ago, and the illustrations were a major talking point because they were stylish and modern without being whimsical. The text is simple yet sophisticated, and gets to the heart of what all youngsters feel – wouldn’t life be great if nobody had the right to tell me what to do? Max has been told off by his mother for behaving like a wild animal when he puts on his wolf suit, so he’s sent to bed without any supper. (You could do that sort of thing fifty years ago without someone reporting you to the social workers.) Max sails away in his imagination to the land where the Wild Things are, and he prances around being as wild as he likes and becomes their king. But you can get too much of wildness, and in the end he decides to go back home to his own bedroom. This book is a classic, and timeless. The pictures are unique, beautiful and evocative, yet they have that touch of anarchy which all children crave in small doses. It’s the kind of book you treasure until it either falls apart, or you pack it safely away for your grandchildren.
by Kit Wharton
I had assumed this book was written to cash in on This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (Picador), but actually it was published first. It doesn’t have the style or expertise of the other book – although the author did spend ten years as a reporter – but it is an honest account of a job that has become slightly glamorised through TV programmes such as Casualty. It’s an easy read, and although some of it is very funny other parts are moving and sad. There are graphic accounts of some truly awful cases, interspersed with time-wasters who are sometimes amusing and sometimes utterly infuriating. Kit Wharton is a not a paramedic, he’s an ambulance driver, and this is the diary he wrote from 2003. There are also autobiographical memoirs of a rather dysfunctional but entertaining childhood which can be very amusing, as can some of the call-outs. The hoaxes, resulting in high- speed journeys that can be dangerous in themselves, only to discover that the caller is ‘the local nutter. The police recognise the number.’ The overwhelming feeling, though, like so many roles in the NHS, is of a job that is utterly exhausting but very rewarding.
IF ONLY THEY DIDN’T SPEAK ENGLISH: NOTES FROM TRUMP’S AMERICA
by Jon Sopel
Jon Sopel is a familiar face and has been the BBC’s North America Editor since 2014. He covered the 2016 presidential election at first hand, and will be remembered for Trump’s reaction to him at his first news conference: “Which news organisation are you from?” “BBC News.” “Here’s another beauty,” says Trump, having lashed out at the media for half an hour. “That’s a good line,” responds Sopel gamely. “We are free, impartial and fair.” “Yeah. Sure.” “Mr President…” “Just like CNN, right?” says Trump sarcastically. Sopel’s book isn’t just about his run-ins with Trump, though. He digs much deeper than that, and attempts to show – rather well, I fancy – the fundamental differences in attitude between the USA and the UK. The USA is all for personal responsibility, and good neighbourliness to get through the hard times. The UK believes the state should step in when people can’t cope. I had never really understood this, but it’s a profound dissimilarity with far-reaching implications. It puts the result of the election into context, and makes understanding what has happened across the pond a little bit easier, if not any more digestible.