Red Laal Review – Yorkshire Post

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While this is the second book to feature anti-hero drug dealer Kilo from MY Alam, the great beauty of it is that it works as a stand-alone piece, yet you can almost feel the predecessor adding weight to the story. Red Laal is a fine novel, that stands tall on its own, but even if you haven’t read the previous book, Kilo, you can sense this latest book exists in a greater universe than the one you see on the page in front of you.

MY Alam is the pen name of Bradford university lecturer Yunis Alam. That he grew up in Bradford and knows the city like the back of his hand is enormously evident in Red Laal. A previously published academic work by Alam, Made in Bradford, in which he conducted no-holds-barred interviews with some of the city’s young Asian men is also evidenced in the book, so rich and deep is the texture of the world Kilo inhabits. Sometimes it feels as though you can touch the fabric of the world Alam has created.

Kilo is a drug dealer who has a conflict at his centre. He has a strong moral backbone that makes selling drugs troublesome for him. He doesn’t live in opulence with the earnings from his trade – which he clearly could do with more rigour and efficiency if he wanted to – but just earns enough to get by.

With a reputation for being a man who can ‘fix things’ he is called upon to help an ‘uncle’ rescue his daughter who has been led into a life of vice. Kilo taking on the job of helping the girl is the story’s first hint that the drug dealer may have something good at heart.

Helping the girl sets off a series of events that lead Kilo into ever more dangerous territory and a voyage of discovery.

A story that absolutely races along and grips like a vice, Pontefract-based publishers Route deserve credit for publishing this book so handsomely and Alam for creating a piece of work that is utterly shot through with authenticity.

Review by Nick Ahad in Yorkshire Post

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Inspiral Carpets Appreciation Society Review

Review of Carpet Burns by Wendy Gabriel for Inspiral Carpets Appreciation Society.

Tom’s book about his life as the singer of the Oldham 5 piece is a real eye-opener, and takes you on a real rollercoaster of the ups and downs of being in a band at the heart of the Manchester music scene.

Setting the backdrop at the very beginning of his Oxford based childhood, brought up by his strict, and unemotional father it sets out that whereas Tom was always the middle class Southerner, the other lads in the Inspirals were Northern and working class.

The autobiography traces his early days with Too Much Texas up until he auditioned (beating Noel Gallagher to the prize) for our favourite garage band.

The Inspirals set up their own label, Cow Records , and also signed to Mute in 1989, and this book tells the tale of their early days, peaking with playing Manchester’s Gmex in 1990 and playing all over the world.

Tom entices the reader with humorous tales, such as their spat with the Happy Mondays who called them ‘Clueless knobheads’, their many drunken pranks and also heartfelt moments such as when Tom gave free tickets to sold out shows to eager fans.

One of the highlights of this book are the origins of the awesome songs they wrote. Who knew the sprightly ‘Caravan’ was all about Nazi Death Marches that concentration camp inmates were subjected to?

Tom honestly opens his diary to all on tours of the U.S, Germany, Belgium, Spain and other European countries which made interesting and detailed reading of the minutae of life on the road, right down to the meals they ate in different cities and different characters they met along the way.

Not shy in exposing the gritty reality of being in a band, Tom writes of problems they had with their manager’s extravagant spending sprees, the intricate difficulties they had with the taxman, and when it all started going pear-shaped after Mute dropped them along the same time they had no publishing contract either.

The last few pages when Tom parted company with the band are written particularly emotively and leave a lump in the throat but ever the survivor, Tom bounces back with new band the Lovers.

A memorable frontmen, a great singer, and now an accomplished author.

Guenter Langer Reviews Red Army Faction Blues

Ada Wilson traces the deeds of secret service informer and agent provocateur Peter Urbach, a historic figure of the Sixties, and Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green’s unusual decision to retreat from his music career. Urbach infiltrated the radical communes in Berlin. The communards, mostly of bourgeois background, saw in him a rare species of the proletariat who helped them to repair things in their dwellings. Additionally Urbach provided them with Molotov cocktails, pistols, and fire bombs. One of those fire bombs found its way into the Jewish Center of Berlin, however without exploding.

After the arrest of Horst Mahler, the founder of the Red Army Faction, Germany’s infamous guerilla group, Urbach had to make a statement in court, finally revealing his true identity as a secret service agent. After his court appearance he feared for his life and his employer, the secret service, sent him into retirement, secretly to California where he died 30 years later.

Peter Green visited the most famous communards, Rainer Langhans and super model Uschi Obermaier, in Munich where the two were in the process of creating a pop company, the Highfish Commune. It is said that Green went on an LSD trip while with them which triggered his retreat from Fleetwood Mac and from the music business altogether.

Wilson lets the reader see the 68 radicals through the eyes of the secret service informer. Urbach, however, was not only effective in observing the left-wing scene in Berlin and pushing them into violent acts, but he was also somehow impressed by the lifestyle of his targets. He developed a crush on Uschi Obermaier and he learned to like the music he heard in the communes, in particular he became obsessed with Peter Green. He even found a way to get an interview with Green in order to find out why Green had disappeared in obscurity…

This review by Guenter Langer of Red Army Faction Blues was posted on Amazon.com

Resonances with the Occupy Wall Street movement

Review of Red Army Faction Blues in Publishers Weekly.

British author Wilson (Very Acme) brings the tumult of 1967 West Berlin vividly to life in this intriguing period thriller. The West German Protection of the Constitution Office assigns operative Peter Urbach to infiltrate the radical student socialist group, SDS, which has been protesting American involvement in Vietnam. To combat the disorder in the streets, the city’s leaders are contemplating reintroducing the Emergency Laws, last imposed under the Nazis in 1933, which would curtail freedom of movement and privacy of communication. Wilson sensitively explores Urbach’s ambivalence as he doesn’t hesitate to betray his new comrades even as he shares their vision of inventing “a new and original world in which imagination would seize power.” The full implications of Urbach’s actions and the role of Fleetwood Mac member Peter Green play out in sequences set in 1989. Resonances with the Occupy Wall Street movement make this novel’s themes timely.