4 Books To Read Over The Festive Period

Monday 02 January 2017
reading time: min, words

One year ago, Nottingham became a UNESCO City of Literature. Since then, creative writing courses have been closed down, the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre has been sold off, and the fate of the Central Library lies in the hands of a property developer. Offsetting this is the Festival of Literature, the Line of Light installation on Station Street and, most importantly of all, the authors who keep banging out beautiful books...

The Lord of Milan
Robert Nieri
£10 (Self-published) 

So who’d have thunk it? The founder of bleddy AC Milan is from Nottingham. Born in that peeling, derelict blue-fronted shop in Mansfield Road between what is now Royal Thai and the offie. Herbert Kilpin was one of fifteen kids born into a butcher’s family; he played footy on the Rec, got a job in the local lace industry, all before heading off to a new life in Italy and founding one of the world’s greatest football teams. He also died at 46 from a smoking and drinking related illness, which makes him proper Manny Road. Nieri’s book weaves a delicate path through the little information known about Kilpin’s life. This is half-biography, half-novel, including speculative guest appearances from the likes of Watson Fothergill and JM Barrie, both of whom were residents in the city at the same time as Herbert. As a first stab at a novel, it’s a well-written, enjoyable read full of local insight. Glen Parver

Christmas Comes to Nottingham
Kipper Williams
£6.99 (Amberley)

Kipper Williams’ cartoons have been delighting us for years. They can be found in greetings cards, Private Eye, and the best broadsheets. This 64-page collection takes Christmas as its subject but often broadens out into wider social issues, many of which satirise consumerism. Santa’s dumping presents in landfill with the caption “He’s cutting out the middle man.” Saturday shoppers make their way up an escalator past floors labelled “Stuff you’ve already got”, “Stuff you don’t need” and “Stuff you don’t really want”. The cartoons are funny and provocative, but I don’t see what they have to do with Nottingham. Although the front cover has a sketch of the Council House, there are no local references inside. If anything, it should be called ‘Christmas Comes to London’ as the Gherkin appears in the background more than once. The collection is guaranteed to amuse and distract you for five minutes. But like all Crimbo prezzies, it could do with a bit more love. James Walker

Clough and Walker
Don Wright
£20 HB (Amberley) 

Brian Howard Clough, born 21 March 1935. He would go on to take us to two consecutive European Cups, clout a few fans for running onto his pitch, and entertain us as a pundit with his acerbic wit. In April of the same year, Billy Walker notched up his first piece of silverware as manager of Villa. Four years later he took up residence at the City Ground, delivering the FA Cup in 1959 and becoming our longest serving manager after a 21-year stint. Don Wright, the honorary historian of Forest, explores their respective careers, drawing out the similarities and differences in just under 200 pages. It’s thoughtful, informative and an absolute page turner. Billy Walker has largely lived in Clough’s shadow, so this is an important book in redressing the balance of their respective successes. But Wright is also keen to point out they managed in different times, which must be taken into consideration when evaluating the plight of our current eleven. James Walker

Dawn of the Unread
James Walker/Paul Fillingham
£14.99 (Spokesman Books) 

Dawn of the Unread started life a few years ago as an online serial featuring dead writers from Nottingham’s past. Since then, it’s taken on numerous incarnations: a flashmob, YouTube videos, an app, a Guardian Education Award, and now, a 190-page glossy book. The illustrations are broad-ranging, from Judit Ferencz’s woodcuts to the fine line drawings of Eddie Campbell. The narrative style meanders between poetry, a gallows ballad, reportage and fiction, offering something for all readers. Featuring rebel writers Lawrence and Sillitoe, as well as the mythological hybrid ‘Byron Clough’. There are also cameo appearances from Lord Biro, the Fish Man, ‘Nottingham’s most opinionated greengrocers’ the Thompson Brothers, and Blakey from On the Buses. Thanks to character biogs and further reading suggestions, it’s fun, varied and informative. This is possibly the first time a city’s entire literary history has been told through this medium. You don’t get more Notts than this. Sam Smith

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