Funny Girl – Nick Hornby

Winning the Miss Blackpool competition is not enough for Barbara Parker, who dreams of fame and holds Lucille Ball as an idol; she navigates her innocent life from her hometown to London, in search of stardom. As she meets and charms a host of diverse characters, they share their goals, fight over conflicting feelings, and together, create a TV series.

Funny Girl is an insightful account of the lives of a delightful bunch. In their personal lives, jealousies, secret longings and uncertainties, their endearing and flawed qualities are revealed. Historical facts and photographs firmly establish the novel in 1960’s London. Through real-life politicians and events, advertisements and a cartoon strip, Hornby recreates an era.

 

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Dispatches – Michael Herr

A compelling account of war, capturing the normalities and nightmares of the American soldiers, as reported by war correspondent Michael Herr. Originally written as front line notes for Esquire Magazine, Dispatches is a searing and subjective reflection of the Vietnam War.

Much of Dispatches highlights the futility of many missions, the significance that was placed on ‘kill counts’ and the damaging and captivating effects on the minds of men. It emphasises the distinguishing environment that the men are placed in and draws attention to the chaos and confusion of war.  Powerful and honest snippets of conversation, abundant in slang and racial tension, draw on soldiers coping mechanisms and humour to illustrate a candid image of military life in South East Asia at this time.

Herr’s internal monologue is established by a myriad of 1960’s pop culture references along with heavy doses of philosophy. Whilst some of his thoughts and feelings relate cruel behaviours to the soldiers, they are alongside many stories of compassion and bravery and Herr clearly equates both to the context and setting of the war.