Mamet, Monaghan and R.E.M.

After reading the UK press coverage of David Mamet’s Village Voice article about why he is no longer a liberal, one might assume that he has become a rabid right winger. I just got round to reading the article that inspired the fuss and it turns out that, in writing his enjoyable farce, ‘November’, which I saw on Broadway last month (probably the first and last time I’ll be able to write that), he learnt to appreciate the importance of the marketplace and came to some mild, entirely logical conclusions about the hypocrisy of all politicians and why having a balance of power within government is a good thing. To wit: ‘The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long. Rather brilliant.’

And rather unexceptional, but that wouldn’t have made for much of a news story.

Niki Monaghan’s second novel Starfishing is a different kettle of fish from her first, which was about life on a Nottingham council estate, but is equally autobiographical, in that she spent several years working in the city of London financial markets before doing her Creative Writing MA at Nottingham Trent. Having said that, I hope it’s not too autobiographical – you’ll know what I mean if you read it, and no spoilers here. I read some early versions of material from the book in Fiction workshops on the M.A.but her writing has evolved considerably since then and I barely recognised them in what is a pacey, very sexy, drug fuelled dazzler of a novel. No knowledge of financial markets needed. I do hope that her third novel isn’t about her Maths teaching years, though… In an interesting new angle on metafiction, ‘Starfishing”s narrator has a (fictional) blog here.

The new R.E.M., out in a fortnight, has leaked. Most of the songs are ones that they played when I saw them twice in Dublin last year and they sound great – slicker, more polished but no less energetic. ‘Horse To Water’, after two plays, remains the most thrilling number, but there are at least three other really strong ones and nothing that’s less than enjoyable. Their best album in at least a dozen years. To celebrate, here’s them playing my favourite new song in one of last year’s ‘working rehearsal’s.


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