FIVE GREAT BOOKS FROM THE NORTH EAST OF ENG­LAND

The New European - - Eurofile -

THE FAR COR­NER: A MAZY DRIB­BLE THROUGH NORTH­EAST FOOT­BALL Harry Pear­son (Aba­cus, £9.99) Pub­lished in 1995, Pear­son’s ac­count of a sea­son spent watch­ing foot­ball be­tween the Tweed and the Tees is still as fresh and in­sight­ful as it ever was. From a packed St James’ Park to col­liery wel­fare grounds with barely a hun­dred peo­ple watch­ing, Pear­son’s warm, witty prose evokes the his­tory and spirit of a re­gion in a way that makes this much more than a foot­ball book.

LOV­ING GE­ORDIE An­gela Bade­noch (Pan Macmil­lan, o/p) An­drea Bade­noch’s fourth novel is a gritty, lu­cidly-writ­ten ac­count of the mur­der of two young girls in a derelict house among the slum-clear­ances of early 1960s New­cas­tle. Writ­ten as Bade­noch bat­tled the can­cer that would kill her, Lov­ing Ge­ordie demon­strates just what a loss this Ty­ne­side-born writer was to lit­er­ary crime fic­tion. Based loosely on the in­fa­mous Mary Bell case, it’s a book gallingly hard to find th­ese days, but well worth the search.

PIG IRON Ben­jamin Myers (Blue­moose Books, £7.99) If there was any kind of jus­tice Ben Myers would be waist deep in lit­er­ary awards, for his most re­cent book The Gal­lows Pole alone. His vi­sions of Eng­land and English­ness are so vivid you can prac­ti­cally smell the soil, and the Durham-set Pig Iron is a bril­liant ex­am­ple of what he does best. It’s the story of John-john, an ice-cream seller just re­leased from a young of­fend­ers’ in­sti­tu­tion and feel­ing the rest­less legs of his Trav­eller back­ground, and his bareknuckle boxer fa­ther Mac. A bril­liant and warmly hu­man por­trayal of those so­ci­ety leaves be­hind.

THE TAXI DRIVER’S DAUGH­TER Ju­lia Dar­ling (Pen­guin, o/p) An­other hard-to-find ti­tle from an­other au­thor taken too soon by can­cer, The Taxi Driver’s Daugh­ter evokes sub­ur­ban and fam­ily life in the north east in a way that should be re­quired read­ing for any politi­cian pro­fess­ing to un­der­stand the lives of or­di­nary peo­ple. Dar­ling was born in the Winch­ester house in which Jane Austen died but moved to New­cas­tle in her 20s, im­me­di­ately de­vel­op­ing an affin­ity for the city and the re­gion. This was her last book.

ECCLESIASTICAL HIS­TORY OF THE ENGLISH PEO­PLE the Ven­er­a­ble Bede (Pen­guin Clas­sics, £10.99) Writ­ten in the early 730s, this sub­jec­tive his­tory of ques­tion­ably ac­cu­rate re­search is one of the most im­por­tant works of lit­er­a­ture in English his­tory. This Bene­dic­tine monk scrib­bling away in a Jar­row monastery left us a vivid and in­valu­able ac­count of a pe­riod from which few writ­ten sources sur­vive.

For this rea­son alone Bede’s his­tory de­serves its place among the great­est works in the story of our na­tion.

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