Saturday, 6 April 2013

Review: Up The Junction by Nell Dunn

Ok, guys. I'll put my hands up. I didn't post yesterday. I had the time to, but I just didn't! I've been a bit under the weather and couldn't face looking at my computer screen. SORRY!

Back to business!

For my course we had to buy and read Up The Junction I by Nell Dunn. This book is currently out of print, but if you really want to get your hands on it then I believe abebooks ( have it on their system. I had to pay £9.99 for it as it got re-printed for our course, but it's only 133 pages long so I did not think it was physically worth the amount of money I had to pay (especially considering that we pretty much had to buy it from campus, and I ended up spending a lot of money on course books this term).

The book is a series of vignettes on life living in the east end of London in the mid sixties. This book is littered with cultural references from the time which distinctly plant in within it's location (which is great), so we get random songs lyrics, references to the 'H-Bomb' and WW2 (austerity was only just ending in Britain in the late 50's), as well as a casual attitude to sex, rape, racism, homosexuality that just SCREAMS sixties. The main body of the vignettes is dialogue, and it is rare that the reader is aware of which character is speaking, however this dialougue is punctated with brillliant description. All of the vignettes are loosely narrated by the same character, and unamed Chelsea heiress who is living with these cockney girls (it is never explained quite how this situation came about). Her status as an outisder is made very much aware of, particularly in the first two stories, and for me that helped me as a reader identify more with the somewhat alien world of the book.

This is my second reading of the book, and I believe it an a better informed, more critical review than if I had written one straight off (which I did on my goodreads, and it is a lot more negative). I enjoyed this book a lot more the second time, perhaps because I could see the point in reading it a bit more. I had to re-read this for revision, but I'm very glad I did.

Although this book is meat ot be read in its individual sections (I belive it was originally published as a collumn in a newspaper), I found it much more enjoyable to read it in long bursts as I got into the flow of the narrative better and I connected more with the voice of the text. Equally I think the last two thirds of the vignettes are better than the first, although that could be for the reason stated above (I needed the time to get into it). I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book, but if it comes up on your course syllabus or you spot it for a couple of quid then its worth a read.

I gave it 3 sunbeams.

Hopefully I'll write tomorrow, but I'm exhausted now so lord knows what I'll be like after work!

Best Wishes!


PS. If you have an books you'd like me to review, please leave a comment, or if there's anything you'd like me to write about then drop me a line!

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