The Olivetti Chronicles

John Peel

The short article is a difficult form to master, or even manage tolerably, if the evidence of books in my collection is anything to go by. Reaching the economy of expression of Clive James' wonderful columns of TV criticism in the 70s takes practice, and if it's not your main occupation, you won't achieve it.

I think it's fair to say John Peel was not a natural writer. Margrave Of The Marshes is good - or, at least, the first half is, which is the bit Peel wrote - but it's clear that he developed slowly as a writer. Some of the later pieces here are fine, and there are amusing one-liners from all periods; he nails my opinion of Springsteen, in 1975, by observing that he "[...] offers us an enjoyable supper-club pastiche of rock's brief history, served up in West Side Story-styled tat". However, too many of the articles are rambling and inconclusive. Still, an easy read and enjoyable in parts.

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