Book: The Ice at the Bottom of the World Mark Richard
I recommended this little book of short stories during our first Tonto creative writing course, and I'm happy to do so again today. Richards is the most dynamic writer I've ever encountered - his language and description are a delight to read. He's from Louisiana, and his stories are set in balmy bayous populated with an assortment of fascinating low-lifes. Opener 'Strays' is a fantastic introduction to Richard unique, addictive style, and 'Her Favourite Story' is as good an example of a short story as you're ever likely to see. The collection was published in 1990 (it won the 1990 Ernest Hemingway Award) and is now out of print, but, at the time of writing, Amazon's Marketplace has a few second hand copies in stock for less than a fiver. We'll be linking to all of our recommended picks at Amazon to make it easy to get hold of them. Get The Ice At The Bottom Of The World here.
CD: Nashville Josh Rouse
Josh Rouse is a gem of a singer/songwriter, and Nashville, his last-but-one CD, is probably the best introduction to his talents. A melodic treat of country-tinged classic pop songs, its a CD I've still got in heavy rotation more than two years after its release. If you want to sample a track on iTunes, try It's The Nighttime. Josh regularly visits Tonto's part of the world and is well worth seeing live. And if you like Nashville, Josh's Subtitulo, 1972, and Under Cold Blue Stars are also essential purchases. Get Nashville here.
DVD: The Wire Season One
A TV show, you say? But isn't all TV rubbish? Not when it's made by HBO it isn't. The US cable channel has already brought us The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, The Larry Sanders Show, Band of Brothers, and Ricky Gervais's Extras, but I'm here to tell you that The Wire might just be the best of the lot. A dense, uncompromising crime drama, The Wire tells the story of Baltimore's drug trade through the dual viewpoints of the police and the dealers. It's brilliantly written - almost novelistic in style - and the vast cast of characters are brilliantly realised and portrayed. If the ensemble cast has any stars, they're both British - Dominic West as flawed detective Jimmy McNulty, and Idris Elba as charismatic drug lieutenant Stringer Bell. I could go on all day about how good The Wire is, but suffice to say every single episode is better than any movie I've seen in the last two or three years. You need to start with Season One, but Seasons Two and Three are even better. Amazon are currently doing Seasons One and Two for an amazing £24.97 each - that's less than two quid an episode! You can also rent it using the same link. Get The Wire Season One here.