Book: Twelve Grand Jonathan Rendall
Rendall, a boxing writer, was handed a £12,000 advance and told to gamble it and write up the results. But things didn't go to plan, and what starts as an account of a humorous gambling journey turns into a drink-addled tale of personal hell. It's highly original, brutally honest, and brilliantly written - Rendall's occasional columns on boxing, gambling and drinking in various broadsheets are always worth reading regardless of your interest in the subject matter. Subtitled 'The Gambler As Hero', the book inspired a Channel 4 series, which was also excellent and deserves a repeat on More4. You can get Twelve Grand for as little as 50p here. And you can read his brilliant recent Observer piece on tracking down his birth mother here.
CD: Give Up The Postal Service
Combining the melodic pop sensibilities of (Death Cab For Cutie's) Ben Gibbard and the electronic beats and twiddlings of (Dntel's) Jimmy Tamborello, The Postal Service is a side project that is much better than either musician's day job. I normally have an aversion to 'electronic' music, but this is something special - gems of pop songs dipped in shiny beats. Think Technique-era New Order polished up for the noughties and you're partway there. As a taster, you can see Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess's excellent video for cheery nuclear holocaust anthem We Will Become Silhouettes here. You can get Give Up here.
DVD: A Room For Romeo Brass
This Shane Meadows movie starts off with twelve year-olds Romeo and Gavin befriending grown-up loner Morell (Paddy Considine), and for the first act it could easily be an old Children's Film Foundation picture. But everything changes when Morell, obsessed with Romeo's sister, becomes unpredictable and violent. The film then revolves around a brilliantly edgy and genuinely terrifying performance from Considine - certainly living up to his reputation as a British De Niro. His final confrontation with Gavin's dad is one of the scariest and most intense movie scenes I can remember. Morell is a psychopath, but in Considine's hands you can't help feeling sorry for him. You can get the DVD for just £4.97 here.