Thursday, February 04, 2010


We're a small city, true enough, but there still isn't much in the way of good literature about Newcastle-upon-Tyne. There was Kiddar's Luck, of course, Jack Common's masterpiece - "one of the two best working-class novels of the 20th century" - Robert Westall's The Machine Gunners, and the poems that came out of Bloodaxe Books. Jack's Return Home - set in Scunthorpe and written by a Mancunian - feels like it's really about the Toon, but that's only because of the film (which really was a classic, by the way). And then there's Catherine Cookson, who I always suspected was a bit crap but haven't actually read.

I found Richard T. Kelly's The Crusaders in the Edinburgh branch of Fopp, drawn to the arch of the Tyne Bridge on the cover (ok, and the two quid price tag), and devoured the 540 pages like a bag of chips after a Saturday night out. Set in a semi-factional West End in the mid-1990s, with flashbacks to the early-80s, regeneration schemes and several cameos from the black-and-whites themselves, it has the kind of broad, generational sweep you find in the Victorian novelists. If it was a film, it'd be called Once Upon A Time in Newcastle - and Jimmy Woods and DeNiro would be queueing up for the starring roles.


Myeral said...

Sounds worth a read.

Oh, and I have read some Catherine Cookson (I'd rather not go into too much detail on that episode of my life) and she IS crap.

this too will pass said...

there are also Sid Chaplin's two Newcastle novels, The Day of the Sardine and The Watchers and the Watched.