VIEWS FROM WEST PID

What fires up our imaginations to write and draw stories for this dog blog? Everything and anything, really. Read on…

Muttwits top PAW picks for 2020 in books, movies and music + my worldwide influencer of the year:

Muttwits howl for book of the year:

The art of writing:  as a professional writer for some 30 odd years this is the one area I can honestly claim to have any sensible and relevant comment.  Furthermore, as an avid reader, books are my one entertainment that are almost as fulfilling as walking the dog. And during the Covid lockdown I’ve done a lot of both this year! But I’ve flummoxed mesself and can’t choose between these two super up-and-trotting young writers.  Wow! Can these chaps can write or wot!  Leaving my scribblings a faint trail of dust in the rearview mirror…

August by Callan Wink (2020)

  • Hardcover : 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1847088104
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1847088109
  • Publisher : Granta Publications Ltd (2 July 2020)

When August’s parents’ marriage falls apart and he has to start over in a new town, he tries hard to be an average teen but he struggles to form friendships. [An] act of violence pushes him off course once more and he flees to rural Montana, throwing himself into work on a ranch. Beautifully written and unfolding against an epic American landscape, August is a compelling, authentic and poignant story of the joys and traumas that irrevocably shape us all. (courtesy Amazon.com)

My take: Callan Wink is considered by those (wot knows best) the new John Steinbeck of Generation Z.  Not sure if I would go that far…his succinct and refreshingly sparse writing is a joy to read (yes, Steinbeck), but I think his gritty, amusing and take-no-prisoners dialogue defines him as a modern Larry McMurtry.  For instance, there is a fair bit of hilarious phone banter between August and his dad on the weekly weather forecast.  Worth reading just for that!

Wotever (and wot do I know!) this book is an important read if you think you know mid-West America, or you want a better understanding of how rural working people live their lives. 


The Dig by Cynan Jones (2020)

  • Paperback : 176 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1847088805
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1847088802
  • Publisher : Granta; UK ed. Edition (6 Nov. 2014)

The Dig is a visceral indictment of the continuities between the use and abuse of animals, and a meditation on the casual violence of ordinary men. There’s something of John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy and the Old Testament to this short, sharp, brutal and bewitching tale… Beauty and barbarity, tenderness and heartlessness are mixed in prose that reads like stark poetry. Jones has hewn an earthy, flinty language. (courtesy Amazon.com)

My take: how the dog-dammit did I miss this writer for six years!  A British take on rural farming life and definitely not for the squeamish. Jones writes with a brevity and sparseness that shrinks description, dialogue and exposition to the barest minimum.  A tragic, dark story of two men confronting one another on the uplands of remote North Wales.  Best read listening to some heavy metal.


Muttwits howl for movie of the year:

courtesy IMDb

Another Round (2020) – directed by Thomas Vinterberg

There is a theory that man is born with half a per mille too little. That alcohol in the blood opens the mind to the outside world, problems seem smaller and creativity increases. We know it well; after the first glass of wine, the conversation lifts, the possibilities open up. Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in their blood.  (courtesy IMDb)

My take: Who doesn’t love Mads Mikkelsen – a brooding Danish actor that came to fame as a Bond villain in Casino Royale; who subsequently has made a showreel of thoughtful and intelligent indie films in both Hollywood and his native Copenhagen.  In Another Round he portrays an intelligent and sensitive man suffering a mid-life crisis with alcohol being the only answer.  Both funny and tragic all at once – this film is a very late entry to the year…and is also the highlight.

My shout for 2020’ best movie. And after this year who doesn’t need to drown themselves in alcohol!  Four Paws and next round on me…


Muttwits howl for album of the year:

courtesy Nuclear Blast

Band: As I Lay Dying (title) Shaped By Fire (2020)

  • Manufacturer reference : 615155
  • Label : Nuclear Blast
  • ASIN : B07W8LLRB5

Flames fuel rebirth. In the wake of the conflagration, future possibilities flourish out of the ashes. Reigniting a brotherhood dating back nearly two decades, As I Lay Dying rise together on their seventh full length album, the aptly titled, ‘Shaped By Fire’. (courtesy Amazon.com)

My take:  hardcore metal from a band that hadn’t produced any new work for 20 years due to personal tragedy.  But what a return to form! Devastating, compelling, and thunderous. Every track reaffirms that this metal outfit have suddenly returned and set the bar impossibly high.  For those who are into metal you will get what I mean.  For those who aren’t…just give it a chance to let this wonderful music speak for itself.


Muttwits howl for worldwide influencer of the year:

We are strongly motivated by people who break the mold and stand up for what they passionately believe in. 

Lewis Hamilton (7 times Formula 1 World Champion) and advocate of Black Lives Matter

A young man of mixed race from a council estate in England.  A passion for motorsports from the age of 5yrs.  Thirty years later the most successful sportsman in his field since the great Jim Clark. To reach the pinnacle of this most demanding motor racing formula is a huge achievement.  But to achieve it in a universe dominated by rich, privileged, white males is taking said achievement to a way more important level altogether.  I have followed Lewis since the early 2000s, but my own (fetish) for the sport dates back to the mid-70s when I used to sneak over the railings at Silverstone in the middle of the night to hide at the trackside for the race the following day – coz I was a young and totally skint (penniless) teenager who couldn’t afford the entrance fee.  In the early 80s I found myself in the same wine bar as James Hunt – we were the only two there.  He graciously invited me to his table and we polished off a couple of bottles of pain thinner together. A real gentleman and not at all like he’s been portrayed.  In them days James was my hero.  But today it is Lewis, this impressive young man who is providing everyone with a Masterclass on how to win and behave as a gentleman Champion.

Consider the fact that he is a man of colour in a white-washed sport – so I understand to a small degree his fight against racism and how he has firmly buried it by winning, winning, and winning again.  You see, I was a left-handed, red-headed oik with a dyslexia and speech impediment until age 12.  So, I understand all about being spurned by my peers and considered less than them thru no fault of my own.  But I overcame it all – and I respect Lewis all the more for how he came to overcome many years of being spurned (because of colour FFS!) until he had nothing left to prove.

So, Lewis you are a total legend, and we luvs yu yer muttwit, and we luvs yer muttwit Roscoe.  Hope we can bump snoutz one day.  Snifz Yu!

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