Facebook Twitter Pinterest Patria’s success has overflowed the narrow confines of the literary world and seeped into much of Spanish society. Photograph: HBOBut it also explores Basque culture and society, and chronicles many of the huge changes in Spain over recent years, from the end of Eta to the advent of same-sex marriage.
* Shazia Mirza’s 2017 comedy tour starts in Bath on 19 January.
The Plague and I by Betty MacDonaldChosen by Lissa Evans
“I had braced myself for a year-long stay; these casual mentions by other patients of staying two, three or even five years, made me feel as though I had just finished a hearty dinner and then been informed by my laughing hostess that she had canned those funny-tasting oysters herself.”
In 1937, Betty MacDonald, a divorcee living in Seattle, contracted tuberculosis. In 1948, after the enormous success of her first book, The Egg and I – about living on a chicken farm – she wrote a second, entitled The Plague and I, about her experiences in a sanatorium. Thomas Mann it ain’t, but while I’ve read The Magic Mountain once, The Plague and I has been a constant companion since I discovered it as a teenager.
It’s like a conversation between someone who is forgetting to breathe and another who keeps asking “what happened next?”
Lissa EvansSeparated from her large, loud, loving family, placed on a regime of total bed-rest, perpetually cold (part of the “cure” was having all of the windows open, all of the time), hovering between loneliness, terror and utter boredom, MacDonald writes about her seclusion in a way that is painfully, barkingly funny. “I lay there, remembering the year we had sat at the Thanksgiving dinner table for four hours listening to a deservedly lonely man from Mary’s office recall every bridge hand he had held since 1908 …”
Her style is completely her own, the sprawling sentences packed with anecdote, incident, bang-on simile and throwaway wit – it’s like overhearing a conversation between someone who keeps forgetting to breathe and another who keeps asking “and what happened next?”
So, my panacea for teclado tfue amazon 40 years has been a funny book about chronic illness. Fingers crossed it keeps working …
But were he alive today, Oscar Niemeyer would probably be horrified at the thunderbolt the country’s current leaders are hoping to inflict on three of his most spectacular creations in the futurist capital he helped build.
It didn’t end there. Owens’s story was so fantastically feel-good that it soon leaked outside the metal community. In 1997, New York Times journalist Andrew C Revkin interviewed Ripper for an article headlined “Metal-Head Becomes Metal-God”. The day after publication, Revkin was contacted by film producer Robert Lawrence. Ripper’s adventure, Lawrence reckoned, was crying out for the Hollywood treatment. Revkin duly signed on as a creative consultant. The wheels were in motion.
A sudden need for a dinner seasoned with tradition and nostalgia. I pick up lumps of oxtail from the butcher’s, a jumble of bones with deep maroon meat marbled with cream-coloured fat. I cook them with sweet roots and ribs of celery, letting the heat of the oven do the work. There is red wine and beef stock, tufts of thyme and twigs of bay and I serve it in the casserole in which it is cooked, with a mash of swedes and a flat, crisp cake of potatoes. The dinner is a dry-run for Burns Night, the sort of food to set us up for wine and whisky and song.
In Rock Star, “Izzy” Cole becomes disillusioned when the band treats him as its puppet and refuses to let him write his own material. In real life, too, Judas Priest appears content to limit Ripper’s input to the vocals. There are no Owens compositions on the Demolition album, although he points out that he did write the lyrics for one Japanese B-side. “But yeah, they don’t take my ideas too quickly. It’s not like I’ll say, ‘Hey, here’s this’ and they’ll say, ‘Yeah, thanks, we’ll have that.’ But it’s also that I have such a respect for their writing that I stand back more than I probably should. Maybe I’m scared to give them my ideas.”
Tim Owens was one of them. Born to working-class stock near the tyre factories of Akron, he became hooked on the band when his elder brother tripped home with the Screaming for Vengeance album in 1983. Before long, Owens was a Priest disciple, plastering images of his idols across the bedroom wall. In adulthood, he remained their number-one fan. When his regular group (Winter’s Bane) had trouble getting booked, it reinvented itself as British Steel, covering Priest classics in venues across Ohio.
It’s not hard to understand the interest. Break “Ripper” Owens down to his base components and the man is daydream fantasy made fact, the mascot for every Joe Schmoe who ever posed with a hairbrush and hollered “Hello, Milwaukee” at the bathroom mirror. But what Rock Star has done is taken Owens and accessorised him, conjured up new crazy adventures and imposed a strict narrative arc on his experiences. Owens hasn’t seen the film but he knows what’s in it. “There are so many things about this movie that trouble me,” he says with a sigh.