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Museum Without Walls by Jonathan Meades

Museum Without Walls

by Jonathan Meades

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Museum Without Walls collects essays, articles and TV scripts by Jonathan Meades. And it is an immensely enjoyable read. Meades' obsession is with Place and how it shapes and influences us.

Meades is a brilliant writer, skewering his targets with deadpan, razor wit. His special ire is reserved for Architects and the insipid buildings they inflict upon us. A great architect can inspire and transform the people who live in their buildings. A poor one can inflict bland mediocrity upon us.

The writing here ranges from examinations of the buildings of Hitler and Stalin to the strange charm of shacks in the Severn Valley; from suburban Britain to our fascination with all things Victorian.

Meades is opinionated to be sure, but its hard to disagree with him when he makes his arguments with such persuasive prose. And it is always backed up by the wealth of knowledge he has gathered over the years.

The only part of the book that didn't work for me is the inclusion of some of his TV scripts. Meades is brilliant in front of the camera, subverting the conventions of the usual TV talking heads with his deadpan delivery. You really need to see the TV programmes to see these scripts come to life. A judicious search on YouTube show you what I mean. All his TV programmes are there.

Otherwise, a brilliant, informative, funny, opinionated (in the best sense) book. Go read. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
Even glancing at this book is an act of sophistication and erudition. Self-consciously weighty, Meades elaborates on his insatiable interest in place: joyfully serious, iconoclastic, irreverent and yet full of a sense of beauty. Some may call this sense perverse, but frankly, such narrow opinions are of no interest. This book delights in finding the remarkable among the mundane and the unloved; it is the opposite of jaded. Read it and become a little more alive. ( )
1 vote gbsallery | Jun 13, 2013 |
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Jonathan Meades has an obsessive preoccupation with places. He has spent thirty years constructing sixty films, two novels and hundreds of pieces of journalism that explore an extraordinary range of them, from natural landscapes to man-made buildings and 'the gaps between them', drawing attention to what he calls 'the rich oddness of what we take for granted'. This book collects 54 pieces and six film scripts that dissolve the barriers between high and low culture, good and bad taste, deep seriousness and black comedy. Meades delivers 'heavy entertainment' - strong opinions backed up by an astonishing depth of knowledge. To read Meades on places, buildings, politics, or cultural history is an exhilarating workout for the mind. He leaves you better informed, more alert, less gullible. "Everything is fantastical if you stare at it for long enough. Everything is interesting."… (more)

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