What's Going On?, By Mark Steel

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The Independent Culture

A memoir of a mid-life crisis, What's Going On? tells the story of the disintegration of two central relationships in Mark Steel's life: with the mother of his three children and with the Socialist Workers Party.

Steel steers a finely judged course between the maudlin and the flippant, and the result is both funny and touching. There are plenty of his trademark rants against the usual targets (global capitalism, Tesco, Tony Blair), delivered with the sort of thumping sarcasm that sometimes feels as if it's being accompanied by a big bass drum. But with the onset of middle age, Steel has discovered that life is less black and white than he thought. He makes friends with the arch-Tory Bob Monkhouse. At one point he even smiles at a policeman, which for an ex-SWP member must be like having sex with the devil. This sense of being in a world where the old verities are crumbling makes Steel sadder and wiser, but far more likeable, and no less witty.

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