Two short reviews for you today, a quiz book and a novel about a quiz. Being a quiz-fiend, I couldn’t resist either of them!
The Rock & Roll A Level by David Hepworth
I’ve a lot of time for David Hepworth, following him from Smash Hits to Q to Empire to Mojo to The Word – and that’s only a few of the magazines he’s been involved in, and also Old Grey Whistle Test and Live Aid on TV, his books with their distinctive orange covers. And, all the way he has collaborated frequently with Mark Ellen, still going strong with their excellent ‘A Word in Your Ear‘ podcast. Who better to compile a rock’n’roll quizbook then?
Split into 31 ten question themed quizzes, the subjects are set out as if they were academic subjects – so first we get ‘American Studies’ and we go through traditional and more vocational subjects, like ‘Fashion and Design’ and ‘Hospitality Management’ interspersed with a few ‘School trip’ quizzes. You get the picture. The questions are difficult, (it is subtitled ‘A Very Hard Pop Quiz’) but that’s not the point of this book really – it’s the answers that are the stars, as Hepworth explains in his introduction:
…in an ideal world the answer to a question in a trivia quiz should be slightly more interesting than the question. That rather depends on the reader being the kind of person who is always keen to know more rather than the kind of person who feels that they know quite enough already. There’s a small test here you can try on yourself. If you don’t know the answer, you should, on being apprised of it, make a noise indicative of interest piqued. Something like ‘ah’. If your natural inclination is to say ‘So?’ then I’m afraid there is very little I can do for you.
I gave small cheers when I got an answer right, but definitely went ‘Ooh’, ‘Ha!’ or ‘Ah’ when my interest was piqued. Absolutely fascinating! So now I know which three Bob Dylan album covers feature him wearing the same jacket, and I know the true story behind the band rider about the brown M&Ms (which band was it? – answer below). The questions are anchored in the classic rock and pop era from the 1970s to the 1990s, rarely going later, sometimes going earlier – which suits me absolutely fine, and reading all the trivia gave a huge nostalgia kick. Great fun!
Source: Own copy. David Hepworth, Rock & Roll A Level (Bantam, 2019). BUY at Blackwell’s via my affiliate link (free UK P&P)
Answer: (highlight below to reveal)
Van Halen. It was a test on the quality of the promoter – if they went the extra mile to remove the brown M&Ms – it’d go well for them!
Quiz Night by Joseph Darlington
I very rarely read self-published novels – only ones that I personally find, and this little hardback is one I discovered via Rob on the Shiny New Books reviewing team. This short novel is set over one evening in a pub in Chorlton, a southern suburb of Manchester – and it’s quiz night. Hosted on Mondays by the ‘Barry Brothers’, the event is hotly contested every week. There are prizes for first and second place, but no bronze medals – and our team, The Quizguzzlers, typically come in third place! From Nick who arrives early and nervously stakes the table, to Rach who always arrives late and always makes an entrance, we get to know the team through the course of the evening.
…they heard a clomp-clomp sound that wobbled, suggesting a top-heavy cargo of double, or maybe triple pints being carried. From the stairwell echoed a booming ‘Y’alright!’ as, yes it must be, Rach stopped to chat to her fourth person on her way through the pub.
We also get to do the quiz (bar the picture round) along the way too – an answer sheet is included in the back of the book. Will the Quizguzzlers triumph this week?
Joe wrote this novella in lockdown while his local pub quiz couldn’t happen. The characters are affectionate exaggerations of real people and the whole is a celebration of friendship and quizzing. Although this little book will obviously mean a lot more to Joe’s pub quiz regulars immortalised in its pages, it was a fun and sweet read. I’ve taken part in a lot of pub quizzes in my time, and recognise the difference between the competitive teams and those there for fun. In the end, it all rests on butterfly identification – you’ll see some fluttering on the cover – now which of them is the brown hairstreak?
Source: Own copy. This little hardback costs just £6.49 incl UK P&P from Joe’s website – click HERE.