Saturday, April 16, 2011
Circus Mania reviewed for World Circus Day
Next time the circus comes to Malvern I’m going to see it. I’ve often seen the big tent set up on the common but never been attracted, but I am now. After reading Circus Mania by Douglas McPherson, modern circus intrigues me. I’ve learned all about the history of circus – in fact, the circus chronology begins in 329BC. I’ve heard the circus people telling Douglas about their lives. It’s been explained that Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise and Ken Dodd are all clowns so why are so many Brits clown-phobic? It seems that this particular phobia is a British one. Circus has changed over the centuries and continues to change. The ‘traditional’ circus, the sort I went to as a child, and ‘contemporary’ circus, such as Cirque du Soleil which attracts large sophisticated audiences, are both covered. Actually, all circus is covered. The love of circus and the amount of research the author has put into this book shines from the pages. And for those who automatically link circus animals and cruelty there is an explanation of how loved these animals are and how different official bodies have never found any evidence of animals being mis-treated. Douglas has not written a one-sided book. He has carefully and thoroughly given all sides to every argument. Having had dealing with the Arts Council I wasn’t in the least surprised to hear that traditional circus has to carry on without help whilst some of the new circus troupes get hand-outs for performing acts that baffle the public. Baffle here has nothing to do with ‘How the hell do they do that?’ when watching someone execute a seemingly impossible feat on a trapeze. In this case baffle means, ‘What’s it all about?’ (Someone being a tree. Think Emperor’s new clothes.) Circus Mania is one of those rare non-fiction books that you end up reading as if it is a novel. It has great characters and plots and beautifully written descriptions. Recommended by Lynne! You can save £5 off the recommended retail price by ordering Douglas’s book direct from the publisher, Peter Owen. £10 postage-free in UK (£2.75 postage worldwide). Send cheques to: Peter Owen Publishers 20 Holland Park Avenue London W11 3QU Or phone: 020 7373 6760 (office hours).