Real Cardiff Three:
The style is seriously
unbuttoned, conversational, occasionally breathless, with a fair helping
of wordplay as might be expected from this author
- Sally Roberts
Real Cardiff Two:
Utterly compelling ambles round the Welsh capital, full of oddball
nuggets and with a terrific sense of context and place.
- The Rough Guide To Wales 2006
Finch's Real Cardiff
was one of the most successful and original books ever written about
the Welsh capital - Here comes part two, and it's even better than
- Dean Powell, The Western Mail, December
In this book, Peter Finch
gets the balance damn near spot on, casting the gentlest of aspersions,
giving the knife a tiny twist where necessary, but always while staring
you unwaveringly in the eye as a true poet. This is not just true
poetry, however, it is also travel writing of the sharpest kind.....Finch's
particular skill is his supreme ability to weave the past in with
the present, and to that end his illustrations are often exquisite
in their sparseness.
- Mike Parker, Planet, April, 2005
In this second volume,
Finch meditates upon Cardiff as a multi-layered and multi-cultural
city. He writes in his introduction that 'Cardiff is bigger than I
thought'. He then finds that it is deeper and denser too. It is this
insight, in fact, which makes Real Cardiff Two an even richer,
more provocative and more diverting book than its predecessor (which
was also thought provoking and entertaining in equal measure).
- Andrew Hussey, New
Welsh Review, Spring 2005
A sequel to one of the
most successful and original books ever to have been written about
the Welsh capital....Finch has created an extraordinary city guide
that is bound to fascinate Cardiffians and newcomers alike.
- The Big Issue, December
This excellent value for
money book reaches parts that other Cardiff books have failed to reach.
- Cardiff and South Wales Advertiser, December 2004
A fascinating and unique
tour of Wales' capital city
- Brian Lee, The
Post, December 2004
Brings Cardiff to life
on the printed page, a great read....It's the unexpected bits of information
too which I like so much.
- Ian Jones, Chadwick Jones Associates, November 2004.
Peter Finch has lived in
the City all his life. He has an individual, unromanticised way of
looking at it, but his affection for the City is clear. You need an
independent-minded guide to Cardiff. It's that sort of city. I'd certainly
be happy to read the equivalents of 'Real Bristol', 'Real Norwich'
and 'Real Aberdeen', but only if they're written by authors who feel
a genuine engagement with their cities and are able to express it
in as bold and direct way as Peter Finch.
- Raymond Humphreys,
Stride Magazine, December 2004
Honest, insightful and
pulling no punches, author Peter finch is back with his second instalment
of life in the city of Cardiff.
- Medina Bailey, Buzz,
Real Cardiff 2 is
a love letter to the noise, the waste, the mess that the amnesiac
sheen of modern capital, locked into ever-decresaing cycles of urban
renewal, continually tries to forget.
- Duncan Campbell,
Walking The Line, New Welsh Review, Autumn 2005
Real Cardiff One:
Native Cardiffians now
have the definitive guide to their city...the excitement of being
one of the newest European capitals hangs light in the air.
- Kate Nicholson, Writers' News, February, 2003
This is a marvellous book
- one of the very best books about a city I have ever read. It makes
me feel terribly old-fashioned - superficial too, because I have never
actually lived in the cities I have written about. I skip most of
the poems, which I don't understand, but everything else in it is
gripping me so fast that I have momentarily suspended my first ever
reading of Wuthering Heights.
- Jan Morris, writing to the author
A wealth of information
on the significance of familiar sites for those who live in Cardiff
and an interesting insight into Wales' capital for those who don't,
Real Cardiff is far more indicative of life in the city than
the average tourist guide.
- Cathryn Scott, The Big Issue, December, 2002
Every district is covered
and there is something new to discover in every section. This will
be a best seller and will be the top gift on my Christmas present
list this year!
- Bill Barrett, My
Cardiff in the Cardiff Post, December, 2002
The travel section of the
Observer highlights Wales as a 'place to visit' in 2003. If you are
persuaded, and would like a genuine flavour of the capital, read Peter
Finch, who has studied the city in historical depth and quartered
it on foot and will entertain you all the way.
- Sam Adams, PN Review, March, 2003
The book's great strength
is not in the macro but in the micro, in the deep, prolonged engagement
with a particular place which has produced a richly nuanced, affectionate
and sometimes exasperated portrait of a city. The beauty lies in the
- Grahame Davies, New Welsh Review, March, 2003
Cunningly intermeshed with
this cornucopia of useful and fascinating material is an account of
how a young man who was something or other in the City Hall became
an editor, a publisher, a bookseller, an arts administrator and a
poet - the most surreally inventive and provocative writer we have
- without leaving the city's limits.
- Meic Stephens, Cambria,
This book should be read
by anyone who wants to get to know more about Cardiff. That should
include most people in Wales for a start. Even the ones in places
like Swansea, Aberystwyth and Caernarfon.
- Raymond Humphreys, Cambrensis #55, April, 2003
Lurking behind much of
the text is a reassurance from Peter Finch to the reader, and from
Peter Finch to himself, that the poet's place is that of an outsider,
even when the poet in question has become, ostensibly at least, part
of the Establishment. And that's why the subject matter fits so well.
Cardiff, that deeply self-conscious and not-very-Welsh capital of
Wales, that country with more chips than Barry island, is truly the
- Mike Parker, Planet, Winter 2003
With this pearl of a guide,
like one of those professionals so necessary to hire in Fez, we dart
up side alleys, through gaps in the wall and over fences to visit
those parts of Cardiff other guides would never reach. The author's
style is racy and city slick, the quirky punctuation and syntax more
often than not intentional. His ears and eyes are alert for every
detail. Cardiff's limits are defined by its peculiar accent, with
its nasal ‘a’ as in ‘a pint of dark in The Park’. These limits are
precisely located, not just as north of Whitchurch but as north of
the Melingriffith Weir And did Disraeli really overnight hereabouts
at the Cow and Snuffers? This immensely readable book is full of such
Peter Finch is that rarity
in the city, a native born and bred. He has memory, that strong and
necessary antidote to contemporary marketing. His sympathies are with
the small traders of the Arcades and the Hayes Island Snack Bar rather
than with the retail giants of the glossy shopping malls or out-of-town
retail parks. His tour is unashamedly pedestrian. As he remarks on
one occasion, with ironic exasperation, ‘there's just too much transport
going on here’. He knows where the city's lost rivers still run, that
the Pearl Tower is built on a mediaeval plague burial pit, and is
able to savour the deep time of Caerau iron age hill-fort in the midst
of the Ely housing estate. He speaks eloquently for communities who
have survived the best efforts of the Luftwaffe and the city planners
to obliterate them and that continue to resist the refashioning of
late twentieth century marketing boys. Tiger Bay and Muslim Butetown
are not yet Cardiff Bay. Above all, the author is also a poet and
a dozen of his poems – my favourite was 'Shop-lifting', based on his
experience as manager of the splendid Oriel book shop, the passing
of which he rightly laments – adorn the text. A generous sprinkling
of bizarre brownie thumbnail black-and-white photographs are a perfect
complement to what we gradually realise is not simply a brilliant
guidebook but the moving autobiography of a poet.
- David Barne, from www.gwales.com, with the permission
of the Welsh Books Council, 2005
Cardiff - Peter Finch - Seren Books
edition November 2002
reprinted December, 2002
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