the observer Sat 18 October 2008
Tip Top ('fake cream from a tin') was a pleasure denied to Martin Lampen in his youth: 'along with tattoos and Noel's House Party, it was "common"'. Common or not, it's the perfect symbol for The Knickerbocker Glory Years, for, as with the fabled squirty cream, Lampen's A-Z of British food is both indisputably silly and moderately tasty. However, as the initial comedic flourish of each entry fizzles away to a disheartening mess, you may start to feel queasy. Most entries, such as pickled onions, cinema food and bubblegum, begin with Lampen declaring his love for the food in question in the laddish, faux-ironic mode in which 'brilliant' and 'rubbish' are interchangeable terms of approval: an idea more British than the Knickerbocker Glory itself.
the guardian Fri 17 October 2008
Harper's fiftieth anniversary edition of Sillitoe's working-class classic doesn't add much value in terms of new editorial apparatus. But then it doesn't need to: Sillitoe's account of the rebellious young factory-fodder hero Arthur Seaton was timely when first published (four years after the London premiere of John Osborne's Look Back In Anger); it is timeless now. Unlike Osborne and fellow "angries", Sillitoe doesn't even pay the establishment the compliment of dramatising its decline. Arthur - a bright, cocky lathe-worker given to fighting, fucking and fishing first, meditating on the system that keeps him in his place second - lives wholly in the rowdy bosom of his extended Nottinghamshire family. Modern readers are unlikely to be shocked by his unsentimental affair with the married sisters Brenda and Winnie. But Sillitoe's writing, with its sharp tang of cold mornings and warm pubs, has a cumulative lyricism which makes you feel Arthur's pangs as achingly as he does. This was the book that made "working class" pursuits beautiful. It's also a powerful story of political awakening.
· This article was amended on Saturday October 25 2008. The above review of Alan Sillitoe's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning said the book's main character, Arthur, lives in the rowdy bosom of his extended Leicestershire family. The story is set in Nottingham. This has been corrected.