Musings/Träumereien/Devaneios

Bookcrossing: "The Partner" by John Grisham

The Partner - John Grisham

(Original review, 1997-05-30)
 


This morning on the Tube I saw a Grisham lying around, “The Partner”, and I was tempted to take it, but it was not marked as a bookcrossing book - so I wondered if somebody had only forgotten it or lost it out of his backpack when leaving the tram in a haste. So I left it in there. Of course, somebody might have finished it and let it lie there for somebody else to take it. But since there was no affirmation that it was fine to take it I did not want to commit trover and left it.
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
 
 

 

Hemingwayesque Style: "Frankenstein in Baghdad" by Ahmed Saadawi

Frankenstein in Baghdad: A Novel - Ahmed Saadawi



Finished Ahmed Saadawi's "Frankenstein in Baghdad." It’s worth contrasting with Shelley's Frankenstein. Shelley writes about Frankenstein's misuse of Science, i.e., galvanism, in creating an ultimately vengeful Creature, existing primarily in a Romantic world of wild nature, the background of which is the setting for the novel. Saadawi's Frankenstein in Baghdad, OTOH, is set in an urban hell of murders, car bombings, massacres and various varieties of sectarian warfare.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Time is in Reality's Blurring: "The Order of Time" by Carlo Rovelli

The Order of Time - Carlo Rovelli


In some ways, Rovelli's writing is as influenced by Calvino as it is by Einstein or Feynman - this is not simply writing in the tradition of explicating or popularising scientific inquiry; but rather writing which seeks to open new spaces of possibility for thinking through the very endeavour of the writing itself. There does seem to be an appetite for knowledge out there, although the problem (so it seems to me at least) with physics for a wide audience is that ultimately there is only so much that you can do without resorting to maths.

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Samsung Steps Challenge: Moonlight (November)

 

Here.

Ham-Fistedness: "Cinco Esquinas" by Mario Vargas Llosa

Cinco Esquinas (HISPANICA) - Mario Vargas Llosa

(Original Review, 2016-03-05)



I'm really glad that Mario Vargas Llosa's “Cinco Esquinas” wasn't the first of his books that I've read or I'd have abandoned his work forever. An unbidden, recurring image of him hunched over his keyboard, lickerish and drooling, haunted me as I read what were surely his pollution’s nocturnes about the room-temp romps of a pair of married, fabulously wealthy, gorgeous best girlfriends, all the throbbier for the perils posed by the Fujimori regime.
 
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
 
 

 

Is Taste Personal: "The Decline of Pleasure" by Walter Kerr

Decline/Pleasure - Walter Kerr


(Original Review, 1981-05-25)
 
 


Here’s a quiz on “sex in literature”. The problem is I don’t know the answers. This comes from Walter Kerr’s 1962 book “The Decline of Pleasure.” He doesn’t present it as a quiz, but merely describes incidents in recent novels and plays that he evidently expects the reader to recognize. I’ve numbered the entries for ease of response.

What do our novels and our plays show back to us? Almost without exception, an image of sex that is violent, frustrated, shabby, furtive, degrading, treacherous, and – more and more – aberrant.
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
 
 

 

Tornagusto: "Pinocchio" by Carlo Collodi, Gioia Fiammenghi (Trans.)

Pinocchio - John Boyne, Carlo Collodi




(Original Review, 1981-05-20)



I am reading the English version of Pinocchio; I read it, obviously many times in my language and the other day I found a small book with this title and I was curious to see how it was in a different language from mine. I also want to "invite him for dinner" as it is the title of a context of a famous Italian newspaper (writing an invitation for a character of a book at your choice) but I have not yet written a word. I am not too keen on inviting to meals, it means extra work and I did it enough. But maybe by reading it I’ll get inspired.

 

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Double Entendres Galore: "Hopscotch" by Julio Cortázar

Hopscotch - Julio Cortázar, Gregory Rabassa


(Original Review, 1981-05-15)




If you like your novels simple and straightforward, don’t read “Hopscotch”.
If you have an allergy to extended brainy digressions and convoluted debates, you better avoid “Hopscotch”.
If you abhor puns, double entendre and wordplay, I most seriously advise you to stay clear of “Hopscotch”.
If you can’t stand literary, philosophical, musical and artistic references cramming your narrative, I sincerely prompt you to veer off taking “Hopscotch” from the bookseller’s shelf.
If you like your narrative to be free of phrases, expressions and vocabulary from languages you don’t know and don't care for, maybe “Hopscotch” is not a book for you.

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Screw Your Brains Out: "Graham Greene: A Life in Letters" by Graham Greene

Graham Greene: A Life In Letters - Richard Greene



(Original Review, 2007-05-15)


There some odd little insights: about how people used to travel by sea and get horribly ill, but then air travel came along and changed all that; Greene's very Catholic attitude to extramarital sex - screw your brains out, go to Confession, go to Mass, go to Communion, come home, screw your brains out with partner not your wife, go to Confession ... (I'm Catholic so I think I can say these things).

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Dreaming Tracks: "The Songlines" by Bruce Chatwin

The Songlines - Bruce Chatwin

(Original Review, 1988-05-15)



I’ve been reading “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin for the past couple of days, which I’m really enjoying at about the halfway point. It’s a travel book, I suppose, about Chatwin’s experiences in the Australian Outback learning of Aboriginal culture and their belief in ‘songlines’ or ‘dreaming tracks’, or “to the Aboriginals as ‘Footprints of the Ancestors’ or the ‘Way of the Law’.
 
 
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
 
 

 

Railway Barons: "Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder" by Caroline Fraser

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder - Caroline Fraser



I am well into “Prairie Fires” by Caroline Fraser, a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder who is best known as the author of the Little House children’s books. I have not read these books nor have I seen what I believe to have been a rather saccharine TV series “The Little House on the Prairie.” 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Profound Place: "Four Quartets" by T. S. Eliot

Four Quartets - T.S. Eliot



(Original Review, 1981-05-12)


I’m always impressed by the influence of mediaeval mystical texts on 'Four Quartets'. This was the subject of a chapter in my thesis. These days, I would probably want to change some of the argument of that chapter, but I would not change the overall conviction that a primary concern of the poems was the maintenance of an almost intolerable tension between the way of affirmations

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Kublai Khan: "The Wasteland, Prufrock and Other Poems" by T. S. Eliot

The Wasteland, Prufrock and Other Poems - T.S. Eliot

(Original review, 1981-05-10)


It seems to me that the author of 'Prufrock' and that of the Wasteland are so different as to be un-recognisable. A look at the Wasteland reveals a lot of, to me, gratuitous classical referencing for which we might like to blame Pound and while I value its novelty (whereas Prufrock reads like Kublai Khan) the Wasteland reads like deliberate pastiche.
 
 
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
 
 

 

Whateveritis: "The Speculations on Metaphysics, Polity and Morality of The Old Philosopher Lau Tsze" by Lau Tsze

The speculations on metaphysics, polity, and morality, of ... Lau-Tsze, tr ... - Laozi


(Original Review, 1981-05-07)


Find myself? I've been trying to lose myself for years. So maybe the trick is to be a more relaxed, healthy, aware, effective and self-attuned idiot?

Piece of advice from a "Master" (myself):

Step 1: Remove head from your anus.
Step 2: Remove shit covering your eyes.
Step 3: Open your eyes.
Congratulations, you are now mindful.

Looking for an authentic, real self is generally understood to relate to spirituality, not the 'self' we are in our daily lives and how this 'self' is different in each situation.
 
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

 

WWI Front Line: "The Dark Lantern" by Henry Williamson

Dark Lantern (Pocket Classics) - David Fine, Henry Williamson



(Original Review, 1981-05-05)


The best fictional writing about the First World War is a series of novels written by Henry Williamson. In a long fictional cycle with the overall title of "A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight" there are 5 novels that deal with the period 1914 - 1918.

These are: “How Dear is Life”, “A Fox under My Cloak”, “The Golden Virgin”, “Love and the Loveless”, “A Test to Destruction.”

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The Juggernaut: "Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften" by Robert Musil

Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften: Band 1: Erstes und Zweites Buch. Band 2: Aus dem Nachlaß: 2 Bände. - Robert Musil


(Original Review, 2007-05-05)



I've long waited for someone explain to me what the criteria are to select the best fiction out there. I know when I like a book or when others like a book, yet critics and intellectually sophisticated people often talk about books as if one can assess their value objectively, going beyond mere preference. Yet, mysteriously, the criteria by which literacy value is to be assessed are never stated with sufficient precision so that they can actually be applied. This article is a case in point. Even though saying exactly what literary value is would be of extraordinary importance to make the point the author wants to. In the absence of any solid and justifiable philosophy underpinning assessments of literary value, I fear we have to take pronouncements on what's good and what's bad as a form of virtue signalling in certain circles.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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