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B. Davison "donutboy2k" (Glasgow, Scotland)
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Less Than Zero
Less Than Zero
by Bret Easton Ellis
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aimless & Apathetic - A 5 star review, 4 Feb 2007
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
Yes this book is written in a spare, almost bland, empty style that will alienate some more set in their literary ways: those who miss the point, the point that this empty, superficial style mirrors the empty, superficial generation it describes. Yes the events in Less Than Zero are in some ways repetitious, yes they are devoid of detail, yes they are horrible. But that's the point: so are the people! And so comparisons with American Psycho are always going to be misguided. Less Than Zero is a different book written in a different style that, while mirroring modern social concerns as American Psycho did, has its own specific message delivered in the perfect style for that message. Bravo, I say. Bravo.


Northanger Abbey (Penguin Popular Classics)
Northanger Abbey (Penguin Popular Classics)
by Jane Austen
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the world of books, 4 Jan 2007
Part gothic novel pastiche, part literary criticism, part romance, and part typical Jane Austen-style novel of social class and wealth, Northanger Abbey is short but full. The novel relates the story of young Catherine Morland and her maturation from the world of books (literary criticism) via her relationship with Henry Tilney (romance) and her stay at the vast Northanger Abbey (gothic), into the 'real' world. Her route to maturity, however, is a cruel one, as she comes to realise that not everyone is out to make her into the heroine she wants to become (social class). Being early 19th century fiction and therefore slightly convoluted in sentence structure, Northanger Abbey is nevertheless an interesting, top quality novel and a great introduction to the works of a great writer.


The Aeneid (Oxford World's Classics)
The Aeneid (Oxford World's Classics)
by Virgil
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Aeneid, 4 Jun 2006
The previous reviewer seems to have covered the plot of The Aeneid better than I could, so I just want to encourage people that this book - this translation - is not the impenetrable mumbo jumbo you might expect from such a top-class institution as Oxford. On the contrary, Aeneas' adventures are made very readable by C. Day Lewis and you don't have to have a thorough knowledge of the mythology of the ancient world to enjoy this book. It's era-defining literature with plenty of brutal bloodshed, all in an easy-to-read package!


All Quiet on the Orient Express
All Quiet on the Orient Express
by Magnus Mills
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All Quiet, 13 May 2006
It certainly will be all quiet on the Orient Express, because the main character of this book will never get there!

Having been all ready to leave the campsite where he had spent his holiday to embark on a tour of the Far East, the unnamed narrator finds himself sticking around to help out with various tasks around the place. But this soon escalates until he is being roped in to every kind of job by the mysterious Mr. Parker (and his daughter). As more and more time passes, he finds it harder and harder to say 'no' to anything asked of him, and it becomes clear to the reader that he is stuck as the servant of the aforementioned Mr. Parker. The theme of being stuck in an allegory of manual work (which, despite the protestations of a previous reviewer, does make sense) then comes to the fore, and the reader is increasingly unnerved by the narrator's plight, and is curious as to the significance of various symbols, such as the cardboard crown. (I found the answer a bit of a disappointment). As the book draws to a close, it becomes obvious that the narrator now works on a virtually permanent basis for Mr. Parker, who wobbles on the edge of extreme anger at the mistakes of his young 'protege'.

Having praised the novel for its brilliance at conveying such a convincing allegory, however, it falls to me to say that the book does seem to constantly build up the reader's hopes only to eventually offer what I found to be a rather sudden and disappointing conclusion. But then maybe that was the point. He will never escape, so why should we be able to? As to whether you should buy it, I'd say that if you don't understand what an 'allegory of labour and capital' means, then don't! If you think you might, then go for it!


The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catch 'The Catcher'!, 11 May 2006
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Paperback)
With the large number of Catcher reviews out there, it's naturally necessary for each person to give a view on it that transcends the obvious 'it was good' comment that is expected. For me, the angle is for those who aren't 17-year-olds like Holden Caulfield and who would, without reading the book, perhaps consider it irrelevant to them. This book will obviously be relevant to schoolkids (which is why it is studied in schools a lot) and I suppose it would be relevant to old people because the book was written in the fifties and therefore is bound to strike a note with other people of that era. I fall in between those camps. I am only 21, but I never studied this book at school and this was the first time I had read it. From that point of view, I can say you should definitely read it before you drift out of touch with what it has to say. The book itself follows young Holden Caulfield as he is kicked out of school and tries to avoid having to go home. This gets him into plenty of trouble, with prostitutes only too eager to take advantage of him, for example. The real beauty of the book comes from both its ability to get inside (and get us inside) the head of a young man on his own in a big city, but also from his relationships, escpecially the clearly loving one he shares with his sister. It is this latter relationship that brings the book to its conclusion as time runs out for Holden and he realises he must go home to face the wrath of his parents.


Tom Brown's Schooldays (Oxford World's Classics)
Tom Brown's Schooldays (Oxford World's Classics)
by Thomas Hughes
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Turn, pause, look back and wave, 16 Feb 2006
Tom Brown's Schooldays is part novel, part education theory, but it is a great read. It is true that boys these days are unlikely to incur the wrath of their friends for not recognising a beech tree on sight, and that particular incident highlights the difference between the world described and the world as we know it. Despite this, it does not present an unrecognisable world and it actually allows us to look back on a time and a tradition long gone from modern Britain, and to smile at the innocence of children in the Victorian Era. The characters are what keeps the novel alive. To watch Tom grow from young boy to troublemaker to responsible, caring young man ready for Oxford, is a moving experience. The cast of characters around him ensure that he gets into all sorts of scrapes along the way, and the portrait painted of the great Dr. Thomas Arnold is one of a very intelligent, strong, yet caring man who quietly goes about the business of turning Tom into a young man worthy of praise. It is true that this book contains possibly the worst opening chapter in all of English literature, but get past that and you'll discover something quite special.


Selected Tales (Penguin Popular Classics)
Selected Tales (Penguin Popular Classics)
by Edgar Allan Poe
Edition: Paperback

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poe's Tales, 22 Jan 2006
In terms of this anthology in particular, all of Poe's well-known stories seem to be there, including 'The Pit & The Pendulum' and 'The Tell-Tale Heart.' However, Poe's frequent use of foreign languages in his stories can spoil enjoyment, and on at least two occasions I could not fully grasp the ending of a story because no translation to these languages was given in this edition. This is a particular concern for the opening story, 'Duc de L'Omelette'.
In terms of Poe's writing, my opinion is divided. His stories (those in this book, at least), seem to be either his famous tales of terror or more essay-type pieces. The tales of terror, especially 'The Pit & the Pendulum' and 'The Cask of Amontillado', are very well-written and I enjoyed them a lot. However, a number of his stories are more like essays and these can be hard to follow in the old-fashioned language Poe used and, if you are unaccustomed to Poe, can leave you waiting forever for the story to begin. Overall, I enjoyed Poe's writings supplied here and they grew on me as I became more used to his style, but they are not as scary nor as easy to follow as more modern tales.


El Diego: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Footballer
El Diego: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Footballer
by Diego Armando Maradona
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars El Diego, 17 Jan 2006
As a man, I'm not entirely convinced how well Maradona comes across in this book. At times it seems like he expects special treatment, but at others he claims to speak 'for the people' and wants to help his fellow professionals escape the power of the 'machine'. He seems to have spent a good deal of time getting annoyed because managers refused to buy the players he wanted and this may explain why he fell out with just about every club he ever played for.
Despie this, as a writer, Maradona definitely succeeds, as does the translation. I found his style friendly yet gripping and I feel like (for better or worse) I have come to know one of the world's greatest footballers simply through reading his book.


Everything's Eventual
Everything's Eventual
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection, 11 Dec 2005
This review is from: Everything's Eventual (Paperback)
The majority of these stories, which cover a range of styles, are very good. My favourites were probably '1408' and 'The Road Virus Heads North' and I enjoyed 'The Little Sisters of Eluria', the story about Roland (of 'Dark Tower' fame). Maybe now I will finally give that long series a read.
My only real complaint is that 'LT's Theory of Pets', supposed to be King's favourite of this bunch, wasn't all that great in my opinion. I think the point of it flew right over my head. But I would still recommend this collection as a whole to any King fan, and to anyone who wants to see how to write outside the box 'they' have put you in.


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'There is a great deal of magic in books nowadays...', 27 Oct 2005
'...Of course, most of it is nonsense.'
That is a little harsh, I think, but bare with me...
I stayed up late into the night finishing this yesterday/today.
That may seem like a ringing endorsement of this book - and it was a good book - but I actually want to use the point to emphasise something else. And what I want to emphasise is this:
I stayed up late to finish the book because it was very exciting for the last 30 pages or so. But the rest of it was a bit of a struggle. I felt the book was drawn out too long and that, consequently, all the good stuff had to be rushed out at the end.
Having got that out of the way, however, I can say that the characters, especially the man with the thistle-down hair, were very interesting and memorable. So, 3 stars: not great, but not bad, either.


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