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William the Almost Great "Barbizon" (Cork)

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Revolutionary Road
Revolutionary Road
by Richard Yates
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The poverty of the soul, 8 Feb 2009
This review is from: Revolutionary Road (Paperback)
If you're looking for a fun, feel-good book, this is not it. What it is though, is a frank, cynical, expertly-told story of a couple in 1950s America. Does anyone remember the book and movie THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT? This comes to mind, as does the movie FAR FROM HEAVEN. But for me this story reached farther inside than even those stories. In a sense, this book is a classic for a couple of reasons: First, it was written back in the 1960s and has survied, thrived, and resurfaced. Second, it deals with universal themes that have spanned the ages. Do not think that just because this is set in the 50s, in Connecticut, that you won't be able to relate to it--everyone will. The themes of depression, frustration, loss, anger, life-mismanagement, and the "striving for something better" have been around and will continue to be so for quite some time.

What I found particularly heartbreaking about this story was the way the couple felt trapped--in so many ways. Trapped by each other, trapped by their own conscious, trapped by their own expectations of themselves, and trapped by society. They desperately want to show (to the world AND themselves) that they're better than those around them; that the world has failed them somehow and that they have done everything they could to get to be where they want. Yet it is exactly this realization that "they" are responsible which tears them apart.

The plot is first-rate in this page turner, and while parts might seem slow, I advise the reader to wait it out and see what happens. The ending will shock you. And while most novels (and movies) focus on the main characters, as they should, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD also plays us the secondary ones--and these are equally great.


Yes Man Film Tie-In: The Amazing Tale of What Happens When You Decide to Say - Yes
Yes Man Film Tie-In: The Amazing Tale of What Happens When You Decide to Say - Yes
by Danny Wallace
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars In the habit of reading this kind of thing, 8 Feb 2009
I've recently come across some great and funny books--and some not-so recently. But I bought YES MAN because of the movie and was NOT disappointed. I tend to read too much into things, and while most will view this story for the surface one that it is, there is, for me, an underlying message and it is this: that if we took the philosophy of the main character to heart we might well change the world.

Danny Wallce is a master of cynicism turned into hope, with his with and self-deprecating style, not to mention a great timeing and well put together plot. And if you think those things are usual, then you haven't read very much.

LOL in many places, YES MAN is as funny as some other books I've read recently: ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY and FRIENDS LIKE THESE--both very funny but in a different way, thought the FRIENDS book is also by Wallace. This is a book that reaches across the aisle and that anyone can relate to who's lived for more than a week on this planet. Love, love, love the way it starts out, and even more so, the way it ends.


QI: Advanced Banter
QI: Advanced Banter
by Stephen Fry
Edition: Hardcover

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference and casual reading too, 8 Feb 2009
This review is from: QI: Advanced Banter (Hardcover)
Normally one to stick with "stores" or novels such as Sedaris and his "Me Talk Pretty" or the funny books "Barring Some Unforeseen Accident" or "Stephen Fry in America," I found this great and hysterical book of quotations quite by accident. Favorites include:

People say they sleep like a baby until they have one.

All anybody needs to know about prizes is that Mozart never won one.

And, with apologies to America, this from Ronald Reagan (you might have thought George Bush) "What would this country be without this great land of ours?"

And for those of you who remember some great quotes but can't remember who or where they came from , this is invaluable. Lest you think this is strictly "bathroom" reading, let me assure you, it is not. Neither is it something you're going to want to sit down with for hours, but it is a great reference book, great fun, and you'll be amazed at who said what.


Jamie's Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours
Jamie's Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours
by Jamie Oliver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love to cook and it shows--this book is for everyone!, 8 Feb 2009
I love to cook--always have. So I was skeptical when I saw this, thinking I was going to be talked down to. Not so. The best part of this is the "under 20 minutes" section! Now, all this aside, the dishes are delicious and pretty easy to make. The recipes are clear and easy to read, and laid out nicely. Some of my favorite recipes in this wonderful book include: Chicken Chow Mein, Pea and Mint soup, A Crackling burger (my personal favorite) and the fish pie. The dessert section is probably the best, featuring a killer baked apple selection. Most of the time, this is what scares most people off--the desserts, but I found them quite simple and tasty. I like this book, along with EATING FOR ENGLAND, JAMIE AT HOME and anything by Rachel Ray. One other note: this book is geared toward getting the most out of a meal money-wise and time-wise: what could be more important with the way things are now going in the world. Honestly, this cookbook will pay for itself in four or five meals.


Selected Short Stories (Classics)
Selected Short Stories (Classics)
by Guy de Maupassant
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite writers, 28 Jan 2009
This author's short stories are on the same par as Saki's or Conrad Aiken's, and they have a similar morbid yet entertaining vein that runs through them. If you like surprise endings, excellently crafted tales, and make-sense plots, you can't go wrong with this collection of short stories.


Invisible Monsters
Invisible Monsters
by Chuck Palahniuk
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wacked out and fun, 28 Jan 2009
This review is from: Invisible Monsters (Paperback)
If you're new to Chuck Palahniuk's work, might I suggest that you read some of the reviews and even do some online research before diving right into his work, the reason being that he is unlike any other author. The phrase "pulls no punches" comes to mind. I read somewhere that this was actually Mr. Palahniuk's first novel, but that it had been rejected by publishers because it was too out there, too violent, and too weird. As a result he wrote FIGHT CLUB, which has since become a classic of the underground sort, and publishers flocked to pick up INVISIBLE MONSTERS. Now Mr. Palahniuk has several books under his belt, and this is by far one of the better ones.

The story of a fashion model gone wrong, the author uses fashion lingo and punches up the story with brilliant writing techniques that really give you at once a feeling of the vapidity of the industry, the falseness, and also the underlying problems, both emotional and physical. This is not a hard book to read, but, like most books, it took me a chapter or two to get into the flow and style. Once there I had no problem folliwing what was coming, though there are surprises galore in this tawdry and fantantasic tale. Everyone in the book is a mess, but the author somehow gets us to like and follow them through this labyrinth of weirdness.

The book has an almost hallucinatory feel, reminding me of THE ELECTRIC KOOLAID TEST, or even some of Burrough's works---NAKED LUNCH comes to mind, though INVISIBLE MONSTERS makes more sense and is more fun. I would recommend this book to those who have a warped sense of humor and who are not easily offended, along with Sedaris's works (ME TALK PRETTY) and those of Christopher Moore.

My only hesitation with recommending this book is that there is one scene, one description of a sexual act that I hope is not frequently performed, and this was the only part that really turned me off. Other than that, it was a wild ride of a time.


East of Eden (Penguin Modern Classics)
East of Eden (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Steinbeck
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection, truly, 25 Jan 2009
Many think that GRAPES OF WRATH is Steinbeck's best work. Not so. EAST OF EDEN is by far the greater book. With so many parallels to the bible and the "good vs evil" themes, it is no wonder this book is of epic proportions and has lasted for so long. The movie is also great, directed by Elia Kazan.

But what makes EDEN so different from other books are these reasons: It is semi-autobiographical, speaks from the heart, and is raw and moving; it is a parallel story to Cain and Abel in the Bible, and the many biblical threads that run through it are too numerous to mention; it is a classic tale of good and evil; and last but not least, it is perfectly written with great pacing, great writing, and a plot that has form and finesse. The story of two families--the Trasks and the Hamiltons, there are also shades of Romeo and Juilet, though not in the literal sense; more so in the waring sense.

For me, the most powerful aspect of the novel comes where the son of Cathy--the "madam" of a brothel--makes the decision that he "doesn't want to be bad." Steinbeck plays with the idea that evil may be inherited, and certainly that it is helped along by environment. The back stories in the book are equally as riveting and while this is not a short read, it is worth your while.

If you're new to Steinbeck, while this novel is a good place to start, I might recommend OF MICE AND MEN as a better "first" for anyone not familiar with this American writer.


The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.86

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her only novel, 25 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Bell Jar (Paperback)
Plath's only novel, THE BELL JAR still packs a punch after all these years. Plath, who was primarily known as a poet, shows that she can handle the large form and is more than capable of bringing the reader to his knees in this "pulls no punches" story. Without a doubt this book, along with PROZAC NATION and GIRL INTERRUPTED, are must reads for anyone who thinks they might be suffering from depression or some other mental disorder. Plath takes us on an incredible and autobiographical journey though her life--there are just too many similarities to call this a coincidence---and you'll find yourself wanting to know more about this remarkable woman. The most harrowing part of the book deals with her electro shock therapy; something that now seems barbaric but is actually coming back into vogue. Sadly, Plath committed suicide in real life, and we are deprived of her excellent poems that will never be, along with I'm sure, another novel. Oddly enough this was not a depressing book for me, but rather, in a strage way, uplifting. You judge for yourself.


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

14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Because I can, 25 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Paperback)
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is one of my all-time favourite books.For anyone interested in the 1950s New York that no longer exists, along with the youth of that era, the angst, the coming-of-age story, and the totaly uniqueness of a novel that has captivated an audience for decades, might I recommend this small but powerful and still somewhat new novel. CATCHER IN THE RYE IS NEW in the respect that it touches on the fragility of youth, the uncertainity of the world, and how lost a young man can feel, especially in a large city such as New York. This is not a complicated book, but underlying the "facility" is a deeper meaning to life; a searching for something, and ultimately this is what Salinger put into print and the reason it has stood the test of time. Few now are not familiar with Holden Caulfield and his journey through the land of teenage angst, but most will want to re-read this book at a later point in life. It is easy to label Holden now--manic depressive, bi-polar, depressed, or just messed-up teenager, but who at that age does not already have baggage? What I think most will find interesting is that, when reading this book as a teenager, you will obviously see things through Holden's eyes. Reading the book as an adult you will seen both sides of the story and this makes for an even more powerful read. Read it on any level you want, but just read it. Along with "Catch-22 ," "Me Talk Pretty One Day," and "Barring Some Unforeseen Accident," this is a keeper that you'll want to revisit over and over. A knock-out American classic for all ages.
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Dry
Dry
by Augusten Burroughs
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly running on empty, 25 Jan 2009
This review is from: Dry (Paperback)
Many will not find Burroughs to be funny. I, however, do. But I also find him disturbing on many levels. RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is by far his best work, but this one is a VERY close second. And if you were wondering what happend to "little" Augusten, well, you have the answer here in DRY. Burroughs is entertaining if nothing else, and you might be put off or find some of the material distasteful, but you will never find it boring. Like the books PRACTICAL DEMON KEEPING or the great and funny BARRING SOME UNFORESEEN ACCIDENT, this novel will stick with you. And don't think that you have to have been on the sauce to relate to the material. Sure, alcohol is a part of the equation, well, most of it, but the story itself is self-contained and real. The somber parts of the book come when Burroughs falls for a crack addict and then his friends begin dropping like files around him. By all means don't confuse this with the Fry book A MILLION LITTLE PIECES as this one is real. That should be enough for you.


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