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Hybridchild "hybridchild"

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The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches
The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches
by Gaétan Soucy
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Strange book, good read, 9 Sept. 2003
An odd story, concise and imaginative. 4 stars instead of 5 only because it reminded me a little too much of Iain Banks' "The Wasp Factory" - but then, that's not such a bad thing. A slim book, but worth buying I think.


Fifty-minute Hour
Fifty-minute Hour
by Wendy Perriam
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sex, psychonanalysis and papal conspiracies, 1 May 2003
This review is from: Fifty-minute Hour (Paperback)
'Fifty Minute Hour' features the converging stories of several misfits who share a psychoanalyst, who happens to share his name with the pope, and wields the same kind of symbolic power over his patients. The characters develop (or deteriorate) into increasingly extreme versions of themselves as the story moves them inexorably from dreary UK suburbia to Rome. Definitely a must-read from an author who has always deserved much wider recognition.


The Demon-haunted World
The Demon-haunted World
by Carl Sagan
Edition: Paperback

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rational and humane antidote to superstition., 17 Nov. 2001
This is an intelligent, sympathetic book that encourages readers to see life and the universe for the wonderful thing it is, without recourse to superstitious belief or a fondness for unlikely mysteries. Sagan demonstrates that there is more than enough to wonder at in the cosmos quite apart from the ever-multiplying stories of alien abduction, miraculous watch-stopping by tv personalities etc. Sagan is never facetious or condescending in his viewpoint, as some other science writers can be. He has a great deal of empathy for the human desire to search for something greater outside themselves, and dismantles illogical thinking with humour and kindness rather than harsh condemnation. I found this a very engaging and eye-opening book, which has changed the way I perceive a whole range of things - for the better. There are other books that also offer an apology for science, such as Richard Dawkin's 'Unweaving the Rainbow', or Lewis Wolpert's 'The Unnatural Nature of Science' but 'The Demon-Haunted World' outclasses them in almost every respect.


Maru (Heinemann African Writers Series)
Maru (Heinemann African Writers Series)
by Ms Bessie Head
Edition: Paperback

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful tale of struggle against racial prejudice, 10 Sept. 2000
Maru is a deceptively simple story dealing with complex issues. It is a political work, vehement in its denouncement of racism. It is a romance, the two male protagonists like knights engaged in battle for love of the same woman. And it is a fairy tale; Margaret Cadmore is the heroine from humble, despised origins, whose story ends when she marries a prince.
'...I am a Masarwa'. Margaret Cadmore is an outcast in Botswanan society, one of the despised Bushmen. Bessie Head speaks from the position of the outcast in order to highlight the prevalence of racism between black peoples, as well as that between white and black. She writes with keen observation of the various categories of difference people set up between themselves, and her words are powerful and concise: 'How universal was the language of oppression!'
At first, I felt that Maragaret, rather than Maru, was the central character. However, reading it again (and this is a book that deserves to be read over and over), I became aware of the pervasiveness of Maru's power. Maru is a prince, the chief of Dilepe. He is the controlling figure of the story, manipulating people and events. He has power that can be used for good, but it also has an element of cruelty.
A strong theme is the relationship between the interior, psychic life, and the social and political world. This story takes place both in the public sphere, and in the intensely private arena of the mind. In Maru, the two are explicitly connected. Dreams and visions are a driving force behind events in the narrative. The ongoing battle between Maru and his rival Moleka is a conflict between their respective 'inner kingdoms'. Furthermore, it is Maru's mental and intellectual strength that enables him to face down the prejudice of his people.
The emphasis on the interior life of the characters highlights an important aspect of the book, that is, the role and nature of creativity. Margaret Cadmore's guardian, the unemotional missionary's wife whom she is named after, is moved to compassion through her observations as an artist. Margaret herself is an artist, creating images out of her isolation. In this character, there must surely be something of the author. For Bessie Head, creativity was a means of bringing attention to the sufferings of human beings, and re-imagining a world that struggles against all forms of prejudice and abuse of power. She did this by trying to find beauty despite hardship: 'With all my South African experience, I longed to write an enduring novel about the hideousness of racial prejudice. But I also wanted the novel to be so beautiful and so magical that I, as the writer, would long to read and re-read it'. There is no doubt that with Maru, she succeeded.


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