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Paul Titley

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Ten Weeks in Africa
Ten Weeks in Africa
by JM Shaw
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ten weeks of contrasting thoughts., 4 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
There are 2 sets of considerations in mind as I put down my 3 star review.

The story, the writing and the characters are all well formed - the style can jar on occasion with occasional explicit exposition, just in case we weren't paying attention. If this were a crime novel based in the US, I would have happily enjoyed the ride. There are scenes which would happily sit in a decent thriller - there is suspense, and the pages do turn at a rapid rate.

However, the story is not the reason I am writing the review.

The book is based in a fictional African nation - thought it is clearly Kenya with the names altered. The story revolves around an Englishman, Ed Caine, moving to kenya to oversee a DfiD funded community project aimed at improving the lives of those living in the City's largest slum. He runs (along with his well meaning but oh-so-out of touch wife) into corruption, secret police and crime at every juncture. And I mean every juncture. The book has four or five African characters who do not seem to be involved in illegal activity - the rest are all either removing the project money, or planning a coup to overthrow the corrupt government, and settle a few tribal scores at the same time.

Whilst this is happening EVERY European is in the country trying to save the world and is as clean as a whistle, barring a few heavier than usual drinking habits.

And the most annoying part part is that the author leaves the reader with the conclusion that the situation is helpless, and everybody's probably best just staying at home.

This stance left me frustrated. I have a, very small, involvement in NGO work in Eastern Africa. No doubt, some corruption is present, but not to the extent this novel portrays. The author acknowledges his limited exposure to the ground floor in Africa, and a lot of his source material is secondary - therefore highlighting some of the extremes, and ignoring the efforts of millions to push past this corruption.

I could have loved this book, if it were a little less extreme in it's depiction of the people of Kenya, and a little more realistic about the work undertaken by aid agencies and NGOs, particularly in East Africa.

If you have, or are planning on reading this book, please have a big handful of salt around at all times (and enjoy it all the same!).

Any Minute Now
Any Minute Now
Price: £5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aagain, a grower..., 8 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Any Minute Now (Audio CD)
M.A.E.A. (Soulwax's debut) was recommended to me by a friend a couple of years ago and, being someone whose judgement I trusted, I popped out and bought myself a copy - only to be heavily underwhelmed once I gave it a listen.
However, something bought me back to it and the more I listened, the more the pieces fell in place... The pace, the changes in timing and the feel good singalongability of the title track and Too Many DJ's made this one of my top 5 albums in my collcetion.
I was eager for a follow up, and it was a long time in coming. Once my copy arrived I was again underwhelmed - but now it's been on heavy rotation for a week, I can see the same thing happening again - The opening two tracks, the brash guitars and beats on the two halves of the album, with a cheeky ballad dropped straight in the middle to keep you on your toes..
Give it a try.
Give it a few tries, it'll soon stick.

Dice Man
Dice Man
by Luke Rhinehart
Edition: Paperback

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected..., 5 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Dice Man (Paperback)
Is it an autobiography??
I hope not. The dice man (Dr Rhinehart) allows the dice to decide his decisions. In everything. Although this begins as an interesting concept - some of the ideas and consequences require the reader to abandon reality - death, destruction, madness and infidelity follow some of the all too regular rolls of the cubes.
However, the book is extremely readable - the pages will keep turning, though if I'd known how I was going to feel at the end of the book, I would have given up long.
The unreal nature and empty plot towards the finale left an empty taste in my mouth.

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