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Edgar Price "Eddie" (uk)

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The Liar
The Liar
by Stephen Fry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This doesn't take the biscuit, 9 Feb 2011
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This review is from: The Liar (Paperback)
Oh dear. I thought I was going to like this. I'd just finished "Moab Is My Washpot", which is wonderful, so I thought I'd read more of Mr Fry's work. Unfortunately I have to agree with the other 1 and 2 star reviewers here; this really does become a bit of a challenge to finish.
The shifting back and forth in time made the narrative a bit clunky, but I could forgive that. The daft as a brush plot was less forgivable. One minute you think your reading a kind of autobiographical novel, then suddenly about two thirds of the way through, the book apparently transforms itself into some kind of spy novel. Or does it?
Yet ultimately, it was the whole "feel" of the novel that lost my goodwill. The public schoolness, the paraded erudition, the sheer smart-arsedness of it all, simply alienated me. (One public school practice described here, involving a digestive biscuit, had me almost wretching.Not many books have had that impact on me, so hats off to him for that, I suppose.)
As for Professeor Trefusis: can characters like this condescending,quote-for-every-occasion know-all actually exist? Surely not. They would be assassinated long before they had got to his advanced years. I know if I'd had to share a car journey with him for any length of time, as the main character does, I for one would have quite cheerfully kicked him out of the speeding car.
Anyway, I'm still a big fan of Mr Fry's, and I'm going to be hunting down the next volume of his autobiography, because if it's anything like the first I'm sure I'll enjoy it. I just think I'll be exercising a little more caution when it comes to approaching his novels.

How Could He Do It?
How Could He Do It?
Price: £1.40

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An Unrewarding Read, 3 Oct 2010
I found this an unsatisfying read. I'm sure this family have had a terrible experience but I don't think this account does them any justice. I found myself losing interest halfway through, but carried on only for the sake of finishing the book.There just didn't seem to be enough here to hold the interest.
The details of the abuse are never really described, in even very general terms,and though this is understandable in terms of protecting the feelings of those involved, it still leaves a vagueness at the core of the book about what actually took place. The abuser/father seems only partially present. For a lot of the time, once the abuse has been disclosed, we seem to be waiting for him to return from abroad to face the consequences of his actions. Yet when he finally comes back he never actually appears in the book, so there's never any real showdown, which comes as a bit of an anti-climax.
The survivor/daughter's mental and emotional difficulties never seem to be dealt with in any depth. In fact, for someone who has a first-class honours degree in psychology the author's perspective seems surprisingy superficial. Her daughter's bouts of bizarre behaviour are referred to simply as "freakies", whatever they are. Her daughter describes auditory and visual hallucinations that compel her to self-harm, and a diaqnosis of schizophrenia is eventually made, yet later we are told this is a misdiagnosis, that she is actually neurotic, but these bizarre symptoms are never really examined or explained.
The areas of life where we get the most detail are those that are the most mundane to read about. There are financial worries, housing issues, legal wrangles, academic study, and so on.
Oddly, the author often complains about the family's financial hardships and poverty, yet there are elements of her life we don't usually associate with poverty: private schools, horse-riding, holidays in Australia, hired home helps, and courses of grant-assisted higher education. I actually started to find her attitude quite irritating as the story went on.
A clue as to why this book is so unsatisfactory is given towards its end, when the author says she wrote it in a period of about two weeks. If she had allowed herself more time to reflect on what she was writing, and had had more help with the editing, perhaps a more worthwhile acount would have been produced.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 29, 2012 5:16 PM BST

Existential Counselling & Psychotherapy in Practice
Existential Counselling & Psychotherapy in Practice
by Emmy van Deurzen
Edition: Paperback

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Universal Themes with Limited Appeal, 1 May 2010
Wnenever I approach a book on existential therapy I always feel rather excited at the prospect of gaining further insight into the human condition from what promises to be an exciting form of therapy; yet I invariably come away from the book feeling disappointed, and I'm afraid this volume has been no exception. Ms van Deurzen obviously knows and loves her subject, and is clearly a leading figure in this field. Unfortunately, though the title of this book suggests that it might be something of a handbook for practising therapists, I found very little here that was of practical use.
As Ms van Deurzen makes clear,the themes of this type of therapy - and of existentialism in general - are fundamental. They concern issues of life and death, of meaning, of purpose, of choices and freewill. Yet in existential texts these fundamental themes are often developed and elaborated until the points being made become either incomprehensible, or just plain woolly. For my part, the most interesting part of this book concerned her approach to dreams, which I felt was insightful, and made a refreshing change to the interpretative approach of the psychoanalysts.
Nonetheless, one of the numerous doubts I have about this type of therapy is its apparent exclusivity. To an extent, all therapy relies on a client who is willing to engage with it, yet existential therapy seems to require a degree of philosophical-mindedness from clients that most simply will not have.
Another objection is that,just like psychoanalysis - which it clearly tries to distance itself from - this therapy has a tendency to complicate problems that don't need complicating. Sometimes a fear of falling off ladders is a fear of falling off ladders, and not an ontological crisis.
For a prospective client of this therapy my advice would be: if you're an educated, articulate, self-reflective individual inclined to philosophical speculation, and you have emotional or relationship difficulties that aren't too severe, then existential therapy could well be the right approach for you. If that's not you, then look elsewhere for help.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2011 9:45 PM GMT

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
by Apostolos Doxiadis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.74

8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Falling between several stools, 11 Jan 2010
I was pretty disappointed by this. I suppose you have to admire the creators for attempting such an ambitious project, but for me the whole thing fell between a number of different stools. It wasn't accurate as biography (eg Russell's older brother is entirely absent, giving the impression that Russell was an only child.) The philosophical component lacked depth. There wasn't enough detail when it came to explaining the logical concepts involved. And it lacked the physical action that usually accompanies a graphic novel. Besides all that, it had a cumbersome narrative structure, in which the authors and artist appear as themselves discussing the story in progress, while we have Bertie Russell on stage telling his life story, all of which is going on while the central story is trying to make itself heard. This gives the story a very stop-start kind of flow. And was the Greek play really that relevant here anyway?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 14, 2010 4:06 PM GMT

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