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In Ruins
In Ruins
by Christopher Woodward
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The love of collapse, 3 Dec. 2002
This review is from: In Ruins (Paperback)
I finished reading this piece while eating lunch at work in an office overlooking a church - roofless and leaning, a victim of the second Great War. The ruins of the building are fenced off from the public, and while you can linger in gardens outside the chapel, its grounds are closed to the possibility of soporific loiterers.
As Woodward acknowledges, this is less a work of architectural history than a overview of the Romantic possibilities of collapse. The author intersperses his own love-affair with the mystery of the untouched ruin with that of poets, eccentrics and fallen Princes through the ages. At once personal and engaging, the book is a captivating history of man's relationship with the physical remains of rise and fall of civilisations.
My only complaint would be with the publisher's emission of a glossy photo section. The black and white digital pictures within do not capture the intensity of some of the artworks they reproduce.

White Noise (Picador Books)
White Noise (Picador Books)
by Don DeLillo
Edition: Paperback

8 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ideas, tracts, one-liners, 23 May 2002
Don Delillo is a man of ideas. His fiction is a fiction of ideas. Ideas as fiction, ellusive, non-representative, unreal.
White Noise has it's problems - it contains flat characters, unconvincing dialogue, insignificances that take on an other-worldliness (when they really should maintain triviality). What it does have is an inexhaustable style and energy, a barrage of extreme possibilities (a killer defeats death by becoming it) and cultural critique humourously juxtaposed with familial warmth and clinical submission. Recommended as an introduction to Delilloism
A toxic novelistic event indeed.

The Dharma Bums (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Dharma Bums (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Jack Kerouac
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another muse for Kerouac, 30 April 2002
...this short novel is one of his better works.
OK, so it's not as sharp a prosody as "On the Road", but then Kerouac is dwelling in heavier waters, deeply immersed in Buddhist teachings and enlightened hobo-wanderings.
He again has his muse - the startlingly grounded Japhy Ryder (a metamorphosis of poet Gary Snyder), a far cry from the hard-drinking Dean Moriaty.
He again has his America, not the astral-jazz urban America of the Subterraneans or Road, but the desolate America of dead trails and unbearable space.
Existentialist moments up the mountain are burdened by a holy loneliness, dulled by wine and Kerouac's ...wide-eyed naivety. But then written pre-Flower Generation, pre-Vietnam, pre-AIDS, an exultation of existence was a viable option rather than a cynical rejoinder.

Dreams at the End of the Night
Dreams at the End of the Night
by Ewald Murrer
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A book burnt in dream light, 17 April 2002
Black serpent devils, jilted lovers, dreams within dreams, eyes of an ancient race. Czech author Ewald Murrer's first novel is still haunted by the sparsity of the word of the poet attempting to capture the magical essence so prevalent in much Bohemian literature. Made up of a number of surrealistic short chapters, picking out a link between the stories is tasking (reoccurance of one Count Lesperto and various other fleeting personae provide some clue.) The text is dense with overwrought dialogue in extremis, and may be unbearable to some, but with a little encouragement - worthwhile. If you are less tempted to make sense of the load and accept it as a slumbering reverie then it works a treat. Strange but necessary reading.

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