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Saint Etienne "manwithoutqualities" (Broadmoor)

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Box Canvas Print of Paul Ross
Box Canvas Print of Paul Ross

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your souls, 20 April 2010
This review is from: Box Canvas Print of Paul Ross
This product is evil. Rather than descend into idolatry and graven image worship--or, even worse, into the grotesque practice of Holy No Win No Fee Communion--instead spend several hours each day meditating quietly and simply on the perfection and beauty of Paul Ross. Only the contemplation of the pure essence and idea of Paul Ross can bring true spiritual joy and renewal. My fellow patients and I bear witness to this truth.

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
by Anne Fadiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book for book lovers, 24 Jan. 2004
This short volume is ideal reading for any bibliophile. It contains eighteen essays, each six to eight pages in length – perfect for filling an otherwise idle ten minutes or so. Each one is unfailingly well written, funny and learned, and Fadiman is a lucid and likeable writer.
The essays are about the buying, collecting, organizing and reading of books – particularly engaging examples concern Fadiman and her husband finally deciding to combine their separate libraries; the various ways of marking a page (do you mark it with an object – and if so, what type of object? – or do you simply leave the book face down at the page?); the ‘Odd Shelf’ in one’s personal library (Fadiman describes the ‘Odd Shelf’ as ‘a small, mysterious corpus of volumes whose subject matter is completely unrelated to the rest of the library, yet which, upon closer inspection, reveals a good deal about its owner’); and the revealing nature of book inscriptions.
An especially attractive feature of the essays is how they reveal Fadiman’s bibliophilia not as a replacement for other emotional attachments (not an unknown characteristic of bibliophiles), but as highlighting the strength of her relationships with her husband, children, parents and friends. Ex Libris is an intensely human book about a relationship with objects.
Very enjoyable.

by Frank Wynne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative, challenging and intelligent, 23 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
Platform is a fine novel. It's readable, it's intelligent and funny, but above all, and like most really good literature, it's challenging, troubling, and puts forward more questions than answers. A strong narrative holds together the many different facets to the novel: love story, pornography, analysis of the travel industry, philosophy, moral inquiry, critique of globalization and Western civilization.
Camus is a clear influence on Houellebecq. Paralleling the death of Meursault's mother in The Outsider, Platform begins with the death of Michel the narrator's father. Michel mirrors Meursault's emotional detachment from the loss. Like Meursault, Michel is a morally detached individual, refusing to conform to the expectations of Western civilization and society, pursuing instead his own path of libertinism. And just as in The Outsider, Michel is caught up in conflicting cultures.
Platform quite deliberately raises troubling authorial questions. Is Michel the narrator simply a mouthpiece for Michel the author's views? It is not an easy question to answer, but one which persists throughout the novel and impacts on the way in which it is read. For Michel the author has courted trouble in France for his disparaging views on Islam, Christianity and Judaism; and Michel the narrator holds various controversial and unsettling opinions, most notably on Islam and on the subject of sex tourism, on which neutrality on the reader's part is not an obvious option.
The novel cleverly juxtaposes the love story with the semi-pornographic descriptions of sex; it dwells on contrasting civilizations, the exotic East and the stale West, and the complications of the rival contrast between the secular hedonism of the West and the Islam of the East; and it explores, and manages to interrelate within what amounts to an analysis of globalization, the subjects of sex, tourism, the allure of an Eastern paradise, and Western consumer and business values.
Houellebecq, quite rightly, does not provide some neatly wrapped answer to all the questions his novel raises. Instead, it is left to the reader to contemplate the implications of the story, to work at making sense of the contradictions posed, to judge whether the apparent moral vacuum at the heart of the novel is filled. And it is this that makes Platform such a good book: by refusing to patronize its readers and express only what they want to read, it invites its readers to confront and provide their own answers to the provocative and difficult questions posed.

Q Pootle 5
Q Pootle 5
by Nick Butterworth
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very charming story, 22 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Q Pootle 5 (Paperback)
This is a lovely, jolly book, suitable for 2-5 year olds; my 4-year old daughter enjoys it a lot.
The simple story features an endearing alien named Q Pootle 5 who, on his way to Z Pootle 6's moon party, crashes to Earth (cue screeching and crashing sounds from parent and child). Q Pootle 5 then tries to enlist the help of various earthlings to repair his spacecraft and resume his journey to the moon.
The illustrations are charming, but the highlight comes at the end with a spectacular fold-out picture of the moon party. As a way of getting very young children interested in the universe, this is an excellent and fun story.

Winnie's Magic Wand (Winnie the Witch)
Winnie's Magic Wand (Winnie the Witch)
by Valerie Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively and fun, 22 Jan. 2004
This is great. My 4-year old daughter is keen on the idea of witches, magic and spells, and she really likes this book.
The story is simple and easy to follow - it concerns a big day in the life of Winnie the Witch and the series of mishaps that threaten to ruin it. Winnie is a lively and eccentric central character, Wilbur her cat is resourceful and sweet. The emphasis is on fun, and there is no insufferable moral message.
Best of all are the illustrations which are vibrant, amusing and abound with detail. There is plenty for the reader to look at, and long after the story has become familiar the pictures provide ample scope for embellishing it.

No Logo
No Logo
by Naomi Klein
Edition: Paperback

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn more about the loveable, caring global corporations, 21 Jan. 2004
This review is from: No Logo (Paperback)
I recently came across a couple of books, 'Brandchild', and 'Kidfluence', that deal with how the minds of children work, how best to target a product and brand at them and their parents, and how to win this lucrative market. To the marketing gurus and the corporate CEOs, everyone is a source of potential profit. If you find this sort of thing discomforting, if you have sympathy with American comedian Bill Hicks that people who work in marketing and advertising are "Satan's spawn" intent on "putting a dollar sign on everything on the planet", then you should read No Logo.
No Logo catalogues in some depth the cynical methods of corporations to brand schools and educational programmes, public spaces, charity events, music concerts, sport, recreation - indeed, pretty much everything. It demonstrates how global corporations have put pressure on artistic freedom, and stifled choice for consumers. And it paints a clear picture, aided by Klein's first-hand experience, of the way multinational corporations have, in the interests of profit, ensured low wages and poor conditions for their workforce, how they have exploited developing world labour, colluded with oppressive regimes, turned a blind eye to (indeed, often agreed to) working practices that are a violation of human rights, assisted in the repression of trades unions - indeed, done everything possible to ensure that the workers don't make even the merest of dents into their vast profits.
Although Klein offers some suggestions of paths of resistance to globalization, No Logo is more a piece of excellent journalism than a treatise of deep political or cultural philosophy. Klein avoids allying herself to any political movement, whether anarchist, Marxist, or the more general organized anti-globalization movement; as a result, this book should appeal to the huge numbers of people who are justifiably appalled at the impact of global corporations, but who don’t regard themselves as part of leftist politics. And for those who ARE interested in anti-globalization, it is essential reading.
No Logo is extensively researched and organized, and Klein fully sources her research. She demonstrates a vast reading, from mainstream newspapers and journals to obscure political pamphlets. She has also personally spoken to numerous people, from ordinary workers and citizens to the powerful men-in-suits. And it contains a fine index, which ensures that No Logo is not only a book to be read from cover to cover but also an extremely useful work of reference.
I thoroughly recommend No Logo. Convincingly but calmly argued, it never descends into outbursts of anger, crude accusations or agitprop – but then it doesn’t really need to, so damning is the huge body of evidence it presents.

The Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Price: £5.00

49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great collection, 18 Jan. 2004
Whether or not this is the best introduction to Nick Cave I am not the best person to judge. But it’s a great collection of songs and one that has made me want to explore more of Cave’s work.
There is considerable variety to the tracks, not surprising given the album spans a long and ongoing career. Mix P. J. Harvey, Tindersticks, and Tom Waits, add a large element of biblical drama, and a touch of new wave, and you may end up with something close to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The songs on this compilation range from lyrical and haunting ballads, to dark and menacing narratives, to tracks with new wave and avant-garde features. Love, death, loss, murder and wrathful deities are the recurring themes. Cave has famously taken inspiration from the Old Testament, and like that great work of literature his songs and musicianship evoke an atmosphere that is, by turns, beautiful and troubling.
There are some outstanding tracks: the stunning, frenzied chant of ‘The Weeping Song’; the gorgeous ‘Straight to You’, ‘Nobody’s Baby Now’ and ‘The Ship Song’; the haunting duets with P. J. Harvey and Kylie Minogue; songs of foreboding like ‘Red Right Hand’, ‘Tupelo’ and ‘The Carny’; and the murderous defiance of ‘The Mercy Seat’.
Overall, this is a tremendous collection, and if you’re new to Nick Cave this seems to me to be a great place to start.

The New Biographical Dictionary Of Film: 4th Edition
The New Biographical Dictionary Of Film: 4th Edition
by David Thomson
Edition: Paperback

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential film criticism, 6 Jan. 2004
This is a magnificent book: if I were allowed only one book on film then I would unhesitatingly choose this one.
Arranged alphabetically, and covering virtually every important actor, director and producer in film history (and many other figures associated with film), it provides fairly thorough filmographies, but it’s not intended as a reference book. On questions of fact (‘Who won Best Supporting Actor in 1975?’; ‘Who played Marlowe in Murder My Sweet?’) this is not the most convenient work to consult, and often the answer simply cannot be found.
Rather, this is film criticism – and Thomson is an acutely perceptive, intelligent and eloquent critic. Invariably passionate, often funny, frequently challenging and provocative, and occasionally annoying, he is a brilliant writer and a model of how to say a lot in few words. In little more than a sentence or two he can offer a profound observation or opinion which radically alters one’s own view on a film or individual.
He can be wonderfully iconoclastic. For example, both John Ford and Stanley Kubrick, widely esteemed as great directors, are (rightly to my mind) shown up for their severe shortcomings. Sometimes he can be spectacularly and justifiably savage, about Roberto Benigni or Wes Craven for example. Equally, he is very good at extolling the virtues of underrated individuals, Barbara Stanwyck for example. Above all he provides honest, thoughtful and sophisticated appraisals, in most cases amounting to miniature essays, which rarely fail to open up new insights.
Thomson is no snob or elitist: he may lambast Tony Scott and Madonna, but he has good things to say about Spielberg and Schwarzenegger, Tarantino and Sharon Stone. His favourite director is Howard Hawks, his favourite actress Angie Dickinson, and he has a deep fondness for American film. But he is as at home with world cinema as he is with Hollywood. Bergman, Dreyer, Ozu, Mizoguchi, Bresson, Riefenstahl, Renoir and Rivette are among numerous figures explored at length. All the great figures from past and present film are here, but so too are many who are obscure or minor but interesting or deserving of reassessment – for example, Yilmaz Guney, Larissa Shepitko or Kon Ichikawa (names unfamiliar to me before Thomson).
This is an ideal book for dipping into frequently, emerging each time with a widened and deepened appreciation of film and a starting point for further discovery; but it could even be read from cover to cover and provide an excellent (albeit unorthodoxly alphabetical) film education. If you love film and regard film as a serious medium rather than merely entertainment, if your film world is not restricted to mainstream Hollywood and a few old favourites but embraces the whole history of film from around the world, if you enjoy intelligent argument and strong opinions, then you will love this book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2011 11:18 PM GMT

Francis Bacon: The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics)
Francis Bacon: The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics)
by Francis Bacon
Edition: Paperback

69 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value and a good introduction to Francis Bacon, 20 Jun. 2003
Francis Bacon was an important and extremely influential thinker. An understanding of the origins of modern philosophy and science is incomplete without some appreciation of Bacon's thought. He has been a much debated figure (and occasionally, and often unfairly, a much maligned one). His ideas are frequently difficult, but they repay close study. A complete edition of his works was published in the nineteenth century and can be found in most respectable scholarly libraries, and a modern complete, scholarly and definitive edition is in progress (some volumes have already been published). But it has often been hard to purchase good, accessible and affordable editions of his writings.
As a scholar working on Bacon I can recommend this edition - it is ideal for students and the casual reader and provides a solid introduction to several facets of Bacon's thought. It contains some of Bacon's most important works, notably The Advancement of Learning (an encyclopaedic account and reorganization of knowledge), the Essays (which touch on a number of themes, often of a moral or political nature) and the New Atlantis (a short 'utopian' work which outlines an ideal society, in particular the organized scientific research at the heart of it). The volume also presents some lesser known pieces, including some poems and letters, that provide an interesting context for the longer works. The endnotes are very good and are especially helpful when dealing with Bacon's occasionally difficult style and the many now obsolete words and meanings, and they source (and where necessary translate) the many quotations used by Bacon. Brian Vickers' introduction to the volume as a whole and his several introductions to the individual texts are decent, and they frequently contain some interesting analysis of rhetorical and linguistic features of Bacon's writing, an area on which Vickers has done extensive work.
I have one caveat however. The book contains some major works (the title rather misleadlingly suggests all the major works), but because it only includes texts that were originally written in English it omits a number of important Latin writings. Among the works not here are the Novum organum (Bacon's most important philosophical treatise and a key text; several English translations exist), De augmentis scientiarum (the hugely expanded version of The Advancement of Learning and another important philosophical work) and De sapientia veterum (The wisdom of the ancients - a mythological treatise that was extremely popular in the seventeenth century and sheds some interesting light on the formation of Bacon's ideas). Also absent are any of Bacon's many writings on natural history - works central to his philosophical programme. Bacon wrote extensively on numerous subjects and a single-volume work can do no more than scratch the surface of his ideas (the new definitive and complete edition of Bacon's writings will extend to no less than 15 volumes). Vickers' volume is useful and serves as an excellent introduction to Bacon as a literary figure and prose stylist - but it falls short of being a good introduction to Bacon as a philosopher.
Overall this volume represents excellent value. To those unfamiliar with Bacon's thought and works it makes a good starting-point; those familiar will still find it useful as it brings together some important writings within a single volume. However, for a fuller understanding of Bacon's philosophy the Novum organum (and other works if possible) should be read in addition to the pieces in Vickers' edition.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 22, 2010 2:50 PM GMT

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to be So Hated, Causes of Conflict in the Last Empire
Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to be So Hated, Causes of Conflict in the Last Empire
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.95

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly unsatisfying, but a timely book, 8 Jan. 2003
Gore Vidal is an important critic of modern American politics and foreign policy. As corporate America (and Britain) increasingly attempt to stifle democracy and as the military-industrial complex pursues war in furtherance of its own interests rather than those of the people, Vidal is one of the few writers providing a point of resistance. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace is a timely and necessary contribution.
The book is a collection of various pieces: some articles that were published in Vanity Fair, a summary of American military operations, a few letters and some new material which attempts to link it all together. Without fail each piece is interesting, though combined they fall some way short of fulfilling the book's subtitle: How We Got To Be So Hated - Causes Of Conflict In The Last Empire. Overall the volume is quite brief and, while the argument is consistently engaging and stimulating, those hoping for a rigorous analysis and critique of American policy will be disappointed. Even if the several essays are little more than polemical starting points, it is nevertheless useful to have them brought together in a single accessible volume.
Vidal focuses predominantly on three things in the book: September 11, the Oklahoma City bombing, and American military operations. Of these, the weakest area is that concerning September 11: one short essay that attempts to cover too much ground and which appears to have been tacked on to the book to update its relevance. (Incidentally, the essay is substantially different from Vidal's subsequent 'conspiracy theory' piece on September 11.) The material on American military operations is meatier, backed up as it is with several pages outlining all post-WW2 American military ventures. Vidal makes a convincing case demanding a drastic reduction in military spending and operations; the consequences of failure to do this, he persuasively maintains, are dire.
The main focus of the book, however, is on the Oklahoma City bombing. This is made all the more fascinating by the fact that Vidal entered into a correspondence with Timothy McVeigh, some of which is reprinted here. To his credit, Vidal endeavours to understand McVeigh and his grievances - a move which has caused considerable controversy in the U.S. Rejecting the simplistic demonization of McVeigh by the American media, Vidal explores McVeigh's opposition to the U.S. government, in the process highlighting how American policy is indeed increasingly stripping away the rights and freedoms that were for long central to the republican ideal. Vidal expresses justifiable concern for the direction his country is taking, and, while at no point defending McVeigh, he offers a coherent explanation of McVeigh's actions in light of the various abuses perpetrated by the federal government. At times Vidal hints at some very dark, possibly governmental, forces at work - especially when he alludes to a number of conspiracy theories concerning the Oklahoma City bomb. It is clear that Vidal is highly sceptical that McVeigh acted alone, and he even hints that McVeigh may not have been involved at all. No doubt wisely, however, Vidal does not commit himself to any particular theory.
Although Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace rather unsatisfyingly does not live up to its jacket billing, it is nevertheless a thought-provoking book and one that is of some importance in current times.

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