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Larry Santers "André Sainderichin" (Antwerp, Belgium)

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Afterlife
Afterlife
Price: £1.27

4.0 out of 5 stars Strange, eerie, intriguing..., 17 April 2015
This review is from: Afterlife (Kindle Edition)
In this, his fourth novel, Mr. Gurung describes his journey through the netherworld after his passing.

I have to be very candid: this is not really the type of book I generally pick up. Besides which, as an atheist, I have my doubts about the concept of afterlife. So I sort of waded in with mixed feelings. Truth be told, the story started growing on me after twenty or thirty pages.

It takes a while before you realize what the story is about. Mr. Gurung manages to conjure up a feeling of disorientation, disconnectedness, detachedness and absolute wonder for this strange and eerie place Enos, his principal character is moving through, on his quest for something he doesn’t know or understand, and which I can only describe as “It”. Is it a place? A person? A god? The writer never mentions any specific deity or supreme being, and the reader is left –together with Enos- to conjecture about the ultimate goal of Enos’s wandering through what I’ll call “Hades”.

I’m not going to spoil the book for you by giving away the end. Suffice it to say, that Enos has to surmount many challenges and difficulties before reaching his ultimate destination. The way I see it, his journey constitutes some sort of spiritual cleansing of the soul, readying Enos for what is to come.

I suspect Mr. Gurung is not a native English speaker. His writing has a certain solemn quality at times, which actually fits the story quite well. There is virtually no dialogue in the book, and I initially feared it would be a difficult read. But no, the story actually grows on you. You want to find out, together with the main protagonist, where all this is leading to.

If you’re into this sort of literature, by all means, have a go. You’ll come to wonder about the strange landscapes and moods, and the mysterious twists and turns in the story.

Larry Santers


Presentation Thinking and Design: Create Better Presentations, Quicker
Presentation Thinking and Design: Create Better Presentations, Quicker
by Ed Gruwez
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars There's light at the end of the tunnel ..., 14 Oct. 2014
A well thought out, well presented and cleverly laid-out book. Like most of us, I take a rather dim view of presentations. Like most of us, I’ve had my share of drawn-out and boring ones. This book aims at saving us from them. The author’s stated goal is to help you make presentations that keep your audiences on the edge of their seats while you’re doing your thing, and to spend less time preparing them.

One caveat, though: the book very emphatically is NOT about Powerpoint or even slides, it is solely about making effective presentations, whether they rely on Powerpoint, on some other tool, or on none at all. The focus is entirely on the content of a presentation, and how to structure it and put it together for maximum impact.

The author suggests a twelve step process, divided up in four sections. The emphasis is on the thinking about the presentation, its preparation. Just opening a new presentation in Powerpoint, and then starting to hammer away is totally not on. In fact, the actual writing of the presentation is the last and the least important part.

In a clear, concise, and compelling way, Mr Gruwez explains every step in detail, drawing on his and others’ experience, on scientific research, and on cognitive sciences to make his point.

I found this to be an excellent and very instructional book, that totally upended my view on the topic. There’s hope. We’ll all we be looking forward to the next presentation again.


To the point: Presenteren, maar dan met inhoud
To the point: Presenteren, maar dan met inhoud
by Ed Gruwez
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A must, 15 April 2014
Presentations are not about tools, or rhetorical skills. They’re about content, about matching what you have to tell and your audience. About matching what you want to tell and what you want to achieve. Your mastery of the tools, or your talents as a speaker may help you get your message across, but in themselves, they won’t be enough. Your masterful delivery won’t get you anywhere, if your message hasn’t been adapted to your audience, your animated Powerpoint slide-set or Prezi storyboard won’t get you more than amazed ohs and ahs if nobody understands what you’re getting at.

This is what this wonderful book (soon to be published in English and French) is all about. It’s all about making your point, about delivering your story, about convincing your listeners. It’s all about making content-centered and audience-centered presentations. So, this is very emphatically not a book on Powerpoint. In actual fact, according to the author, it’s perfectly possible to make an excellent presentation without Powerpoint, or any other tool for that matter.

The book provides a framework for systematically preparing and delivering a presentation for maximum effectiveness. The great originality lies in the scientific grounding of the framework: the author draws on research that has been done in the field of cognitive sciences and psychology to show why certain presentations work, and why others don’t, why certain slides will work, and others won’t. Mind you: this is not an academic treatise. At all times, the book remains readable, practical, and oriented towards the needs of people who have to make presentations regularly. Thanks to the use of different fonts, and differently colored fonts, the reader can chose to concentrate on the ‘how to’ aspects of the book, or to include the scientific basis for the author’s recommendations, or pinpoint the ‘tips and tricks’ sections. Quotes from other authors are added regularly, to illustrate some points or to provide a broader background to the materials.

Another aspect that I found both fun and enriching is that all illustrations were done by the author himself. It provides a kind of intimacy, as if you were holding the manuscript, the draft of the presentation the author is preparing to make. In fact, apart from being a very interesting and rewarding book, it’s also an exceptionally nice and pleasant looking one.

I think this book will help anyone who has to make presentations, in the broadest sense. In fact, I think corporations would be well inspired to use this book as a sort of primer on presentation skills and know-how and make sure all key people read it or get some training on the approach it develops, before they even start thinking of a Powerpoint training of sorts. They stand to save a lot of money, because people will spend less time in preparing their presentations and in delivering them, and will become much more effective.

A must.

Larry Santers.


An Introduction to Japanese Society
An Introduction to Japanese Society
by Yoshio Sugimoto
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful, 5 July 2011
Mind you, this one is not for the faint of heart. It's a serious textbook, so it's not an easy read to cuddle up with before the fireplace on long winter evenings.
That being said, this is solid stuff, at least as far as I can ascertain. It's not the usual fluff about Japan, but a review of the different aspects of Japanese society today, based on serious research and hard facts. Of course, some topics will be familiar (like when the author describes life in big corporations), but by and large, I've found this text to give me a totally new set of insights into modern day Japan. The book is also very comprehensive, in that it deals with a wide variety of topics (schools, big business, media (traditional and new), government, civil society, men and women, children etc ....). I'd wage that even some Japanese people would be surprised at some of the findings discussed in this book.
An added factor is that the book is remarkably well written: the language is precise, concise and clear. Again, this is no novel, and the general style is austere, but it never becomes arid.
I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to know more about Japan as it is today, even to Japanese readers.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 24, 2014 11:12 AM BST


Js Bach: Cello Suites
Js Bach: Cello Suites
Price: £21.90

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Holy Cow !!!!, 26 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Js Bach: Cello Suites (Audio CD)
First things first: this is a truly amazing rendition of Bach's suites for unaccompanied cello. I had the greatest difficulty following Mrs. Spanoghe on the music sheet. I haven't bothered to check, but I'll bet she shaves off another 5 minutes from the previous record. And yet, never does she miss a beat, waver or otherwise give the slightest indication that she's on her toes, hanging in by the skin of her teeth, and will just barely make the finish. No, it's sheer perfection.
And second: I don't like this set. I really, really do not. At all. The breakneck speed is impressive enough, the adamantine brilliance of the playing is staggering, but to me, they make it totally impossible to enjoy the emotional depths the works offer.
Just as a test, I listened to Jacqueline du Pré's recording of Suite 1 & 2 just after. OK, du Pré was 16, and played on gut strings. But, boy, oh boy, what a delight. The enthusiasm, the total immersion bring a big fat grin on my face, and the kind of joy I'm sure Mr. Bach would have felt.
Just to make sure, I listened to Yo-Yo Ma, and Janos Starker... These guys are good, realy good. Perfect playing, and yet unfathomable emotion, poetry, lyricism. Maybe, just maybe I prefer Mr. Ma. It's marginal, but I find his playing just a bit more involved, more appealing to the soul.
Everything considered, it's not so much that I don't like Mrs. Spanoghe's rendition. I just don't care for it. At all.


Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III
Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III
by Robert A. Caro
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning..., 13 Sept. 2008
Whether we like it or not, US politics are key to us Europeans. Whether we like or not - and no doubt there are times we like it rather less - the sheer power of the US, the ubiquity of US culture, our three centuries of shared history and wars, the blood shed by US soldiers on our land, the deep bonds that tie our nations - and no doubt there are times we havebvdeep reservations about these bonds - all make US politics key to us. And understanding them, and what makes them what they are, and how they came to be what they are, are fundamental for us Europeans to come to terms with a relationship that isn't always easy. And in order to achieve some measure of understanding, one has to delve into US political history, and into the history of US political institutions.
In this area, Mr. Caro's book should be compulsory reading.
If it were just a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, it would deserve the highest praise. Meticulously researched, unswervingly evenhanded in the appraisal of the central character, both critical and admirative, here is a book that reads like a thriller. Obviously, the chapters detailing how the 1957 Civil Rights Act became law is the most spectacular example of how Mr. Caro turns history into a fascinating, palpitating piece of literature that one simply cannot put down. The way the plot unfolds, the way the dramatis personae are brought to the stage, the way events big and small are brought to play is simply masterful. But other examples abound, that the reader will enjoy just as much. On literary value, storytelling power,historical perspective on the man and politician L.B. Johnson alone, this book stands.
What really fascinates, though, is the insight Mr. Caro provides in the inner workings of a great institution, the Senate of the United States. It shows its grand sides, its moments of grandeur, its solemn and momentous times, and its petty, dark, cynical workings. The opening chapters contain a superb short history of the Senate, bringing into perspective the tensions between South and North, liberals and conservatives, and the way these tensions modeled and conditioned the way the US Senate would mold,and quite often would refuse to mold US policy. The narrative builds up an almost palpable image of the institution and its workings. Fascinating stuff.
I could go on and on... Suffice it to say: the moment I finished reading,I ordered the first two volumes of Mr. Caro's LBJ biography.


Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power
Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power
by Robert Dallek
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mmmmmm..., 9 Jan. 2008
I found this book really tough going.35 years after Nixon's resignation, his psychological profile is generally well known: it has been amply and widely publicized. The same for Kissinger. As a result, we've all come to expect a degree of pettiness in these men's attitudes and behaviours, and can readily imagine that this pettiness played a sometimes substantial role in their dealings with international affairs. The question I have is: would it be all that different in any other administration? I cannot imagine, for example, that elections wouldn't drive any administration to temporize, or on the contrary to accelerate things depending on expectations on how this could affect results. I expected a deep, insightful essay, and got a somewhat tacky, gossipy story that at times became really boring, so obsessed as it was with nagging, gory, petty details on both these men's meaner and darker sides. In my opinion, the book is saved by the final chapter, where the contribution of RMN and HK to US foreign policy and world affairs is evaluated: it's brillant, no less. But the bottom line is: I don't really care for this book.


The Years Of Lyndon Johnson Vol 3: Master of the Senate: Master of the Senate Vol 3
The Years Of Lyndon Johnson Vol 3: Master of the Senate: Master of the Senate Vol 3
by Robert A. Caro
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange but true: a cliffhanger..., 27 April 2004
Whether we like it or not, US politics are key to us Europeans. Whether welike or not - and no doubt there are times we like it rather less - thesheer power of the US, the ubiquity of US culture, our two centuries ofshared history and wars, the blood shed by US soldiers on our land, thedeep bonds that tie our nations - and no doubt there are times we havedeep reservations about these bonds - all make US politics key to us. Andunderstanding them, and what makes them what they are, and how they cameto be what they are, are fundamental for us Europeans to come to termswith an often difficult relationship. And in order to achieve some measureof understanding, one has to delve into US political history, and into thehistory of US political institutions.
In this area, Mr. Caro's book should be compulsory reading.
If it where just a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, it would deserve thehighest praise. Meticulously researched, unswervingly evenhanded in theappraisal of the central character, both critical and admirative, here isa book that reads like a thriller. Obviously, the chapters detailing howthe 1957 Civil Rights Act became law is the most spectular example of howMr. Caro turns history into a fascinating, palpitating piece of literaturethat one simply cannot put down. The way the plot unfolds, the way thedramatis personae are brought to the stage, the way events big and smallare brought to play is simply masterful. But other examples abound, thatthe reader will enjoy just as much. On literary value, storytelling power,historical perspective on the man and politician L.B. Johnson alone, thisbook stands.
What really fascinates, though, is the insight Mr. Caro provides in theinner workings of a great institution, the Senate of the United States. Itshows its grand sides, its moments of grandeur, its solemn and momentoustimes, and its petty, dark, cynical workings. The opening chapters containa superb short history of the Senate, bringing into perspective thetensions between South and North, liberals and conservatives, and the waythese tensions modeled and conditioned the way the US Senate would mold,and quite often would refuse to mold US policy. The narrative builds up analmost palpable image of the institution and its workings. Fascinatingstuff.
I could go on and on... Suffice it to say: the moment I finished reading,I ordered the first two volumes of Mr. Caro's LBJ biography.


Tina Turner - Celebrate! [DVD] [2000]
Tina Turner - Celebrate! [DVD] [2000]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exhilirating, stunning, moving, fun ..., 28 Feb. 2002
This is Tina's 60th birthday concert, with interviews with Tina mixed in (and some shorter snippets with Sting, Phil Spector, Marc Knopfler..) and tapes of older concerts, some going back to Ike & Tina Turner times. Tina's in top fettle here, surrounded by the cream of the crop in terms of musicians, vocalists, dancers. Her singing is fantastic (and it's great to see how she handles the parts that at 60 she can't do like 20 years ago), at times very moving, and always displays the zest we expect. There's a great duo with Brian Adams, too. The only reason the DVD doesn't make 5 stars is that, to me, the visual treatment is too busy: I don't think there's one single shot on the whole concert that lasts longer than 3 seconds. It gets in the way of enjoying the concert to the full. Still warmly recommended, though!


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