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The Mysterious Stranger: No. 44 (Mark Twain Library)
The Mysterious Stranger: No. 44 (Mark Twain Library)
by Mark Twain
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars distressing, 18 May 2011
Roman commencé durant un long séjour en Autriche et auquel il a travaillé pendant douze ans, cette oeuvre posthume et non terminée de Mark Twain fut publiée après bien des remaniements, et même complétée par un chapitre final.
Le narrateur, un apprenti-imprimeur de 16 ans, raconte l'apparition d'un mystérieux étranger dans un village autrichien du XIIIème siècle, village imaginaire, nommé par dérision Eseldorf, le village de l'âne.
Une série incroyable d'événements burlesques ou surnaturels, tout à fait incompréhensibles survinrent alors, ainsi que l'apparition d'une multitude de Doubles, un double de chaque personnage.
Mal écrit (et/ou traduit), ce conte du moyen-âge est parfaitement ennuyeux, et sans la moindre parcelle d'humour, à tel point qu'on peut se demander si c'est bien Mark Twain qui en est l'auteur.
Navrant.


Downtown
Downtown
by Ed McBain
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars crooked and hilarious, 25 Nov 2010
This review is from: Downtown (Paperback)
Not a crime novel, but an hilarious thriller; and very good at that.
Cary Grant, unforgettable in 'North by northwest', would have loved to be this orange grower from Florida, embarked in a nightmarish caper through the concrete jungle of downtown Manhattan on Christmas Eve.


The Lost Books of the Odyssey
The Lost Books of the Odyssey
by Zachary Mason
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not standard but even better, 17 Nov 2010
Freshly contemporary, the 44 books invented by Zachary Mason - an author not less cunning than Odysseus himself - are short stories when compared to the 24 original (on average about 4 pages long versus 17). For the latter were likely composed to be song by a rhapsode, rather than to be read from a book made of paper or a Kindle-like substitute. Nevertheless Homer's spirit is still present, made even more accessible to people of our times. Indeed the original poem of Homer is not particularly easy to read.
One finds here a straightforward narrative combined with a delicious and witty language.
A kind of Homer improved. Not standard but even better.


The End of Time. The Next Revolution in Our Understanding of the Universe
The End of Time. The Next Revolution in Our Understanding of the Universe
by Dr Julian Barbour
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars as good as it gets, 5 Nov 2010
Written both for the popular-science market and for scientists and philosophers, only the latter shall fully enjoy this remarkable book. Because they have developed their mind's eye, enabling them to see four-dimensional space-time or Riemannian spaces just as clearly as everyone can see a thing extended in two directions.
The author argues that the apparent passage of time is an illusion. If we could stand outside the universe and 'see it 'as it is'', it would appear to be static. This radical conclusion is reached by considering the most basic structure of Einstein''s general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, the two fundamental theories of physics.
In particular, time is treated in completely different ways in the two theories. This presents a severe problem, since all serious workers in the field are convinced that the two theories must eventually be subsumed in a single over-arching theory. This will be the quantum theory of the universe (also called quantum gravity). The finding of this theory presents many great difficulties, of which the 'problem of time' is perhaps the most severe. It seems that a choice has to be made between two irreconcilable notions of time. The author argues that the only satisfactory solution is to abolish time altogether and outlines a timeless quantum theory of the universe.
Is included a proposed solution to one of the most intractable problems of physics : what is the origin of the so-called arrow of time? Why is it that all phenomena distinguish a common direction of time (i.e., why does entropy increase?), but the equations of physics are symmetric with respect to the direction of time? The equations of physics allow not only the shattering of a cup that is dropped on the floor but also the re-assembly of the pieces. However, that is never observed. A theory of the universe should explain why entropy increases.
'The End of Time' suggests that a fundamental asymmetry in the space of all the possible structures of the universe could provide a basis for the arrow of time.
Not highly readable, nor accessible to the layman; but profound, original and creative, this book deserves five stars.


German Swords and Sword Makers: Edged Weapon Makers from the 14th to the 20th Centuries
German Swords and Sword Makers: Edged Weapon Makers from the 14th to the 20th Centuries
by Richard H. Bezdek
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.45

4.0 out of 5 stars indispensable, 28 Oct 2010
Richard J. Bezdek, whose grandfather emigrated from Frankfurt, Germany, in the 1890s, has been fascinated with German military history since childhood. As a collector, the German cavalry sabers remain his favorite. Focusing on them for his fourth book, here is a history of the men who designed, manufactured and sold these prized weapons, famous for their high-quality since the Middle Ages, when Solingen eventually became the largest of the sword-making centers.
The book is divided in 12 chapters, some not larger than one page. Chapter 8, on the contrary, needs 70 pages to list the German swordmakers from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries. Probably the largest list ever published, accompanied by the interesting illustrations of German sword maker marks covering 34 pages.


Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Continuing Challenge to Unify the Laws of Physics
Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Continuing Challenge to Unify the Laws of Physics
by Peter Woit
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars quite convincing, 25 Oct 2010
«This book attempts to tell a complicated story that may be of interest to readers with a wide range of different background. Some parts of the story are inescapably rather technical, involving not widely known parts of both mathematics and physics. As a result, most readers are likely to have trouble with at least some chapters.»
A physicist and mathematician, a lecturer teaching graduate courses in the mathematics at Columbia University, New York, is Peter Woit the ideal candidate to write this book about the failure of the String Theory ?
Sir Roger Penrose evidently thinks so, having even encouraged the project and helped the author to find a publisher.
On the other hand, by far the most common reaction from superstring theorists has been to ignore the authors arguments on the ground that he wasn't saying anything not well known to people in the field.
And what about the non-experts ?
«Professional physics and mathematicians are quite used to the idea that one cannot hope always to follow a technical discussion and one needs to be ready to skip ahead to where things again get less demanding. Just about all readers should find this tactic necessary at one point or another.»
Even so, this book is not highly readable, nor accessible to the layman; rather quite a challenge.
Therefore, despite his fascinating exploration of the quantum mechanics and the quality of his documentation, a rating of three stars seems appropriate for such a perilous enterprise.


The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain (Bantam Classic)
The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain (Bantam Classic)
by Mark Twain
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the un-complete short stories, 23 Sep 2010
This volume claims to present the complete short stories of Mark Twain. It contains sixty stories but is far from being complete.
Indeed in other editions I have collected thirty-three more tales, some of them absolutely extraordinary, and worthy to be anthologized.
For instance 'Mr Bloke's item' published in 1865 seems completely forgotten. But one of the funniest stories I know.
Nevertheless this book is very entertaining, if not complete.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 29, 2012 4:55 PM BST


Jesus Out To Sea
Jesus Out To Sea
by James Lee Burke
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars news from an alien world, 22 Sep 2010
This review is from: Jesus Out To Sea (Paperback)
In this collection of eleven short stories, two of them excerpted from the Robicheaux series, the characters are mostly miserable, in particular those who - survivors of the terrifying hurricane Katrina - found refuge on a roof in the hope to be eventually rescued. However not by president Bush, who merely waved to some of them from his helicopter, and this not sooner than some days after the flood.
The title of the collection alludes to a big wood carving of Jesus on his cross, teared away from a stucco church, drifting on his back, his arms stretched out, within a few yards of the narrator squatting a tin roof.
A plain vanilla James Lee Burke.


The Glass Rainbow (Dave Robicheaux Mysteries)
The Glass Rainbow (Dave Robicheaux Mysteries)
by James Lee Burke
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars un conte des temps modernes, 15 Sep 2010
Ayant mis son héros dans une situation impossible, Mark Twain termine son roman du moyen-âge en disant : "Ayant placé mon héros dans une situation sans issue, je ne vois nul moyen de l'en faire sortir. Et d'ailleurs je me lave les mains de toute cette affaire. C'est à cette personne de trouver la façon de s'en tirer - ou bien d'y rester. Je pensais d'abord pouvoir dénouer aisément cette petite difficulté, mais j'ai changé d'avis."
James Lee Burke, toujours égal à lui-même, a concocté une sombre histoire de jeunes filles torturées et assassinées, animée par une demi-douzaine de personnages aussi pourris les uns que les autres. La situation étant devenue sans issue, Burke termine son roman des temps modernes par une tuerie générale, qui laisse sur le carreau trois morts et deux héros blessés, et laisse au lecteur de s'expliquer le fin fond de l'affaire.
Bien joué, Mister Burke.


Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual (Missing Manuals)
Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual (Missing Manuals)
by David Pogue
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.95

4 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars missing manual ?, 18 April 2010
The missing manual ?
This book is full of things I don't need. And when I need help, it let's me down, notwithstanding it's 900 pages of text and pictures.
Unblock a removable disk is not his strong point. When the eject button doesn't, David Pogue invites to restart the Mac keeping the eject button, mouse button or F12 key pressed ; and even if that technique doesn't work, to look for a tiny pinhole, in or around the slot, and insert a straightened paper clip, slowly and calmly, to make the disk pop out.
This manual is about the Mac OS X 'Snow Leopard operating system'; nevertheless, it might signal that some Macs don't come any more with CD-ROM drawers. They just use a slot. Then what ? Blockage and necessity to use radical means, i.e. rescuing by AppleCare.
With a small piece of wood and some audacity, I succeeded however to extract the imprisoned minidisk, making afterwards AppleCare verify that nothing went wrong, in order to preserve the warranty of my new MacBook Pro.
Macintosh user since the beginning, I have no need for this manual, at the limit of deliberate padding.
From time to time I read a few pages of this laborious book, and eventually find some interesting piece of advice. But in general, with a Mac one finds intuitively by himself the solution to a difficulty.
Paraphrasing Woody Allen who likes to say : «I have the answer. Which is the question ?», a Mac user might think : «No need of answer. There is no question.»
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 13, 2010 3:26 PM BST


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