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Amazon Customer "villafan82" (Leeds, West Yorkshire)

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Shadow Country
Shadow Country
Price: 3.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed masterpiece?, 5 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shadow Country (Kindle Edition)
This book must be the ultimate in the use of the 'unreliable narrator'. Except that in this case there are dozens of narrators, all of them unreliable. Therein lie both the strengths and weaknesses of what Matthiessen clearly intended as his magnum opus.

The massive build-up of detail makes for a rich and immersive experience; by the end - if you get there - you'll feel you've spent a lifetime among these rough-hewn and violent Florida frontiersmen and women. And therein lies the problem - reading the same story three times in one enormous volume ultimately becomes too much of a good thing.

With hindsight, I wish I'd read the three original volumes when they were published, with 'natural breaks' between them.

Surprisingly, for an author who became famous for his nature writing, there are few extended descriptions of the Everglades landscape, climate and flora and fauna. That is to say, they are are frequently referred to, but always in the context of how they are of use or hindrance to the unsentimentally tough-minded locals. It's all about terse dialogue, rather than poetic flights of fancy.

And those locals - there are so MANY of them. I suspect that Matthiessens research was extensive and thorough (and effectively recycled in the guise of Lucius Watson's research in the second part of the book). It's as if he felt he HAD to bring in the back story of every single real-life person in involved in the Watson saga, to let them all speak, as it were. This may be laudable in its way, but leads to 'casting overkill'. After a while I found it difficult to form mental pictures of all the characters as they came and went with bewildering regularity.

All of which sounds like I didn't enjoy the book - which would not be true. For all its faults, it's quite an achievement, and well worth reading - particularly if you've ever enjoyed the writing of the likes of William Faulkner, Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway or Cormac McCarthy. As a western/southern gothic crossover there's nothing else quite like it. But be prepared for a long haul.

Incidentally, it surprises me that no-one has yet filmed it. A screenplay would - of necessity - have to take a more more concise approach to the story, but given the cinematic possibilities of the Everglades and Keys, and the classic anti-hero at its centre, this could (in the hands of the right director) make a great movie along the lines of 'There Will Be Blood'.


iZKA® - 360' Rotate In-Car Windscreen Or Dash-mount Suction Holder Mount For Motorola Moto G - Also Works With Motorola Moto X
iZKA® - 360' Rotate In-Car Windscreen Or Dash-mount Suction Holder Mount For Motorola Moto G - Also Works With Motorola Moto X
Offered by iBox Ltd
Price: 5.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job, 29 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I thought at first my phone wasn't going to fit - the spring loaded expandable section of the holder was fairly stiff. But it's fine. Have yet to use it in the car, so don't know yet how the suction attachment will perform.


Home From Home - The Missing Album
Home From Home - The Missing Album
Price: 9.15

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Your HH & F collection is not QUITE complete!, 12 Dec 2013
This is a good album, should have been released at the time.

But there's an even better one lurking out there - the self-titled 1969 album by Poet and the One Man Band - who were HH & F before they changed their name. And it's even better than this!

Seek it out.


Behringer Monitor Speakers Ms16 - 2-Way Active Personal Monitor System (Price...
Behringer Monitor Speakers Ms16 - 2-Way Active Personal Monitor System (Price...
Offered by Sivitec_Direct
Price: 84.07

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A question on cables, 7 Jun 2013
Haven't bought these yet, so I gave them three stars as a guess!

Can somebody who has them tell me whether any cables are included, and if not, what I need to buy. I will be connecting them to a Zoom R24 recorder, which takes the larger, guitar-style (quarter-inch?) jackplugs.

Thanks.

Mike


Equipment You Need for Recording Music (The Concise Collections)
Equipment You Need for Recording Music (The Concise Collections)
Price: 0.77

1.0 out of 5 stars Ripoff, 5 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Even at 77p, this is a ripoff. The illustration above shows a fat manual. What you get does not qualify as a 'book' by any definition of the term. It's a (short) list, and a pretty useless one at that.

Avoid.


ZOOM R24 Audio Pro Multitracks
ZOOM R24 Audio Pro Multitracks
Offered by Absolute Music Solutions
Price: 369.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive recorder, 5 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Reading some of the reviews for this (and similar products), it would seem that I am one among many who are returning to recording music after a long layoff. The last time I did it was in the days of tape - and the alternative was either rather crude recording at home, or expensive time in a pro studio.

Now, with products like this, you can do pretty impressive multitrack recording at home, for a very reasonable price.

I've only just received my R24, so I'm still at the beginning of a steep learning curve - it's packed with sophisticated features, that are clearly going to take me months to master. But that's good!

I have to say that - given the complexity of the unit - the manual is VERY basic. I would strongly recommend purchasing one of the excellent video tuition courses from http://proaudiodvds.com/ - there are some taster lessons on YouTube. The R24 tutorial will set you back about twenty quid, and although I'm normally sceptical about such things, it's actually well worth it. You get over 2 hours of solid examples that show you how to use the recorder in detail. They should really bundle the DVD version of this with the R24, in my opinion.


Stettin Station
Stettin Station
by David Downing
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Potsdam Station!, 4 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stettin Station (Paperback)
Amazon, PLEASE sort out your review organisation. Potsdam and Stettin Station reviews all mixed up. I'm trying to review Potsdam, Amazon says I already have, but the review has been placed (here?) on the Stettin page! Anyway...

Potsdam is excellent, although the WWII nerd will inevitably spot a few things to quibble about. DD repeatedly uses the term "machine pistol", when I'm pretty sure he means "automatic pistol" - characters keep them in their waistbands, so I assume they are handguns. "Machine pistol" is traditionally a synonymous term with "submachine gun".

Also, he makes the common rookie error of describing Waffen SS combat troops as being in black uniforms - they would have worn field grey like their army counterparts, possibly with additional camouflage smocks. The black uniforms were prewar/"full dress" gear, or worn by "politicals".

Of course, I'm nitpicking.

The book clearly draws very heavily on Antony Beevor's superb history "Berlin: The Downfall, 1945" - and a copy of said book would be immensely helpful in following the geographical movements that take place with bewildering speed.

This is an excellent series overall, highly recommended - at least on a par with Alan Furst, and (in my opinion) considerably better than Phillip Kerr, whose books fail to convince me at all.


Empty Space: A Haunting (Kefahuchi Tract Trilogy 3)
Empty Space: A Haunting (Kefahuchi Tract Trilogy 3)
by M. John Harrison
Edition: Paperback

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparks in Everything, 22 July 2012
"Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past"

As a teenager in the 1960s, I read science fiction avidly; the usual suspects - Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Aldiss, Ballard - all the postwar writers I could find, really.

But by the time the "New Worlds" school of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll sf came along, I had largely moved on to more mainstream fiction. In the forty-plus years since then, I have occasionally dipped a toe back into the genre, without ever really finding anything to get me really excited. Then I (re)discovered M. John Harrison. A chance find of "Light" (the first part of this trilogy) in a charity shop had me intrigued, not least by the heavyweight recommendations in the review blurbs. My initial attempt to read it was a false start - the first chapter introduced us to a rather unlikable theoretical physicist with a penchant for randomly murdering yuppies. Was this going to be some sort of British rehash of "American Psycho"? I put it down and read something else. But some months later I gave it another shot. And, as the action shifted to a bizarre (yet strangely familiar) 25th century culture far out in a region of the galaxy where conventional physics breaks down in unpredictable ways - The Kefahuchi Tract - I was hooked.

The apparently unrelated threads of the story, were ultimately reconciled - sort of. It left me slightly confused, but entertained, intrigued, and wanting more. So I got a copy of the sequel "Nova Swing". Still set in the futuristic cultural mash-up of the region around the Tract, this was a wonderful detective noir pastiche, chock full of sly in-jokes and pop culture references, like some sort of deranged collision between Philip K. Dick, Douglas Adams and William Burroughs.

While waiting for this book (the conclusion of the trilogy - or is it?), I took time out to read Harrison's earlier fantasy-but-not-as-we-know-it sequence "Viriconium". This is not the place to talk about that, but suffice to say it's a masterpiece (Tolkien and Vance morphing into Durrell, Eliot, Baudelaire and er... Alan Bennett. Just read it).

Which brings us on to "Empty Space". Given the differences in style between the first two books, I wasn't sure what to expect - probably an almost unrelated story, simply set "in the same universe" as they say. But no. Characters from both "Light" and "Nova Swing" reappear, and take the story further into the realms of the seriously weird.

It's quite difficult to know what to compare this to. There are plenty of name-drops in here if you want to play detective (entirely appropriate, given the nature of some of the sub-plots). Fans of Iain M. Banks will smile knowingly at some of the spaceship names ("Daily Deals & Huge Savings", anyone?), and the intermingling of the (almost) mundane world of the (almost) here-and-now of Home Counties England with epic space opera reminded me somewhat of the early works of Ken Macleod. But although there is everywhere a knowing awareness of traditional sf tropes, Harrison constantly subverts them, and is ultimately very much his own man - and a masterful writer. At times the mood of the book shifts from the laugh-out-loud funny to the very dark indeed, from one page - or paragraph - to the next.

As all good sf should, it evokes some memorable visual images; in fact the best comparisons may be cinematic rather than literary: think Cronenberg, Lynch, and - especially - Tarkovsky, in its approach to non-sequential storytelling and the breakdown of temporality. The subtitle ("A Haunting") is appropriate - the atmosphere of the book still infests my head and has provoked some slightly disturbing dreams. But I'm not complaining.

There is so much going on in here, it's difficult to sum it up. But if have an open mind, and you want see what "literary" (ugh) sf can do in the hands of a great writer, pour yourself a shot of Black Heart Rum, put on some saltwater dub, and read this trilogy. And smile.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2013 9:33 AM BST


Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music 1955-1965
Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music 1955-1965
by David Rosenthal
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent hard bop primer, 26 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a rock fan who has been dabbling in jazz for years, and is now exploring it in more depth, I found this book invaluable. The author has a very readable style, and his enthusiasm for the subject really shines through. It is probably not for the absolute beginner, but ideal for someone who has heard a few of the major artists of the era and wants to dig a little deeper.

One minor quibble (this is in the Kindle version, I don't know if it applies to the printed book) - there is a recurring typo throughout the book whereby the pianist Mal Waldron is always referred to as "Mai". Very odd!


No More Worrying
No More Worrying
by Allen Carr
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.99

35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stating the obvious, 20 Jan 2012
This review is from: No More Worrying (Paperback)
I'd heard many testimonials to Allen Carr's books on smoking and losing weight, about how remarkably effective they were. Now I don't smoke and don't want to lose weight, but - like most people - I occasionally worry a bit too much, so I thought I'd give this a go. What a con.

Save your money, simply read this old poem:

In this life there are only two things to worry about.
Either you will be rich or poor.

If you are rich, there is nothing to worry about.
But if you are poor, there are only two things to worry about.

Either you will be healthy or sick.
If you are healthy, there is nothing to worry about.

But if you are sick, there are two things to worry about.
Either you will live or you will die.

If you live, there is nothing to worry about.
If you die there are only two things to worry about.

You will either go to heaven or to hell.
If you go to heaven, there will be nothing to worry about.

If you go to hell, you'll be so darn busy shaking hands with all your friends,
you won't have time to worry!

SO WHY WORRY?

And then sing this old song:

What's the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.

That's it - the entire contents of this piece of self-help profundity, in a nutshell. Hopefully I've saved some of you a few quid. That's one less thing to worry about.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2014 4:26 PM BST


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