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A. G. Gibbons "book & music inamorata" (Sheffield, England)

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Dave Eggers: Escaping the Postmodern: Connectivism in Contemporary Literature
Dave Eggers: Escaping the Postmodern: Connectivism in Contemporary Literature
by L. Peters
Edition: Paperback
Price: £43.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good but short and pricey, 25 Aug. 2010
Quite an expensive book, considering how thin it is, and some of the essays are just a handful of pages long. I did enjoy reading it though, and since I love Dave Eggers work anything written about him is going to get a thumbs up by me!

House Of Leaves
House Of Leaves
by Mark Z. Danielewski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.04

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Teasing the Eye, 10 Mar. 2006
This review is from: House Of Leaves (Paperback)
Mark Z. Danielewski’s debut novel House of Leaves opens with the extraordinary admonition, “This is not for you” (Danielewski ix). This caution initially appears to be a strange tactic by the author designed to deter readers. However, as the story unfolds, as the reader turns page after page, it becomes clear that this epic novel is highly unusual. Danielewski issues his readers with both a warning and a challenge. This book is not for the faint-hearted or escapists among us, but for those who are prepared to negotiate new reading paths, delve beyond the ostensible surface of the page, and actively engage with the text. In his introduction, Truant describes what awaits the reader:
Endless snarls of words, sometimes twisting into meaning, sometimes into nothing at all, frequently breaking apart, always branching off into other pieces… each fragment completely covered with the creep of years and years of ink pronouncements; layered, crossed out, amended; handwritten, typed; …impenetrable, lucid… (Ibid. xvii)
In fact, the novel is brimming with typographical and spatial innovation: words placed under erasure, concrete poetry, movie mimicry, the foregrounding of book as physical artefact... It is a rhizomatic novel that in its material form stands as a sister to computer hypertext, offering the reader an intimate textual experience. In an age in which printed books are thought by some to be archaic, House of Leaves challenges the limits of the novel and the printed word. By innovating its spatial dynamics, House of Leaves’ proves that books are not becoming obsolute but evolving with us and with our technology. In this, House of Leaves sounds a revolution.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2010 7:35 PM GMT

Diary of an Amateur Photographer: A Mystery
Diary of an Amateur Photographer: A Mystery
by Graham Rawle
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by an Amateur Reader, 11 Nov. 2005
Graham Rawles mystery novel "Journal of an Amateur Photographer" is altogether a different type of mystery novel to any that I have ever read. Most remarkable is its presentation. Opening the pages of this slim hardback volume, the reader is confronted with collaged pages of type-writer narrative, cuttings from magazines, photographs, and mundane material objects such as staples and paperclips. Although this book is printed, the design of each page gives the impression that you are reading a unique version, particularly as the supposedly odd-sized pages give the impression of depth by allowing you to read the pages behind them.
The narrative itself (which is in no way weak despite the clear presentational emphasis) is accessible to all types of readers from the literary student to those who just pick up the occasional book for pleasure. The quirky, perhaps paranoid and delusional, narrator uncovers a murder mystery when he buys a second hand camera, discovering a photo of a dead man on the roll of film inside. Taking this as a sign specifically for him, he attempts to solve the murder, giving the narrative a pacey edge accompanied by amusing asides and character details that I couldn't help but giggle aloud at in my office!
All in all, this was a fun, thoroughly enjoyable book that has prompted me to check out his latest novel "Woman's World" and leaves me uttering, "Why hasn't Graham Rawle produced any more novels?"

Speak for Yourself
Speak for Yourself

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heap and Seek, 13 July 2005
This review is from: Speak for Yourself (Audio CD)
While you may know Imogen Heap for her contributions in Frou Frou, "Speak for yourself" is the stunning follow-up to her first solo album "I Megaphone". This new album moves away from both her previous projects. "I Megaphone" is darkly electronic and Frou Frou's "Details" is a pop-orientated trip-hop album. In contrast, "Speak for Yourself" is soft, sophisticated, and edged with tenderness yet it maintains the electronic trip-hop vocalised essence that fans of Heap will have come to expect. A vital difference with "Speak for Yourself" is that Heap's classical training shines through more than ever, from piano melodies and classic synths and strings to the exquisite composition of every track. And layered over all this, and entwined into the music, is Imogen Heap's breathy silky voice.
My absolute favourite track is 'Hide and Seek' which was used in The OC's season finale recently. It is a slow harmonised vocal track that communicates a sense of united sorrow and hope simultaneously. It's absolutely beautiful and this one track is enough reason to buy the album!!
Other favourites are 'Clear the Area' in which classical piano leads into an ocean of mellow beats, 'Just for Now' with its layers of luscious vocals, and 'Closing in' which combines moody trip-hop beats with innocent vocals.
All in all, this is a brilliant eclectic album that manages to hold together the funky grooves of 'I am in love with you' and a ballad like 'The Moment I said it'. There isn't a bad track.
Comparisons: Jem, Frou Frou, Goldfrapp, Zero 7 in parts and elements of Archive.

The Magic Dragon
The Magic Dragon
Offered by J4G
Price: £22.95

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars relaxing magic, 18 May 2005
This review is from: The Magic Dragon (Audio CD)
This is very definitely a chill-out album, so many of the normal buzz words apply - blissful, melodic, electronic, etc. Each track is beautifully composed, but not overwhelmingly so. There is a sense when listening to Caia that the music is subtly and sophisticatedly put together and produced. Mostly, it's an instrumental album though female vocals stand out on 'the rose room' and 'subway freedom', 'Whose blues' along with saxophones, and soulful crooning and tribal chants appear on 'heavy weather'. However, the vocals are minimal and the music is always the main impact on the listener.
Favourite tracks for me are:
'the rose room': a real funky opening with a heavy beat, scratches, dub, and a luscious bass line.
'La telecabine': its a track filled with soothing synths and crashing base, but its composition seems to change when you least expect it. It keeps you on your toes.
'afterwards@the bar': a real end of the night tune. Deep mellow acoustics and piano, a jazz feeling, full of soul and gentle passion.
If you are into chill-out, you'll love this, particularly if you like Groove Armada as Andy Cato is said to have helped out on production. The album also shares musical similarities with Bonobo, Thievery Corporation, and Weekend Players.

Oryx and Crake
Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dystopia too close for comfort, 25 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Oryx and Crake (Hardcover)
While the obscure title of Margaret Atwood's latest novel Oryx and Crake causes one to expect an extraordinary journey across the limits of outer space to mysterious planets, it in fact seeks less to entertain its readers with fantasy worlds than to inform and comment upon our own. Following in the dystopian tradition, it charts a society in which biotechnology is rife, tampering with animal and human genealogy to produce strange creatures and concoctions as scientists play god with destructive consequences. Oryx and Crake is a message to us all, presenting an unsettling conception of mankind's potential demise.
While Atwood's conception is a skilfully written and precisely detailed version of the future, at times it seems to raise all-too-familiar arguments around paradise-engineering, without adding anything new. In the compound of OrganInc Farms, transplant and microbiologists manufacture 'Pigoons', pig-like creatures designed for human benefits - growing "an assortment of foolproof human-tissue organs in a transgenic knockout pig host". Any individual with an interest in current affairs will, of course, find this reminiscent of 1990s human cloning disputes, continuing the idea of creating easy transplant donors. One of Atwood's characters says, "The whole world is now one vast uncontrolled experiment - the way it always was". With such extensive genetic manipulation, the prospect of designer babies, and the recent decoding of the human genome, it seems doubtful that readers will find significant evidence in today's world to disagree.
The lack of originality may appear to be a deficiency, yet it is simultaneously an asset; Atwood's numerous extrapolations make Oryx and Crake highly plausible and thus all the more disturbing. The worst fears and freshly tragic events of the Western world are plucked out of life and placed upon the pages of the novel. In the burning pyre of sheep and cows can be seen the effects of the foot and mouth disaster, while potent talk of air-born disease evokes the contemporary SARS scare. Even the threat of anthrax bombs that emerged after 9/11 can be interpreted in the vicious bioform attacks that haunt the compounds. Visions of projected futures are always related to the time in which they are conceived, but when reading Oryx and Crake, there are moments when Atwood's novel seems closer to an account of the present than a fictional prophesy; there is little of the far-fetched in Jimmy's father's discontent with the age he lives in: "Too much hardware, too much software, too many hostile bioforms, too many weapons of every kind. And too much envy and fanaticism and bad faith". Indeed, this sounds very much like the terrorist presence and religious fundamentalism that casts shadows upon this century's Western societies.
The horrifying effect of Oryx and Crake lies in its credibility. In a time of express living, in which the popularity of fast food is increasing and the internet offers instant responses, it looks unlikely that mankind will patiently await the next slow step of evolutionary advancement. Margaret Atwood believes that humans are doomed by either hope or desperation, recklessly grasping toward something else, something new, in an attempt to find and harness 'perfection'. If this impetuous desire is indeed human nature, then she is quite right: "As a species we're in deep trouble... we're running out of space-time".
The most pressing concern is who should be reading this novel; those of us interested in literature, culture, and the Booker Prize, or the chemists and biologists presently scrutinising over a microscope or preparing test-tube experiments? Either way, Oryx and Crake is certainly food for thought.

Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction
Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction
by Peter Stockwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, 25 Feb. 2005
This introductory text book is a must-have for anyone interested in the fairly specialised area of cognitive poetics, literary linguistics, or simply the reading process in general.
It breaks down its topic into concept based chapters that include practical application. These chapters cover figure and ground, prototypes, deixis, cognitive grammar, scripts & schema, discourse worlds, text worlds etc.
Stockwell's mapping out of the field as it is emerging is both fascinating to read and relatively easy to understand. I would recommend this to most undergraduates, as well as postgraduates who want a comprehensive introduction to the field.

One Giant Leap
One Giant Leap
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.09

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars World music for the Contemporary world, 25 Feb. 2005
This review is from: One Giant Leap (Audio CD)
To say this is world music in this case is in no way to limit it to being a stagnant repetition of the songs and sounds of other cultures and nations. 1 giant leap brings music from all over the world, and blends them with a sense of mainstream. The result is a refreshing reinvigoration of both modern pop/hip-hop and world music. Every track holds its own individual sound, which fit within the over-arching frame of the album, encasing this eclectic mix.
Most people will have heard 'My Culture' which features vocal/rap from Robbie Williams, but this is certainly not the best track. I'd say the weak point for me is 'Braided Hair', which i find the most repetitive and simplistic. That said, one of my best friend adores it.
Personal Favourites are:
'Ma' Africa' - an uplifting track with a clear tribal feel, and lyrics which seek to "make Africa a land of hope"
"The Way you dream" - Truly epic, truly gorgeous, blending the western with the indian and back to the western with Michael Stipe. A selfless song.
"Ghosts" - A ghostly sound, with strings, building in intensity. Absolutely hauntingly beautiful.

Price: £29.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Voice(s) to listen to, 25 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Nommo (Audio CD)
This album is absolutely amazing!! I cannot stress that enough. If you are thinking about buying it, stop thinking and do it. If you've come this far, you won't regret it.
'Nommo'is a diverse album, filled with a mix of musical genres, cultural voices, and modes of expression. Rap, Spoken word, gorgeous heart-felt vocals, poetry and samplings. What's more this album articulates a strong socio-political message. Musically and lyrically, it forces the listener into deep comtemplation.
'Frank & Harry' is a complex dance number, that satirises modern consumerist culture with brilliantly witty lyrics that draw our attention to the idolisation of celebrities in our culture. (The impact of this is enhanced as the listener continues through the album, with lyrics about cultural identity, and war and peace.)
'Weebles Fall' features Emiliana Torrini on vocals and her voice is as crisp and soft as ever, while subtle acoustic numbers like 'killing me' and whisper' are filled with emotion.
'21 Today' holds a definite political message at the present, as it states all the countries (21 in total) to be bombed by America.
Favourite Tracks: Frank & Harry, Whisper, Back to Peace.
Album words: gorgeous, political, eclectic, heart-breaking.

Tough Guys Don't Dance
Tough Guys Don't Dance
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £19.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Likeable but not special, 25 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Tough Guys Don't Dance (Audio CD)
I bought this album after it appeared in my recommendations. Since it was compared to Broadway Project, whose "Compassion" album I love, I was expecting big things. But to be honest I am a little disappointed. That said, I do in fact like it, just not as much as other albums and groups.
The first track is moody, with its racey beat and dark electronic sounds, reminiscent of the sort of music films use in club scenes or even car chases. All in all, it's a fairly average track though.
In fact quite a few of the tracks are average sounding. Yet they're certainly likeable. "San Quentin Blues" and "rumblefish" fit quite nicely into the chill-out genre but aren't distinctive, and remind me of better tunes by the likes of Chicane etc.
Male vocals appear on "Love", "Down so low", and "Precious Time", and these songs are the best on the album; perhaps a little zero 7 -esque. The real highlight for me is "Down so Low" - it seems the most intimate with backing strings and a building beat.
This probably isn't the sort of album you could just sit solitarily and listen to. It isn't thought-provoking, and the music is in no way as challenging as many of the groups its compared to. Its quite 'nice' though (and I do use that word deliberately) as background music if your mates come round for a chilled one.

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