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My Young Years
My Young Years
by Arthur Rubinstein
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the good old years of old Europe, 26 April 2010
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This review is from: My Young Years (Hardcover)
Arthur Rubinstein was a great pianist, one of the great (if not the greatest) Chopin specialist.
This autobiography takes us on a tour of his younger years, more or less until he was 25-30. The book finishes about the end of WWI.
Although nominally a Russian subject (his native part of Poland belonged to the Russian emperie in those years), he felt and was always Polish. He was the son of a tolerant jewish family, and never hold any religious pratice or prejudice. Russian Jews in those days suffered several forms of discrimination, and had to struggle even to take part in official music contests in Saint Petersburg.
When he was barely a child he was apprenticed to a music professor in Berlin, and since then on, he more or less held a life of his own. He loved music, fun, women, wine, songs, merry making. He was also a great philanderer: as a teenager he had an affair with his landlady, a married woman, twice his age!. He went on to have affairs with many women, some of them wives of his friends, or their mothers or sisters, or opera singers. He was gifted with an innate talent, but didnt practice much and always trusted his inspiration and the emotion he could cause in the public. He was a tremendous money borrower. He met all the great musicians of the late XIX and first half of the XX century: Saint Saens, Stravinsky, Casals, Paderevsky, Toscanini, Strauss... And many other artists that belonged to their circles. He traveled widely Europe and America. WWI caught him in San Sebastian during a Spanish tour, together with Diaghilevs russian ballets.
Rubinstein shows himself as a funny playboy, with music incorporated. However, I find a dark side on his personality in his lack of thanks to those who paid for his early studies (not only his family, but some benefactors), his carelessness with the money he borrowed, his lack of consideration to the public.
A great book from a golden age (for some, at least).
Cannot wait to the second part.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2012 11:32 PM BST


The Lady in the Lake
The Lady in the Lake
by Raymond Chandler
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Black as death, 26 April 2010
This review is from: The Lady in the Lake (Hardcover)
This is a very good novel, not only a black novel. There's a softly outdated look in some aspects (outdated tecnology is easy to detect and very anachronistic), but all together, it's a very moving novel about love, despair, beauty and desire.
A classic.


Histocompatibility Testing
Histocompatibility Testing
by Jeffrey Bidwell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £86.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Excelent treaty, bit outdated, 26 April 2010
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This book is an excelent treaty on histocompatibility. However, it is a bit dated, because the topic grows each day and it is very difficult to cope with new knowledge. However, it is a good primer to HLA because the fundamentals are well explained and the topics covered are ample and very well illustrated and told.
A good help if you are new in the town! I wish the authors could renew the contents.


Architecture and Film
Architecture and Film
by Mark Lamster
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars excelent review, 26 April 2010
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This review is from: Architecture and Film (Paperback)
This book is a compendium of different wiews of architecture as seen in different films. Architecture is very important in creating the spirit of the film, however it is often overlooked when discussing films. This is natural, because the most important part is created by the director and actors, but this book gives new insights on how films are made and condition our view.
The only thing lacking is some photos of star wars, that is also commented.


The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Ironic piece of comedy and drama, 30 Dec. 2009
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This review is from: The Princess Bride (Paperback)
Much has been said by other reviewers, the book is a sort of "the making of..." the princess bride film. The film was an ironic review of adventure films, and the book is a revision of adventure films AND books, together with the making of ¿is it true? of the very book and the screen play.
That some of the scenes in Shrek come out directly from the film or from the book is praise enough, but if you like a sort of detatched humour, such as Woody Allen or Terry Pratchett's, this is your book.
Highly commendable!


Arthur Rubinstein: A Life
Arthur Rubinstein: A Life
by Harvey Sachs
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life of a libertine in the golden years, 14 Dec. 2009
Arthur Rubinstein was one of the great pianists of the late early XX century. He knew the Golden Europe before the great WWI and all that came later. He met all the great composers (Stravinsky, Falla, Strauss, Debussy, Saent Saens, Dukas), players (Paderewsky, Horowitz, Casals), singers, dancers, millionaires, artists...

His great musical talent was undisputed and his great personal charm also, as is seen in his book. His life is wonderful, because he managed a great series of marvellous coincidences that allowed him to surf every drawback.

However, after a second thought sometimes he appears as an egoist, who does not thank some of the people who helped him become a musician: he loathed his first piano teacher, but then he was supported financially by him and people who barely knew him when he was only a promising child talent. He held romances with several women, many of them married, some of them to his friends, some of them simultaneously.

He wasted and squandered money, even when he had to ask for loans from friends. This was freely given, but one wonders what would have become of him if he hadn't so much luck in life, and so rich people, and besides, one laments his lack of comittment to his obvious talent. He usually tells not preparing concerts, not rehearshing etc, trusting all to the public's love for him or their lack of musical knowledge.
Yes, it's a song praising wine, women and songs, but for me it has a bittersweet taste.


Predator's Gold (Mortal Engines Quartet)
Predator's Gold (Mortal Engines Quartet)
by Philip Reeve
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars great second part, 31 Aug. 2009
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Predator's gold is a good second part to Mortal engines.
When things seemed to be going well, unexpected problemes get into Tom and Hester's way.
Usually second parts are not so good as the first, because the author runs out of ideas or just relaxes because he counts on the reader's support. This is not the case: the characters become more complex and mature, and react like real people and even adults. The plot is a bit thinner than in Mortal Engines, but that can be that Municipal Darwinism is not such a surprise as in the first book.
And, also this is a good steam punk, post apocaliptic narrative, a good sci-fi narrative and a good social satire.
Worth your money.


Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines Quartet)
Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines Quartet)
by Philip Reeve
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant steam punk, 6 Aug. 2009
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This book is a very good steampunk narrative, that can be enjoyed by young people and adults alike.
Other reviewers have explained the argument, which is common enough: a deserving young man gets into trouble, and that brings him into a great conspiracy, and that makes him a hero, finding extraordinary characters along he way... this comes to a final climax where the characters will find their fate, and learn a lot about themselves and their world.

This book can be read by any reader, but I think that only people above 10 will be able not to get scared, and read a bit between the lines... And that is the best part. Reeve makes a parable of a post apocaliptic world, a dreg of enviromental catastrophe and war ravage. His municipal darwinism is a mockery of ultraliberal capitalism and its hopeless ramble about the world, wasting resources, destroying nature and people, to keep a corrupt social order alive. Reality is far worse than we think, in a world where the poor, the meek have no place.
There are constant references to other books (Shrike, for example)and that makes us older sci-fi readers the more happy
The comparison with Phillip Pullman and the Dark Matter series is unavoidable, and for me Reeve wins the day: more coherent universe, better narration, and clearer message if any.
This is a "children" book, but at the same time a sombre social distopia. I think this is the first time that a reader brings this genre (post apocaliptic) from sci-fi into children books. John Christopher's "Tripods" has also explored this theme, but then apocalipsis was brought by aliens.
I give it four stars because it is not a complete "round" story, and the adult reader could find some loopholes in the narrative, most probably to make the book more palatable for the younger public. But I'd gladly give it 4.5 stars. I'm buying all the series and would like my children to read them when they get older.


London's Leonardo: The Life and Work of Robert Hooke
London's Leonardo: The Life and Work of Robert Hooke
by Jim Bennett
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Too little biography, 3 Aug. 2009
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This book promised a biography of a fascinating man. However, the biography is lost in the editorial work.

The book is not a usual biography, beginning at birth, then academic life, then public life and then death. Instead, what you get is an essay collection on Robert Hooke's life, philosophy and ideas and his time. Of course you get glimpses of his life and work, but you get lost in the book structure. You dont know what his hobbies are, or how his experiments developed, you are just told what happened, out of the blue. His work as curator of the philosophycal society is explained in more detail, but that is all. As a detail, you dont get a portrait of Hooke!

The book is very well edited (it could win 5 stars) and also has good illustrations, the authors are undoubtedly learned an erudite on Hooke, but the message does not come through (therefore 3 stars).


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2007]
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.24

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars non purpose film, 23 Jun. 2009
The two first parts of the series are average, funny, likeable pirate films with a touch of humour and irony about the genre (much like Burt Lancaster or Bob Hope's pirate films). Even captain Sparrow shows some gay inclinations that are difficult to conceal, and would be unthinkable in the 50's. All in all, they come from the Disney factory and offer a good fun.

However, this trird part, supposed to be the culmination of the series displays an extra large footage, where the director doesn't know where he wants to go or what he wants to express. Why does the East Indies Company go to such efforts to capture Sparrow / Billy Bones / etc.? We don't know actually. Some characters, like the chinese pirate by Chow Yun Fat could be done away with. All the fuss about Calypso leaves you disappointed in the end. The special effects are good, but lost in a purposeless plot. It seems that they had to do a 120 minute plus film and they did it.
For me, a lost afternoon.


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