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The Hunters (Vintage International)
The Hunters (Vintage International)
by James Salter
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 4 Feb. 2004
James Salter's first novel is the story of Cleve, a fighter pilot in the Korean War. When first encountered, there is an intentness about him, coupled with a distinctly fatalistic strain; he is in Korea to make "a valedictory befitting his years", using his flying skills to hunt MiGs. But this is not the reality. In subtle, achingly authentic prose, Salter depicts Cleve's feelings of frustration and helplessness as fellow flyers get kills while so many of his own missions end without incident. Few novels about war are so completely engrossing or well-written. 'The Hunters' is a classic.


The Natural
The Natural
by Bernard Malamud
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Flawed Classic, 2 Feb. 2004
This review is from: The Natural (Paperback)
'The Natural' is the story of a man striving to become the greatest baseball player who ever lived. It's an astutely observed novel, which readily (often unexpectedly) deploys humour and melodrama to unbalance and confound the reader. Early on, after an exhilaratingly impromptu confrontation between the Whammer (a batter approaching retirement) and Roy (the "natural" of the title), two shock blows are delivered in quick succession. These events form a loose prologue and shape the rest of the tale; they also define Malamud's antagonistic relationship with the reader: brutal scenes bump unpredictably against farcical episodes in a narrative that is confusingly inchoate. Problematically, the novel's turbulent voice - sometimes laid-back, sometimes flippant - dislocates us from Roy: we see his pain, but don't, in the final stretch, feel for him strongly enough. But, problems aside, the passages about baseball, and the evocation of sporting ambitions, make it a memorable read.


The Natural (Vintage Classics)
The Natural (Vintage Classics)
by Bernard Malamud
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.77

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Flawed Classic, 2 Feb. 2004
'The Natural' is the story of a man striving to become the greatest baseball player who ever lived. It's an astutely observed novel, which readily (often unexpectedly) deploys humour and melodrama to unbalance and confound the reader. Early on, after an exhilaratingly impromptu confrontation between the Whammer (a batter approaching retirement) and Roy (the "natural" of the title), two shock blows are delivered in quick succession. These events form a loose prologue and shape the rest of the tale; they also define Malamud's antagonistic relationship with the reader: brutal scenes bump unpredictably against farcical episodes in a narrative that is confusingly inchoate. Problematically, the novel's turbulent voice - sometimes laid-back, sometimes flippant - dislocates us from Roy: we see his pain, but don't, in the final stretch, feel for him strongly enough. But, problems aside, the passages about baseball, and the evocation of sporting ambitions, make it a memorable read.


Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination and the Birth of a World
Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination and the Birth of a World
by Oliver Morton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sense of place, 2 Feb. 2004
If Spirit, Opportunity and Mars Express have rekindled (or ignited for the first time) an interest in the red planet, Oliver Morton's excellent book will go a long way to satisfying your curiosity. Intelligent and lucid throughout, this wide-ranging study takes in everything from the latest theories of Martian geological change to the novels of Kim Stanley Robinson, and is written in a crisp, agreeably characterful style (Morton is clearly passionate about his subject). On every page there is an eye-opening detail or unexpected insight, and we are left with a greatly expanded sense of wonder for our nearest planetary neighbour.


Hy Brasil
Hy Brasil
by Margaret Elphinstone
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On Land And At Sea, 2 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Hy Brasil (Paperback)
If there is a theme running through Margaret Elphinstone's work, it is travel. 'Voyageurs' concerns a 19th century journey, while 'The Sea Road' tells the story of the Viking exploration of the North Atlantic through a woman’s eyes. And 'Hy Brasil', too, is strongly infused with literatures of exploration and adventure: the narrator is a young travel writer commissioned to write about the island and inhabitants of Hy Brasil; characters are provocatively named after pirates, both real and fictional; and the names and works of canonical writers - Hakluyt, Ballantyne, Stevenson, and Cook, to take a few - are peppered throughout, connecting the novel to a specific time and type of tale. It is, in many ways, a book about books, and a book about the pleasure of reading them.
But while Elphinstone's writing is, quite frequently, of a breathtakingly high quality, 'Hy Brasil' takes time to establish its intent. Elegant and expressive passages, often of the natural world of the island and surrounding ocean, give way to dialogue that fizzles, or set-pieces that, lacking focus, peter away. Sidony and Lucy and Jared (along with many others) are written for exceptionally well, in terms of descriptive prose; the problem is that Elphinstone fails, somehow, to make the characters enduring or authentic. When, towards the end, the plot finally begins to resolve, the reader doesn't care passionately enough about the island's inhabitants to be moved. Nevertheless, odd problem aside, 'Hy Brasil' is an artful and quirky novel, well worth a look.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2011 9:48 AM BST


Prime Suspect: 4 - Scent Of Darkness [DVD] [1995]
Prime Suspect: 4 - Scent Of Darkness [DVD] [1995]
Dvd ~ Helen Mirren

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Search of the Truth, 30 Dec. 2003
The past returns to haunt Detective Superintendent Tennison in this, the best of the three 'Prime Suspect 4' episodes. The tortured and beaten bodies of two new murder victims display identical characteristics to the bodies of George Marlow's victims; the intriguing problem is that Marlow is in prison, suggesting that either a copycat killer is at work, or Tennison, the detective on the original case, put the wrong man away. This engrossing drama captures something of the tense, urgent tone of the earlier 'Prime Suspect' stories, with Tennison endeavouring, despite both personal and professional pressure, to get to the truth.


Prime Suspect: 5 - Errors Of Judgement [DVD]
Prime Suspect: 5 - Errors Of Judgement [DVD]
Dvd ~ Helen Mirren
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £11.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unfamiliar Territory, 28 Dec. 2003
In the impressive conclusion to 'Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgment' two men evade justice, albeit by vastly different methods; despite her team's excellent investigative work, Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison is unable to put the criminals behind bars. The decay of "law and order" is a central motif in this thoroughly enjoyable Machester-set psychological drama. Although lacking the spark of early 'Prime Suspect' stories, it's still superior screen drama: Mirren is decidedly good as the cunning and resilient Tennision; Steven Mackintosh takes it right to the edge as "the Street"; and the cinematography makes stunning use of locations in the Capital of the North.


The Third Reich: A New History
The Third Reich: A New History
by Michael Burleigh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.74

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read History, 28 Dec. 2003
No reader who enjoys strongly argued, expertly written history will be disappointed by this extensive and detailed "New History" of the Third Reich. Burleigh's narrative moves from the complex political environment of pre-war Germany right through to the post-war situation, tackling every aspect of the totalitarian regime with the same interpretative and explanatory flair. It is frequently harrowing, with horrific individual accounts and specific incidents bringing a chilling immediacy to the broader story of the machinations of Nazi Germany, guided by Hitler, and of the other complicit European governments. Cogent and persuasive, this is a momentous history - highly recommended.


Prime Suspect: 4 - The Lost Child [DVD] [1995]
Prime Suspect: 4 - The Lost Child [DVD] [1995]
Dvd ~ Helen Mirren
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling Episode in the Long-Running Series, 27 Dec. 2003
Early in 'The Lost Child' (the fifth episode in the 'Prime Suspect' series) Jane Tennison is shown entering hospital to have her pregnancy terminated; intercut with this is the crime that forms the core of the story: the apparent abduction of a baby. The strain Tennison experiences - the "loss" being investigated recalling her own recent loss - is exquisitely evoked by Mirren. And others are also adversely affected by the grim case: the normally reliable DI Muddyman, haunted by memories of how he himself was abused, breaks down and assaults a suspect. Altogether, it's a great piece of drama.


Prime Suspect: 4 - Inner Circles [DVD] [1995]
Prime Suspect: 4 - Inner Circles [DVD] [1995]
Dvd ~ Helen Mirren
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward, but well worth a punt, 27 Dec. 2003
Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison is pleased to be working on an investigation again, after a dull stretch of accounting and paperwork; her only difficulties are a DCI with a bad attitude, a team that needs knocking into shape, and a local community reluctant to reveal an assortment of its guilty secrets. Shorter than earlier 'Prime Suspect' dramas, the three self-contained instalments of 'Prime Suspect 4' each struggle to achieve the psychological complexity of their predecessors; nevertheless, 'Inner Circles' is an admirable addition to the series, and an excellent piece of police drama, in and of itself. Well worth a look.


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