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Reviews Written by
Andrea Pontiroli (Rome, Italy)

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Giovanni's Room (Penguin Modern Classics)
Giovanni's Room (Penguin Modern Classics)
by James Baldwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, and painful, 25 May 2007
This is an excellent novel, I could not put it down, in spite of the fact that, knowing that it would all go terribly bad, I was always scared of what could happen. It is a sad story, and yet so true, in the way it portrays a city, a historical period, and the realisation (and denial) of one's homosexuality. Yes, the main character is a coward, and yet Baldwin does not push the reader into hating him. We don't like him, we would not behave like him, still we can understand.


The Line of Beauty
The Line of Beauty
by Alan Hollinghurst
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid, and sad, 19 May 2006
This review is from: The Line of Beauty (Paperback)
I enormously enjoyed this novel, the way it's written, the subjects it addresses, its characters (some are unforgettable, and they are all splendidly vivid), and its plot, whose holes just add to the beauty of it. And, very captivating indeed.

Excellent (a bit sad, though...)


Croatia (Lonely Planet Country Guides)
Croatia (Lonely Planet Country Guides)
by Jeanne Oliver
Edition: Paperback

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad food, crowded places and squalid..., 5 May 2006
I always relied on Lonely Planet Guides... but this guide on Croatia is really bad! The author sent me many times to horrible places describing them as interesting, fascinating, charming... sent me to towns on the coast literally packed with thousands of noisy tourists, sent me to eat in bad restaurants, sent me to a SPA that ranks among the most squalids places I have ever seen. I believe Lonely Planet should aim at a very high standard, and it is not necessary to cover all the countries in the world if you don't have anything useful to say about those!


Specimen Days
Specimen Days
by Michael Cunningham
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A noble attempt, but only half accomplished, 4 May 2006
This review is from: Specimen Days (Hardcover)
I very much loved Cunningham's previous novels (The Hours, Flesh and Blood, A home at the end of the world), and I was very excited when I heard about this new one. However, I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped for. The three stories are all interesting (although the first one really stands out compared to the other two), but the general impression is that they could have gone much further, that the whole novel could have been way better. I believe Cunningham's idea is a very good one (linking three different times, three different stories, and using Walt Whitman's poetry to unite it all), but it is not developed the way he could have done (and should have done). Again, it remains a good novel by all standards, but also an unfinished attempt. If in The Hours, and in the two other novels, Cunningham's homage to Virginia Woolf had been multi-faceted and very profound (language, issues, characters, attitudes...), here I have the impression that the homage to Whitman is way too simplicistic (quoting him, mainly). I hope Cunningham will move back to Virginia very soon...


Everything is Illuminated
Everything is Illuminated
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, moving and funny, 2 May 2006
What a debut! This novel is brilliant in its use of the English language, it manages to make you cry and then laugh and then cry again... and in the end you just feel that you are reading something precious. The plot is fascinating and surprising. That such a young author could accomplish all this just adds to my amazement. And I am looking forward to reading his second work.


A Sunday At The Pool In Kigali
A Sunday At The Pool In Kigali
by Gil Courtemanche
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genocide seen from within, 28 Jun. 2005
I read many books on the genocide in Rwanda, and I lived in Rwanda itself for a year, and yet reading this book I have the impression that I understood many important things for the first time.
What I appreciated in this book is the fact that, although the character is a Canadian, what he does most of the time is to report Rwandan people's point of view on the dynamics of the genocide. Instead of trying to mediate and explain in Western terms this phenomenon, which is what has been done by too many authors writing on the genocide, the author gives us the words of Rwandans, justly represented as both victims and authors.
Many times, scholars and writers have tried to represent the Rwandan genocide as if it had happened in a context similar to a Western one, thus making Rwandan people think and talk like Western people. In this way, the Western reader could sympathize with the victims, despise the perpetrators, and understand absolutely nothing on how such things could happen. In this book, instead, no easy readings are given of the genocide, nor can we always relate to the behaviour of victims and perpetrators, and yet I have the impression that this is an incredibly honest book, and a book which helps to understand, if one can ever understand a genocide.


Q: Dance of Death
Q: Dance of Death
by Luther Blissett
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 12 Jun. 2003
This review is from: Q: Dance of Death (Hardcover)
This is certainly one of the best novels published during the '90s. Although the first 100 pages may prove a bit hard, as you go on you you can't but love the book, in its originality, its passion, the vivid portrait it makes of those who make history without becoming famous. Q combines a fascinating plot, a fascinating view of history, and a mythological dimension.


The Hours
The Hours
by Michael Cunningham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendidly written, and truly fascinating, 6 Nov. 2000
This review is from: The Hours (Paperback)
I think this is one great novel. It is highly readable, and at the same time written in such a stile... it so much reminds us of Virgina Woolf. And at the same time the story and the characters appear so modern. Last, but not least, a story which is intense and fascinating up to the (surprising) end.


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