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S. Crawford "lindao" (Lincolnshire, UK)
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Tao Te Ching
Tao Te Ching
by Lao Tzu
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.95

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acute and Correct, 10 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Tao Te Ching (Paperback)
Suitably sparse, elegant and mysterious. Leaves you free to embrace the uncanny poise and balance of our deepest nature. Where many translations seek to explain, they betray the spirit of the Chinese original, to speak with fewer words, to realise with fewer thoughts. Also they enable you try your hand at your own translaion of selected lines. This alone is worth the purchase. Through doing so you discover the amazing potency and fluency of the Chinese script. You can supply several different but subtely related translations of the same line which amply demonstrates how efficient and poetic it can be. In the same way synonyms elaborate and enhance a single thought, a single line can resonate and glow with related meaning.


A Bigger Bang
A Bigger Bang
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.43

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's a strong motive behind this album.., 21 Nov. 2007
This review is from: A Bigger Bang (Audio CD)
There's a strong motive behind this album, palpable from even the name A Bigger Bang, coiling in the Ian Brown myth of Music of the Spheres to fling out a glorious re-birth. There's some great touches here, so many it's hard to know where to begin. The late 60's style throw-away stomp of It Wont take Long is for me a tight Let It Bleed moment, then there's the percussive beat up of Dangerous Beauty, springs to mind a severe cosh beating with it's Abu Graib symbolism wielded by the mythologised femme fatal of Jagger's originary firmament, or the soul wringing stream of life of Laugh, I Nearly Died.

Heavily percussive, at time incendiary as they ever were, A Bigger Bang has indeed proved to have re-energised Rock's solar system as every band and their off shoot either reforms or kicks out their best, most effective response.


The Tain: A New Translation of the Taain Bao Cauailnge (Penguin Classics)
The Tain: A New Translation of the Taain Bao Cauailnge (Penguin Classics)
by Penguin Press
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An elemental, highly eloquent translation which roars with the raw power, magic and bardic ingenuity of the original., 19 Nov. 2007
An elemental, highly eloquent translation which clearly roars with the raw power, druidic magic and bardic ingenuity of the original. Ciaron Carson has brought the Ulster Cycle to imediate life. As we read we are there with the characters, we feel the timber and fibre of that day as though it were now, and the poetic eloquence at times astounds. Meanwhile the at times cycling, urgent rythm of the propulsive prose urges the reader effortlessly along not unlike fate itself to these most vital of ancestors.


Terrorist
Terrorist
by John Updike
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Our greatest living writer on top form., 8 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Terrorist (Hardcover)
With Terrorist, the post 9/11 world has finally sparked John Updike into a motive dynamism more commonly found in the much tougher oeuvres of Mailer, Bellow and Roth. But what makes this book so remarkable is the successful and near seamless conjoining if this `greater subject matter' with his usual highly subtle brilliance - a limpid consciousness lifting from the page like a hologram the finer details of life.

It seams John Updike has taken a leaf from his own fictional alter ego Henry Bech - he's endeavoured to 'Think Big'. Terrorist is a substantial book that drives through the usual Updike terrain of beatific detail a big themed thriller. With his imperishable and matchless perceptual antennae tuned to his usual lyrical realism, there's also a meatiness some muscle hungry American critics have craved and failed to see in Updike before now, and it's deployed here in spades.

The impact of 9/11 on the Updike psyche has clearly empowered him to tell a few home truths. This is done through his foil for the proto-terrorist, a disbelieving Jew tinged with a world weary venom of his own. His hard hitting bite acts as a valid yet concerned contrast that effectively critiques the naïve purity of the young extremist Ahmad. It shows the parallel track on the American terrain where informed criticism steadily departs from the easily led otherworldly disdain of youthful religious fanaticism. But it also helps explain it: A remarkable achievement.


Terrorist
Terrorist
by John Updike
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our greatest living writer and on best form., 6 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Terrorist (Paperback)
With Terrorist, the post 9/11 world has finally sparked John Updike into a motive dynamism more commonly found in the much tougher oeuvres of Mailer, Bellow and Roth. But what makes this book so remarkable is the successful and near seamless conjoining if this `greater subject matter' with his usual highly subtle brilliance - a limpid consciousness lifting from the page like a hologram the finer details of life.

It seams John Updike has taken a leaf from his own fictional alter ego Henry Bech - he's endeavoured to 'Think Big'. Terrorist is a substantial book that drives through the usual Updike terrain of beatific detail a big themed thriller. With his imperishable and matchless perceptual antennae tuned to his usual lyrical realism, there's also a meatiness some muscle hungry American critics have craved and failed to see in Updike before now, and it's deployed here in spades.

The impact of 9/11 on the Updike psyche has clearly empowered him to tell a few home truths. This is done through his foil for the proto-terrorist, a disbelieving Jew tinged with a world weary venom of his own. His hard hitting bite acts as a valid yet concerned contrast that effectively critiques the naïve purity of the young extremist Ahmad. It shows the parallel track on the American terrain where informed criticism steadily departs from the easily led otherworldly disdain of youthful religious fanaticism. But it also helps explain it: A remarkable achievement.


No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Already a timeless masterpiece. A British classic., 6 Nov. 2007
In Joe Wright, it looks like we might at last have a new and substantial stylist out of the same classic mould as Alexander Korda, David Lean and Powell and Pressburger.

Atonement is compellingly immediate cinema. From the gorgeous, beautifully shot opening third of the movie, which brings to life 1935 like it never went away, to the elegiac sense of authenticity (you can almost smell it) that can only be crafted by someone with a deep love of detail, Joe Wright perfectly captures the languorous grace of Ian McEwan's style in the novel.

Atonement is more than this: it has the verve of Roman Polanski at his best, and the sumptuous, deeply immersed atmosphere of a David Lean. The camera is faultlessly lyrical, the composition eloquent and redolent of the experience of living, breathing characters for whom words are less important than thoughts and feelings.

The performances are excellent, but their sensual, emotional, transcendent power comes from the supremity of Joe Wright's direction, which has an uncanny poise: the opening 20 minutes, for instance, are highly reminiscent of Polanski's Tess, only tighter, more energetically realised. For me, the director is quite a revelation. I've not seen his previous work, but on this form, those lonely old peaks of British cinema look safely within reach of his grasp.

Some of the credit has to go to Christopher Hampton for a screenplay that does ample justice to McEwan's most accomplished novel. It makes an assured use of silence. With one frozen moment - a shot of Keira Knightley emerging dripping and draped in see- through underwear from a fountain pool - we also have the most tasteful, delightful use of partial nudity you will probably ever see in cinema. Knightley must confound her critics with this portrayal of willowy vulnerability shot through with the steel of desire. And James McAvoy is superb as the boy from below stairs whose natural elegance and intelligence has enabled him to make good. But a special mention should be made of the performance of Saoirse Ronan as the young Briony whose misapprehension lies at the heart of the film; her imagination is palpable palpable as a creative force of dangerous and naive pre-judgmental power. The play of all three is the heart of the film, as ultimately is the role of her authorship with heartbreaking finality at the end of the film.

Above all, though, this is Joe Wright's film. His scenes of Dunkirk and war-torn London are truly epic, but he also displays a virtuosity when dealing closely with characters caught in the great web of history, showing at the same time how the personal will always transcend it.


Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
by James Lovelock
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful and poetic scientific break-through. James Lovelock is a visionary of the highest order., 6 Nov. 2007
It didn't have the direct and dramatic impact of Newton's Principia - a book that radically changed the world, nevertheless James Lovelock's book Gaia - a New Look at Life on Earth, did have a more subtle influence on our world - particularly that of science. In a sense the Gaia Hypothesis prefigured - culturally and symbolically - the evolution of pure science from that classical, mechanistic world view inspired by the uncanny genius of Newton, to a less linear, more holistic awareness of the irreducible relationships (`gestalts') that permeate apparently discreet phenomena. Indeed this kind of more `organic' approach is radically renewing the scope of Science.

What this unique book may also prove to have done is act as a pivotal stepping stone in time: a step back into our most atavistic, indigenous roots, a time when we lived in harmony with the Earth - talk to any Inuit, Aborigine, or Sioux elder and they retain that deeply intuitive and spiritual connection; but just as significantly, a step into the future - towards a re-newed awareness of our responsibility and acute vulnerability as part of the Earth's 'living' ecology. Climate change is the moment that latter reality is returned home to us with the harshest and most dangerous of lessons. And in a sense, climate change was the mighty prediction James Lovelock issued with his Gaia Hypothesis.

More recently he's said his hope lies "in that powerful force that takes over our lives when we sense that our tribe or nation is threatened from outside". However, he's also said "I do think it will take a disaster to wake us up''. Let's hope, on that score at least, and for all our sakes, he's wrong.


Beowulf: A New Translation
Beowulf: A New Translation
by Seamus Heaney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent, inspired, suitably elemental translation., 6 Nov. 2007
Seamus Heaney's Beowulf is a masterful reworking of the traditional Saxon epic. Somewhat definitively, it captures the stark elemental intimacy of an age where nature and man are as one. At the time of Beowulf the quality and power of the land itself spoke through the very being and fibre of the warrior clan, and their tales of exploits and legends were the lifeblood of a culture that sought to inspire a personal character that was firmly established as an expression of terra firma.

Seamus Heaney has re-worked this masterpiece of Saxon spirit through a contemporary language that not only transmutes the original reality, but re-energises the ancient text with renewed vigour and life. Suitably the beauty of his language is indistinguishable from its inspiration, an elegant symmetry that betokens the best of epic poetry. In such safe hands the English epic stands happily beside that of any land.
If lacking the magic and wonder of The Odyssey, Beowulf has the fire, flint and power of a rugged authenticity, and in Heaney's hands a timeless elegance.


House of Meetings
House of Meetings
by Martin Amis
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great novel start, excellent middle, but in the end back to typical Amis self loathing.., 6 Nov. 2007
This review is from: House of Meetings (Hardcover)
With House of Meetings Martin Amis has at last put down his distorting lens. With the unarguable reality of his subject matter - the Siberian gulag - what is left to distend? Only the faint but imperishable joys of human imagination can grace such a heartless state inspired depravity. And here, at last, Amis serves himself a dish greatly to his relish and taste. Utilising wonderfully subtle hyperbole, he creates a Russian alter-ego whose self-awareness unshackles the author's usual authorial straightjacket.

Sensitive yet violent, his narrator symbolically represents that strange ambiguity of Russian power, whether personal or political. In a language of rich beauty he discovers where all is lost, in a sense everything else is gained and rare for Amis, not least a voice of buoyancy.

But be warned, in the gulag the writer is still in his element. In place of the usual narrative morbidity we have the refined voice of a resilient brute whose ultimate act of destructiveness somehow represents the withering insecurity of the Amis paranoia. This closes up an otherwise excellent book in a typical fetish of `male anxiety' and justifiable self-loathing.

In sum great writing, even a great book; but sadly let down by the author's flawed finale squeezing out its loftier potential. The arch miserablist remains intact.


House of Meetings
House of Meetings
by Martin Amis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great novel start, excellent middle, but in the end back to typical Amis self loathing, 6 Nov. 2007
This review is from: House of Meetings (Paperback)
With House of Meetings Martin Amis has at last put down his distorting lens. With the unarguable reality of his subject matter - the Siberian gulag - what is left to distend? Only the faint but imperishable joys of human imagination can grace such a heartless state inspired depravity. And here, at last, Amis serves himself a dish greatly to his relish and taste. Utilising wonderfully subtle hyperbole, he creates a Russian alter-ego whose self-awareness unshackles the author's usual authorial straightjacket.

Sensitive yet violent, his narrator symbolically represents that strange ambiguity of Russian power, whether personal or political. In a language of rich beauty he discovers where all is lost, in a sense everything else is gained and rare for Amis, not least a voice of buoyancy.

But be warned, in the gulag the writer is still in his element. In place of the usual narrative morbidity we have the refined voice of a resilient brute whose ultimate act of destructiveness somehow represents the withering insecurity of the Amis paranoia. This closes up an otherwise excellent book in a typical fetish of `male anxiety' and justifiable self-loathing.

In sum great writing, even a great book; but sadly let down by the author's flawed finale squeezing out its loftier potential. The arch miserablist remains intact.


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