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John Coffey
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On Canaan's Side
On Canaan's Side
by Sebastian Barry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.86

3.0 out of 5 stars A canaan breakfast, 20 Feb 2014
This review is from: On Canaan's Side (Paperback)
The formula is old hat; despairing suicidal old hag rants her way through the twentieth century, rememberance and loss writ large. All the familiar themes are here, the first world war, with the cliché of a warbling soldier getting whacked by a sniper, the black and tans and the RIC. Barry also tackles the great American topics, the second world war, Vietnam and the Gulf war as well as the race question. With the weird countdown of "days without Bill", it's a wonder he didn't take on the Space programme for good measure. The result is not uninteresting but it feels a bit silly and contrived especially the dancing bear motif at the end.
On the plus side, I had the audio cd version which is beautifully read by an American actress, with an unusually authentic Irish accent. She seems to inject in a lighter comic tone, something that's completely absent from Barry's over-crafted "lacy" prose.


Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Let it go, 17 Feb 2014
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
Whatever other reviewers say,Ishiguro has written a rather basic Sci-fi novel disguised as something literary. It's unfair on readers not to provide some technical basis to the plot. The problem is that many affirmed sci-fi authors are just as good as Ishiguro and have treated complex subjects just like his,only with better results. Think of Robert Silverberg and his marvellous "Dying Inside".
The other major problem with Ishiguro, indeed with all his novels, is the total absence of any humour, even a half page of light relief. It makes for truly hard going in his novels.


The Black Box
The Black Box
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.27

3.0 out of 5 stars Boxed out, 10 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Black Box (Paperback)
The plot is a bit incredible and laboured and the book too long by at least fifty pages. Action sequences at the end were very creaky. The once exciting Harry Bosch franchise is now looking exhausted and should be retired.


Modelling the Figure in Clay (Practical Craft Books)
Modelling the Figure in Clay (Practical Craft Books)
by Bruno Lucchesi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Bruno's catwalk, 29 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
OK I know...the anatomy ain't exactly accurate. Just look at where he puts the rectus femoris, and serratus posterior, and ... where's the vastus intermedius? But this book is beautiful; one I've always wanted and Bruno 's modelling technique is just marvellous. Buy it.


Seabirds: An Identification Guide
Seabirds: An Identification Guide
by Roger Tory Peterson
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars No longer at sea.., 24 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Helm guides are works of art in themselves. Along with "Shorebirds" this must rank as one of the most beautiful bird guides of all time,although I really liked the artwork in Cpt Tuck's guide to seabirds.


Simon Schama's Power of Art
Simon Schama's Power of Art
by Simon Schama
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Simon says, 24 Jan 2014
This has everything we've come to expect, effortless erudition, blokey eloquence and deft turn of phrase. It's a succession of elegantly written, accessible essays on various artists over the centuries. It feels a bit safe though, like a comfy canter over ground already well trodden over and grooved with received opinion. I wish he'd tackled Rafael instead of the more obvious Carravagio, Poussin or Ingres instead of David, or say, Brancusi instead of Piccasso. If Simon had stretched himself a little more it could have been an even better book.


The Twelve Caesars
The Twelve Caesars
by Matthew Dennison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Indigestible Caesar Salad, 9 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Twelve Caesars (Paperback)
Alan Massie's review (over 20 years ago) of Suetonius and Tacitus etc. in "The Caesars" is very similar to this book in scope but it's much more readable and interesting. It's truly remarkable how Dennison has managed to make the lives of Caligula, Claudius and Nero such a tedius read. That's a major literary feat in itself. The famous assassination attempt on Agrippina in the collapsible boat is narrated like a dreary police report memo. Try to read Massie's racy treatment of the same topic.


The Quest
The Quest
by Nelson DeMille
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.33

2.0 out of 5 stars Holy growl, 14 Dec 2013
This review is from: The Quest (Hardcover)
He should have left this one alone and forgotten in the jungle or somewhere. Desmond Bagley did this sort of theme as well but much better. The "Vivero Letter" is an example of how it should be done.


A Week in December
A Week in December
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Seven great days, 28 Nov 2013
This review is from: A Week in December (Paperback)
Faulks here seems to rediscover his gift for comedy writing which was first apparent in "Girl at Lion d'Or" but sadly quenched in subsequent novels. I was disappointed though that probably the most promising and amusing plot line, namely that of the errant teacher, was pretty much stifled and choked off all too soon.


Hitch 22: A Memoir
Hitch 22: A Memoir
by Christopher Hitchens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sad memories, 28 Nov 2013
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
One thing strikes me in this series namely the lack of empathy for others. The book is curiously detached in this respect as if the author is slowly cannibalising his life. The first section about his mother is on the face of it, very poignant even tragic, but the style is such that it feels like more grist to the journo mill. The later chapters are more predictable but ultimately rather boring.


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