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A. Stark (UK)

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A Tale for the Time Being
A Tale for the Time Being
by Ruth Ozeki
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually but not Emotionally Engaging, 13 Dec. 2015
An incredibly ambitious and at times conceptually overwhelming novel. The two stories, that of the novelist, Ruth and the Japanese schoolgirl, Nao, are interwoven when Ruth discovers Nao's diary washed up in a beach in western Canada. I admire this book intensely, but it failed to completely engage me, for several reasons. First the book's structure: the two stories alternate chapter by chapter, yet Nao's story is far richer and more developed than the novelists. I felt the structure limited the book and, at times, forced certain parts of the narrative (eg Ruth's decision to read Nao's diary bit by bit, when you or I would probably have read the whole thing in one go - but this conveniently allows Nao's diary to alternate with Ruth's story,). Second - there are far too many intellectual themes - the book feels cluttered with references (eg Zen, western philosophy, origami, 9/11, Japan in WW2 and the kamikazes, suicide, tidal currents, the Japanese tsunami and meltdown of the reactors, Proust, Heidegger, empathetic machines, Schrödinger's cat, multiple worlds theory). Third - the emotionally absorbing parts of the book, e.g. Nao's visit to her great-grandmother's temple - are too few, and although this novel is a great intellectual achievement, it failed to grip me emotionally throughout.


The Book of Strange New Things
The Book of Strange New Things
by Michel Faber
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Quietly Harrowing, 26 Nov. 2015
This is an enormously restrained, subtle and humane book that explores the nature of love and human frailty. The protagonist literally separates himself from the world, and as he goes about his quiet ministrations, devoting his life to bringing the word of God to an alien race, his own planet is slowly dying. I've never read anything like this before. It's quite beautiful, and indeed, very strange. One of my favourite books of the last ten years.


Project Elemental Silver
Project Elemental Silver
Offered by Analogue Seduction
Price: £159.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Annoying Design, 3 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Fabulous sound, annoying design. The only on/off switch is located just below the turntable - this is driven by a belt that, if you have big hands like me, often comes off when the switch is used. Then the belt has to be carefully looped back on, and this is not at all easy. I wish I hadn't bought it, because it annoys the hell out of me. I have to be extremely careful when using it and the thought of switching the band to the other spool to play 45s fills me with horror. If you have tiny hands, are good with your fingers and have endless patience, then go for it.


Dancing in the Dark: My Struggle Book 4 (Knausgaard)
Dancing in the Dark: My Struggle Book 4 (Knausgaard)
by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Banal Reality, 3 Nov. 2015
I loved this book, couldn't put it down and yet I'm not sure I understand why not. It feels as if it is written at a furious pace, and if it has been edited, then many errors, including typos (eg page 298 'There are was a tension in the air') have been left incorrected. It's often sloppy, inelegant and sometimes clunky, banal and cliche ridden. Who cares? I don't. If you've read the first three in the series, this will not disappoint: his descriptions of desperate teenage years, of drunkeness and irresponsibility, are incredibly exact, yet without sentimentality or one flowery word. Knausgaard reveals everything, what he eats, wears, what he fantasizes about. He rarely speculates, or scratches beneath the surface of things, and he doesn't need to, because he makes the surfaces of things say so much. And yet it is often quite brutal, and Karl Ove, as much as any one else, is the subject of the brutality. What gives this book its power is its raw honesty and its accuracy. Here is life as it really is, in its numbingly dull, sometimes hilariously awful ordinariness. I want book 5 now.


Steinberg 502004313 Hardware
Steinberg 502004313 Hardware

5.0 out of 5 stars Does the Job, 24 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I use this with Cubase and a cheap Dell PC. It was simple to set up and works perfectly.


C
C
by Tom McCarthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Vividly Surreal, 24 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: C (Paperback)
I read this book when it first came out, three years ago now. The story I've forgotten, but so many images McCarthy creates still float through my head, like dreams. Few contemporary novels I've read since then, Booker winners or ones that made the short-list (as C did) have C's surreal quality and longevity of imagery. (Ali Smith's 'How to be both' and Karl Ove Knausgaard's 'My Struggle' are two I enjoyed more than this, but are very different in their approach). Nevertheless C is quite a cold book, written at a step back, like something by Calvino, but with greater richness, and far greater complexity. But it doesn't set out to be a psychologically driven novel, more of a thematic work, like a symphony, and while there are novels being published like this, the form is alive and kicking.


How to be both
How to be both
by Ali Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 25 Jun. 2015
This review is from: How to be both (Paperback)
Two stories intertwine - the first (in my edition) of an Italian fresco painter, the second, a contemporary teenage girl mourning the death of her mother. The first few pages of the painter's story are tricky - if you buy this edition you may well wonder if this is far too abstract, or stream of consciousness for your tastes. But read on, and you are in more conventional narrative, set in fifteenth century Italy, following the story of the Francesco, the fresco painter. Even when this world is brought to life, you are not quite there, for another world, or another time, is glimpsed. It's the life of George, a hilariously pedantic and witty sixteen year old girl living in Cambridge. George's mother has just died, and George is living in the past, remembering a family holiday to Italy the previous year, but also in the present in which George makes friends with the charismatic H. George lives in the past and the present and struggles to see the future; Francesco, living in the present and future, struggles to throw off the past. Francesco sees into George's world, and George, eventually, is captivated by Francesco's paintings. Themes of time and loss, memory and secrecy, like subtle melodies, recur throughout. Characters watch each other, and are watched. Every page, almost every sentence adds another thread, weaving a clever, complex, beautiful magic. And yet, even though this is serious art, and I felt under the spell of a great, great writer, it is also humane and very funny. 'How to be both' is a masterpiece of contemporary fiction and one of my favourite novels for many years. I adored it.


Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery
Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery
by Henry Marsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Humane, 7 Jun. 2015
This book overwhelmed me in its humanity and the profound depth of its seriousness. What could be more serious than the life and death decisions that Mr Marsh has to make, and what could be more humane than the way in which he, routinely, has to break the most terrible news, or on other days, give other patients a new life? He writes with a simple lucidity, there is no need for him to add adjectives, or to find clever similes, the world he describes is at once so vivid, and so terrifying, that simple words are enough. I broke down several times when reading this book, not least the very last page, which is touchingly beautiful. As we get to know the man through these short chapters, he reveals himself to be humble, angry, sometimes appalled at his own pomposity. He admits to his many mistakes, sometimes resulting in awful consequences and rages at a medical bureaucracy that sometimes seems to put the patient last. This modest and elegant book contains a life's work, but is written with such a lightness of touch it can be read in day.


The Luminaries
The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Big Rich Fruity Pudding, 21 May 2015
This review is from: The Luminaries (Paperback)
'The Luminaries' is a work of vast architecture, populated with a cast of characters who, although not all as clearly defined as I would wish (Emery Staines is a wonderful invention, but Nielsen, Clinch and Gascoigne are very indistinct) fill the book with life and noise and business. The landscape and topography are vivid, but the plot convoluted and often confusing. Despite minor flaws it's a wonderfully entertaining, extremely readable, gargantuan, delicious pudding of a book.


Interstellar [DVD] [2014]
Interstellar [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Matthew McConaughey
Price: £4.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interstupid, 6 May 2015
This review is from: Interstellar [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
A disappointing movie that plays homage to 2001 A Space Odyssey without any of the artistry and style of the Kubrick movie. The storytelling is horrible - for example - I fail to understand why NASA didn't just call the protagonist (Matthew McConaughey), rather than rely on the more supernatural method; why the same protagonist, when piloting into a black hole, is happy to have the science of these stars explained to him on the back of an envelope; why the benign and helpful beings unhelpfully situated the black hole near Saturn, when positioning it closer to Earth would have saved the poor travellers a lot of lying around in wet beds. There is far too much telling rather than showing - the movie has no continuity, no atmosphere, and as I watched I could sense the director losing his way, and his confidence, in what is a silly movie with a questionable plot. Anne Hathaway grins inanely for the first ten minutes of the mission and McConaughey's raspy growl is very annoying. The climax of the movie, in the five dimensions, or whatever it is, is a lot of fun, but is far from satisfying.


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