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Garren Mulloy "garrenm3" (Japan)
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The Devil's Carousel
The Devil's Carousel
by Jeff Torrington
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than short stories, 13 Dec. 2006
This review is from: The Devil's Carousel (Paperback)
While it hasn't been lauded like Swing Hammer Swing, The Devil's Carousel becomes more absorbing the further into it you delve. I am no lit-crit, but this seems to be the point of the whole exercise. Life, including the life of a factory, community, or labelled 'work force' isn't monolithic but varied, often predictable, but full of wild variations. How can a committed Christian work in a factory full of bawdy humourists and blatant pornography? Well, by being a Christian. How can the 'heroes' of each sketch be so unheroic, or even unlikable? Well, by being themselves. This isn't quite Rashomon, with the mutiple perspectives of one seminal event, but more the ragged tapestry, where by following one thread you end up at one end of the thing, having seen quite a few colours and patterns on the way. Then another thread.

The running jokes about characters, the scams, fables and mysteries, these are the real fodder of company life, and they provide the realistic feel. There is humour and tragedy, but it never feels forced. The initial character's introduction as a drunk on the stairs is sympathetic, but so is the partner's rage, and that tells us that this isn't the 1990s clone love-the-drunk and have-a-laugh chance to exercise expletives. The language is, if anything, all a little restrained for a shop floor.

Well written, well characterized, and so close to the bone that anyone who lived through the 1970s and 1980s (Hillman, Chrysler, BL etc.) will be able to see the cars and smell the factory. And some of the men who built them.


The Second World War In The Far East (CASSELL'S HISTORY OF WARFARE)
The Second World War In The Far East (CASSELL'S HISTORY OF WARFARE)
by H P Willmott
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating understanding for those who know the events, 30 Oct. 2005
HP Willmott has produced a book far more deserving of praise than it has hitherto received.
This slim work (240 standard paperback pages, with many illustrations), is a gem for anyone truly wishing to understand events that are well embedded in the public domain. The key here is understanding. Not so much what happened, in a blow-by-blow account of armies and navies (as in Beevor and Hasting's excellent works), but why, and to what effect and significance.
His style is gentle, clear, concise, and preceptive. His dry wit is clear, but this is no 'jolly review'. There are no Ambrose-style 'monument creations' here, rather a clear analysis. What were Japanese motives and ideas? A (surprisingly) neglected field. Why was Burma a battlefield at all? Perhaps most thoroughly, he dissects Japanese shipping losses to a remarkable degree.
This book is not ideal for all readers, and may dissatisfy the battle-fan, but for those wishing to broaden their understanding of widely known events, I do believe there are few books so accessible or illuminating.


Life and Times of Michael K
Life and Times of Michael K
by J M Coetzee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Tragedy With Penetrating Light, 11 Dec. 2004
This novel begins in a rather humdrum manner of everyday life in hardship. The hardship increases with the complexity of life, and it is the developing confusion of choices and the emerging landscape of morality that intensifies the hardship as much as the harsh physical and political environments.
The hardship can seem oppressive to the reader, particularly if you expect some of the more rounded colourings of Alan Paton or Doris Lessing's African works, but perseverance is more than worthwhile. The book can be divided into two main sections, each viewing the world from a distinct perspective: one black, one white. Neither is at ease, nor optimistic, yet, despite the air of oppressive hardship and misery, the ending is something quite unexpected, refreshing, and enlivening. It is too simple to refer to it as optimism or hope, simply a reversion to a simple universal truth.
This novel is both a classic of South Africa, and a classic novel of universal appeal. Despite its slimness it is one of the most moving works I have ever read, and perhaps particularly rare for being able to deal with the subject of a black man in apartheid South Africa without ever being a manifesto or sermon. It is simply a eulogy of humanity.


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