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J. E. Holden (UK)

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Zeno's Conscience (Penguin Modern Classics)
Zeno's Conscience (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Italo Svevo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zeno's genius!, 15 Jan 2009
What a wonderful book! Thank you to the Amazon member who made a list with this book near the top.

Zeno is the most brilliantly conceived comic neurotic I have ever come across in a book. He is the Woody Allen or Larry David of a small Italian town in the early twentieth century.

The comic travails in business, sickness and mainly in love, leave a reader frequently irritating those around them with constant chuckles and even the odd belly laugh.

Zeno is a man who can't get anything right, but he is completely self-conscious of this, and he deconstructs himself in wonderful comic detail.

I particularly love his sardonic view on psychoanalysis, "My therapy was supposedly finished because my sickness had been discovered. It was nothing but the one diagnosed, in his day, by the late Sophocles for poor Oedipus: I had loved my mother and I would have liked to kill my father. And I didn't become angry! Spellbound, I lay there and listened. It was a sickness that elevated me to the highest noble company. An illustrious sickness, whose ancestors dated back to the mythological era!"

Merriweather Post Pavilion
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Price: £5.68

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best band in the world just got better, 9 Jan 2009
Animal Collective are back with a vengeance. Merriweather is a delicious collection of tunes. The opener, In the Flowers is as dreamy as Visiting Friends (Sung Tongs) with the driving sense of emotion and purpose AC bring to every tune. The chords in this song are as beautiful as those put together in any Radiohead song, but the melodies and lyrics do not preach in the way that the latter can.

My Girls is probably the most pop-tune they've ever done, and in a more intelligent age would be on Radio 1 once every five songs. Also Frightened is familiar Animal Collective grower, Summertime Clothes is another classy poppy number. Daily Routine is a great track, which appears to be very similar to another track they did, I can't find it though.

The other standout tracks for me are Lion in a Coma and Brothersport. However, I have no idea which I will like most in three day's, three week's or three year's time. That's the great thing about great albums and great bands.

I once thought Animal Collective are best described as the Beach Boys of the new Millennium. But now I would say this doesn't quite do them justice, perhaps you could say they are the Beach Boys + Velvet Underground of the... Anyway, enough of comparison. This is a completely free collection of music with colourful expression flowing from every note, for which genre labels and comparisons have no meaning.

Sung Tongs and Feels have steadily become my favourite albums of the decade. Strawberry Jam had more of a strained feel to it and didn't quite live up to the previous works. For me, Merriweather re-establishes Animal Collective as the best band in the world this decade.

Keep them out of the mainstream please! There will be enough idiots claiming they knew what it was all about when the Collective are up there in the greatest album charts in 20 years time. The recognition will come. Let's just enjoy a truly great band while we are lucky to coexist with them.

Apple MacBook Air 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo/2GB/80GB
Apple MacBook Air 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo/2GB/80GB

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Travellers Beware!!!, 29 Dec 2008
I recently bought this delicious new machine in order to take it with me on a round the world trip. The reviews were great, as was the weight, and the lack of optical drive I could overlook. Like many of the reviewers above, I thought this looked like the first truly 21st century computer, the future, and the ideal computer for a backpacker, taking just 1.5kg of his 20kg limit for every flight he took.


when travelling in developing countries you are still well and truly in the past. I started travelling through Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, and a truly "wireless" computer is not quite what you need. Internet cafes only do dial up or ethernet connections. Even when you find one with wireless, which you will in capital cities, the speeds are so slow, it's hard to login to your hotmail account, let alone get movies from itunes.

I was therefore left with the 20 or so films I had put on to my portable usb hard drive, and I had finished these within a few weeks of starting my travels. The ultra-light macbook air started to feel much heavier. And my decision not to take my old macbook with a load of dvds much much stupider.

You may feel like the coolest 21st century wanderer around, but if you are going outside the fibre-optic, wireless haven of the developed world, think twice or three times before investing your hard earned spending money on a macbook air.

I did recently touch down in Singapore, and of course, here the Air is in its element!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2009 10:01 PM GMT

Mccabe And Mrs Miller [DVD] [1971]
Mccabe And Mrs Miller [DVD] [1971]
Dvd ~ Warren Beatty
Price: £5.95

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travelling so long..., 13 July 2008
"You who must leave everything that you cannot control, it begins with your family but soon it comes down to your soul".. and so Leonard Cohen's most haunting lines and ambigously beautiful melodies flow into this greatest of Altman movies.

This is a borderland America, a mystic new-born America, a brutal and tragic land in which life is cheap and full of strife.

The typical Altman charm is here, the melee of life spills from the screen, voices of extras treated with the same reverence as those of our heroes, Beatty and Christie.

These two stars are in their prime and portray a delicious frisson of romance. Beatty is full of lucky bravado, but retains a steadfast honour in love and as his life becomes at risk. Christie is at her cheekiest, cajoling her way through strife, a formidable character.

Which brings me to Leonard Cohen. A great songwriter and poet who peaked in the work for this film. The first time I saw this film I was blown away by the music, its enough to make a great film all by itself.

It is not all by itself though, it complements one of the great human Director's works. A brilliant piece of historical drama and a brilliant work of art.

The Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali/Aparajito/The World Of Apu [DVD]
The Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali/Aparajito/The World Of Apu [DVD]
Dvd ~ Smaran Ghosal
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £44.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life...., 13 July 2008
Ravi Shankar's sitar quivers in a brilliant Raga, as the tabla player brings us into a trance of rhythmic grace.

We enter a world. That is what cinema should be about of course, bringing us a world, another world, but above all a world.

In this world, a young girl scurries in a neigbours orchard stealing fruit, bringing some back for her old great aunt.

From this moment of humanity and mischief, of family and fragiligy, of love and pain, we are taken on the most heart rendering journey in cinematic history.

A film that may seem slow compared to most modern films has in fact a pace of life, a real pace in which feelings grow, in which enmeties are formed and friendships made, a pace in which life and death are meaningful and real.

There is so much special in this trilogy that it is impossible to do it justice except with multiple superlatives. But to name a few, the portrayal of age and aging, of motherhood, of hope, of loss, and above all of life are spell binding.

What is true is that it will bring you tears of joy and pain, cinema that will break your heart.

The Conversation [DVD]
The Conversation [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gene Hackman

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claustrophobic paranoia at its best..., 13 July 2008
This review is from: The Conversation [DVD] (DVD)
Jack is a mercenary, a spy, a technical artist and a troubled soul. In the most impressive performance of his career, Gene Hackman portrays a lonely private detective, at the top of his game, paid by companies and private individuals to listen in on rivals, in business or in love. He tries to maintain detachment, but when a case he works on appears to be as important as life and death, his intrigue and his paranoia are irrepressible.

This is a supreme movie, that confirmed, if the Godfather trilogy were not enough, that Coppola is up there with the greatest of the great Directors. A brilliant portrayal of the downward spiral of paranoia, loneliness and nobility.

The score is sparse, but scintillating. Jazz piano chords portraying Jack's dissent and above all his intrigue. The camera work complements this brilliantly, and stuffy offices, warehouses and bedrooms add to the disquieting mood.

The finale is genius, showing the link between meaning and context, where subtle changes of tone can give a seemingly banal sentence remarkable hidden menace.

In Rainbows
In Rainbows
Price: £8.57

10 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The worst Radiohead album since Pablo, 9 Jan 2008
This review is from: In Rainbows (Audio CD)
I'm a big radiohead fan, no, huge radiohead fan. i bought the box set, i got excited when i heard it was coming out, i downloaded it on day one. i also had gone to stores to buy hail to the thief, amnesiac, kid a, ok, and the bends, all in the first couple of weeks after their release.

And initially i thought yes, good. of course i'd heard three or four of the tracks before, but i liked 15 step, and i assumed this would be a good album. but it's just not that good i'm afraid.

The version of videotape (lovely track) is way inferior to the version from the basement (see youtube), nude is very old and actually a reject from previous albums, 15 step pretty decent but a bit irritating, and arpeggi is great the first time you hear it but again not a grower. the rest is filler, more forgettable than the filler in hail to the thief and the filler from amnesiac.

Whilst still liking the album, i asked myself which of these new ballads would make a radiohead best of. i set about on itunes, compiling my favourites from the complete collection i've obsessively hoarded. lo and behold no in rainbows tracks make the top 10 (dominated by kid a and ok computer of course) and in fact none make the top 20 (a few of the bends greats and a couple from amnesiac and hail thrown in) - i got to number 24 by the time i added videotape, and i'd say the other tracks are quite a bit further down the ranking.

Sad activity i know, but it filled up half an hour fairly enjoyably. more to the point, i challenge all of you who have loyally given this a five star to do the same, pour over the radiohead complete works and rank the helpings from in rainbows. i expect if you take time to consider, you'll come up with roughly the same result that i did.

Now i ask you if a band producing their seventh album should be in that position, particularly one containing the talents of thom yorke and jonny greenwood? of course they shouldn't. they should be making music far more interesting, important and beautiful than this. maybe their best is still to come and i hope so. but this album is no five star, no no no.
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2008 7:30 PM BST

Like Weather
Like Weather

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leila is a genius, or maybe close . . ., 8 Dec 2006
This review is from: Like Weather (Audio CD)
I first saw Leila on a short Channel 4 documentary the year Like Weather came out. Fortunately I recorded the doco and still have it. The former keyboard player for Bjork (at arguably Bjork's peak), she is super cool and the tunes they played on the doco were simply brilliant. I later bought the album and was not disappointed.

Leila Arab is a genius, or at least close. The tunes on this album range from the funky to the serene. Space, love, Underwaters & Melodicore are timeless classics, which I'm sure will still sound modern in twenty years time. The tunes featuring Luca are funky yet oddly understated. You feel like they could belt out more, but that would make them more commercial. Commercial is what I get the feeling Leila aches to avoid. Unjustly she did avoid fame with this album, which frankly is a travesty. My feeling is that in time, she'll do a Nick Drake and get discovered by a far off generation from her contemporarys'. Hopefully she'll be around to get the plaudits and the cash that will come her way when this happens.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2013 10:41 PM BST

The Feast of the Goat
The Feast of the Goat
by Mario Vargas Llosa
Edition: Paperback

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Power, hope and betrayal . . ., 7 Dec 2006
This review is from: The Feast of the Goat (Paperback)
Wow, what a novel! I was completely blown away by this tour de force from Llosa, a gruesome, bitter, but beautiful tale told with the vivacity and skill we've come to expect from him. The story is woven cleverly around a central historical event and a central ahistorical event, while unravelling an intriguing story of power, hope and betrayal.

Unlimited power is portrayed compellingly in the Goat, a taudry charismatic, egotistical maniac ruling the Dominican Republic. His subtle art of suspicion and less subtle art of violence allow an iron grip to take hold over a small clique of insiders who in turn take an iron grip over a whole nation. It is the ultimate fable of a society infected from the top with bile and cruelty, seeping out to destroy all in its wake.

Hope is found in the plot to unseat this power, through characters completely distinct, and painted with wonderful prose into twentieth century heroes. Their hope is true, their motivations distinct, but their aim clear. The way in which this is betrayed by naivety and recklessness is a great tragedy in this novel.

Finally, the heartbreaking aspect of this book is the betrayal, the betrayal by power and of hope, centred through the largely metaphoric role of the daughter of a Senator. Her fate is realised brilliantly through the use of diverging time devices, and is at once tragic and deeply symbolic of the infection mentioned above.

I cannot commend this book enough, it could well be one of the top 10 or 20 pieces of fiction of the twentieth century.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 5, 2009 2:50 PM GMT

Hello Everything
Hello Everything
Price: £11.91

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars still waiting . . ., 7 Dec 2006
This review is from: Hello Everything (Audio CD)
Squarepusher is the guy who fills up Warp's website while we all wait for the return of the prodigal son, a certain richard d. james. That is not to say he's a charlatan, but neither is he a great pretender to the crown. Hello Everything does mark a new high however, despite being forever bogged down in complexity, he weaves some pretty magical stuff together, particularly with stand out tracks Hello Europe and Planetarium.

I still get the feeling that I'm waiting for a great track from this man to justify my financial outlays and I still think he'll produce one. But it's not on this album, maybe the next one. In the meantime, we'll still be waiting for aphex.

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