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Melachi ibn Amillar (London)

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Narcopolis
Narcopolis
by Jeet Thayil
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Smoked plot, 30 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Narcopolis (Paperback)
I, Melachi ibn Amillar, being of unsound mind and body, did read Jeet Thayil's novel "Narcopolis" (2012), finishing it on the train to Bangalore. It describes the challenge Pakistani powder posed in the 70s to the notorious Bombay opium dens, which are, consequently, now a challenge for even the most dodgy of local guides to track down. The narrative drifts around the denizens, and some sections are tangential even to that. There is a plot and a final twist. But, finally, not much matters in a opium den.


Facing The Congo
Facing The Congo
by Jeffrey Tayler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Congo exploited - as playground!, 6 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Facing The Congo (Paperback)
I, Melachi ibn Amillar, being of unsound mind and body, did read "Facing the Congo" by Jeffrey Tayler (2000), in October 2014, mainly on the Northern Line. It is the story of his trip up the Congo, and then down from Kisangani in a local canoe. I was a bit puzzled to find myself halfway through the book without him having stepped in the canoe, but the mystery is solved if you paddle through to the end! He has a taste for the purple sentence, the first of the book being "The squawks of parrots filtered down into the black well of sleep and slowly called me up into the lighter realms of wakefulness", which is all you need to know, really. And there is occasional pontification, concluding: "I had exploited Zaire as a playground on which to solve my own rich-boy existential dilemmas". Well, there are worse ways to exploit Zaire. But it is not all that bad, with some memorable characters (I would have liked to know more about the "Colonel") and in fact gets quite exciting towards the end!


The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles
by Madeline Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Captain of the First XI, 27 July 2014
This review is from: The Song of Achilles (Paperback)
I, Melachi ibn Amillar, being of unsound mind and body, did read "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller (2011), mainly on the Northern Line, in 2014. It is the story of Achilles as told by his friend Patroclus. It begins a little unpromisingly, and I was reminded of innumerable Victorian school stories about the boys admiring the Captain of the First XI, but with talking horses and sea gods thrown in. The writing is simple, melodic and pleasing, though suffering from a naturally limited range of allusions and expressions. Thus I was aware of a certain lack of depth. However, as the story develops it became more convincing, and I was keen to see what would happen at the end, though finally I suppose it was no great secret.


Petals of Blood (Penguin Modern Classics)
Petals of Blood (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Petals of Wrath, 27 July 2014
I, Melachi ibn Amillar, being of unsound mind and body, did read Ngugi wa Thiongo's's book "Petals of Blood" (1977), by the beach in Cyprus in July 2014. It is the story of how an inland village in Kenya becomes part of the international market economy by way of colonialism, through the experiences of the more educated locals. Although both the oppressed and the oppressors are Africans, parts are strangely reminiscent of the "Grapes of Wrath", and infused with a dreamy, Latin American sensibility. This makes it overlong and repetitive, though much of the writing is quite fine. I did not find the evangelical conversions at the end credible, though to be fair Melachi notes that effective responses to the capitalist system are so far difficult to find.


Canoeing the Congo: The First Source-to-Sea Descent of the Congo River
Canoeing the Congo: The First Source-to-Sea Descent of the Congo River
by Phil Harwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars tough old bird, 4 May 2014
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I, Melachi ibn Amillar, did read Phil Harwood's book Canoeing the Congo (2012), in which he makes the first descent by canoe from the source. He is a tough old bird, as the cannibals of the abattoir islands seem to have decided, fortunately, on eyeing him up. He has no literary pretensions, is vague on the natural world, takes but a practical interest in the history of the area, and tends to divide the locals into decent fishermen and cowardly ruffians. I was also conscious of a curious absence of women, just as in Tim Butcher's less knuckle-dragging but finally less white-knuckle account of a similar trip. Here one has the distinct impression of hearing Mr Harwood in a bar, recounting his adventures, which are remarkable. It is not fully explained why the crocodiles did not get him, nor why someone did not, at best, rob him as he slept. How long would one last sleeping out with such wealth on the streets of London, I wonder? But who will not doff his hat at this bravery, and, though the book is well illustrated with maps and photos, I will also perhaps have a look at his video of the journey, for I, Melachi, am myself considering making the expedition. But blacked up, and with local canoes, and bicycles.


Among The Russians
Among The Russians
by Colin Thubron
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Other headlight broken by tractor in the Crimea, 15 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Among The Russians (Paperback)
I, Melachi ibn Amillar, being of unsound mind and body, did read Colin Thubron's book Among the Russians, which details his camping trip by car across the western Soviet Union around 1982. Quite a curious thing to do at any time, though. He gives pleasing accounts of the sights and journey, which are most interesting in the Caucasus. The locals he meets are strangely similar: morose, inquisitive, drunk and oddly blank. It would not be fascinating to find out what has happened to them since. I wonder if these traits appertain less to Soviet Man than to those who approach foreigners on campsites. The author draws no conclusions, and remains an enigma, as do even his car and camping equipment, not unlike the sphinx he observes.


Braquo Season 2 [Blu-ray]
Braquo Season 2 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jean-Hugues Anglade
Price: £9.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars But Magic Bracelets?, 14 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I, Melachi ibn Amillar, being of unsound mind and body, did watch the second series of this very violent French detective drama, on bluray discs, and I am not sure my mind was improved by the watching. Large sections of this series could be taken directly from a horror film, particularly the many torture sequences. The plot revolves around numerous criminal gangs and police factions seeking gold and weaponry in Paris, is in parts ludicrous, and at all times extremely difficult to follow. This is not aided by most of the characters being similarly dark, greasy, unshaven, and wearing black leather jackets. And that is just the women. Buried in here somewhere is quite a good story about a colonel seeking revenge on those who betrayed his soldiers in Angola. Any sympathy for him is countered by the tendency of his men to shoot any civilian bystander in the way. Compared to Spirals, the other recent French detective drama, the characters are here far less engaging, and the ambience is much more brutal, though the writing is better. Rather an ordeal than a pleasure then, though appealing to those who like this sort of thing, or wish to brush up on their French obscenities.


Infestissumam [VINYL]
Infestissumam [VINYL]
Price: £20.70

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monstrancity, 14 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Infestissumam [VINYL] (Vinyl)
I have listened to this album quite a few times now. It is not as good as their first; in particular it makes excessive use of minor key semitone slides which gives it a congested tone when the songs are heard consecutively. A couple of tracks make passable singalongs, particularly "Monstrance clock". Creepiest lyrics and chorus I have heard for ages are on "Body and Blood". Zombie Queen to me sounds cobbled together and Secular Haze plain silly. The problem with vocals and tunes that can actually be heard is that they have to be correspondingly good to attract a repeat listen, and I am not sure how much more this will spin. Acoustically sounds fine to me, at least on red vinyl; bass could be a bit louder, maybe.


Hammer Of The North [VINYL]
Hammer Of The North [VINYL]
Price: £19.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Implement, 14 Nov. 2013
This is pretty solid if unremarkable power metal, with the heathen, Viking theme but no folk/black elements - would sound fine driving, or in the background at a metal pub, and I am sure would be fun live.


Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] [2004-2009] [Region Free] [1978]
Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] [2004-2009] [Region Free] [1978]
Dvd ~ Edward James Olmos
Price: £35.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Battlestar Galactica, 1 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I, Melachi ibn Amillar, being of unsound mind and body, did watch the complete 5 series of Battlestar Galactica, beginning with "33" and ending with "The original mini-series", on Blu-ray disc, instead of Newsnight, finishing in August 2013. I had not previously seen any of the episodes, but began, being advised it was one of the great achievements of television. This may not strictly be correct, because I suppose one would have to include things like "Roots", and the moon landing. But I would say it is the best series I have watched. Now, the first series had rather too much of the whining Dr Balthar, and long sections of a group running around on a planet which did not seem to have much to do with anything. I generally found the President annoying and giving the impression of being heavily sedated. In the new series it got better, and finest episodes were the ones involving the Pegasus. There was a lengthy and dull plot arc about people being married to the wrong people. I much preferred the fighting scenes. Likewise, as the final series progressed, and more were revealed as the enemy, it became a little bleaker and depressive. Starbuck was certainly more watchable before she developed her "special destiny". The anchoring presence was the great Commander Adama, and I might watch it all again as a study in his leadership. Very notable as well was the style of the ship - the incessant heavy drinking, intercom telephones with chords, and even open reel tape recorders. I now understand I have to watch "Caprica", "The Plan", "Blood and Chrome", and then something called "Star Trek". Such is the destiny of Melachi!


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