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Mr. C. O. Jones (Norwich)

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Chaos and Night (New York Review Books Classics)
Chaos and Night (New York Review Books Classics)
by Terence Kilmartin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Sartre or Camus, 26 July 2016
A modern classic; superbly written and translated and full of wry insights into the human condition. When de Montherlant is good, as he is here and in 'The Bachelors', he is very good. To my mind these novels are much better than any by Sartre or Camus.

The Bachelors (Quartet Encounters)
The Bachelors (Quartet Encounters)
by Henry de Montherlant
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars de Montherlant's best novel, much better than the more widely known ..., 14 Mar. 2016
Yes, a small masterpiece, de Montherlant's best novel, much better than the more widely known (and lauded) Les Jeunes Filles. The book is both funny and sad, utterly disabused about human relationships and full of memorable one liners, the truth of which will stay with you. Read it, and read de Montherlant's other good novel, Chaos and Night, which is comparable but not quite as good as this one.

The Odd Couple: The curious friendship between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin
The Odd Couple: The curious friendship between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin
by Richard Bradford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A duplication of previous material, 17 Dec. 2012
If you bought Bradford's previous biographies of Amis or Larkin then you're likely to feel short-changed by this duplication of material from those books. According to Craig Brown in the Daily Mail, Bradford has shamelessly copied and pasted whole pages out of those books into this 'new' one, without any acknowledgement that this is what he has done.

Even worse, the publisher's blurb says that 'The true, complex story is told here for the first time. Thoroughly researched, and brilliantly composed by Richard Bradford, author of critically acclaimed separate biographies of both writers, and of Martin Amis, The Odd Couple shows us these two literary giants as we have never seen them before.' Oh really? Both the author and the publisher should be ashamed of themselves.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2013 9:27 AM GMT

The Complete A Capella Sessions
The Complete A Capella Sessions

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb music - but incomplete, 18 Oct. 2010
These vocal arrangements are much more than the 'background music' another reviewer has described them as - but be warned, they are not the complete Singers Unlimited a capella recordings. What they are are the three a capella albums that the SU recorded for MPS in the 1970s.

The earlier a capella Christmas album is not included. Nor are the four a capella tracks included on the 'Four Of Us' album ('It Could Happen To You', 'Where Is Love', 'Jennifer's Rabbit' & 'Snowfall) or 'Lullaby Of Birdland' from the 'Easy To Love' album.

Once you've heard what is included here you'll probably want what's missing too - just like I did. And once you buy the other albums to get it, you'll probably want all the SU albums, like I did. So you end up buying 'Magic Voices' the truly complete SU recordings (except for the Christmas album).

You might want to consider going straight for 'Magic Voices' to avoid this duplication but that's probably unrealistic if you've only just started listening to them. I hope you enjoy the process of discovery as much as I have.

The Uncommon Reader
The Uncommon Reader
by Alan Bennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst kind of inverted snobbery, 17 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Uncommon Reader (Paperback)
I picked this book up from the bargain discount shelves of our local QD store - which is about where it belongs. It rests upon the supposedly hilarious, but actually deeply insulting, premise that the Queen is a philistine, so darlings, wouldn't it just be too funny if she were suddenly to become a bibliophile?

I don't know if Alan Bennett has met the Queen, or spoken to her about her reading habits - I somehow doubt it. My guess is Her Majesty is probably quite well read, she is certainly no fool. So what gives Bennett the right to think he can assume otherwise? This is a real person who has no way of answering back.

As for the dated idea that reading 'great literature' (whatever that is) has a civilizing, democratising effect; dear oh dear, does anyone still believe in that dated, sub-Reithean clap trap? I'm afraid the author, here as elsewhere, is showing his age.

Bennett's fictional writing is just as two dimensional and patronising when depicting the upper classes as the working classes (Talking Heads etc). And what is it with him and the Queen - wasn't he banging on about her in that play about Anthony Blunt and the Royal art collection (another subject he knows nothing about but thinks is good for you). Inferiority complex, is it?

I have to confess I didn't actually get beyond page 30, despite numerous attempts - don't waste your money.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 15, 2012 11:16 PM GMT

Indoor Cats (Complete Pet Owner's Manual)
Indoor Cats (Complete Pet Owner's Manual)
by Katrin Behrend
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

9 of 131 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Set your cat free, 9 Aug. 2010
I got this book out of the library rather than wasting my money on buying it. It is full of delusions and half truths designed to soothe the guilty consciences of those who imprison their cats. Funny, all its 'strategies' for making an indoor cat's life a little bit more bearable look suspiciously like the things it could do if you let it out - climbing things, chasing things, investigating things, except that of course, none of them work, because as we all know a cat gets bored with a new toy in about 10 minutes.

Instead of buying this cat jailer's manual, how about setting your cat free to take his or her chances in the big wide world, just like your parents did with you, just like every animal in the wild has a right to? How would you like to be kept indoors every day? Do you think you're so fascinating and interesting that a cat would rather be with you than out rolling in the grass and chasing mice?

Tell you what, if you think indoor cats are so happy shut up in your house all day, why not offer them the choice? Open the door and let them decide - I've never met a cat yet that wouldn't choose freedom.
Comment Comments (113) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2014 11:49 PM BST

PCs For Dummies
PCs For Dummies
by Dan Gookin
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't even think about buying this book, 8 July 2008
This review is from: PCs For Dummies (Paperback)
My wife bought this book some years ago when we got our first PC as we're both pretty computer-illiterate (or were then). I can honestly say that over the years I have consulted this book on numerous occasions when things have gone wrong, and not once has it been any help. In fact, I would go further, it has never failed to complicate a problem rather than simplify it. Consult the index? What you are looking for is never there. Seek a simple explanation to a basic problem? You'll be given a facetious and unintelligible answer (if you can find any answer at all). Worst of all, it is done in the unfunniest, most relentlessly jokey, matey tone that I have ever encountered. Don't waste your money.

Untold Stories
Untold Stories
by Alan Bennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice book, shame about the typeface, 12 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Untold Stories (Paperback)
It may seem a minor point but no reputable publisher should be allowed to get away with print this small - it's about half the size of 'Writing Home' and severely marred my reading pleasure. Given the likely average age of the readership for a book like this you'd think Bennett in particular would insist on something big enough for his Gran to read. Why do they do it? Profit? Laziness? It certainly shows contempt for the reading public, but then I forget, this is Faber & Faber so that is to be expected. 'Bit small, eh? Well, screw up your eyes and be grateful - it's high art is that'.

Philip Larkin: Collected Poems
Philip Larkin: Collected Poems
by Philip Larkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

204 of 210 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The wrong edition, 22 Dec. 2007
If you want an edition that doesn't contain more than forty poems from Larkin's maturity, then this is the one for you. If, however, you would like to be able to read what Blake Morrison called 'Larkin's last great poem' ('Love Again') or other examples that stand comparison with his best work, like 'Marriages', 'Letter to a Friend about Girls', 'Strangers', 'Autumn', 'Maturity', 'The Dance', 'Negative Indicative' etc etc, then avoid this edition at all costs. Try and get the original Collected Poems second hand, which has them all in. Otherwise you risk being socially embarrassed when someone starts talking to you about 'Gathering Wood' and you swear blind Larkin never wrote such a poem. Think of it!

P.S. It has been pointed out that this review has been posted on ALL the editions of Larkin's collected poems, which is pretty stupid and unhelpful. What is the point of listing editions separately and then posting a review aimed at one particular edition on them all? Anyway, this review is aimed at the 2003 edition, which is (I believe) the first to conatin the cuts. Anything before that date should be OK (UK & US editions). There are plenty available, I urge you to buy them and avoid missing out on some superb poems.
Comment Comments (20) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2012 12:44 AM GMT

Tournemire - L'Orgue Mystique
Tournemire - L'Orgue Mystique

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultra-traditional, ultra-modern, 26 Feb. 2006
At only a fiver a disc this is superb value, and given the esoteric appeal of this music this edition is unlikely to remain available for long. So if you are in any doubt, do not delay - buy it.
This is music that you can return to again and again, even if you are not a Catholic. And don't be put off by the overall length - each 'office' is a self-contained musical unit lasting from 15-20 minutes and itself subdivided into 5 sections; 2 very short pieces, 2 rather longer ones and an extended final piece. Each office contains within it a wealth of musical interest and colour, from chaste and perfectly judged settings of the gregorian theme on the shorter pieces, to glorious improvisations and fantasies in the longer.
The style is an exciting amalgam of the post-romantic with more modern, dissonant harmonies, with admixtures of the medieval and even Eastern music. Delvallee is probably the foremost exponent of Tournemire's organ music; I have some doubts about some of the tempos he uses (too slow) but generally he brings out the poetry of the music admirably. The discs are well recorded and the instruments chosen sympathetic.
Obviously no one will buy a 12 CD set without knowing something of Tournemire's music (I would recommend Adrian Gunning's marvellous selection from L'Orgue Mystique as an introduction). The only question for a Tournemire fan will be; do I buy this edition or that by Sandro Muller on Cybele. Unfortunately I have not heard the latter so I can't help you there.

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