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Artgerechte Menschenhaltung: Tipps zu Anschaffung, Erziehung und Pflege
Artgerechte Menschenhaltung: Tipps zu Anschaffung, Erziehung und Pflege
by Tucki Kaiser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.97

5.0 out of 5 stars 100% Artgerecht!, 23 Oct. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have written this review in German as it's a German book. If you would like an English version of the review, let me know and I'll have a go.

Tucki Kaiser ist ein Kleinspitz, der beim Bellen denkt, er sei ein Dobermann. Das ist natürlich nur im übertragenen gemeint. Vielleicht fühlt er sich auch wie ein Border Collie - der schlaueste aller Hunde.

Tucki versteht die Menschen und ihre artgerechte Haltung besser, als man sich vorstellen kann. Zum Beispiel:

"Menschen hüllen sich... in Tücher, Leder und Felle. Weibchen und Rüdchen locken sich beim Balzverhalten damit auch gegenseitig an und verwenden diese künstlichen Felle auch, um ihre Position im Rudel oder bei besondern Anlässen zu markieren."

"Der Mensch wird - wenn er Nahrung hat - immer weiter essen, wenn Sie nicht auf ihn achten!"

Oder wenn es darum geht, zu erläutern, wie ein Hund einem kranken Menschen beim erholen behilflich sein kann:

"[Wenn...] Ihr zweibeiniger Liebling [sich] seelisch oder körperlich übernommen hat... Erschöpfungssymptome aufweist... [und] matt in seinem Körbchen liegen bleibt, zu nichts Lust hat und zu nichts zu gebrauchen ist... [dann] springen Sie mit betonter Fröhlichkeit und am besten noch begleitet von heftigem Hecheln und intensivem Schwanzweden in sein Körbchen!"

Meines Erachtens nach soll sich jede(r) Hund(in) in Deutschland eine Kopie von "Artgerechte Menschenhaltung" kaufen, um sicherzustellen, dass er oder sie ihren zweibeinigen Liebling richtig ernährt, sauber hält und dressiert. Ich hoffe, dass Tucki Kaiser demnächst in der deutschen Qualitätspresse (z.B. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger oder Kölner Rundschau) eine regelmässige Zeitungssparte bekommt, vielleicht: "Artgerechte Menschenhaltung: Frag Tucki", damit Hunde überall von dem einzigartigen Wissen und philosophischen Verständnis dieses außergewöhnlichen Hundes richtig profitieren können.

Bis es eine solche regelmässige Kolummne gibt, holen Sie sich "Artgerechte Menschenhaltung". Ihr Mensch wird Ihnen dafür dankbar sein!

The Museum of Innocence (Vintage International)
The Museum of Innocence (Vintage International)
by Orhan Pamuk
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars The Museum of Innocence: how men really think?, 23 Oct. 2016
A man repeatedly lies to and harasses both his fiancé and his young lover, while pontificating about the "unpalatable anthropological truths" which plague relations between the sexes. In pursuit of his obsession with the young lover, he then displays over 728 pages (in my paperback edition) every one of the unpleasant male characteristics he decries, from jealousy to over-control. In the process he ruins her prospects for either marriage or a career and brings about a tragedy.

Yet, at the end of the novel, the author invites the reader's sympathy for his protagonist, making his last words in the book: "Let everyone know, I lived a very happy life."

The author also invites the reader to explore and even share in the obsession of the protagonist, Kemal, by filling a house with objects supposedly collected by Kemal and associated with the object of his obsession, Fusun. This house is the eponymous "Museum of Innocence" - an actual building in Istanbul filled with genuine objects from the '70s and '80s collected by the fictional Kemal and referred to throughout the book - which I have reviewed elsewhere.

I wrote in my review of the Museum: "The story... is told in the first person by Kemal, a spoiled, wealthy 30-something year-old from Istanbul. Kemal narrates the story of his obsession with Fusun, a younger woman, over a period of nine years. During that time, Kemal discovers that one way to salve the ache of loss when Fusun is not present is to handle objects associated with her. So he begins to steal items from her family. These objects form the nucleus of the museum."

I also wrote that "Kemal is beyond creepy". But he may also be interpreted as a prototypical man.

So: do the ghastly actions and self-justifications of Kemal depict a warped misogynistic monster? Or is author Orhan Pamuk simply laying bare with unprecedented honesty how all men really think - and act, if they are given the chance?


A few examples of Kemal's thoughts and actions follow. NB these contain mild spoilers.


(i) Kemal notes early on: 'As I gazed out on the lights of Nisantasi, it would occasionally occur to me that if I was to continue my happy, beautiful life in the manner to which I was accustomed, it was essential that I not be in love with Fusun. For this reason I felt it was important to resist befriending her or taking too great an interest in her problems, her jokes, and her humanity.'

(ii) Kemal records how, in an anguish of tears, Fusun reveals to him that: '"I've fallen in love with you. I'm head over heels in love with you... I think about you all day long. I think about you from morning until night."' His response? 'Let me confess that my first instinct was to grin stupidly. But I didn't. Instead I frowned, assumed a tender expression of concern, until finally I had overcome the force of my own feelings. Here, at one of the deepest, most profound moments of my life, there was something contrived in my demeanour.' Later, after making love, Kemal records Fusun looking into his eyes and saying '"My whole life depends on you now."' 'This,' Kemal writes, 'both pleased and alarmed me.'

(iii) Kemal even manipulates his own emotions when Fusun's father dies. In the aftermath of the death, he is delighted to be able to embrace Fusun: 'Dear God, what great happiness it was to hold her in my arms! I felt the world's profundity, its unbounded beauty.' But aware that Fusun is convulsed with tears, he takes action: 'I called to mind my own father's death so that I might better share her grief.'


(iv) at the party to mark his engagement to his fiancé Sibel, Kemal is pleased to find that Fusun, who has a vital exam the next day and with whom he has had sex a few hours earlier, has turned up in an agitated state. As he exchanges pleasantries with Fusun's mother, his eyes dwell on Fusun's body. 'As I turned away I felt happiness overwhelm me like a giant wave crashing.' There is much here, as throughout the book, of Kemal exploiting and relishing the power he has over Fusun, whose position in a less well-off family than his own leads her parents to tolerate his interest in her as the least-bad option;

(v) Kemal revels in his actions to prevent Fusun from making contacts which could develop her hoped-for career as an actress, while pretending that he is supporting her ambitions: 'Sometimes the things we were obliged to do to keep Fusun away from the wolves and jackals besieging her... were less a source of distress than of mirth or even moral uplift.'

(vi) Kemal compares his theft of items from Fusun's house to display in his museum with acquiring Fusun herself: '...whenever I dropped a matchbox into my pocket, pretending not to notice what I had done, there was another reason to rejoice. I may not have "won" the woman I loved so obsessively, but it cheered me to have broken off a piece of her, however small.' Again it is as though the act of stealing items associated with Fusun gives him a pleasurable sense of power over her;

(vii) indeed, Kemal's jealousy of Fusun has chilling undertones. He obsesses suspiciously about her when she goes sewing with her mother to raise money: '... asking myself what my beauty, my one and only, could be doing in those strangers' houses...' and is even embarrassed by her actions. When she recalls these people fondly, he looks forward to preventing her from seeing them: 'I hadn't the heart to tell her that when we were married and living among the rich, neither of us would enjoy meeting those people whose houses she'd visited as a seamstress.'

(viii) Kemal's jealousy about Fusun includes obsessing about whether she has slept with her husband Feridun during the eight years of their marriage: 'Had I dwelled long and hard on the notion of Fusun and Feridun's enjoying full marital relations... my love could not have survived. Yet, when, following years of successful self-deception, Fusun had commanded that I had no choice but to believe it, I immediately and unequivocally told myself that it couldn't be true, and indeed even bristled at the thought that she was tricking me.' This is the perfect application of Shakespeare's line from Henry VI: 'Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.'


(ix) Pamuk imbues Kemal with a tantalising element of self-awareness. '"I'm not indignant," I said indignantly"' Kemal says in chapter 71 (this echoes a line in Remember Me, a novel by Melvyn Bragg about his relationship with his wife: 'He stood up, hit, hurt, incensed. What she said was true. "That's not true" he said, he shouted.'). Kemal knows his actions in sleeping with Fusun and his fiancé Sibel have ruined both, as well as making them unhappy. 'There were times, I admit, when I longed for the consolation of Sibel's embrace, but I was so guilt-ridden, so worn down by my evil duplicity, that ultimately her absence was a comfort.' Yet he keeps lying, as when Sibel confronts him about his actions in moving with her to a yali (waterfront house) without getting married. His reply to her - '"The innocent, sincere companionship I shared with you in the yali - I've never known such a thing with anyone else"' - is both a lie and a betrayal of Fusun;

(x) meanwhile, Kemal's lying to Fusun is consistent and comprehensive. Early on, she asks whether he has slept with Sibel. '"I don't want you to tell me any lies. I can't believe you aren't having sex with her these days. Swear to me, please."' '"I swear I'm not making love to her"' he lies. Sensitively, Fusun gives him a way out: '"Did you tell any lies just now?" "No." "Why don't you think it over for a while."' Later she asks: '"Have you thought it over?" "Yes, I've thought it over. I didn't tell you any lies." "Just now, or in the recent past?" "Never... We're at a stage when there is no need to lie to each other."' Days later, she sets a condition for staying with him: '"Swear on your father's head that you'll never ever lie to me." "I swear." "Not like that. Say the whole sentence." "I swear on my father's head that I'll never ever lie to you."' Needless to say, he is lying. Much later, she confronts him when he says she can still be a film star. '"Kemal, that's a lie you've just told me. You don't even believe it yourself... That really makes me angry - how good you are at telling lies." "What makes you say that?"' he replies. Later she says: '"Because of you, I haven't had the chance to live my own life, Kemal... I wanted to become an actress."'


(xi) in the famous chapter 4,213 Cigarette Stubs, Kemal analyses the moods Fusun displays in the way she stubs out each of her cigarettes over many years: 'the collected resentment of her whole life was being expressed with this cigarette stub.' Or: 'All [three stubs] are roughly bent, folded upon themselves, and compacted, perfectly recalling the terrible awkwardness of Fusun's silence that day, her refusal to say what was upsetting her, and her vain attempts to pretend nothing was wrong.' You can't wishing Kemal would help Fusun by talking to her about what is distressing her (although the fact you care does show you have bought into the characters). All 4,213 stubs are, of course, in display case 68 at the Museum of Innocence - see picture above;


(xii) even after a tragedy has occurred, Kemal betrays the memory of Fusun: 'I laughed and joked... making sure everyone noticed my high spirits, thus leaving the gossips to conclude that "in the end" I had "saved" myself from "that girl".' Near the end of the novel he muses: 'I thought about how I might describe what Fusun meant to me to someone who knew nothing about Istanbul... I was coming to see myself as someone who had travelled to distant countries... say, an anthropologist who had fallen in love with a native girl while living among the indigenous folk of New Zealand, to study and catalog their habits and rituals...."

So how aware is Pamuk of the ghastliness of his protagonist Kemal? Does the invitation to the reader at the close of the book, to feel sympathy for Kemal, mean that perhaps he hasn't noticed that he has created a monster?

I think the answer must be 'no': Pamuk is well aware that he is depicting someone pretty vile. Yet he is also inviting us all to consider whether the characteristics he depicts are in all of us, men as well, I suspect, as women - although the female characters in the book are mere shadows compared with their male counterparts. He may also, perhaps, be asking us to forgive Kemal despite his vileness. Pamuk hints at this and at the idea that he himself is Kemal when, in the closing pages of the book, he toys with his narrative first person in a conversation between the narrator, Kemal, and Orhan Pamuk himself after the latter appears in the story to discuss the book he is writing:

Pamuk: '"I am writing the novel in the first person singular," said Orhan Bey.

Kemal: "What do you mean?'

Pamuk: "In the book you are telling your own story, and saying 'I,' Kemal Bey. I am speaking in your voice. Right now I am trying very hard to put myself in your place, to be you."

Kemal: "I understand," I said. "So tell me, have you ever been in love this way, Orhan Bey?"

Pamuk: "Hmmmm... we aren't talking about me," he said, and fell silent.'

If we give Pamuk the benefit of the doubt and assume that he knows exactly what he is doing, this makes the book of The Museum of Innocence a magisterial and scary analysis of how men think; as well as a fascinating look at the well-heeled Istanbul of the '70s and '80s. For my taste it's rather long, and not exactly compulsive reading, but is still one of the easier reads (along with the openly autobiographical Istanbul) amongst Pamuk's books.

For: disturbing, eerie analysis of men and Istanbul, in that order.

Against: a bit long. Kemal will upset a lot of people. The book is not as good as the concept of the Museum of Innocence (i.e. combining a book and a museum) or the Museum itself.

The Children's Book
The Children's Book
by A S Byatt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars A S Byatt not at her best: but sprawling drama may appeal to some, 21 Oct. 2016
This review is from: The Children's Book (Paperback)
A S Byatt at her best is a magnificent writer. But The Children's Book is:

- too long;
- too slow-moving;
- endowed with a gargantuan cast of characters, many half-drawn and difficult for this reader to distinguish or care about;
- lacking drive: the idea of lending impetus and meaning to a not-that-thrilling or not-that-strikingly-original story by setting it against important historical events such as World War 1 and the development of women's rights has been threadbare since Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks;
- short on editorial input: some scenes, such as the whimsical summer party in the first half of the book, seem to go on for thousands of pages;
- short on humour.

But... readers who enjoy densely-plotted family dramas and can remember dozens of different characters may enjoy the book. The background historical issues are undoubtedly interesting. And if you like reading about artistic Fabian types seeking to live according to idealistic and artistic principles in late 19thC England, you've come to the right place.

For: lush, sprawling drama of numerous interlocking families - if you like that kind of thing.
Against: to this reader, sadly, impenetrable and interminable.

Pig and Pepper
Pig and Pepper
by David Footman
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Wry, dry and wise: a brilliant guide to diplomatic procedure - not, 3 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Pig and Pepper (Paperback)
I was recommended "Pig and Pepper" by a perceptive former diplomat, who cited the description of the hung-over hero "Waking up as if something had crawled into his mouth and died there". P&P is an almost elegaic portrait of diplomatic life in inter-war Middle Europe. Its highlights are humorous set-pieces as the dubious hero, Mills, seeks to evade work, sleep with girls and make enough money to escape a posting to the Vilayets of Bitlis and Van. In between, serious stuff happens, some involving the eloquent and mysterious Colonel Vickery. Most of all, P&P depicts diplomatic life as, sometimes, it is: an unpredictable roller-coaster of tedious, intriguing and splendidly exotic hours.

For: hilarious moments, originality, haunting picture of Central Europe circa 1936
Against: a few dry patches and dated in parts, particularly - though, arguably, informatively in a historical sense - about women

My Contract in Exile
My Contract in Exile
by Sue Fisher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable primer for anyone thinking of going to visit - or live and work in - St Helena, 17 May 2015
This review is from: My Contract in Exile (Paperback)
Sue Fisher's e-mails to her family and friends are a fascinating insight into life on St Helena in the early 2000s (I could find no dates in the book, but it feels like around 2002-2004). She travels with her husband Richard, a maths adviser, on a one-year contract to the island, later extended to two years, and writes regularly to her family and friends in the UK and around the world about the challenges and joys of life and work on-island. In the process she reveals much about the tight-knit life and customs of the 4,000 inhabitants of one of the remote inhabited islands on earth. Equally intriguing are the insights the correspondence - all one-way - casts on the Fisher family and on Sue herself, who comes across as charmingly self-deprecating and unremittingly British despite spending much of her adult life living in countless different countries.

All in all, a valuable primer for anyone thinking of going to live and work in St Helena or any other remote island community. Visitors to St Helena might find it interesting, too. The depiction of a way of life of a peripatetic British family travelling the world at the beginning of the 21st century is a bonus.

Forbidden Science: Exposing the Secrets of Suppressed Research
Forbidden Science: Exposing the Secrets of Suppressed Research
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to open your mind to alternative ways of scientific thinking?, 29 Oct. 2014
There's no doubt that Richard Milton is a talented writer and original thinker. I greatly enjoyed his "Dead Secret" - a roller-coaster thriller filled with twists and turns - as well as his "Best of Enemies: Britain and Germany - Truth and Lies in Two World Wars", a thoughtful analysis of the social, philosophical and scientific ties which bound the two countries closely together in the 20th Century. "Forbidden Science" is an easy-to-read exploration of why science accepts some hypotheses but not others, and "shakes the tree" to explore the bases of what we believe - and what we don't, or won't. Open your mind, and check out "Forbidden Science".

Dead Secret: A Tony Gabriel paranormal mystery thriller
Dead Secret: A Tony Gabriel paranormal mystery thriller
Price: £7.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating, enjoyable and thought-provoking thriller, 29 Oct. 2014
I read and enjoyed "Dead Secret" a couple of years ago in hard copy. It's a stimulating, entertaining and thought-provoking thriller combining Milton's in-depth story-telling and scientific expertise to powerful effect. I have no hesitation in recommending "Dead Secret" (strapline - "Once you know the secret - you're dead") to anyone looking for a fast-paced, enjoyable read with plenty of plot twists and surprises.

Bonus: "Dead Secret" contains several scenes of highly unusual and graphically-depicted sex. Don't try this at home - unless you're sure what you're doing.

Life After Life
Life After Life
by Kate Atkinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What would you do if you could go back in time and change something? No, really?, 13 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Life After Life (Paperback)
What would you do if you could go back in time and change something?

It's a thesis which has fascinated writers and artists from HG Wells to the 2013 film "About Time". Science fiction is full of it: from Asimov's time-travelling over-controlling perfectionists in "The End of Eternity" to the short story which posed the question: should you stop someone who wants to go back and prevent Jesus Christ from being crucified?

Kate Atkinson is a fine writer who has tackled the issue in a refreshing way. Her likeable protagonist, Ursula, keeps dying and being reborn and left with a sense that, as if fated, she somehow has to act to control her destiny. The writing is neat and readable - "Life after Life" is an entertaining and enjoyable read.

So why only three stars? First, like "About Time", the book takes a premise of almost boundless possibilities and comes up with a rather underwhelming dramatic twist. In the movie, the hero goes back to fix his relationship. You long for him to do something more dramatic. In "Life after Life", Ursula decides to kill Adolf Hitler before he can cause too much trouble (this is not a spoiler - it happens in the first chapter of the book). I'm afraid I longed for something more original.

Good: fresh, bright, readable. Less good: left me feeling unsatisfied at the end. On page 144 of my edition even Kate Atkinson seems to run out of inspiration. "Darkness, and so on." I felt the same way.

Freak Brothers Omnibus, The: Every Freak Brothers Story Rolled into One Bumper Package
Freak Brothers Omnibus, The: Every Freak Brothers Story Rolled into One Bumper Package
by Gilbert Shelton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.28

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% Freaky, 20 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good value despite the hefty price-tag, this mighty omnibus really does contain every FFFB story you've ever come across, and tons of others, many in scintillating colour. As with many favourite cartoon heroes, there is a sense here of the authors hitting a plateau then gradually declining in originality and verve from about half-way through; but this may reflect the constant impact of illicit drugs (on the authors - Ed). Fat Freddy's Cat, in particular, is, sadly, seen increasingly rarely as the book wears on. But I greatly enjoyed the series of special editions on the glorious excesses and corrupt practices of Ripoff Press Inc. Perfect.

Buy; put in the loo or by your bedside; and enjoy; and enjoy; and enjoy.

The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 1
The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 1
by Graeme Simsion
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, addictive, hilarious and thought-provoking, 20 April 2014
What if all men were like Don, the off-the-scale endearing hero of "The Rosie Project", with his total inability to empathise, his obsession with keeping his own life under control, and his deep-seated anxieties about any kind of interaction with women? What? They are all like that? As the damaged-in-her-own-way heroine Rosie says: "You're no different from every other man I've ever met in objectifying women - just more honest about it."

This is a delicious slow-burner of a book, as we meet Don, Rosie and a strong supporting cast in the opening quarter, then plunge into Don and Rosie's fabulously ill-starred romance through a series of outstanding set-pieces including the jacket incident; the cocktail evening; the dance evening (with the terrific Panamanian, Bianca Rivera); and Don and Rosie's trip to New York. It's a headlong, fun-filled and exuberant rush. Strongly recommended.

The only down-side, for some, might be that the final 10% of the book is a lot more conventional than the rest of the story - definitely a touch of the Hollywoods. But this doesn't detract from a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read.

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