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Caterkiller (Darlington, UK)

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Back to Blood
Back to Blood
by Tom Wolfe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars His worst book yet?, 22 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Back to Blood (Paperback)
After the incredibly mediocre Charlotte Simmons I was hoping Wolfe would return to form with this book. All of the ingredients are there: a newspaper editor, City Hall politics, oligarchs yet somehow what he produces is crashingly dull. Characters who Wolfe spends time sketching out are just incidental to the story, the French/Creole teacher in particular. There's not even scope for some City Hall wheeler-dealing a la The Wire, and the central plot concerning forged Russian artworks is just a bit boring. It's well written enough but doesn't say anything about Miami in particular or leave any lasting impression. The happy ending also appears hurridly written and tagged-on. Pretty weak.


The Circle
The Circle
by Dave Eggers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Barely believable and there's not even a twirst at the end, 22 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Circle (Paperback)
The Circle starts off in an intriguing fashion but then, like an narcissistic Dot-com billionaire gradually loses the plot. Mae starts her role, as anyone would in a global corporation, keen, enthusiastic and trying to fit in to the corporate "family". From this beginning, with a few appropriately creepy touches, the story then accelerates in to a barely comprehensible parallel universe where everyone exists only on-line, huge global corporations control surveillance cameras everywhere and even control the electoral process. Mae just accepts this: we get no internal conflict, at least not in any depth, despite The Circle being involved in murder, extortion and probably tax-dodging too. Despite losing touch with her family and friends and being warned about the dangers to the future of humanity Mae just goes on pedalling the corporate line. Given the amount of uproar about the sharing of data by FB, Google and Twitter and the Snowdon/Wikileaks disclosures it seems bizarre that anyone would go from zero to zealot that quickly. To echo the vastly superior 1984 by the end Mae has learnt to love Big Brother.


Servants of the Supernatural: The Night Side of the Victorian Mind
Servants of the Supernatural: The Night Side of the Victorian Mind
by Antonio Melechi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been a lot better, 7 Mar. 2014
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Despite a promising topic this book fails to explore the breadth of its subject; instead it focuses mainly on mesmerism for about 70% of the book, seances and spiritualism for the remainder. The events described in this tome took place against a backdrop of frenzied inquiry into the natural sciences and it would have been helpful if the author had laid out some kind of context before leaping straight into a description of animal magnetism. The perfectly plausible explanation that a lot of the participants in mesmerism were under the influence of hypnosis isn't explored until the very brief epilogue by which point the reader is likely suffering from extreme boredom from the numberous repetitions in this quite slim volume.


The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones
by Jonathan Littell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.48

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Try a conventional history book instead, 10 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: The Kindly Ones (Paperback)
I have been trying to come up with a more constructive title for this review other than "It's Rubbish" but I've been struggling. The central character, Max is a bi-sexual, Nazi with a passing interest in incest and bizarre sexual practices: presumably the author got his ideas after seeing Mel Brook's classic "The Producers". Despite its literary pretensions the book is written in a primary school history format with a character spouting several pages of monologue on a niche subject such as the history of the Balkans or eugenics as though the author believed that shoe-horning vast non-fiction tracts in the guise of dialogue into a novel would somehow make it more accessible to the reader; it doesn't: no-one speaks like that in real life. The narrative moves at a glacial pace with the occassional nonsensical mis-translation thrown in to interupt further the non-existent flow. I'm never normally bothered by lengthy novels (I've read Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Bleak House in the last few months) but having struggled to page 520 I give in. No doubt there is an amazing twist at the end which will make the preceding 900 pages worthwhile but doubt it.


Midnight in Paris [DVD][2011] [2012]
Midnight in Paris [DVD][2011] [2012]
Dvd ~ Owen Wilson
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.21

3 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Someone pension of Woody ASAP, 6 Aug. 2012
When will old comedians realise that they are no longer needed? Steve Martin continues to churn out unwatchable crud, as do Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams. Sure, there are some intermitent returns to form: Bowfinger for the first two, Insomnia for Williams but they cannot save what has been a downward spiral of twenty-plus years. Once more Woody Allen gets a free pass from the critics on the strength of having once made a quip about his brain being his second favourite organ about fifty years ago and since then the remainder bins of HMV have been stuffed to the gunwhales with his films. Midnight in Paris is no exception, there are no jokes, just a slightly weak plot regarding time travel with Owen Wilson taking over the role of Woody's avatar despite being about seven feet taller and having the voice of Lightening McQueen, and forcing out the trademark weak dialogue. Is there anything to redeem this? Well Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway is excellent. If only they had made the film about him.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2012 8:13 PM BST


Decline & Fall: Diaries 2005-2010 (Mullin Diaires 2)
Decline & Fall: Diaries 2005-2010 (Mullin Diaires 2)
by Chris Mullin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let the chaos begin.........., 23 May 2012
Mullin raises one good point at the start: literally minutes after Tony Blair was re-elected in 2005 he faced calls for him to resign!! And so the sniping, back-stabbing and infighting begins in earnest for the next two years. And for what? To have Labour's most sucessful leader replaced by a charisma-free personality vacuum. Mullin paints an interesting picture of the parliamentary Labour party tearing itself apart over the succession for no apparent reason, indeed, about 75% of his diary entries concern the various plots which makes the book rather heavy going unless you are interested in now forgotten political pygmies such as Charles Clark, Hazel Blears and Geoff Hoon. Mullin's faith in making Britain more like Cuba shines through as he actually celebrates the fact that public sector employment has gone up by 600,000 (and all with final salary pensions too) under Blair's rule. Finally he blames the economic collapse on the "Tories friends in the City"; sorry Chris but I think you will find it's your party that was meant to be regulating them for the past decade. His political antennae is as sharp as ever, though, predicting the demise of Robert Mugabe and George Galloway in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Where are they now?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 21, 2014 2:14 PM GMT


Humboldt's Gift (Penguin Modern Classics)
Humboldt's Gift (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Saul Bellow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 200 pages of plot, 300 of navel gazing, 4 April 2012
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Having enjoyed "Seize the Day" I thought why not give his Pulitzer Prize winner a go? In short there is a plot buried in here but garnished with acres of turgid prose when the lead character contemplates his own existence, waxes lyrical about the Greek philosophers, HL Mencken, Woodrow Wilson at every opportunity while surrounding himself with sycophantic lawyers and hangers-on. You can almost re-edit this book yourself, cross out any paragraph longer than half a page and you will get rid of most of the self-analysis and reveal what is actually a quite engaging story. The Pulitzer is usually a guarantee of over-written rubbish and this is no exception. The works of most of the so-called American "Men of Letters" of Bellow's generation have aged badly (particularly Updike), or are of variable quality (Tom Wolfe, Roth, Pynchon, John Irving) because they feel the need to advertise their extensive knowledge of the world and it's history to their readers. Norman Mailer at least leaves the self-aggrandizment to his non-fiction works. On the strength of "Seize the Day" I will probably give another of Saul Bellow's books a go, maybe even this one as I now know which sections to skip.


The Three Musketeers (Penguin Classics)
The Three Musketeers (Penguin Classics)
by Alexandre Dumas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All hail the Joey Essex of 18th Century France, 3 April 2012
D'Artagnan doesn't seem like the brightest chap. He picks fights, squanders money, drinks and that is before he meets the equally bovine musketeers who are a trio intellectually on a par with Gazza, Peter Andre and Jimmy "Five Bellies". Then, partway through the book in a fit of passion D'Artagnan reveals his plans to Milday, the evil Cardinal's trusted assassin despite knowing she is plotting against musketeers. Needless to say there is a happy ending and molecule-brained D'Artagnan ends up being appointed a captain which probably explains the vast number of french military sucesses over the past few centuries. Not Dumas's best work, quite laboured and drawn out; I would strongly recommend Robin Buss's translation of "The Count of Monte Cristo" instead which is much more engaging despite being nearly twice as long.


No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Mr B's Sgt. Pepper's, 19 Feb. 2012
In an era when hip hop has regressed to a group of semi-literate thugs throwing around words like "bitch" and "ho" and referring to each other as, well I doubt Amazon would let me type it but it's an anagram of "ginger", it's refreshing to hear some high quality rhyming accompanied by the beguiling tones of the banjolele. Given the number of cover versions this could be said to be Mr. B's fin de seicle album as a trawls the 1980's for inspiration from KISS, the Shamen and of course The Rock Steady Crew whilst simultaneously bemoaning the usurping of tweed by Kappa tracksuits and the Hilman Imp by the Citroen Saxo. His usual obsessions are apparent on "A Very Modern Breakup" and "Hermitage Shanks" so existing fans can rest easy that he hasn't sold out a la Example. Excellent follow up to "Flattery Not Included" so sherry all round!! (Can't understand why he is portayed as Napoleon on the cover artwork though; surely the Duke of Wellington would have been more appropriate?)


War and Peace (Vintage Classics)
War and Peace (Vintage Classics)
by Leo Tolstoy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Anna Karenina, 24 Oct. 2011
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I have to admit feeling guilty about giving a all-time classic a mediocre review, however, there seems to be a struggle within the text between a character driven novel, a tract on the philosophy of armed conflict and a history of the 1812 french invasion of Russia. The first 400 pages fly by, detailed depictions of Moscow society, the back story of the main characters, however, once the war starts in earnest then bizarrely the narrative slows down. Although there are some brilliantly written individual sections there is too much description of the mechanics of battlefield warfare, more suited to one of Richard Holmes' books, and the characters we have become involved with dissappear for 100 pages at a time while the scene shifts to the camps of Kutuzov and Napoleon. Still a very enjoyable read and better than 90% of other books out there but it seems divided in its aims. It also ends with a 50 page chapter on warfare which I am certain most readers will skip having already waded through 1200 pages to reach that point.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2011 10:13 AM GMT


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