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Profile for Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' (london, england)

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Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
by Simon Garfield
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fount of wisdom, me, 7 May 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Considerably more fun than typefaces themselves. Incidentally, fonts are properly founts (poured metal). The muddlingly ecclesiastical phonetic spelling, scorned by purists, was introduced in the computer age as an aid to those who'd never poured or handled hot metal in their lives other than a knife and fork. In non-print contexts the word retains its traditional spelling and pronunciation, fount


Lilliput Goes to War
Lilliput Goes to War
by Kaye Webb
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Deflating, 7 May 2017
This review is from: Lilliput Goes to War (Hardcover)
What passed for sophisticated to a hormonal Fifties child is now shown up as middlebrow, mildly titillating fare for the troops, midway between Horizon and Titbits. Trail-blazing journalism (in the sense of publishing rather than news-gathering) but toothless


Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-raising, Latte-drinking, Sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, "New York Times"-reading, Body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, Left-wing Freak Show
Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-raising, Latte-drinking, Sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, "New York Times"-reading, Body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, Left-wing Freak Show
by Geoff Nunberg
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Acute, funny and more relevant than ever, 7 May 2017
When clever people are targeted with hate speech (as 'the elite') while the real elite (the moneyed) are left untouched, we're in trouble. People of faith have always abused language, but mainly in addressing their own kind; Communism and Fascism then took it to a fine art. In the post-communist era the virus spread to mainstream politics, and now we need Geoff 'Going Nucular' Nunberg more than ever. I've long loved this, but it's never too late to notice OR read it: But it's hugely fun too; like all Nunberg's writings; his latest, on assholism (sic), is making eyes at me as I write


Trouble with Science
Trouble with Science
by Robin Dunbar
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Took the words out of my mouth, 6 May 2017
This review is from: Trouble with Science (Hardcover)
Blurbs rarely rate a cheer, but my initial thought - terrific! - is echoed precisely by the New Scientist on the cover of my 1996 paperback (feeble cover unchanged) though dazzling would perhaps be even better. Ever heard of Grosseteste or Tylor or hectocotylization? Did you know that hyenas were commonly held to be hermaphrodite, even down to the last century, or that Omar Khayyam's initial fame was as a mathematician? A psychologist with interests in anthropology, Professor Dunbar is clearly having a ball, though spellcheck might have told him or his editorial team that dictat should be diktat


LITTLE INNOCENTS, Childhood Reminiscences
LITTLE INNOCENTS, Childhood Reminiscences
by Alan Pryce Jones
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Rather aimless but very Thirties, 4 May 2017
If you're lucky enough to know APJ's memoir The Bonus of Laughter or you're one of the growing band to have discovered his son's Fault Lines, extraordinary both, you may be amused by this decidedly random collection of obscure reminiscences. Ethel Smythe? Didn't she play the piano during the war? No, that was Myra Hess. Cross Channel swimmer? Horsewoman? My dear wife wondered if she was the suffragette who fell under a horse but the book's publication date scotches that hypothesis. In 1932 contributors' notes would have been considered supererogatory if not downright infra dig, though some half the names are still familiar to those of us of a certain vintage. My copy, sadly sans dust jacket and otherwise undistinguished, belonged all too appropriately to someone called Daphne. Four stars for oddness


Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert M Pirsig
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ironically (and tragically) unironic, 1 May 2017
'The road winds on and on' - and we're only at the beginning of chapter 2. By page 40 the narrator (supremely irritating and didactic) is spouting nonsense about the law of gravity. Of course the so-called law of gravity is no more a law than the theory of evolution is a theory; the term simply describes a function of physics which, until Newton, was too blindingly obvious to be noticed. This is plainly more Jonathan Livingston Seagull than, say, Jonathan Swift. As Pirsig's passing didn't rate a mention on Friday's Last Word I'm jacking this in at its 112th large-print page. The original edition without dust jacket, as shown, may be had for less than the 25th anniversary edition, but my copy of the fourth impression is in excellent nick and still sports a very good though sadly price-clipped wrapper (John Sewell cover, author/son photo on back (on bike)). Any takers out there? Vroom vroom
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 12, 2017 8:56 AM BST


Aesop's Fables (Wordsworth Children's Classics)
Aesop's Fables (Wordsworth Children's Classics)
by Aesop
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.50

5.0 out of 5 stars 'Dig, and you will find it.', 26 April 2017
This Amazon site is a shambles ('carnage', the Donald would say) with 156 reviews of 164 SEPARATE editions, demonstrating among other things that most reviewers aren't interested in each other's reviews but merely in their own opinions. I am reviewing - and recommending - the Wordsworth edition if you can get past its hideous infantile cover (on the shelf it won't show). Not one to put in children's hands, perhaps, but you could try leaving it around. Aesop is a part of everyone's patrimony and not yet Disneyfied. The (grand)children might like John Vernon Lord (see previous review) if there's ever a reprint


Aesop's Fables
Aesop's Fables
by James Michie
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for the home, 25 April 2017
This review is from: Aesop's Fables (Hardcover)
Not, at least in intention, a children's book (though children would love it), its genesis was a follows: Lord selected roughly a fifth of one thousand fables he read that have been attributed to the semi-legendary Aesop (a bibliography lists his sources) and commissioned Michie to versify them (the originals were of course in prose) while he provided illustrations, not for every fable chosen but at least for every double page spread. What's not to like? Incidentally, the picture on the Amazon page is of a different volume entirely that consists of dignified prose versions with thirty five pictures by the celebrated Austrian illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger, though by some miracle my review has been united with its correct cover - and I didn't search for this edition by ISBN either!

Researching further with increased frustration I perceive that the Zwerger version depicted is NOT the rather old-fashioned one with concise, dignified prose versions, with morals, and 35 line drawings that I was allowed to 'see inside' and now can't locate. Amazon have a tendency to bundle such things together (Alice, The Night Before Christmas) without a care for edition, making ordering IMPOSSIBLE (are you listening, Amazon?): under Aesop's Fables there are currently more editions (164) than reviews (156)!!

OK, I found it - it's the Wordsworth paperback with the saccharine cover, and it's not QUITE as good as I remember, it's just that plain unpretentious prose kicks any poeticised Aesop (which is like setting Jesus' parables to rhyme) into the long grass: La Fontaine may be (mainly) Aesop but Aesop is NOT La Fontaine! How many French schoolchildren are put off Aesop for life? Most, I would surmise, because those who grow up loving poetry will have moved on from La Fontaine. Get this version as well and stick it in a loo or on a shelf (where the cover won't show)


Whitakers Dark Chocolate Mint Crisp Wafers 1 kg (Pack of 180)
Whitakers Dark Chocolate Mint Crisp Wafers 1 kg (Pack of 180)

5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas all year round, 25 April 2017
These knock After Eights into a cocked hat. Made in North Yorkshire, they're normally sold in 150g packs. Presumably this is a 'multi-buy'. They keep for the best part of a year


Selected Fables (Penguin Classics)
Selected Fables (Penguin Classics)
by Jean de la Fontaine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Conveniently ubiquitous but far from best, 25 April 2017
Not Michie's finest hour. These versions move pretty nimbly but with not as much zest as those of Norman R Shapiro, who's surpassed by Eunice Clark (36 fables only, but with attractive line drawings by Alexander Calder of 'mobile' fame) who's surpassed in her turn by a recent entrant (what is it about La Fontaine?) Craig Hill. Check him out
And why Penguin retained the stuffy and mainly biographical (hint: nothing much happened to him) introduction by Geoffrey Grigson from the original 1979 edition of 81 fables(by my count) I cannot imagine


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