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Jean-Marc Lantz (Bettembourg , Luxembourg)
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Cosmopolis
Cosmopolis
by Don DeLillo
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We are speculating into the void !, 22 May 2003
This review is from: Cosmopolis (Hardcover)
After the relative, intimate calm of The Body Artist following the storm of Underworld, Don Delillo's 13th novel is again a very unsettling proposition. Eric Packer, the 28-year-old megabillionnaire and stock market gambler may well be a, if not "the", Master of the Universe as he weaves his webs from inside his state-of-the-art limousine-cum-office. Priding himself on always knowing what he wants - and today he wants a haircut - he is a born manipulator who seems to have eliminated all traces of death from his clinical world. His intuition and the belief that economic fluctuations are tied to natural cycles have made him rich, and yet there are some serious unpredictable asymmetries disturbing his world. The yen rises beyond reasonable limits and Eric is worried about his prostate and his lack of sleep.
Slowly driving through a pre-11/9 New York paralysed by the visit of the President, the funeral of his favourite rapper (like a carnival celebrating life through death) and the random acts of destruction of a group of antiglobalists (attacking not only his universe but also his car), Eric slowly unravels. Divesting himself of his bodyguards he returns to the world of his childhood - the old hairdresser knew his father well, unlike Eric - and deliberately meets the man who apparently wants to assassinate him that very day.
Cosmopolis is highly construed and appears artificial at times but DeLillo's language is honed and polished to such a fine degree that the effect is totally mesmerizing and approaches the kind of minimal poetry that Eric Packer appreciates so much.
This novel needs total concentration and should be read in as few sittings as possible for it to unfold its terrible beauty.
Two disparate characters talking about the human condition in a very clever, some would say post-modern way, is vintage Delillo, reminiscent of the conversation between the novelist and the terrorist in Mao II. The same can be said for the masterful juxtaposition of the public and the private spheres and the ever-recurring lone gunman-motiv. DeLillo is deliberately bordering on self-parody here. It is the way he manages to distill deeply human and humane truths from his prose that make him such an important figure.
Although similarities to Joyce, Wolfe and Dante have been noted in relation to Cosmopolis, it is the other great New York writer Paul Auster (to whom this book is dedicated) whose touch we can discern. DeLillo takes an intrinsically Austerian idea, the modern individual stripped of everything he possesses in the material world, reduced to nothing in a ritual of rebirth before he reinvents himself (Moon Palace, The New York Trilogy) and adds his own little variation...
This is a great but disturbing book in the light of the world's and the USA's current situation and a harsh indictment of the life-denying tendencies of capitalism.


Cosmopolis
Cosmopolis
by Don DeLillo
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We are speculating into the void !, 22 May 2003
This review is from: Cosmopolis (Hardcover)
After the relative, intimate calm of The Body Artist following the storm of Underworld, Don Delillo's 13th novel is again a very unsettling proposition. Eric Packer, the 28-year-old megabillionnaire and stock market gambler may well be a, if not "the", Master of the Universe as he weaves his webs from inside his state-of-the-art limousine-cum-office. Priding himself on always knowing what he wants - and today he wants a haircut - he is a born manipulator who seems to have eliminated all traces of death from his clinical world. His intuition and the belief that economic fluctuations are tied to natural cycles have made him rich, and yet there are some serious unpredictable asymmetries disturbing his world. The yen rises beyond reasonable limits and Eric is worried about his prostate and his lack of sleep.
Slowly driving through a pre-11/9 New York paralysed by the visit of the President, the funeral of his favourite rapper (like a carnival celebrating life through death) and the random acts of destruction of a group of antiglobalists (attacking not only his universe but also his car), Eric slowly unravels. Divesting himself of his bodyguards he returns to the world of his childhood - the old hairdresser knew his father well, unlike Eric - and deliberately meets the man who apparently wants to assassinate him that very day.
Cosmopolis is highly construed and appears artificial at times but DeLillo's language is honed and polished to such a fine degree that the effect is totally mesmerizing and approaches the kind of minimal poetry that Eric Packer appreciates so much.
This novel needs total concentration and should be read in as few sittings as possible for it to unfold its terrible beauty.
Two disparate characters talking about the human condition in a very clever, some would say post-modern way, is vintage Delillo, reminiscent of the conversation between the novelist and the terrorist in Mao II. The same can be said for the masterful juxtaposition of the public and the private spheres and the ever-recurring lone gunman-motiv. DeLillo is deliberately bordering on self-parody here. It is the way he manages to distill deeply human and humane truths from his prose that make him such an important figure.
Although similarities to Joyce, Wolfe and Dante have been noted in relation to Cosmopolis, it is the other great New York writer Paul Auster (to whom this book is dedicated) whose touch we can discern. DeLillo takes an intrinsically Austerian idea, the modern individual stripped of everything he possesses in the material world, reduced to nothing in a ritual of rebirth before he reinvents himself (Moon Palace, The New York Trilogy) and adds his own little variation...
This is a great but disturbing book in the light of the world's and the USA's current situation and a harsh indictment of the life-denying tendencies of capitalism.


The Light of Day
The Light of Day
by Graham Swift
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A refugee in your own life., 17 Mar. 2003
This review is from: The Light of Day (Hardcover)
"Light of Day" is a very intense novel, as Swift concentrates on the point of view of one man, George, the private eye, whereas in "Last Orders" there were still four major narrators. The author inhabits his character perfectly, and we are told this story in the hesitant, deliberately cliché-ridden voice of an ex-cop as George's day unfolds slowly but inexorably, almost in "real time", towards its close. It is the painful evolution of a self-confessed non-academic, a man of action, once married to a teacher who has now fallen in love with another one, Sarah. Whereas the first marriage broke up because George "failed", i.e. was accused of corruption, this mad, irrational affair seems doomed as well because Sarah is in prison for at least another 8 years. This novel is the account of the second anniversary of the tragedy that brought her there, with George, her ex-private dick her only contact and her only pupil.
Revealing more about the plot would be a sin, suffice to say that the writing is brilliant, even if George's mannerisms grate occasionally and the literary artifice becomes too apparent at times through repetition. Swift creates a thoroughly convincing, very English world revolving in and around Wimbledon and Putney but manages to lend this microcosm universal appeal by referring not only to the past of George's childhood but to that of Emperor Napoleon III and his wife, spending their years of exile in Chislehurst. The historical tangent is slightly reminiscent of "Waterland", even though the scope of "Light of Day" is far more restricted, far less epic.
Parallels to the central relationship abound (adultery, disappointment, the need to make others laugh, the fact that it is impossible to explain everything are recurring themes, as is the concept of being a refugee), and George's existence, dreary to some, is a heartbreaking instance of a man in his early fifties still able to learn, cook (!), love and most important of all, hope.
Read this in one go !


Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars crossing the frontiers, 20 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Peter Gabriel (Audio CD)
This is the album that paved the way for Gabriel's super stardom. He finally left his past behind and joined ranks with the avant-garde (Bowie, Eno, King Crimson, Talking Heads), ushering in the age of world music. African rythms were to the fore, the drummers (including Phil Collins) ordered not to play their rides or hi-hats. It is still amazing how Gabriel managed to make his uncompromising issues so creatively and commercially successful, a magic trick seemingly impossible today. Starting with the (at first) tuneless sonic paranoia attack of Intruder, Gabriel tackles all sorts of difficult subjects from racism and alienation on Not one of us and Biko, to amnesia (I can't remember), war (Games without Frontiers - "we piss on the goons in the jungle") and murder, on Family Snapshot, one of his best ever songs in which a lone gunman (L.H. Oswald ?) merges with his victim. The list of collaborators is similarly impressive (Kate Bush, Fripp, Paul Weller, Dave Gregory from XTC, the marvellous Tony Levin and John Giblin on bass etc..)without ever detracting from Gabriel's complete mastery of his new, original art. The 4th album featured a slicker production and another set of great new songs before Gabriel became boring on "So", the first album with a title and a cover on which he did not rip, hide, melt or distort his own face - the phase of experimentation was over, all the worse for the listeners. Volume 3 is the real thing, uncomfortable, intense and weirdly, grippingly beautiful.


Defector
Defector
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £18.20

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars scraping the barrel ?, 20 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Defector (Audio CD)
Those who were still looking to Steve Hackett to continue where Genesis had left off (in 1980 !) generally felt that "Defector" was a bit of a let-down after the magisterial "Spectral Mornings". They had heard it all before. Hackett's solo efforts had always been patchy but had sported some excellent work, like Ace of Wands on "Acolyte", Icarus Ascending (and many others) on "Please Don't Touch" and Every Day and the title-track on "Spectral Mornings". "Defector" however, seemed to be a justified name for the 4th album. Granted, The Steppes is a suitably atmospheric instrumental to set the mood, and Hammer in the Sand is truly beautiful, but the LP can't keep its promises. It really sounds like "Spectral Mornings"-outtakes that were not judged good enough the first time around. Jacuzzi is plain "nice" and Sentimental Institution continues the novelty aspect adopted on the two previous albums, but "nice" is not good enough. Even Kim Poor's cover art completely lacks the creepy quality of "Please Don't Touch" , smacks of lazy repetition and dangerously presages the MOR or FM-Rock clichés in the music. Hackett's playing is brilliant as ever, but the band (so proudly welcomed on the previous album) sound rather tired, bland and formulaic, especially as they do not seem to be given any challenging material to impress the listener with. None of the compositions match the songs mentioned above, no furious intro like Ace of Wands, no magical moments like those with Randy Crawford or Richie Havens on "Please Don't Touch". (Not that you would know the other musicians' names thanks to the crappy, cheap compact price CD repackaging !) "Defector" sounds like an album done on auto-pilot, with creativity and individualism slowly giving way to easy "Hackettisms". And no self-respecting prog-fan could ever forgive Hackett for ripping off Van der Graaf Generator on Slogans ! Check out The Clot Thickens on A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers on "Pawn Hearts" - Shame ! This may sound trivial but it was - and still is - disappointing for a man who really did not need to do that. Still, considering what came later - the execrable "Cured" where two lonely instrumentals save the listener from pointless non-songs and the guitarist's weedy voice and the horrible "GTR" with Steve Howe, both later only redeemed by "Bay of Kings", this deserves three stars for at least going through the motions. And for Hammer in the Sand.
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Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel

5.0 out of 5 stars crossing the frontiers, 16 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Peter Gabriel (Audio CD)
This is the album that launched Gabriel's career as a superstar and anticipated his collaboration with Kate Bush on "so" with her contribution on Games without Frontiers and No Self Control. African rythms came to the fore with the drummers, including Phil Collins, told not to use their hi-hats and rides. Using great musicians like Tony Levin (stick), John Giblin (fretless bass) and the omnipresent Fripp, Gabriel was starting to become part of the avant-garde that opened the gates to World Music, like Bowie, Eno, King Crimson or Talking Heads. Gabriel sets out to shock the innocent listener with apparently tuneless paranoia in Intruder and the angst, hysteria and amnesia continue from there to culminate with an assassination in one of his most beautiful compositions, Family Snapshot - in which the narrator is a lone gunman merging with his target. Issues like war (Games..), alienation (Not one of us) and apartheid (Biko) are tackled impressively in a gripping and exhausting record. Gabriel managed to combine experimentation and complexity with insight, emotion and commercial success, a heady mix that seems improbable today. Although the production would become slicker on the following album, this is the one that broke the barriers.


Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel

5.0 out of 5 stars crossing the frontiers, 16 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Peter Gabriel (Audio CD)
This is the album that launched Gabriel's career as a superstar and anticipated his collaboration with Kate Bush on "so" with her contribution on Games without Frontiers and No Self Control. African rythms came to the fore with the drummers, including Phil Collins, told not to use their hi-hats and rides. Using great musicians like Tony Levin (stick), John Giblin (fretless bass) and the omnipresent Fripp, Gabriel was starting to become part of the avant-garde that opened the gates to World Music, like Bowie, Eno, King Crimson or Talking Heads. Gabriel sets out to shock the innocent listener with apparently tuneless paranoia in Intruder and the angst, hysteria and amnesia continue from there to culminate with an assassination in one of his most beautiful compositions, Family Snapshot - in which the narrator is a lone gunman merging with his target. Issues like war (Games..), alienation (Not one of us) and apartheid (Biko) are tackled impressively in a gripping and exhausting record. Gabriel managed to combine experimentation and complexity with insight, emotion and commercial success, a heady mix that seems improbable today. Although the production would become slicker on the following album, this is the one that broke the barriers.


Peter Gabriel Vol.1
Peter Gabriel Vol.1
Offered by vinylexchange-uk
Price: £22.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not moribund at all, 16 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Peter Gabriel Vol.1 (Audio CD)
At the time of its release many people were hoping for Gabriel to carry on the torch that Genesis and others had dropped in the face of punk, but his first album disappointed at least as many original fans as it astonished others. In retrospect, there is quite a lot of the old prog-spirit in this although that was less apaparent in 77 when it sounded modern and diverse at best or directionless at worst. Nothing needs to be said about Solsbury Hill and Here comes the Flood, two "hits" which rightfully cemented Gabriel's reinvention as a star in his own right. He keeps the experimental playfulness of old up in Moribund.... tries Rock in Modern Love and the Blues (!) in Waiting for the Big One. Excuse me is barbershop whimsy, while the best of the other tracks, Humdrum and Slowburn have a kind of old-fashioned dignity about them that wouldn't have seemed amiss on a good new Genesis album, although that was certainly not the credit Gabriel was looking for, and with his second LP he eliminated these tendencies. Still looking for the style that would propel him to superstardom with "so", Gabriel delivered a wonderfully personal record with, among others, Robert Fripp, whose own "Exposure" includes Peter on an even better version of "Flood". Get both of these records !


Peter Gabriel II
Peter Gabriel II
Offered by soulsearchingplus
Price: £28.75

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars burning the bridges, 16 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Peter Gabriel II (Audio CD)
I recently listened to this album for the first time in maybe 15 years and remembered how, at the time, I was desperately "playing the field" in the (ex-)Genesis solo-recordings for an inkling of the atmosphere that had changed my life when I heard Genesis' "Selling England..." several months previously. Genesis themselves had become boring by then, but, Boy !, this wasn't it either ! The man who had come to characterize a whole era was having none of it anymore, and hardly anything on this record even closely resembled prog-rock at its best (or worst). It took a lot of work to accept what Gabriel was doing at the time, and though he later claimed that he would love to re-record his first two albums in the style he adopted from his 3rd LP onwards (sound & production do seem a little dated at times), there is still a lot to discover here. Gabriel's quirkiness is to the fore in D.I.Y. and A Wonderful Day..., Animal Magic seems to anticipate the Falklands War, Flotsam...sounds like Lennon, Indigo is a wonderful follow-up to Here comes the Flood from the first album, Mother of Violence is sinister in its beauty, and Exposure is downright weird thanks to maestro Bob Fripp, whose own solo-album "Exposure" is needed as a companion-piece to this, if only for its inclusion of Gabriel's superior version of Flood.
At a time when Genesis were singing about Little Nemo and Cowboy Big Jim, Gabriel gained in relevance. If his social criticism in Home Sweet Home is a tad stereotyped I dare anyone not to collapse in tears towards the end where his vocal acrobatics compete with the saxophone in one of his best performances ever. With his 2nd album Gabriel left his past behind, proving, among other, more important things, that there are other ways with a piano ballad than the Collins way.This led on to greater things before he himself stopped experimenting and became boring with "so". So, cherish this !


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