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The Hedgehog "me" (The Hedgerows of England)

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Even the Dogs
Even the Dogs
by Jon McGregor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely compelling, and not often told, 27 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Even the Dogs (Paperback)
Lots of others have talked about the content of this book, so I'd like to talk for a moment about the style - this is a freewheeling narrative from an unknown narrator, that flies into the heads of the characters. This approach feels intimate and ramshackle, let's you into the rythm of unstructured half-lives in all their gory detail.

I thought Danny was the best written character - the chapter he dominates (2? 3?) is urgent, he is frantic, and he is lost. This really helped me to have sympathy and to see the world through these types of eyes. That said, I thought it missed a trick in not getting into the heads of the seemingly more unsympathic characters. I think that we can have sympathy for those who are further from ourselves (Ben?), but we need to see more than just hints as to why to do so. I think Jon McGregor should maybe have been a little braver and had more faith in the empathy of his readers.


The Plot Against America
The Plot Against America
by Philip Roth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alternative Realities, 19 Dec. 2010
If I was being simplistic, I'd say this was a "what if" novel. The author changes a fact of history (in this case FDR loses the 1940 presidential election to Charles Lindhberg) and uses that to explore what life would have been like for a Jewish family in the alternative - antisemitic - US that is created by this change.

What's amazing about this novel is not the big idea, it's the fact that it is so well realised. I worry that sometimes these "what if" stories require something momentous and huge and shocking to be going on all the time, and can sometimes forget about telling truthful human stories. This novel absolutely does not. I really felt the slow creeping terror of the changes to the society that surrounds the family (particularly the son, who is at the centre of the novel), and the attendant paranoia.

I can't really recommend this highly enough.


Le Boucher [1969] [DVD]
Le Boucher [1969] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stéphane Audran
Price: £7.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Drip drip..., 19 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Le Boucher [1969] [DVD] (DVD)
Very stylish slow-paced thriller with a very French 60s feel.

Not one if you want twists and turns and pace, this is one with wonderful athmosphere and that slow drop drip of danger.

Highly recommended.


Northern Lights (His Dark Materials)
Northern Lights (His Dark Materials)
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastical, yet believable, 12 Nov. 2010
I am not the intended audience for this book, nor am I a fan of fantasy, but I absolutely loved it and could not put it down.

This is a proper adventure story with excitement and danger, but what sets it apart is the way Pullmann uses familiar behaviours and seemingly intuitive concepts to take us into another world that he doesn't need to labour to describe. As an example, the concept of a daemon, a companion spirit changing throughout childhood and fixed in adulthood is wonderful, it is just familiar enough, and just different enough. What helps with the believabilty of this is the true depiction of children - fierce, demanding independence, grubby, naughty, what a breath of fresh air.

The baddies are truly horrendous too! Wish I knew some children to recommend it to!

It's a wonderful achievement, but the film really isn't! In fact, the problem with the film is exactly the problem I usually find in fantasy... too much explanation, too little feeling, thought, realistic behaviour.


Troubles
Troubles
by J. G. Farrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good, but not a siege, 10 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Troubles (Paperback)
This is a great novel - full of vivid and flawed characters who are having their core beliefs tested. The problem is that the siege of krishnapur (next in the very loosely described trilogy) is a masterpiece, whereas this is a little over-long and a little too similar to that. If you only read one farrell, read the siege.


Practical Ethics
Practical Ethics
by Peter Singer
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure how practical, 7 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Practical Ethics (Paperback)
Fantastic book - clear and reasoned, with lots of interesting thoughts in it. My one question, the thing that brings it down from a 5, is without discussion of what to do if you agree with his principles, how practical / applicable is it?

I would recommend this to anyone who wants a think about ethics though - it's clear, interesting, and it also presents opposing opinions, so you start to get a bigger picture.


Honourable Brigands, Magic Horses and Evil Eye
Honourable Brigands, Magic Horses and Evil Eye
Price: £15.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Virtuosity and Brilliant Tunes, 1 Aug. 2010
I got this after I saw TDH at the Hammersmith Lyric a few years ago, and I think it's one of the best records I own. I normally listen to alt rock / punk / post punk, so this is a big departure for me but - when I listen to it - I feel like it's always been the kind of music I like, odd.

Beautifully recorded too - you can hear the fingers on the instruments as if you were there - little coughs, chatting and some giggling in the background between songs - EXCELLENT!


The Siege Of Krishnapur
The Siege Of Krishnapur
by J. G. Farrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless masterpiece, 2 Mar. 2010
Unlike most of the historical novels I've read, this has no unusually modern thinking characters, it cracks along at an exciting pace, and it does not give away its 1970s vintage in any way I could determine. (In fact, I would have been hard pressed to interpret when it was written if I didn't know it won the booker prize in 1973.)
Entering it is like entering the time of the siege and a country as foreign and exotic as the middle class British would probably have found India. The characters speak so clearly that you feel you know them, and they are so true, flawed and individual that you feel sympathy, pity, disgust... All the things you feel about real people - warts and all. I cannot recommend this highly enough.


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