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Laurie H. (coolelle) - , - Reviews

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2 X Handke (Collier fiction)
2 X Handke (Collier fiction)
Author: Peter Handke
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/18/2009


Description from the back cover...

The two short novels collected in this volume, "A Moment of True Feeling" and "The Left-Handed Woman", represent a new stage in Peter Handke's career, and illustrate why he has been called "one of the most original and provocative of contemporary writers" (The New York Times Book Review). In "A Moment of True Feeling", a man with the outward appearance of success -- a respectable job, a wife, child and friends -- dreams that he has committed a murder. On awakening, he wanders the streets of Paris searching for the moment that will reveal the new meaning of his life. In "The Left-Handed Woman", considered by some to be his best novel, Handke recounts the piece-by-piece dissolution of a marriage from a young wife's point of view. "A ballet of words and images forcing all feelings to the surface," it questions the possibility of complete understanding between the sexes and confirms, once again, Peter Handke's "enormous gifts as a writer, poet and artist" (The New Republic).


3 X Handke (Collier Fiction)
3 X Handke (Collier Fiction)
Author: Peter Handke, Ralph Manheim, Peter Handke
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/27/2009


Description from the back cover...

"3 X Handke" contains three of Peter Handke's most popular and critically acclaimed works. In "The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick", an alienated construction worker loses his grip on language until his misinterpreted words and misguided actions culminate in homicide. In "Short Letter, Long Farewell", the Austrian protagonist travels across America in search of his missing wife who left him with only these words: "I am in New York. Please don't look for me. It would not be nice for you to find me." And in "A Sorrow Beyond Dreams", Handke confronts the suicide of his mother in a compelling first-person narrative reminiscent of Simone de Beauvoir's "A Very Easy Death", that reads "like an explanation of a recurrent dream, a dream so vividly expressed it becomes our dream" (Chicago Sun-Times). Poignant, piercing, and powerfully suggestive, "3 X Handke" is a commanding demonstration of why Peter Handke is considered "one of the most original and provocative of contemporary writers" (The New York Times Book Review).


Changing Planes
Changing Planes
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 2/27/2009


Science Fiction of a Different Ilk

Funny that they put the label "Fantasy" on the spine of this book. I would call it science fiction, but then, I'm a woman, and see science fiction differently. She comments on the ways that technology and environment shape beings, rather than commenting solely on the technology and environment themselves.

I found this book somewhat repetitive toward the end, but fascinating in its perspectives.


Conundrum
Conundrum
Author: Jan Morris
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 9/15/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Misogyny in All Its Faces

Beautifully written and revelatory, not just for her day, but today as well. But Ms. Morris has such a dim view of women that you can't help but wonder why she would want to become one. Her stereotypical views of the roles that women are supposed to play in society, her prejudices against the "feminine" Manchester Guardian, and her shallow understanding of women's passions, both sexual and otherwise, are straight out of the fifties. She talks down to women, underestimates women, and seems determined to shove women into her misconceptions.

I rejoice that we live in a world where a person who feels they've been born into the wrong body can, relatively easily, change that body to match the way they feel inside. And society, for the most part, accepts the newly regendered person without judgment. But even more, I rejoice that we are gradually changing the world into a place where women can be accepted as equals, thought of as thinking, rational human beings, and permitted to take part in all aspects of society. I hope Ms. Morris can learn to accept such a world the way this world has accepted her.


The Crust on Its Uppers
The Crust on Its Uppers
Author: Derek Raymond
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 11/15/2008
Helpful Score: 1


The cockney slang is so thick that you need a dictionary beside you while you're reading it. There's a glossary up front, but it doesn't cover half of the words and phrases you need to know. After a while I got used to some of the slang that is used more frequently, but most of the time I was still lost. I gave up on page 105 of 189 -- over halfway through, but I couldn't figure out what was going on half the time, so I guess I was really only a quarter of the way through.


The Emperor of Ocean Park
The Emperor of Ocean Park
Author: Stephen L. Carter
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 57
Review Date: 5/14/2009


Is Racism OK?

Apparently, if the racist is black and the object of his racism is white people, yes. Stephen Carter rails against white people in horrid generalizations and cliches in this book. It's incredibly offensive to anyone who has worked against racism or who has been a victim of racism.

In addition, the book is so depressed and negative about EVERYTHING, I can't imagine why anyone would want to read it. The protagonist hates nearly everyone, and nearly everything he comes in contact with. As he sees it, there are few redeeming qualities in anyone in his life. He loves his wife, but he criticizes her and puts her down constantly.

I couldn't finish it, and I recommend you don't start it.


Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease
Review Date: 10/30/2008
Helpful Score: 3


A terrific indictment of those "scientists" who continue to ignore the data about carbohydrates in favor of their unsupported low-fat hypotheses. Gary Taubes should receive yet another Science in Society Journalism award for this in-depth exploration of the research and the skewed conclusions that have been drawn from it. This book addresses the mystery of obesity, as well as the dangers of low cholesterol, and the negative health effects of carbohydrates even for those who are normal weight. It's a long read, but well worth it.

I recommend the paperback over the hardcover, because Taubes added an interesting afterword to the paperback edition.


Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health
Review Date: 10/30/2008
Helpful Score: 5


A terrific indictment of those "scientists" who continue to ignore the data about carbohydrates in favor of their unsupported low-fat hypotheses. Gary Taubes should receive yet another Science in Society Journalism award for this in-depth exploration of the research and the skewed conclusions that have been drawn from it. This book addresses the mystery of obesity, as well as the dangers of low cholesterol, and the negative health effects of carbohydrates even for those who are normal weight. It's a long read, but well worth it.

I recommend the paperback over the hardcover, because Taubes added an interesting afterword to the paperback edition.


Great Short Stories by American Women (Dover Thrift Editions)
Great Short Stories by American Women (Dover Thrift Editions)
Author: Candace Ward
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 3/10/2009
Helpful Score: 2


This book has a terrific range of work by American women born in the 19th century -- from the famous "Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, to the little known "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell. The Glaspell story was my favorite because of its subtleties and subversions. Her descriptions of everyday things are gritty and realistic, and she really brings you into the mindset of the protagonist, a woman we never meet (quite a feat!). For those of you who think of Louisa May Alcott as a children's author, you must read her story "Transcendental Wild Oats". A funny, wry story about a utopia that isn't, this story displays her adult sensibilities and her keen sense of humor. The heartrending story "Paul's Case", by Willa Cather, walks a tightrope between making light of the silliness of the main character, and allowing you into his head and heart to sympathize with him.

Other stories in this collection include: "Life in the Iron-Mills" by Rebecca Harding Davis, "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett, "A New England Nun" by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, "The Storm" by Kate Chopin, "The Angel at the Grave" by Edith Wharton, "The Stones of the Village" by Alice Dunbar-Nelson, "Smoke" by Djuna Barnes, "Sweat" by Zora Neale Hurston, and "Sanctuary" by Nella Larsen.


Greenwich Killing Time
Greenwich Killing Time
Author: Kinky Friedman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.6/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 7/7/2009


While this book has some interesting twists and funny literary allusions, the protagonist (named for the author) is too much of a racist, misogynist, and homophobe for the book to be truly successful. It's a shame, because the humor is sometimes brilliant, but all of the hatred is far too distracting. Here's a small example:

"...I realized, not for the first time, that women and cats had a lot in common. For one thing, neither of them had a particularly well-developed sense of humor. For another, they both went through life governed only by things that either comforted them or intrigued them. They both liked to be stroked and cuddled and they both could pounce when you least expected it. On the whole, I preferred cats to women because cats seldom if ever used the word 'relationship.'"


Habit for Death (Nicky D'Amico, Bk 1)
Habit for Death (Nicky D'Amico, Bk 1)
Author: Chuck Zito
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.7/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 3/4/2010


Loaded with Snark

Snarky, snarky, snarky. The protagonist doesn't like anyone very much, though he lusts after anything hunky and good-looking. He's as deep as a pool of spilled vinegar, and twice as sour. In the first 20 pages the author killed off one of the nuns, a person our hero didn't like (oops, that covers just about everyone), which means we didn't get to know her at all, or care that she died. But that's par for the course -- why should you care about any of the characters when the protagonist doesn't and the author gives you no reason to? I couldn't get past page 25.


Last Castle
Last Castle
Author: Jack Vance
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 9/26/2009


A Very Thin Book

In July, 2009, the New York Times Magazine ran a big article on Jack Vance, which began with: "Jack Vance, described by his peers as 'a major genius' and 'the greatest living writer of science fiction and fantasy,' has been hidden in plain sight for as long as he has been publishing -- six decades and counting." I just don't get it! This book was truly mediocre -- and it won Hugo and Nebula Awards! It is extremely thin, in literal as well as figurative substance. At 113 pages and around 22,000 words, it's barely a novella. It's extremely male, with women appearing only as objects and set decorations. The emotions are sparse and shallow, and the technology, the thing that usually revs up science fiction, is rudimentary, uninteresting, and not even described well.


Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
Author: Roddy Doyle
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 69
Review Date: 10/29/2009


Not a Novel
-------------------------
An Irish kid at 10. He's a nasty piece of work, and we're supposed to be sad for him when his parents separate.

It's one vignette after another about childhood. It's not badly written, but it's not a novel.


Return of the Native
Return of the Native
Author: Thomas Hardy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 5/28/2008


When we read this book with my book group, we christened it "Return of the Naive". The spoiled characters, petty motivations, and hard-to-believe disasters in this book are much too unappealing. The heath is the best character in the book, and Thomas Hardy describes it with the care of a lover. He clearly has writing talent, but it was wasted here.


Simisola (Chief Inspector Wexford, Bk 16)
Simisola (Chief Inspector Wexford, Bk 16)
Author: Ruth Rendell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 8/7/2010


Ruth Rendell Examines Race

In this excellent police procedural, Rendell examines attitudes toward race in her characters. There are only nineteen "people of color" in Kingsmarkham, and Inspector Wexford and others assume they all know each other. Rendell tries to be progressive, but it's a struggle for her, just as being non-sexist is. Still, the book is terrific, and you get the sense that she knows just how flawed her characters are.


Sins of the Fathers (Chief Inspector Wexford, Bk 2)
Sins of the Fathers (Chief Inspector Wexford, Bk 2)
Author: Ruth Rendell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 11/3/2009


A Beautiful Blend
----------------------
This book blends Ruth Rendell's two styles beautifully -- the more straightforward, police detective style, with the sober Inspector Wexford; and the psychological exploration and extensive point-of-view writing she usually publishes as Barbara Vine. Terrific!


Slow Homecoming
Slow Homecoming
Author: Peter Handke
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/18/2009
Helpful Score: 1


From the back cover:

In "Slow Homecoming" Peter Handke, "the best writer, altogether, in his language" (John Updike, "The New Yorker"), presents a suite of three interrelated fictions, introducing Valentin Sorger, a geologist and a man "nowhere at home". Installed in an Alaskan village in "The Long Way Around", Sorger displays a child's fascination with the world of natural forms, until he feels compelled to return to his native Europe via America, gradually resurfacing into the "world of names". "The Lesson of Mont Sainte-Victoire" follows the author of Sorger's story as he explores the mountain in Provence so often painted by Cezanne. And "Child Story" brings the suite to a dramatic and eloquent close, as a father -- resembling Sorger and his creator -- and daughter struggle to find their places as members of a family, and as subjects of a breathtaking work of art.


Slow Homecoming
Slow Homecoming
Author: Peter Handke
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/21/2009


From the back cover:

In "Slow Homecoming" Peter Handke, "the best writer, altogether, in his language" (John Updike, "The New Yorker"), presents a suite of three interrelated fictions, introducing Valentin Sorger, a geologist and a man "nowhere at home". Installed in an Alaskan village in "The Long Way Around", Sorger displays a child's fascination with the world of natural forms, until he feels compelled to return to his native Europe via America, gradually resurfacing into the "world of names". "The Lesson of Mont Sainte-Victoire" follows the author of Sorger's story as he explores the mountain in Provence so often painted by Cezanne. And "Child Story" brings the suite to a dramatic and eloquent close, as a father -- resembling Sorger and his creator -- and daughter struggle to find their places as members of a family, and as subjects of a breathtaking work of art.


Space By The Tale
Space By The Tale
Author: Jerome Bixby
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/3/2010


Not All About the Technology

Too much science fiction focuses on the machines and the technology. This book is a rarity, in that it also addresses human issues like how the technology affects social interactions, or how emotions affect the science. The last one is a bit odd, but most of these stories are excellent. Jerome Bixby is hard to find, which is unfortunate -- he's a terrific writer.


The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ
Review Date: 7/3/2009
Helpful Score: 4


Who You Gonna Believe, Me or Your Lyin' Eyes?

I have an open mind, and the controversies laid out in this book are fascinating, to say the least.

The book starts with a discussion of Da Vinci and some of his paintings. There are black and white reproductions of the paintings in the book, but they are very small and the quality is poor. As a result, it's very difficult to see what the authors are talking about.

So I decided to look at the paintings on the web. My first exploration was of "The Last Supper". I immediately found huge holes in the ideas put forth in this book. On page 20 the authors state that "...there is no wine in front of Jesus (and a mere token amount on the whole table)." But it's very clear to see (in a clear reproduction) that there are numerous glasses of wine on the table (I counted twelve), and there is definitely a glass of wine in front of Jesus, right next to his left hand. See for yourself at this great site:

http://www.haltadefinizione.com/magnifier.jsp?idopera=1

How can I believe anything else this book says, when I can see with my own two eyes that the authors simply lied about the wine? I didn't get much further in this book. I just couldn't stomach the total and complete falsehoods they put forth.

I have no problem believing that the figure to the right of Jesus could be Mary instead of John, or that Da Vinci hid other secrets or symbolism in his paintings, but arguments for those ideas should be based in fact rather than the completely erroneous foundations in this book.


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