Yes, the doggy dialogue gets unbearable quite quickly, but all the same I'm not sure how successful the book would be without it. It's silly and it'sYes, the doggy dialogue gets unbearable quite quickly, but all the same I'm not sure how successful the book would be without it. It's silly and it's full of jokes that completely misfire. It's repetitive and often completely unnecessary. But perhaps it's these moments of levity--towards which we can easily be so condescending--that make the difficult and dense stuff swallowable?
Aside from the exhausting dog conversations, the dog analogies--baskets full of squirming puppies, zigzagging squirrels, hidden treats--are very effective. In fact, I'm quite surprised to see how many fellow commentators were baffled by Orzel's lessons on quantum mechanics. I'm no scientist myself--and I'm most certainly no mathematician--but I found his explanations to be extremely accessible. Sometimes I had to reread sections in order to pick up on some of the finer details, and the science certainly isn't something that you can just breeze through without putting in the effort of actively trying to follow and picture what's going on, but I really can't imagine how it could be any more lucidly explained.
In fact, my mind was so thoroughly blown by the quantum eraser experiment, that I immediately drew out some diagrams and explained it to my husband. Being able to teach something new to somebody else? That's a sign that you've been taught well.
I would've liked to have seen a bit more time spent detailing some of the current and potential applications of quantum science. He briefly mentions quantum computing and quantum encryption, for instance, but not in any detailed way. His final chapter debunking quantum healing and other pseudoscientific applications is quite great, though.
Overall, I'd highly recommend this book. It's important stuff, and I can't imagine it being explained in any clearer or more engaging way.
What's strangest about this book isn't that it's written in an ersatz extinct language, it's that the narrator ends up being the most unlikable characWhat's strangest about this book isn't that it's written in an ersatz extinct language, it's that the narrator ends up being the most unlikable character in the entire novel. The "shadow" Anglo Saxon isn't just a gimmick; this isn't merely an historical account of heroic Anglo underdogs fighting against Norman invaders--no simple RETURN OF THE JEDI set in twelfth century fenns. No, Kingsnorth overturns such a premise and instead crafts a rather complex and thought-provoking examination of imperialism, xenophobia, justice, religion, war, and class division. Rather than serving merely as a marketing ploy or as a poetic flourish, the otherworldly language serves to get us directly into the mind and emotions of Buccmaster of Holland, even as we slowly realize that he himself is a despicable fuccan esole. Such a tension causes us to question both sides of the war and in turn question similar fighting that has happened more recently. ...more
MAPS is a superb book--lyrical, experimental, moving, memorable. Since reading MAPS a few years ago, I root for Farah each October when they're aboutMAPS is a superb book--lyrical, experimental, moving, memorable. Since reading MAPS a few years ago, I root for Farah each October when they're about to announce the Nobel laureates.
LINKS, however, seems like it was written by a different person. It's clunky, talky, lifeless. I couldn't wait for it to be over.
An exile arrives in his hometown of Magadiscio for the first time in twenty years, returning to the wartorn city for reasons that are never quite convincing. The first thing he witnesses is a child being randomly shot in the head by a gun-toting adolescent playing a marksmanship game. Yet though this early event sets the tone that the city is lawless and terrifying, the main character continues to freely walk around pissing people off and putting his life in jeopardy, apparently believing himself to be invincible. Farah never quite explains how such a setting could exist--if everyone wants Jeeblah dead, and if there really wouldn't be any consequences to killing him, then why aren't they able to just shoot him down? And is wishing to visit his mother's grave really reason enough for him to risk his own life when he has a family waiting for and depending on him in the United States? I'm not saying the situations Farah presents are impossible--they simply don't make sense to me as they are presented. Instead of character psychology, we get symbol-heavy dreams or pages-long political conversations with details pulled from newspaper articles. The occasional motivation or emotion that we get seems injected into the story merely out of necessity, with no consideration for logic or storytelling momentum.
It seems to me that Farah really wanted to write a nonfiction essay on the current state of Somalia, but instead of simply doing that he cobbled together a few one-dimensional characters, put them into a confusing and illogical plot, and had them spend most of their time sitting around talking politics in a diction that real people never use when speaking (the expository "I did [such-and-such], as is customary in traditional Somalian culture..." is an oft-repeated refrain, similar to if an American writer were to write, "I told him 'God Bless You,' as is typical in the English-speaking world after someone has sneezed").
It's always nice to learn a thing or two about another culture, but I do not recommend this book....more
This book is pretty unsophisticated at times, as though it was written on the fly. The chapter on CODE UNKNOWN is essentially just a scene-by-scene plThis book is pretty unsophisticated at times, as though it was written on the fly. The chapter on CODE UNKNOWN is essentially just a scene-by-scene plot synopsis with almost no attempt to try to make sense of the film as a whole, which is a great disservice to one of the best films of the twenty-first century. Reviews of films like BENNY'S VIDEO are a bit more insightful, though never very eye-opening.
At times he writes some very bizarre asides, like when he says that a scene of genital mutilation from THE PIANO TEACHER is played for laughs--an image that still haunts me five years later and a scene that I cannot imagine any audience chuckling at.
The translated Haneke interviews published at the end of the book are a nice addition....more