I'll be honest - I haven't read the whole thing, and I feel a bit bad giving a one-star review to a book I haven't read. I've flipped though it, sinceI'll be honest - I haven't read the whole thing, and I feel a bit bad giving a one-star review to a book I haven't read. I've flipped though it, since it arrived unbidden on my doormat, someone evidently having bought a load of copies and determined to enlighten my neighbourhood, and it appears to be propaganda from start to finish. I wouldn't read a whole Watchtower or a Scientology primer either.
I debated whether to give it a second star for at least denouncing terrorism. Maybe the bonkers religious fantasy style (peace be upon it) might even be an effective way to deprogram a Jihadist teenager. But two stars means "it was OK", and clearly it is not OK.
On the cover, right under the promising title, is a montage of scenes depicting sectarian violence, and gazing at them from either side are none other than Marx and Darwin. Flipping through my free book - nice glossy paper, a lot of colour pictures, amazing how they do all this for £3.00 (Amazon) - we learn that the whole of modern biology is in fact a lie told by people who want you to think there is nothing in the universe but matter and energy. The core lie of Darwinism is that violent struggle underlies the natural world, with the strong constantly kicking the arse of the weak, and on this lie all of materialist Darwinism is built. This being wrong, so is most of GCSE biology.
Except that evolutionary biology says nothing of the sort, as a glance at the adorable kitten snoozing next to me as I write this confirms, not to mention orchids, butterflies, finches with specialised beaks or any of the other gazillion examples that are blindingly obvious to anyone but a nutjob conspiracy theorist without a GCSE in biology. Not to mention either that a lie is a false statement told by someone who knows it is false, and not an honestly held view based on decades of research, or that accusations of lying are a bit rich coming from someone who is entirely uninterested in truth in the first place.
As for the theology, it all appears to be somewhat No True Scotsman, in that people who disagree with Mr Yahya's vision of peace and miracle-driven ecology are not really Muslims at all, which puts them in the other category of unbelievers and leaves the true faith all lovey-peacey.
So, thank you anonymous benefactor for a crude work of conspiracy theory and anti-science propaganda with the positive message in its title so utterly swamped by religious fantasy that it is unable to deal with the actual state of the world. Sorry for not reading the whole thing....more
Reviewers seem to be either won over by the quiet power of Colm Tóibín's writing or frustrated by the dull central character and lack of a plot. I'm aReviewers seem to be either won over by the quiet power of Colm Tóibín's writing or frustrated by the dull central character and lack of a plot. I'm afraid I find myself in the second category. "Nora Webster" reminded me of May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes, about which (looking back) I wrote:
"... from about a third of the way in it becomes a tedious listing of dull and irrelevant details that add little to the trite, slow-moving plot."
"... this mind-numbing succession of irrelevant detail goes on and on for hundreds of pages while dull people we don't care about learn predictable lessons in self development to become better, though still unbearably boring, people."
To be fair to NW, the listing of irrelevant details isn't quite so obsessive (we are spared a breakdown of every logically possible colour/fruit combination of the jelly at a barbecue, which forms a high point of May We Be Shot Now Please), but all the same, because nothing ever really goes anywhere, all the descriptions of buying a dress, getting a job, going on holiday, listening to tedious music - all of these decisions agonised over by Nora for weeks - become a chore to be slogged through. (It's the swinging sixties for heaven's sake, but does she listen to The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Booker T and the MGs? Does she party, experiment with drugs, get laid? No, of course it's Brahms for our Nora. Or possibly Mahler. You can bet she agonised at the record shop.)
Nora is a repressed, prudish, sexless spinster who the author mystifyingly treats as a hero. She tries her hand at singing, and what do you know, she sings like an angel. She gets a job, and of course she's brilliant at it. If anyone is mean to her, they are unreasonable and wrong, and Nora ends up on top with everyone applauding.
So, it's a dull, plotless narrative about an unlikeable character, with everything hanging on the quality of the writing. For me that wasn't enough....more
A pleasant enough jaunt through McCall Smith's unrushed Botswana, where determined ladies choose meek husbands on the basis of their reliability and aA pleasant enough jaunt through McCall Smith's unrushed Botswana, where determined ladies choose meek husbands on the basis of their reliability and are judged on how fat they keep them, and where detective cold cases are solved by going out to the crime scene and getting a feeling about it and then getting some maids and receptionists to gossip.
I suppose the characters are likeable, but it was a bit frustrating that they all seemed to act like 9 year olds, or like very old people (I was never sure which). Newly engaged 30-somethings Precious Ramotswe and Mr J. L. B. Matekoni (yes, every initial, every time - decide for yourself whether that's charming or irritating) are like an elderly couple. I realise this isn't 50 Shades of Grey but Mr J. L. B. Matekoni doesn't give the impression of ever having kissed Mma Ramotswe, let alone seen her naked. It's old-fashioned and sweet perhaps, but all a bit make-believe.
It may be unfair to bring this up in a review, but the digital edition (I got mine from iTunes) is very crudely put together. The title page itself presents the title as
Tears of the Gi- raffe
and the brutal hyphenation regime continues on page 1 with
This kind of thing continues with phrases like a corrugatedtin roof, a mediumranking official and out-side the village. This may not be the fault of the author, although I was puzzled by the enormity of his good fortune, which surely is. Together, details like these gave the feeling of a book quickly written, barely edited and ultimately rather shallow....more
A slightly uncomfortable read for me, I have to say, as a middle-aged and doubtless slightly self-absorbed husband. Veteran author Joe Castleman probaA slightly uncomfortable read for me, I have to say, as a middle-aged and doubtless slightly self-absorbed husband. Veteran author Joe Castleman probably feels like an OK guy on his first class flight to Helsinki to receive a prestigious and well-earned award for his contribution to literature, and I felt for him a bit as his wife Joan seemed to be have based years of seething frustration on little more than some minor self-absorption and arrogance (initially charming but apparently irritating in the longer term) and tendency to talk nonsense with other men - along with the world's treating him like some kind of rock star for it - plus a lifetime of relentless womanising. He even acknowledges her in his rambling, self-important acceptance speech. Can't she let him enjoy this one night?
Well, let's just say there is another side to this well-told, insightful, often funny, bitter story that made total sense of everything....more