All credit to Rosie Alison for getting her first book published, by whatever means. Most of us dream of being a 'writer' and never get past a first paAll credit to Rosie Alison for getting her first book published, by whatever means. Most of us dream of being a 'writer' and never get past a first page of idle jottings. It requires grit and determination to go all the way.
However, just a few pages into this book I was reminded of the old adage, 'Everyone has a book in them and that is where it is best left'. Words alone can't describe quite how bad this book is. I don't want you to put yourself through reading it, so words will have to do.
I've read a review where someone threw the book over the side of a cross-channel ferry rather than finish it. Another where they binned it as it wasn't worth sending to the charity shop. I know exactly how they felt. I plodded around a fifth of the way through it before throwing in the towel, and that fifth was a real struggle.
Unfortunately, Rosie Alison just can't write. If she was prepared to spend a little time doing a creative writing course (perhaps A174 with the Open University?), or even read a primer on the subject, she might realise that 'less is more'. Overuse and, or, strange use of adjectives and adverbs just doesn't cut it, eg 'Nazi stukas', 'lustrous moustache', 'gummy teeth' or 'eerie warning'. And 'point of view' changes grate; they're continuous and inappropriate. There is even the odd error in tense.
Metaphors are laughable: 'It was as if her heart had been suddenely tuned into a strange new wireless station for other people's sorrows.'
Characterisation of an eight year old child is totally inappropriate. We have Anna, at eight, hearing the wheels of a man's wheelchair squeak and feeling sorry for him and for his wife: 'She worried that Mrs Ashton might not be happy being married to a cripple - they couldn't go dancing together, and she could imagine Mrs Ashton dancing. That must make him sad, too, she thought. How could such a beautiful woman be married to a man who couldn't walk?' It just isn't credible. Or the following: 'Did the Ashtons have any children of their own, she wondered? She hoped so. He must be a kind father.'
But it's the standard of written English that is truly unforgiveable. Or maybe it is. It's difficult to tell someone their written English isn't up to scratch, particularly a graduate in English Literature from Oxford. But surely her friends could have helped out a little? If you haven't read the book you may be wondering just how bad it is. It's very bad, page after page. Just two examples will make the point:
'He could not contain his own joy...' 'Norton found a woman streaming with blood in a crater, and he pulled her out, while his wife ran to help an old man trapped by a wall.'
I really recommed giving this a miss. Life's too short. ...more
These Short Introductions are a bit of mixed bag. This one is absolutely excellent. It's well laid out with very clear chapters entitled:
Introduction FThese Short Introductions are a bit of mixed bag. This one is absolutely excellent. It's well laid out with very clear chapters entitled:
Introduction Finding our place Fossil hominins: their discovery and context Fossil hominins: analysis and interpretation Early hominins: possible and probable Archaic and transitional hominins Pre-modern Homo Modern Homo
Strangely, it has the same diagram of different hominins repeated three times in the book, each with with different titles. It seems to be a copy-editing error but is actually rather useful!
The writing is clear and lucid and a joy to read. It's always a great reading pleasure when you come across a factual author who can actually 'write'.
The author, Bernard Wood, has impeccable qualifications: He is Professor of Human Origins at George Washington University and a Senior Scientist in the Human Origins Programme of the Smithsonian Institute. He is a medically qualified palaeoanthropologist and was on Richard Leakey's first expedition to Lake Rudolph in 1968 and has pursued research in the field ever since.
The book was published in 2005, so will need an update soon but, meanwhile, I highly recommend it as an introduction to a fascinating subject about which we know so little. ...more
Great fun! Not exactly rigorous as regards scientific accuracy, but as a romp through, well, a history of nearly everything, this book will take someGreat fun! Not exactly rigorous as regards scientific accuracy, but as a romp through, well, a history of nearly everything, this book will take some beating. Hugely entertaining....more
It's remarkably short and the power of the narrative is quite extraordinary.
Disruptions to showings of the film (1930) of the book werRead this book.
It's remarkably short and the power of the narrative is quite extraordinary.
Disruptions to showings of the film (1930) of the book were organised in Berlin by Goebbels. Remarque's sister Elfriede, who stayed in Germany unlike Remarque, was executed by the Nazis in 1943, on a trumped up charge. The court president stated: 'Your brother has unfortunately escaped us - you, however, will not escape us'. Anti-war sentiment was not what was required to help develop the Thousand Year Reich.
The story is fictional but, nonetheless, about real people, in a real war. It's told in the first person and you are privy to all the thoughts, observations and actions, both in the trenches, behind the lines and at home, that characterise the lot of the common soldier.
It deals with technical aspects of the Caledonian Orogeny and associated events and so is not for the casual reader, wThis book is absolutely superb!
It deals with technical aspects of the Caledonian Orogeny and associated events and so is not for the casual reader, with principal chapter titles as follows:
Britain's oldest rocks: remnants of Archean crust Orogenies in the Proterozoic Continental break-up and the opening of the Iapetus Ocean Arc-continent collision: the Grampian phase of the Caledonian Orogeny Exhumation of the Grampian mountains Sedimentation and tectonics at a mid-Ordovician to Silurian active margin Multiple plate collisions and the end of the Iapetus Ocean Sedimentation at the end of the Caledonian Orogeny
It was prepared for an Open University course but stands alone as an excellent guide to the subject. It has been very carefully written with straightforward, comprehensive descriptions and explanations, and is extremely well illustrated. Unlike in some texts, the joint authors not only clearly know their subject inside out, but can communicate complex events and chronologies in a way that doesn't confuse or obfuscate. All key sections are clearly summarised. And to top it all, the book has clearly been painstakingly proof read with intelligence; so often in geological texts the estimated dates for events change seemingly at random! Here, if they say that it's estimated that the Iapetus rifted open between 600 and 590 Ma ago, then that's what it'll say elsewhere in the book.
The fourth book in the Wallander series, and I've read the first four sequentially. This is probably the best so far but that isn't really saying a loThe fourth book in the Wallander series, and I've read the first four sequentially. This is probably the best so far but that isn't really saying a lot. As with the others, it's not so much the plot that's preposterous, but the way in which the characters interact. At times these interactions are handled skillfully, at others as if Mankell was not doing very well on his creative writing course: 'Must try harder'. If the overall plot isn't completely preposterous, just like the previous novels, the skilled killers behave like amateurs and do some quite extraordinary things... we never quite do get to the bottom of why they tried to kill a secretary by planting a landmine in her lawn, rather than just shooting her!
Again, as with the others, the translations are poor.
If you're happy with very short, tabloid style, sentences that leave you feeling as if you're reading a primary school text, or are a fan of writing along the lines of Jeffery Archer and are prepared to suspend disbelief for a while, then you might well enjoy Mankell's writing.
It has to be said, there is something strangely compelling about the life of the misfit Wallander even if he is full of contradictions (and I mean within the writing, not within himself!) And once started, the books do gain a momentum that keeps you reading.
However, I don't think I'll be reading another in the series anytime soon. I started as I loved the series screened on BBC4. Not unsurprisingly, Wallander in the books is absolutely nothing like his wonderful Swedish screen incarnation. A pity.
(The book character is very loosely along the lines of the Kurt Wallander in the awful Kenneth Branagh screen adaptations, complete with ageing father painting repetitive landscapes; but absolutely NOTHING like the well balanced Kurt Wallander in the shape of Krister Henriksson in the Swedish series shown on BBC4.) ...more
Having read the first two books in the Inspector Wallander series, this book came as a disappointment. Granted, Henning Mankell's writing is not goingHaving read the first two books in the Inspector Wallander series, this book came as a disappointment. Granted, Henning Mankell's writing is not going to set the world alight: it's easy-reading junk fiction with very short sentences with a literary style along the lines of Jeffery Archer. Mankell overstretched his abilities in this story piling unlikely events onto unlikely events. The whole thing ended up being quite preposterous and when he couldn't work a way of getting Wallander, or whoever, out of a particular situation, we had yet another absurdity to add to a growing list. Professional killers etc were all described as expert; expert until it would be inconvenient, eg Wallander hides under a bed and they don't look under it 'as the bed was made'.
I accept that everyone can have different views on fiction, so I'm sure many people won't agree with the above.
However, I'm sure most people will agree with my next criticism that runs to the whole series so far: appalling translation. Or maybe that is a trifle unfair; appalling copy-editing, if it happened at all. All three books I have read so far have smacked of the Swedish being given to the translator, he does his job expecting it to be copy-edited, and the translation is just printed as it stands. No translator can realistically expect to copy-edit his own translation; he won't see the wood for the trees. It needs further input. Whatever did happen, the cost cutting in these Vintage translations is pretty unforgiveable and really grates. The books are crammed full of literary and continuity howlers.
This book is a wonderful tale of the unconscious. It explores a world of unconscious dreaming that is beautifully gentle in the way it slowly revealsThis book is a wonderful tale of the unconscious. It explores a world of unconscious dreaming that is beautifully gentle in the way it slowly reveals something of the character of the narrator, and something about all of us. The black and white woodcuts, by Nicholas Garland, perfectly illustrate this short story.
The edition I read was the paperback, with a separate dustcover. It was a delight to hold; there was something about the binding, the texture, the layout, that perfectly suited the story.