A fun read, providing an insight into the 'gold rush' in China when Western businesses started to perceive potential. However, the pitfalls, as descri...moreA fun read, providing an insight into the 'gold rush' in China when Western businesses started to perceive potential. However, the pitfalls, as described in the book, were (are) excruciatingly myriad. Not 5 stars as the tale jumped about a bit and lacked real coherence. However, Clissold writes in an accessible way and the tales he tells are compelling (even if just to hear how so much money can disappear so quickly in pursuit of greater riches!).(less)
I liked the range of sources and the way this book made me think about colour. However, I didn't find it a really easy read. Structure felt a little e...moreI liked the range of sources and the way this book made me think about colour. However, I didn't find it a really easy read. Structure felt a little erratic and some parts superfluous or repetitive. I also think there's an argument that it's not fear of colour, but the veneration of white that is at work in excluding colour. I think this could have been explored some more.
I'd recommend Derek Jarman's Chroma as a book celebrating colour, plus it's touchingly personal about his life with AIDS. Also 'White' from the BBC series The History of Art in Three Colours explains the role of people like JJ Winckelmann, Wedgewood, WHistler, Corbusier and even Mussolini in the adulation (and misuse) of white in art. Not such a pure colour as one might think.(less)
Oh dear. I started liking this book, thought it was going to be an interesting love story, exploring the motivations and reasons for De Grieux's desce...moreOh dear. I started liking this book, thought it was going to be an interesting love story, exploring the motivations and reasons for De Grieux's descent into crime. Instead, the book descended into farce. Too many twists and turns in the plot - one minute De Grieux is up on his luck, then he's down. Now he's up, now he's down. He's up again, oh he's down. I now realise why this book is not more widely known.
I read Jane Eyre just after this and there is no comparison. That IS a quality love story.(less)
The book lives up to the blurb on the cover 'As If exposes the hollowness of condemnation divorced from understanding'.
I have had lively debates with...moreThe book lives up to the blurb on the cover 'As If exposes the hollowness of condemnation divorced from understanding'.
I have had lively debates with friends and family about the Bulger murder and the treatment of the accused. I am in agreement with Morrison who describes the trial as a 'sledgehammer to crack a nut'. I also don't believe the killers are inherently evil and this book highlights some of the reasons WHY they might have committed the murder. However, what was illuminating was the fact that the trial was not seeking to understand the WHY. Instead, if it could be proved that the boys understood what they were doing then the trials remit was to prove that they committed the murder, not understand why they did. The 'proof' that they fully understood their actions is deemed somewhat unreliable by Morrison. Which, in essence, undermines the trial itself.
The book is very much a personal account. Alongside his experience of attending the trial, Morrison weaves in his own family history and his experiences as a father. I quite liked this. It underlined that most adults, particularly parents, have a responsibility for how children are raised.
I didn't like Chapter 1, The Children's Crusade chapter. Felt like it was shoehorned in as a clever story from history that resonates with the Bulger trial. For me, it added nothing. Skip it!
Easy going read. Comes across as a likeable chap and you get a clear sense that the imaginary (and real) world of his rather fractured childhood has s...moreEasy going read. Comes across as a likeable chap and you get a clear sense that the imaginary (and real) world of his rather fractured childhood has strongly influenced his art in later life. E.g. his Dad was very much 'a maker' as is Perry. He appreciates craftsmen. I wasn't expecting to hear about such a 'wild' time at college, living in squats, appearing nude in art spectacles. I also liked his ideas about cool, and that actually being uncool could be cool too e.g. being a potter. His interviews and recent Reith lectures on Radio 4 underline this somewhat irreverent attitude.
PS this books illustrations go up to around 2004. If you're looking for a book about more recent life and work then this isn't for you.(less)
I really enjoyed this play and I'll certainly seek it out at the theatre (never seen it on stage). The characters are well drawn and absorbing, but th...moreI really enjoyed this play and I'll certainly seek it out at the theatre (never seen it on stage). The characters are well drawn and absorbing, but the play also exposes bigger themes such as the youthfulness of many of the men fighting (just boys out of school), class division (Generals vs 'cannon fodder') and the sheer futility of much of what happened in and around the trenches (could be described as 'suicidal').(less)
I read this as part of a book group. The first book group I've been a member of, the first book group book. What appealed was that I was vaguely aware...moreI read this as part of a book group. The first book group I've been a member of, the first book group book. What appealed was that I was vaguely aware of Jarman. I'd heard of his films like 'Jubilee' and his house and garden in Dungness ('Prospect Cottage'). I knew he was 'different', but not a lot more.
His being different is reflected in this book. It's different to most books, in that it doesn't have a clear narrative. There's a thread running through it which his failing health from AIDS, particularly his loss of sight. (The book was written in '93, he died in '94.) But mostly, it's a series of chapters, each focusing on a different colour (or a person/area strongly associated to colour) and featuring snippets of historical text, anecodtes, thoughts, memories. A real pot pourri.
I enjoyed the chapters on colour. It brought home how powerful colour is in triggering memories and making associations with people, places, emotions.
Most of all, I liked Jarman. I liked his intellect and his insight. Also, through the passages about his illness, I admired his courage, bravery, indepence and spirit. I found it inspiring.
I suspect this books isn't for all. But if you appreciate art and/or nature, want to immerse yourself in the nature and meaning of colour, plus want to get to know more about Jarman, then I'd recommend this book.
What follows are my notes/jottings on the book. Maybe best not to read if you want a 'fresh' read! Although there isn't really an ending to give away!
"Only dull and impotent artists screen their work with sincerity. In art there is a need for truth not sincerity" (Kasimir Malevich, Essays on Art)
Jarman calls Pliny on colour eloquent because of his "insatiable curiosity", but also that "he put himself and his prejudices so strongly into his writing". Jarman does the same.
"I'm told I'm living on the fringes of society, but what if the world were awry?"
"Leonardo's curiosity to examine the natural world is his gift. He wrote of nothing he had not observed." Jarman's writing is very much rooted in observation. Of course, through his own particular filter!
"My mind bright as a button, but my body falling apart - a naked light bulb in a dark and ruined room."
I really liked this book to start with, then around halfway through I lost my way with it. I quite liked the murder mystery elements and some of the c...moreI really liked this book to start with, then around halfway through I lost my way with it. I quite liked the murder mystery elements and some of the characterisation, particularly of Pinkie and Ida. However, although some parts are impressive, Greene's passages describing the mental turmoil of Pinkie and Rose started to leave me cold after a while. They got repetitive too. I think another reviewer described it as 'soap like'. I'd concur. It didn't always feel quite real. E.g. why did Ada feel compelled to find the murderer of a man she hardly knew? Why did Rose comply so readily with Pinkie?(less)
I enjoyed this book, the writing is exquisite and I became immersed in the lives of Emma, Charles, Homais, Leon, Rodolphe etc.
Emma married the wrong m...moreI enjoyed this book, the writing is exquisite and I became immersed in the lives of Emma, Charles, Homais, Leon, Rodolphe etc.
Emma married the wrong man, a man who does OK in life, but is blissfully unaware of his wife's ambitions, needs. She's a dreamer, living in her own fantasy world and jumps at the chance of excitement and love.
It's actually her materialism and debts that trigger her downfall. But ultimately she felt to me like a woman who couldn't bear to live with a life that was, to her, second rate.
One element jarred... the lack of any real exploration of Emma as a mother. Perhaps women at the time were more detached from their children, but I found it surprising that her child was secondary throughout, especially when Emma makes her fatal decision towards the end of the book.
One paragraph that lingers with me:
"Their clothes, better made, seemed of finer cloth, and their hair, brought forward in curls towards the temples, glossy with more delicate pomades. They had the complexion of wealth—that clear complexion that is heightened by the pallor of porcelain, the shimmer of satin, the veneer of old furniture, and that an ordered regimen of exquisite nurture maintains at its best. Their necks moved easily in their low cravats, their long whiskers fell over their turned-down collars, they wiped their lips upon handkerchiefs with embroidered initials that gave forth a subtle perfume. Those who were beginning to grow old had an air of youth, while there was something mature in the faces of the young. In their unconcerned looks was the calm of passions daily satiated, and through all their gentleness of manner pierced that peculiar brutality, the result of a command of half-easy things, in which force is exercised and vanity amused—the management of thoroughbred horses and the society of loose women."
Emma wanted to be satiated and unconcerned. She failed to be.(less)
I really liked this book. I didn't know what to expect at first - quite a slim volume, not a particularly exciting start to the book. However, pretty...moreI really liked this book. I didn't know what to expect at first - quite a slim volume, not a particularly exciting start to the book. However, pretty quickly I became absorbed in Franny and Lane her boyfriend. Then later, Zooey, the mother and the rest of the Glass family.
The book uses relatively 'normal' scenes - a dinner, conversations at home - to explore some deep themes, but in a subtle and clever way. For me, those themes were:
Franny is worried about being mundane and unimpressed by those around her. I'm sure we've all felt at some time 'different' (better) than those around us. And that disconnect between her and her tutors, boyfriend etc results in a mini breakdown and retreat into prayer. It's her brother - someone who's been on the same journey - that makes her see sense, that she can't be overly critical of others, that they are just like her, trying to do well and make a mark. Her worry has caused inertia. He tells her to ACT.
A good book helps you reflect on yourself (or who you have been. This book did that for me.