Disappointing. Much of the book read as if it was simply an academic author showing off his historic, literary and psychiatrical research. The plot haDisappointing. Much of the book read as if it was simply an academic author showing off his historic, literary and psychiatrical research. The plot had something (which kept me reading), but was ridden with contrived incidents and unnecessarily complex, perhaps to disguise the almost complete lack of characterization. Where there was anything to the characters it was as Freudian stereotypes, and the running device of then revealing an alternative motivation or explanation constantly forces the reader to reevaluate the character, rather than building richness and credibility. ...more
Hamid's novella successfully employs a delightful conceit of addressing the reader as a principal character in the book - your identity slowly becominHamid's novella successfully employs a delightful conceit of addressing the reader as a principal character in the book - your identity slowly becoming clearer as the main character (Changez) tells you the story of his time in the USA around 9-11. Iain Banks used a similar device, although much less centrally, in Complicity. Hamid successfully maintains and builds a sense of tension throughout the book while recounting Changez' political and emotional transformations in New York. The parallels between Changez' relationship with Erica and his America's relationship with migrants such as Changez are perhaps sometimes a little blunt, but the counterpoint between the two helps provide a depth to the book that belies its brevity. Highly recommended! ...more
Lynch's debut novel is a entertaining read, up with the best contemporary fantasy. It does start slowly - as many other reviewers have commented - butLynch's debut novel is a entertaining read, up with the best contemporary fantasy. It does start slowly - as many other reviewers have commented - but in my opinion that's forgivable in a story which is setting up a series. The fantasy world is relatively consistent and coherent, with hierarchical power strong in several parallel domains (the city-states, the criminal underworld, magic-use and religion). The detailed descriptions of the setting reveal an arena in which I for one would enjoy playing a fantasy RPG ... and I suspect Lynch has indeed drawn on such sources. The plot develops nicely with multiple healthy helpings of suspense.
However the characterisation is a little two-dimensional. Although Lamora is often seen as an anti-hero, his complexity is a little 'painted on', and some key turns as the plot unravels seem rather implausible character developments - reflecting a stronger morality than the character hitherto has exhibited. Moreover, while Lynch largely writes his male characters well, his female characters are a little more two dimensional (or stereotypically fantastical). But this is fairly picky criticism for a first novel, and I look forward to reading the next in the series. ...more
Scheffler argues elegantly that for our lives, projects and commitments to matter, we rely on the continuation of humanity, and indeed on the flourishScheffler argues elegantly that for our lives, projects and commitments to matter, we rely on the continuation of humanity, and indeed on the flourishing of society. He does this without appeals to relatedness or strictly communitarian emotions, and in ways that are entirely immune to Parfit's 'non-identity problem'. Scheffler concludes that perhaps we should care about humanity's survival rather more than we appear to.
Scheffler reaches his conclusions by way of thought-experiments about how we might react to inevitable extinction level events (a doomsday scenario in which the world ends shortly after our death, and an infertility scenario in which the human race dies out as the current generation dies). Both, he argues, would lead to us valuing many things less, and many things losing value. It's hard to subject his views to empirical testing, but the case of climate change offers interesting insights into how humans react to a less than certain doomsday. Here we can see also reactions of denial and activism: both of which support - in different ways - Scheffler's case that the survival of a flourishing human society is important to us. We also see apparent disinterest, and a focus on short-term interests which might seem to undermine the case (if they are seen as reactions to the problem, rather than to its uncertainties). Clearly real-world reactions are complex in the ways they reveal our interdependencies with other humans, past, present and future.
Scheffler is not (as far as I could tell) a 'care ethicist', but I found many encouraging synergies between his approach to the future, and the ideas of interdependency elaborated in the Ethics of Care. The result is a deeply thought-provoking book. The book may be academic philosophy, but - based on a series of public lectures - it is entirely readable, rather than complex and abstruse (although one or two of the short responses by other philosophers included in the volume stray in that direction). Highly recommended....more
Given the multitude of reviews already written, I don't expect to add much. Like many others I found Mantel's use of the third person for her lead chaGiven the multitude of reviews already written, I don't expect to add much. Like many others I found Mantel's use of the third person for her lead character somewhat distracting, and for a long time expected her to switch, perhaps at some crucial moment, or for more 'private' parts of the narrative.
What I particularly liked was that Mantel did not make great efforts to impose a narrative or plot onto the events of history. Most history is events, not purpose. This can make for difficult literature, but for the most part, Mantel's writing and (less so) her characterisation, carries one through page after page ... sustained less by a desire to 'see what happens', and more to luxuriate in the writing itself.
I also enjoyed the sense of different characters wrestling with change while trying to sustain their distinctive moral identities. The heroes are far from unblemished, and the villains have their redeeming characteristics - making for an engaging read....more