Colin Renfrew kicks off this book with a highly amusing (and largely fair) attack on post-processualists before admitting that its purpose is in no sm...moreColin Renfrew kicks off this book with a highly amusing (and largely fair) attack on post-processualists before admitting that its purpose is in no small part to incorporate post-processual theory into processual method.
Nathan Schlanger outlines the history of chaîne opératoire approaches to lithic analysis and its cognitive underpinnings. In chapter fifteen, Karlin and Julien describe the insights that can be made into collective enterprise and apprenticeships through the adoption of a approach to lithic analysis. (less)
This is a tie-in book for a restaurant I've never heard of (perhaps I would have if I was a hip Londoner?). As is common with these kinds of books tod...moreThis is a tie-in book for a restaurant I've never heard of (perhaps I would have if I was a hip Londoner?). As is common with these kinds of books today, it begins with a (very) short history of the restaurant which in this case if pretty laughable; the book coming less than two years after the restaurant first opened.
If there's such a thing as Tex-Mex than I guess there must reasonably be such a thing as Californian-Mex. If there is, this is it. Despite claims to the contrary, this is not authentic Mexican cuisine and I simply didn't know how to react to the recipe that called for '200ml Dr. Pepper'.
Aside from the brief history there's very little here apart from the recipes and newcomers to Mexican food may be a little confused when, for example, in the very first recipe masa harina is called for making tortillas. Yes, a bit of common sense might suggest what this is but nowhere in the book does it say that masa harina is flour (although I think, technically, it should refer to a dough). Obviously tortillas are pretty fundamental to Mexican cuisine and to most dishes in this book. It is, then, a case of sink or swim and it's perhaps not the best book for the novice.
If it's not for the novice though, who is it for? I've already suggested that it's not a book of traditional recipes. Anyone already comfortable with the techniques of Mexican cooking in Britain will, I'm sure, be able to concoct their own flavour combinations if they wish, so it's probably not for them. Quick, fusion-type tortilla recipes, meanwhile, abound in more popular cookbooks so it's hard to see how anyone who isn't a big fan of the restaurant could gain much from this.(less)
I think Nick Hornby is probably a better writer of non-fiction than of fiction, based on my limited experience. Even writing on a subject for which he...moreI think Nick Hornby is probably a better writer of non-fiction than of fiction, based on my limited experience. Even writing on a subject for which he is famously passionate, however, his writing rarely sparkles. He often seems to try just a little too hard to be stylish or to be funny. Though obviously knowledgeable, I'm left with the impression that he might be a slightly pretentious bore rather than erudite, charming company. All of that's probably unfair though - is it really possible to glean so much about someone based on their writing?
This particular book collects all of Hornby's sport writing in one place, excluding Fever Pitch (predictably) but including Pray: Notes on the 2011/2012 Football Season (surprisingly). These cover topics ranging from Perry Groves, to Manchester United, Cambridge United and the 2012 Olympics. The last of these is the only non-Football piece and, a lifelong Gooner myself, I enjoyed the Arsenal pieces. By and large though, the columns/essays wouldn't appear out of place on some of the better 'blogs that are around today. Really then, it's only worth the price of admission if you like reading those kind of commentaries (I do) but have no access to the internet, where you can read such things that are both more timely and free.(less)
Interesting book examining the way in which we study material culture, advocating an approach which privileges Martin Heidegger's 'Things' over object...moreInteresting book examining the way in which we study material culture, advocating an approach which privileges Martin Heidegger's 'Things' over objects. Tim Ingold writes a useful introduction which highlights this and explains how each succeeding paper relates to the theme, looking at actions and pathways as revelatory subjects worthy of a shift in our research focus, emphasising how Henri Lefebvre's 'meshwork' model that he has advocated in the past may be useful for this.
Carl Knappett emphasises the tension between 'objects' and 'things' as well as between 'networks' and 'meshworks' but stresses that this tension is productive if explored. Employing case studies of architecture and ceramics in Mycenaean Crete he successfully argues for the use of chaîne opératoire models in a non-prescriptive manner.(less)
Re-read 03/04/13: This was the very first Discworld book I ever read and, returning to it more than twenty years later, I'm very glad to see that it's...moreRe-read 03/04/13: This was the very first Discworld book I ever read and, returning to it more than twenty years later, I'm very glad to see that it's a worthy introduction to Terry Pratchett's writing. This is basically Discworld-Noir: fairly early on in the series Pratchett begins to seek a voice beyond that of genre satire and this, more than any other, shows him quite accidentally stumbling across the template he was to pursue with such success.
In terms of simple plot expectations the sign-posts could not be clearer in the opening of the book - a giant, polite, kind human is told his true species (he was adopted and raised by dwarves) and is dispatched to the city. Meanwhile, in that same city, cloaked figures assemble to conjure a dragon with the intention of revealing the "true king" who will naturally appear to slay the beast. So far, so predictable.
At some stage though, whether by design or by happy chance during writing, the author came to realise that the city was the real star here - and a star needs a co-star. Enter Sam Vimes. Owing a great deal of debt to Sam Spade, Vimes is a cynical, hard-drinking, embittered police captain. Naturally, he doesn't like his city being made to look foolish and it's down to him to battle that foolishness en-route to the dragon's destruction (with, needless to say, a little love interest thrown in on the side - but not on the femme fatale model!). Overall then, although it doesn't tackle any big and complex issues like the later Discworld novels can, this is still a well-crafted and enjoyable piece which can serve as a suitable introduction to the Discworld books for anyone interested.(less)
Re-Read 31/12/11: The first time I've read this book in nearly twenty years and it's just as good as I remember.
It's become fairly commonplace to talk...moreRe-Read 31/12/11: The first time I've read this book in nearly twenty years and it's just as good as I remember.
It's become fairly commonplace to talk about Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams in the same breath. Both are now thought of as "national treasures" in Britain (or were until Adams's death) and both are (were) gifted writers who satirise our modern world through the lens of genre fiction.
What's not often remarked upon is the difference in the way in which the two most popular series by these authors were embraced by the British public. The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series was almost immediately a success, being adapted for both radio and TV in the 1980's. The Discworld series is now a phenomenon - the most recently published (Snuff) being the fastest selling hardback novel of all time in Britain - and also being adapted for TV and radio. This wasn't always the case though, as Pratchett was dismissed as a Fantasy genre writer for far longer than Adams was a Sci-Fi writer.
Perhaps this may be explained in part by more carefully comparing the first novels in these two series. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy uses the device of a reluctant traveller to effectively satirise topics such as NIMBYism, xenophobia, politics and the TV portrayal of US cops. By comparison, The Color of Magic is somewhat less ambitious, it too uses the device of a reluctant traveller, but this first book in the series is, like so many before it (and even more after it) a satire of fantasy writing itself (save for a brief sojourn into the notions of parallel universes).
It would be churlish to criticise a book for what it isn't, however - wilfully ignoring its good points. As a satire of epic-journey fantasy fiction, it works rather well and has stood the test of time. It's greatest legacy, however, will always be that the world it introduced served as an arena for acerbically reflecting our own world in subsequent volumes.(less)
Re-read 2/4/12: I'm taking a star off this now that I've read it again after all these years. Of all the books in the Discworld series, this is the on...moreRe-read 2/4/12: I'm taking a star off this now that I've read it again after all these years. Of all the books in the Discworld series, this is the one that is least able to stand on its own - it's very much a sequel to The Color of Magic. Until recently I thought I couldn't remember much about that earlier book, whereas this one I had fond memories of. Having now re-read both, I realise that my memories were almost all of that earlier book.
This is unapologetically the conclusion to the story begun in The Color of Magic but where that novel played with the fantasy quest convention and moved at a break-neck pace, this one felt like it had a lot of filler - things that the author would have liked to have put into that first book but couldn't quite make fit. The author's voice asides, in particular, detracted from the narrative.
All in all, I think it could have been shorter (or more accurately the first book could have been longer) and been better for it. For all that, Pratchett uses some lovely words at times and hints at the satirical humour that characterises his later books so it's all still quite enjoyable.(less)
Re-read 10/3/13 (or is it? I remembered absolutely nothing when reading this):
Terry Pratchett does Shakespeare! Perhaps the author realised that his S...moreRe-read 10/3/13 (or is it? I remembered absolutely nothing when reading this):
Terry Pratchett does Shakespeare! Perhaps the author realised that his Swords & Sorcery genre satires were beginning to fall a bit flat (see my review of Sourcery); maybe he felt more confident coming into this book, more comfortable with his authorial voice and readership; maybe he was inspired or maybe he just fancied a change. Whatever the reason though, it works.
Like the earlier 'Witches' Discworld novel, this one represents a minor departure from the early established formula, this time seeing Pratchett riff heavily on Shakespeare, especially MacBeth and Hamlet but also The Tempest, Richard III and others, and it's a strategy that works to great effect. Where less talented authors mock Shakespeare openly through the dialogue, Pratchett adopts the memorable set-pieces from the several plays and lovingly crafts his own tale around them - much as is often done with other well-known stories such as fairy tales and the Greek myths. The humour here then (and there is a great deal of it) is not to be found at The Bard's expense but instead some of his plays' highlights are given the sardonic, common-sense twist demanded by the loudest smart-arses in the stalls.(less)
Re-read 24/2/13: After progressively experimenting a little more with each of the two previous Discworld volumes, this one sees Terry Pratchett return...moreRe-read 24/2/13: After progressively experimenting a little more with each of the two previous Discworld volumes, this one sees Terry Pratchett return to the straightforward swords & sorcery genre satire of the first two volumes. Having done that very successfully in The Colour of Magic it's no surprise that each successive parody should feel a little weaker. It's an idea that has been executed many, many times before and since and it's a credit to Pratchett's writing that he has influenced so many of the most recent writers in the sub-genre. Sadly though, such spoofs often only serve to show that the mocked writers are more creative and gifted than the lampooners themselves.
This isn't a bad book, by any means, it's just frustrating when you know that the author is capable of so much better. Later novels, of course, deliver on that in a big way: best to put this one down as an early craft-learning exercise.(less)