Believe the hype – Booker Prize winner The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes came recommended as precisely what it is; a very British novel that wil...moreBelieve the hype – Booker Prize winner The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes came recommended as precisely what it is; a very British novel that will stay with you long after you finish it. Twice. This remarkable book is a funny, poetic, philosophical mystery about time and memory.
The first thing that struck me about it, only a few pages in, was the typically British way with words – the mixture of formality and vulgarity, the superb dry wit. This is a very funny novel.
The Sense of an Ending is also poetic both on the level of well-wrought phrases and passages, and on the macro level of the text as a whole. For example, there are recurring images such as the rivers, that are returned to, built upon, and even subverted in the course of the narrative, making it very much a poetic text.
It is also a philosophical novel about the passing of time and what history we construct from the memories we have. But perhaps most of all, and the thing that draws you in for the second time or more: it is a mystery novel without a very clearly defined mystery, and therefore not a clearly defined ending. Just do not expect a neatly wrapped up package.
As a collection of short stories based on a video game, I expected very variable quality. As such, my expectations were met.
Some stories were cliched...moreAs a collection of short stories based on a video game, I expected very variable quality. As such, my expectations were met.
Some stories were cliched beyond repair, while others were decent within the genre (kind of).
Not surprisingly, the standout story was by Joyce Carol Oates, the most merited writer among them. Her haunting narrative is voiced in part by The Black Dahlia after her death (!) and in part by the woman later to become Marilyn Monroe, and it is sure to stay with you long after you read it.
This book is broad enough to appeal to a reader like me: a 30+ semi-casual gamer; i.e. with more than a passing knowledge of video games, but not to a...moreThis book is broad enough to appeal to a reader like me: a 30+ semi-casual gamer; i.e. with more than a passing knowledge of video games, but not to an extremely nerdy extent.
It is very comprehensive, including interviews with many of the industry’s key players, and is well structured around the emergence of new trends in video games. Being interested in pop culture in general, I also enjoyed the parts where Donovan analyses how developments in pop culture (and indeed in culture/society as a whole) influenced video games and the industry.
As other reviewers have pointed out, the book is best when dealing with older matter, especially the Atari heyday. Many of the further developments in trends he introduces are not discussed, and many recent developments are mentioned very cursorily. However, I would say that is a function of this being a history book and not a flaw. History writing always becomes more contentious the closer you get to the present, as people inevitably disagree regarding the importance of games and events.
The one thing that really detracted from my enjoyment of this book was the extremely sloppy editing. I do not know if this only applies to the Kindle edition, but I could almost count an issue on every “page” of the book. I highlighted some for inclusion in this review, but could have added a lot more.
British game designer Mark Healey’s comical marital arts title Rag Doll Kung Fu became the first non-Valve game released on Steam
Granted, some of the errors are involuntarily funny (I’d like to hone my marital arts!), but for the most part just very very annoying. If you can shut down your inner Grammar Nazi, then this is a very enjoyable and interesting book. Otherwise, steer clear!(less)
Ironically, I found this primer on content strategy, The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane, lacking in both content and strategy. Moreover,...moreIronically, I found this primer on content strategy, The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane, lacking in both content and strategy. Moreover, what made it hard to get through even such a short book was the dry prose. Even for someone who is very interested in content – online and otherwise – this was just too boring, I am sorry to say. It is a short book, but it took me months to get through - I kept having other, more interesting fare on my Kindle!
Basically, most, if not all, of the definitions and processes described in the book are well known to me, but do not convince me that we need a separate field called “content strategy” and a separate job title called “content strategist”.
I have written a slightly longer version of this review on torehogas.net if anyone is interested in reading it and commenting.(less)
Michael J. Fox may be best known as a popular actor with a somewhat limited palette, but that is far from the topic of this inspirational and funny bo...moreMichael J. Fox may be best known as a popular actor with a somewhat limited palette, but that is far from the topic of this inspirational and funny book.
Sure, there are references to his career and the trappings of celebrity life, but what gave me a newfound respect for him was the insightful and deep discussion of optimism - not as a vapid happy-go-lucky lifestyle, but as a philosophy founded in the things that are most important to us.
It may be of special interest to those affected directly or indirectly by Parkinsons, ALS, or similar, but is really recommended to anyone who has every experienced any kind of hardship. I.e. all of us.(less)