**spoiler alert** While I can't fully relate to Fielding sex-crazed heroines, and while I did not care to be inflicted with Fielding's politics, I wou...more**spoiler alert** While I can't fully relate to Fielding sex-crazed heroines, and while I did not care to be inflicted with Fielding's politics, I would not wish to deny that this was an amazingly entertaining read. I must be among the few in that I liked it as much as Bridget Jones. Did this grab me because of its intellectual depth, its profundity, its complexity of language? Certainly not. It grabbed me because it was funny, entertaining...farcical. And that last word is the key-if you don't like farce and you want a "serious" thriller, by all means, skip this! It's widely implausible, as it is meant to be.
(SPOILERS) I actually though it rather more of a twist that Pierre did in fact turn out to be a terrorist, since the reader is expecting he won't and that it will just be some comical mistake of Olivia's. Once that bit is revealed, the plot does become much more predictable and not quite as enjoyable, but I still had no problem plodding on through to the end. I found Olivia's character to be a bit undulating; she seems the Nancy Drew type one second and the Bridget Jones type the next-that is, she seems suddenly to become a very capable agent after being a bit of a silly journalist. Well, she's a bit silly throughout, I suppose. Despite its flaws, I very much enjoyed it. (less)
Imagine if Raymond Chandler melded with Douglas Adams to produce a sci-fi hardball detective mystery replete with literary references, and you'd have...moreImagine if Raymond Chandler melded with Douglas Adams to produce a sci-fi hardball detective mystery replete with literary references, and you'd have something like The Eyre Affair. The book takes place in a strange version of 1980's England, where the Crimean war has been going on for over hundred years, where Baconians knock on your door to try to convert you to their view of Shakespearean authorship, where a special operations squad exists explicitly to investigate literary crimes, and where the Chronoguard has the ability to travel through time. The novel follows the adventures of Thursday Next, a LiteraTech who is caught up in the hunt for arch criminal Acheron Hades, who is determined to abduct and ransom fictional characters, notably Jane Eyre. The book is not at all academic in tone; it reads like a fast, enjoyable work of popular fiction, but you have to be well read to appreciate it. If you are familiar with the English classics you will have a good sense of what is transpiring, and you will be able to pick up on various clues and enjoy the "inside" literary jokes.
The author draws both style and content from a wide variety of popular genre literature. You can find elements of Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Douglas Adams, comic book heroes and villains, Bridget Jones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more. Yet the work is far from unoriginal; it is precisely the author's ability to pull off this diverse combination that makes the book so unique, if occasionally a little too clever. This is a great volume for the literature major who is so accustomed to analyzing that he or she has lost the ability to read for pleasure. The Eyre Affair will give you a chance to re-learn that beautiful, lost art. (less)
Although some of the novelty of Thursday Next's world has worn off by the time the reader reaches this sequel to The Eyre Affair, Fforde adds enough n...moreAlthough some of the novelty of Thursday Next's world has worn off by the time the reader reaches this sequel to The Eyre Affair, Fforde adds enough new treats to keep the book feeling almost as fresh as its prequel. The humour is as sharp as ever; indeed, Lost in a Good Book may be even funnier than Fforde's previous novel. The book is an easy read and is just fun. It narrates every bibliophile's childlike fantasy--the idea of being able to travel through books. There was one flaw in the work, however, and that was the rather enigmatic climax, a world-saving event that did not make much sense to me. All in all, Lost in a Good Book is fantastic pleasure reading.
In this third installment of the Thursday Next literary mystery series, our agent finds herself working for Jurisfiction in the Book World, residing i...moreIn this third installment of the Thursday Next literary mystery series, our agent finds herself working for Jurisfiction in the Book World, residing in one of the unpublished novels to be found in the Well of Lost Plots. Fforde creates a clever fantasy world and uses numerous literary puns, which make The Well of Lost Plots worth reading. The story itself, however, is not really gripping, and Thursday's character has never seemed well developed or "real" to me. I keep reading this series because of the flashes of humour and the pure pleasure of being "in" on the literary jokes. The storytelling itself, however, leaves something to be desired. (less)
This novel is based on the true story of Regine Olsen's engagement to Christian philosopher Sören Kierkegaard. However, you need not know much about K...moreThis novel is based on the true story of Regine Olsen's engagement to Christian philosopher Sören Kierkegaard. However, you need not know much about Kierkegaard to appreciate the novel. Everything is told from the point of view of his fiancé, and if you are interested in Kierkegaard's philosophy, this isn't the way to delve into it. Really, if you are looking for anything very much deeper than a Christian romance novel, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a Christian romance novel that is not overbearing in its morality or utterly simplistic in its use of language, then Loving Sören is a good choice. It stands out among most novels in the genre because the religious element is somewhat more subdued (though still obvious) and the book is not written on your usual 6th grade reading level; indeed, the language is occasionally beautifully crafted. Loving Sören also dabbles with some serious themes, like what it means to be a Christian (to suffer or to embrace life?), although these themes are not as developed as I would like. The book somewhat satiates the intellect without being at all obtuse. The novel focuses on Regina's process of maturing beyond her obsession with Kierkegaard, which she never fully does by the end of the novel. She does, however, at least come to confess this obsession as a weakness, although her realization of this is rather sudden and slightly unbelievably portrayed (this is the typical "conversion scene" you often find in Christian fiction). Overall, though, I recommend the book.
The Far Arena was fascinating because of its historical richness and exploration of the ancient Roman culture. It gives the reader a first hand view o...moreThe Far Arena was fascinating because of its historical richness and exploration of the ancient Roman culture. It gives the reader a first hand view of the games and the horrors they entailed. Ben Sapir shows the reader how easy it is to accept and cheer on something so vile. The character of Eugeni was raised and trained as a gladiator, and when he is brought into the modern day world, the problems of his transition are telling. There are some touching moments in this novel, but most of its interesting moments involve violence. The most powerful scene in the novel, however, and the one which I believe draws one of the starkest contrasts between Eugeni's time and ours, is when Eugeni sees the crucifix around the neck of a woman. To her, it is a symbol of Christ and of her faith. But to Eugeni, it is a perverted decoration, a sick instrument of the cruelest death. He is enraged by the fact that the woman would wear such an object. He even tries to kill her. Scenes like these draw the reader into the novel, and make him think about the passage of time--about how difficult it would be to adjust to another age. And though it is right that the brutal age of Roman gladiators and crucifixion should pass away, the novel forces the reader to feel great pity for the gladiator who must awake in a world where all he believed in is dead.
It is appropriate that Waugh should allude to "The Waste Land," since A Handful of Dust is itself a satirical expose of the moral waste land that is m...moreIt is appropriate that Waugh should allude to "The Waste Land," since A Handful of Dust is itself a satirical expose of the moral waste land that is modern society, a world drifting without the anchor of religion and tradition. But Waugh’s message is communicated both gradually and subtly, and with great wit. He seems always to select the perfect turn of phrase, and he creates extremely amusing and original situations. Take, for instance, the sad case of Tony Last, who, delirious with fever, wanders in the Brazilian jungle, only to be found and nursed back to health by a madman who then forces him (at gunpoint) to read aloud Dickens's novels. It is interesting to speculate what Waugh’s satirical point is here; his novel is often amusing but cryptic. It is, however, the overall effect created by Waugh’s weaving of characters, language, and situations, that matters most. And the effect is magnificent. (less)
Waugh is among the most unique writers of satire in the 20th century. The Loved One is consistently entertaining, satirical, and comical. Waugh's supe...moreWaugh is among the most unique writers of satire in the 20th century. The Loved One is consistently entertaining, satirical, and comical. Waugh's superb command of the English language--his amazing ability to turn a phrase just so--utterly astonishes me. It is fun to watch for the constant poetical quotes Waugh satirically weaves into this tale. The Loved One mocks Hollywood, America, and the English all at once. I can not put into words how unique and clever this book really is; the scenes Waugh conceives, the wording he employs, the characters he creates, even the names he chooses, all work to create an entirely "different" reading experience.
In this diverting comedy of errors, Waugh satirizes African politics, British society, and world journalism. Retired country gentleman William Boot, t...moreIn this diverting comedy of errors, Waugh satirizes African politics, British society, and world journalism. Retired country gentleman William Boot, through a series of misunderstandings, finds himself suddenly bound to Ishmaliea as a foreign correspondent, but he doesn't know quite how to invent the news. Somehow, he manages to bumble his way to journalistic stardom, while falling in love and being played a fool. This short novel is an easy read, and will inspire, if not outright laughter, a number of silent smiles and soft chuckles.(less)
This collection of articles from the infamous humorous newspaper The Onion is often vulgar, coursing with profanity and blatant (often sophomoric) sex...moreThis collection of articles from the infamous humorous newspaper The Onion is often vulgar, coursing with profanity and blatant (often sophomoric) sexual jokes. It also contains a healthy dose of irreverence, the religious mockery being aimed largely at Christians, but with enough openness to include occasionally the Jews. Despite its not infrequent offensiveness, The Onion's articles did often make me laugh. Much of the comic force of the collections comes from the authors' abilities to parody so effectively the style of newswriting found in papers today. But because of this, the humor also grows stale after awhile--the joke is a good one, but by the end of the collection, it has become an old one. Therefore, about half way through, it becomes natural for the reader to enjoy the headlines but merely skim the articles.
Here's a smattering of some of the headlines that struck me as the funniest: "Oprah Viewers Patiently Awaiting Instructions"; "Fanzine Marred by Typo"; "Pope Calls For Greater Understanding Between Catholics, Hellbound"; and "Fun Toy Banned Because of Three Stupid Dead Kids." Probably the funniest article was on the sinister phase two of Starbucks's operation, but the one I could most relate to was entitled: "Aging Gen-Xer Doesn't Find Bad Movies Funny Anymore." Also included are a collection of point counterpoint editorials, which forcefully mock the whole concept of the editorial. The best is the point-counterpoint on Nigeria: "Nigeria May Be A Developing Nation, But It Is Rich In Cultural Resources" vs. "Get Me Out Of This Godforsaken Hellhole." It's easy and entertaining to pass the time with The Onion, but perhaps not very fruitful.
This collection of poems was written when Tennyson's friend (who was engaged to his sister) died. There are parts of this work that still have not cea...moreThis collection of poems was written when Tennyson's friend (who was engaged to his sister) died. There are parts of this work that still have not ceased to move me to tears, no matter how many times I read them. "In Memoriam" paints a very real portrait of the spiritual struggle that a believer undergoes when he loses someone he loves dearly. Tennyson's rhythms echo his mood perfectly. (less)
If you are looking for an organized, coherent account of the events of Bob Dylan's life from his own perspective, then this isn't it. Chronicles touch...moreIf you are looking for an organized, coherent account of the events of Bob Dylan's life from his own perspective, then this isn't it. Chronicles touches on Dylan's life events only randomly, and skips over many major events altogether, such as his marriage, divorce, and conversion to Christianity (though perhaps these will be subjects for Volume Two). He has scattered comments to make about his songs--some quite enlightening, others mundane. There are, it seems, hundreds of names scattered throughout the text, which can seem at times overbearing. Dylan writes like an adult trying to sound hip for the kids--intentionally dumbing down his language and employing poor grammar. I've always admired the poetry of Dylan's song lyrics, and I consider him to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. But a great essayist and prose writer he is not. Some of the passages in this book were admittedly fascinating; I especially liked to read his comments on the literature he consumed, and I laughed out loud on more than one occasion as he described public perceptions of himself and his attempts to remake his image to provide breathing room for his family. At times, however, I felt that I could skim page after page without missing anything of note. While Chronicles is likely a must for any fan of Dylan, you would spend you time more wisely reading In His Own Words or Song and Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan. (less)
Despite the title, this book does not focus primarily on the so-called "culture wars." It consists of a number of arguments aimed at persuading secula...moreDespite the title, this book does not focus primarily on the so-called "culture wars." It consists of a number of arguments aimed at persuading secular and religious Jews that they have nothing to fear--and much to gain--from living in a "Christian nation." Rabbi Lapin attempts to overcome the misconceptions and prejudices many Jews--particularly liberal secular Jews--have about the "religious right." He discusses the dangers of too lightly hurling the epithet of anti-Semite, and he maintains that it is America's underlying Christian values and free market economy that has enabled the Jewish people to prosper in the land. He tries to explain the Jewish tendency toward liberalism and socialism and argues why such a trend is harmful rather than helpful for Jews. He also spends some time making religious arguments as well, explaining why he thinks Judeo-Christian values are necessary for the prosperity and endurance of our nation. Finally, he takes a moment to address Christians and explains why Jews find it offensive when Christians claim that Jews who have not accepted Christ are "incomplete Jews."
There is some degree of repetitiveness to be found in America's Real War, as is true with most political nonfiction books. Rabbi Lapin has some very interesting insights, especially with regard to his religious perspective, but the book can at times be dull. The book will be of most interest to the open-minded Jewish reader or the Christian who is seeking some reassurance that his good intentions are understood. (less)
This book may be of interest to liberals as well as conservatives because it chronicles both the left's and the right's use of alternative media, incl...moreThis book may be of interest to liberals as well as conservatives because it chronicles both the left's and the right's use of alternative media, including direct mail, the radio, the internet, and cable television. For someone of my generation, it is difficult to recall a time when the major networks and newspapers had a monopoly over the news, and this book reminded me that sources of information were not always as diverse as they are now. America's Right Turn offers intriguing insights into the reasons for the rise of alternative media, as well as for the reasons why conservatives have generally made better use of these alternatives than have liberals. I learned some new-to-me factoids, such as the interesting statistic that self-identified conservatives consume far more news (both mainstream/liberal and conservative/alternative) than do self-identified liberals. The book also made me aware of how much the government is capable of stifling conservative expression--how it did so in the past, how it is doing so now with campaign finance reform (which also affects liberal expression), and how it may seek to do so in the future. The book suffers from some redundancy (in some cases it seemed I was reading entire paragraphs more than once), but it is a worthwhile read. (less)