This short sweet book, written in 1890, is a delightful read, both in its subject which is a little review of basic advice on how to handle several "w...moreThis short sweet book, written in 1890, is a delightful read, both in its subject which is a little review of basic advice on how to handle several "weapons of self-defense", but also, and what amused me more, even if the basic advice on weapon handling is sensible and based on actual experience, the views and background of a certain class of British gentry, the kind that populates many books I love, from Sherlock Holmes to Allan Quatermain, from Verne to Conrad. A good insight on the people that consider a friendly bout of stick fighting "a jolly good exercise" and the fact that you may have to receive a cavalry charge with your bayonet, "the Empire's due".
It also made me get out a sword and refresh guards and attacks, and compare it with the advice and what I learnt in fencing.(less)
This is a book that I have enjoyed a lot, though it is not for everyone.
There are three threads, for me, running on this slim book. The first one is t...moreThis is a book that I have enjoyed a lot, though it is not for everyone.
There are three threads, for me, running on this slim book. The first one is the author's attitude to running, which, although unorthodox, really got me in the mood to run. We will see if it lasts. The second one is how does Murakami write in the way he does, which again is something quite unlike other writers. Finally, we get to see a bit of the author's past and what makes him tick, which is interesting for the similitudes but mainly for the differences with his standard characters.
The threads are not arranged in order, but they appear at irregular intervals. It requires also some mining effort, extracting the content from the self-centered narrative, so despite how interesting for me is both Murakami the man and how he crafts those complex edifices of novels, it gets less points.
A great insight both on the man and the books, though worthy only if you already appreciate his books.
In the end, not being a runner myself, the running part is too long, and the writing and autobiographical content too short. (less)
First of all I have to say that I may not be objective because I know and appreciate the author. To take that into account I have downgraded the book...moreFirst of all I have to say that I may not be objective because I know and appreciate the author. To take that into account I have downgraded the book one star, as I wanted to give it five stars.
This book should be compulsory reading in Driving Schools. And pedestrians would benefit from it, too. Just as a wake up call.
It is not an easy book, and it is not entertainment. It is a reminder of how we have integrated death and a weapon (cars) in our culture, and we do not even realise it.
I have not discussed the imagery with the author, but it feels as if you were driving and you had your Guardian Angel telling you facts about the road, the other cars and even yourself while you keep going. That makes the harsh facts presented a bit more palatable, and it is integration what the author wants, not rejection. I think it is a great form to wrap a discourse, at times, disturbing.
The writing, a mix of actual data, common sense facts and personal anecdote, flows smoothly, just like the car drive itself. It is easy to read, except for those moments when you stop and reflect, or you slap your forehead thinking "me too!"
Yet it is not an anti-car book. Mr. Phoenix is an avid driver and loves to drive. But that makes his point stronger, because he knows what he is talking about. (less)
The book originally was presented as a CD-Rom. Although I like books, I think the idea of the writer would be better experienced in an interactive web...moreThe book originally was presented as a CD-Rom. Although I like books, I think the idea of the writer would be better experienced in an interactive webpage or digital media. Because a page limits you to what is in it or its neighbours, or a shorter or longer search for a glimpsed idea. Hyperlink and search functions really help to compare what is in common and to spot the differences.
The book deals with the idea of beauty, and how it has changed through time and cultures, using works of art as the only surviving yardstick of what was considered beautiful. Although the author has his own views, he tries to keep it hidden, focusing instead on what others thought, although the narrative gives a hint of which of those ideas he favors, sometimes quite broadly, but that is to be expected as he is a son of his own time and culture, so his views will be different (though still close) from mine.
Its awkward handling, specially as it requires a certain level of involvement from the reader give it this relatively low score for such a gorgeous book. Because it is gorgeous, and a simple cursory read, looking at the images, probably will enlighten you as much as deep reading. But that gorgeousness detracts from its own message, because subject to so many beautiful images, how can you define what is beauty, if beauty is most of them? Which I suppose goes a long way to explain why Eco published also History of Ugliness. Because you cannot have one without the other. Maybe after reading it my mind will clear, and I will give it a higher score.(less)