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Foucault's Pendulum
Foucault's Pendulum
by Umberto Eco
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
208 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Druids and Masons and Jews, OH MY!, July 8, 2002
If only I could get my friends who are wrapped up in new-age beliefs to read this book!!
I'm sure someone more intelligent than myself has already explained the premise of this novel ... so I'll stick to what I liked and didn't like about it.
The book eases the reader into the subterranean world of plots and counter-plots leading back to Joseph of Arimthea (and beyond). Up until this point, all I had learned of the Templars was what I had gleaned from the Indiana Jones trilogy. Eco coherently connects the Templars to a score of historically maligned secret societies from the druids to the Masons. He shows that all of accepted history can be reinterpretted through the lense of plots, real or imagined.
Just when the golem Eco created became too much for me to hold in my mind, he pulls back and puts the madness into perspective. In a wonderfull little speech, the narator's lover shows how the grand conspiracy can be just as convincingly explained by the human body. ... I think what Eco is trying to say (to me, anyways) is that we can constuct whatever history we need to justify our experiences--that the past is made and re-made constantly to suit our needs, and that no one history is more or less True than any other. Because the narator realises this, he is saved from his friend's fate in the end.
This book left me with something like the peace the narator finds, and that is its saving grace. Without that redemptive peace, it becomes the ravings of a madman, convinced that THEY are out to get him.

Before Time Could Change Them: The Complete Poems of Constantine P. Cavafy
Before Time Could Change Them: The Complete Poems of Constantine P. Cavafy
by C. P. Cavafy
Edition: Hardcover
48 used & new from $1.67

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expatriot longings in Alexandria, the poetry of love, September 13, 2001
Constantine P. Cavafy is one of the most intelligent and elloquent poets of this century, but remains barely known in American. Why is this? Probably because Cavafy is a man and his poems of lust and longing are addressed at other young men. I would never have discovered this amazing man if it were not for an essay about him published in Gore Vidal's "The Last Empire." Cavafy spent his life as a Greek citizen living in Alexandria egypt, and writing about the young men he found there. But beautiful males are far from his only subject. Some of his best poems are written with a technique where he becomes someone else, often a someone historical that has been dead hundreds of years. He writes as if he really were that person, describing what they are feeling, as well as what they see and hear. He can summon with words all the glory and magic of empires long extict, often to a degree of erie detail. These poems made me yearn to experience what he was describing, to be able to see what he can see in his mind. He wrote in Greek, and this book has been translated by Theoharis C. Theoharis. As I don't read Greek, I have no way of knowing how close he came to the original, but I know that what he did translate blew me away. I was transported from my life to the baths and cafes of Alexandria, the palaces of the Ceasars, from Greece in 1900 to the Greece of legend. Cavafy was able to take me places I'd never knew existed. Maybe the best compliment I can give this work is that it didn't just make me think, it made me imagine and dream. Anyone who loves the Greek world should own this book. Five stars just aren't enough.

Palimpsest: A Memoir
Palimpsest: A Memoir
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.70
145 used & new from $0.01

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back-stage passes for the American century, September 13, 2001
This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
A memoir can only be as good as the life the author has lead. Gore Vidal has in my estimation lead one of the most fascinating lives of our time. This memoir covers his life up to age 39, the years when he was a firsthand witness to American History and culture. He gives us insight into the lives of some amazing friends from Jackie Kennedy (Vidal's step-sister) and Ellanor Roosevelt, to Tennessee Williams. These are the memories of a man who was instumental in shaping the culture we live in today. He's been percieved negatively because he got stuck with the homosexual label, but he shows us here the realities of the society he lived in, a society that he wasn't all that different from after all. This is far and away the most interesting biography/autobiography/memoir type book I've come across. Anyone who wasn't there to witness history themselves should check out Me. Vidal's version of it.

One Hundred Years of Solitude
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Edition: Paperback
282 used & new from $0.01

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars owner's manual for the human soul, September 13, 2001
For years most of my life, until I read D. Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest," One Hundred Years Of Solitude was the single greatest piece of prose I had ever encountered. Even now it surpasses the truly gigantic I.J. as the most profound of novels. If you are going to read this book don't read it once or even twice, read it over and over again. Garcia Marquez has crafted so many different levels of meaning into the story of one family as to explain the entirety of human history from creation on. This is nothing less than the meaning of life, revealed through the virtues and faults of the Buendia family. The town of Macondo is a experiences everything of importance that has happened in the Americas since they were discovered by europeans. The Buendias are perhaps the most human characters I have ever encountered in literature. The mistakes they are doomed to keep repeating show how where one comes from will always be his destiny. This novel is anything but a crass tear-jerker, but it triggered emotiong in me of increadible power. This is the one book I buy for all my family and friends when it's time to give gift. I could keep going on and on, but you know how strongly I recomend this. My high school spanish teacher, Barbara Brown, gave me one of the greatest gifts I've ever recieved when she turned me on to Garcia Marquez. READ THIS BOOK, then READ IT AGAIN.

City and the Pillar
City and the Pillar
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
22 used & new from $9.88

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a tribute to Jimmie Trimble, September 13, 2001
The first time I read "The City And The Pillar" I was less than blown away. Vidal presents us with a story of first love and passion, but he tells it somewhat dispassionately. The ending in particular did not jive with the nature of the characters. Time passed without me thinking much of this novel until I read "Palimpsest" (Vidal's Memoirs). Palimsest introduces us to the real characters behind TC&TP. I gained a whole new angle to view Maria Verlain with the revelation that she was/is Anias Nin. Likewise, I was introduced to Jimmie Trimble, Vidal's best friend (in Plato's sense of the word) and first love. Jimmie is much more real in "Palimpsest" and I found it difficult not fall in love with him myself, a feeling the characters in TC&TP never inspired. I don't want this to sound like I'm putting down TC&TP, I'm not. I just want to convey that the story was exponentially more powerful and moving after I read "Palimpsest." I do recomend this book, but only after reading Vidal's memoirs. The real Jimmie is infinitely more beautiful than the Jimmie Vidal morphed into fiction.

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