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Jacob Baldassini RSS Feed (Sudbury, MA USA)
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100 Plastic Collar Stays (mix sizes (2.2" 2.5" 2.75" 3"), White)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Collar Stays, March 31, 2016
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Exactly what it was supposed to be, for a reasonable price. I would buy things from this company again.


Lucien Piccard Men's LP-12358-03 Cilindro Blue Textured Dial Black Leather Watch
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wanted a low-cost scratch-resistantwatch that I could wear and that's exactly what I ..., February 29, 2016
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I wanted a low-cost scratch-resistant watch that I could wear and that's exactly what I got. Don't buy this thinking you're getting a great deal on something fairly expensive- I have never seen this watch sold for several hundred dollars. For $40, however, this is excellent value.


ECCO Men's New Jersey 601294 Oxford,Black,45 EU/11-11.5 M US
ECCO Men's New Jersey 601294 Oxford,Black,45 EU/11-11.5 M US
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looks nice, but be careful with sizing, February 8, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Another review indicated that this particular type of Ecco runs a little larger than other Eccos, so I bought the 45, as I am on the boundary between 11 and 11.5 (US sizes). When it came, it was larger than I expected- larger than my other 11.5 shoes (the closest US analogue to EU 45). I would recommend sizing this a little smaller than your other shoes.


Infinite Jest: A Novel
Infinite Jest: A Novel
by David Foster Wallace
Edition: Paperback
94 used & new from $1.99

19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should You Read This Book?, December 1, 2005
This review is from: Infinite Jest: A Novel (Paperback)
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I have only read this book twice, but I will undoubtedly read it many more times. I wrote this review simply to tell potential readers why to read, or not read, this book, as this book is not for everyone. My review turned out, unsurprisingly, to be as complicated as the book I'm reviewing, so I divided it into four sections. I hope this helps you decide whether or not to by Infinite Jest.

PART I- WHY YOU MIGHT NOT READ IT
Right away, practical considerations make it difficult for many people to read it. My copy was a gift from an uncle who had tried to read it many times. He would get a few hundred pages in, loving every minute, but he has an extremely time-consuming job and is also raising two kids, and would thus be forced to shelve it for months at a time until he could start it all over again. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that work and family would take priority over a book, no matter how amazing the book is. Don't get this book if you have a busy life. Even if you enjoy it, you will not be able to finish it.

Second, the writing is dense. Make no mistake, this is not the hard-to-parse, poetic language that requires (for me at least) a teacher to manage. The writing is straightforward, but Wallace gives you all the details. This creates a quite effective sense of immersion, but requires a slower pace. Even though it doesn't require any more effort to read, people just parse details and description slower than blow-by-blow action. Even if you have a lot of free time, you may not want to make such a huge commitment- if you put it down for too long, you lose too much of what's going on. If you already have hobbies which consume a lot of your time, or are the type to have several books going at once, you have to rearrange your leisure time around this book. Be warned.

PART II- WHY YOU MIGHT NOT ENJOY IT
Now that we've dealt with practical considerations, let's look at some other issues. As the title of my review implies, this book has some issues. If you've read the other reviews, you will notice that these issues are large and frustrating ones. I can't speak for anyone else, but even though I found them frustrating, the perceived flaws didn't affect my enjoyment of the book. Think of your loved ones- their flaws can irritate you, but you don't love them any less. Of course, this is just a book, but that is the best metaphor I could come up with.

Now let's look in depth at the major issues people have had with this book. I say 'issues' and 'perceived flaws' because they are really choices the author made, not bad writing- as you can tell from the other reviews, some things about this book just kill it for readers, but the same things are other readers' favorite parts.

Probably the biggest, most obvious flaw is that is has no ending (or beginning). This seems like something you can't publish a novel without, but Wallace gets away with it, because Infinite Jest is not, in fact, a novel. It's like Wallace just spent years making up anecdotes to tell at dinner parties and then created several interrelated characters to tell all those stories. Wallace is giving us huge chunks of imaginary people's lives, and the book succeeds because you want to hear those types of stories. Just like my fictional dinner party, the book begins and ends only because it can't continue indefinitely. Wallace has written only a part of the whole, because the whole has no beginning or end- in my opinion, this is partly why he called the book Infinite Jest, for that is as good a term as any for what would happen if the book never began or ended.

We now have three reasons you might find this book difficult to enjoy. If you want a conclusion, a sense of closure, resolution, or anything along those lines, you won't find anything like that here. The only things that hold this book together are abstract and symbolic themes (addiction, entertainment, et cetera) and characters themselves. If you tire quickly of hearing other people's stories, you will quickly tire of this book. The acid test in this regard is Seinfeld. Imagine that kind of fascination with minutiae, except on a much larger stage. If you can't understand a TV show if you start watching in the middle, you won't be able to get off the ground. Infinite Jest starts and progresses at the same pace, with almost no background. Everyone, be warned; for the first 200+ pages, you won't really know what's going on. Don't fight it. Just appreciate what's going on at any given moment and you will know the characters with time. To extend the dinner party analogy, you can still enjoy vignettes told by perfect strangers.

PART III- SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
This book is full of endnotes, 388 to be exact. This means you will need to keep two bookmarks, one for the text and one for the endnotes. These endnotes can also be long. A few take up multiple pages, and some have there own footnotes. When you've gotten absorbed in the text, the endnotes will jerk you out and force you to re-establish your flow state. Let me be clear- that's not a bad thing. Endnotes allow Wallace to add another level of detail, and if I haven't already made this clear, the whole joy of this book lies in its attention to detail. The endnotes should not prevent anyone from reading the book. They are distracting at first, but stick with it and you will appreciate how they enrich the book.

PART IV- WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
If you've stuck with me through the review so far, then you're probably a little put off by all my warnings. Don't worry. Even if one or two applies to you, you can still enjoy this book, but it will take extra effort before the book starts to pay off. Even if none of these warnings apply to you, it still takes work to prime the pump. However, if you only take one thing away from my mammoth review, let it be this: the rewards of reading this book are huge. I'll describe them, to give you some incentive to make the effort.

I've already mentioned the anecdotal style, but this book is so much more than the literary equivalent of sketch comedy. I've also mentioned Seinfeld, but it's appropriate to mention it again- this book is like an entire season of Seinfeld seamlessly run as one episode. Even though many of these anecdotes could stand on their own, when you read them all, you understand the character's whole world. As fun as the anecdotes are, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Once you start to understand what life is like in drug/alcohol rehab, for example, you want to read more because the place itself is fascinating. The anecdotes show you the psychology of the individual characters, but once you get a feel for the psychology of whole ways of life, you'll be able to read and reread Infinite Jest with no difficulty at all.


A Confederacy of Dunces
A Confederacy of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.52
751 used & new from $0.01

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Type of Falstaff, November 29, 2005
I will dispense with any plot summary and focus primarily on the heart of the book- Ignatius Reilly, a character not without precedent but one without peer.

Ignatius's medieval fixations are a valuable clue to understanding this novel. Despite being written in prose, and set in 20th century America, this novel is best read as a Shakespearean comedy. Indeed, many reviewers have already described Ignatius as Falstaffian, and that comparison is not without value. However, that is only a starting point. I feel delving into Ignatius's personality in more depth, rather than settling for a blanket comparison, is the best way to understand the protagonist of the novel.

A Confederacy of Dunces is not a happy novel. It is often extremely funny, but there is defintely a melancholy feeling underlying the whole text. This is uncharacteristic of modern comedy, where even in moments of tension the tone is still light. Classical comedies, in contrast, need only a positive ending, and can be dark in tone- I say Shakespearean because I admit that those are the only classical comedies I have read.

Why is the novel so sad? That is difficult to define. While Ignatius faces many problems, he is never in real danger of anything more than loss of money or dignity (both of which he has little to lose anyway). The pathos lies in Ignatius himself. Ignatius (and herein lies his uniqueness) is a compedium of the many unpleasant personality traits intelligent people are in danger of developing. Need proof?

We can start with the fact that he is overly proud of his education. He displays the smug love of his own knowledge that has led to his feeling superior to the uneducated masses around him. As other people haven't paid him the respect he feels he deserves, he feels like a misunderstood genius. I'm sure we've all encountered someone with an ego so large they attribute all their problems to other people's inability to understand them. This is only a partial list, but Toole does a better job showing then I ever could telling (and show, don't tell, is one of the building blocks of good writing).

While we may be annoyed when we meet people like this in real life, Ignatius is portrayed sympathetically. He clearly had great potential, and throughout the book Toole constantly reminds us that Ignatius has his Master's, is an educated man, yet has come to (latest plot development). We mourn Ignatius's wasted potential, at the same time we pity him. He wishes for a life with no challenges, which means he would never grow as a person (pun about his weight gain most definitely intended).

Here, at last, we come to the beauty of Toole's characterization. Despite his squandered potential, sad life, and miserable circumstances, these struggles are the only way Ignatius can grow as a person. Indeed, Ignatius does mature throughout the novel, but only slightly. He is too set in his ways, too far gone, to become a new man. It is to Toole's credit that he realizes this. Not only does he draw an absurd man with a true writer's talent, he accomplishes the much more difficult task of making him change over time without losing that realism.

Looking beyond the character of Ignatius, Toole's whole novel is exactly that- the absurd, the unlikely, the bizarre, drawn realistically, and with compassion. Although the book has slight flaws (and what book doesn't?), Toole has successfully created an unique character, then skillfully portrayed his life. In the simplest analysis, Toole has something new to say, and he says it well. What more reason could one need to read a book?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2010 2:12 PM PST


Hard as Nails: A Joe Kurtz Novel
Hard as Nails: A Joe Kurtz Novel
by Dan Simmons
Edition: Hardcover
74 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, March 28, 2004
Dan Simmons is a highly versatile writer. He got his start in horror, writing a few very well received novels; he then wrote a saga considered by many to be some of the finest sci-fi written in the past twenty years. Hard As Nails, his latest book, is his third crime novel in a series about a convicted felon working as a private detective. Although some professional critics panned it (Publishers Weekly), Amazon.com's reader reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and I agree with them wholeheartedly.
Joe Kurtz, the felon, is a very interesting character. First, his felony conviction was neither accident nor mistake, nor did he `see the light' once he left prison. Kurtz is a good guy only in the sense that the people he's fighting are more a detriment to society than he is. Second, Kurtz has very pronounced sociopathic tendencies, which he recognizes and disregards. Third, Kurtz has read almost all of the major Western philosophers while in jail, and frequently references them. The other characters that populate the book are equally well drawn and interesting.
The plot of the book is nothing shockingly innovative, but it ties many surprisingly diverse elements together to form one solid plot structure, and the ending is unexpected and satisfying. The pace never slows down enough to lose the reader's interest, but it doesn't stay too fast paced to be believable. Simmons is very readable, and it very easy to find two hours it takes to read the book cover to cover. Nothing is forced, nothing is unnecessary, and the book is well worth reading. I would recommend this book to everyone, regardless of whether they usually like crime fiction.


The Genesis Wave Book Three (Star Trek Next Generation (Numbered))
The Genesis Wave Book Three (Star Trek Next Generation (Numbered))
by John Vornholt
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
51 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Barely Two Stars- Very Poor, June 13, 2003
The first two books in this series were very good. Admittedly, it was unnecessary to write two books when it could have been done as a thick hardcover, but such is life. The first two books were marked by an inventive plot, a well-rounded cast of characters, and a decent conclusion. I read both in hardcover, then bought them in paperback. I didn't get the chance to read this before purchase, so I was caught unawares by this terrible book.
The third book was nowhere near as good as the first two. The plot was derivate, slow, and pointless. The regular characters were noticably out of character, and the characters written for this book were two-dimensional and unsympathetic. Picard especially made me wince, but Yorka was a close second for Least Believable. The ending was possibly one of the least satisfying conclusions I've ever read. It was the first time I was ever tempted to throw a book against a wall. No ending should solve the problem, kill the antagonists, and make everyone in the universe feel good in two pages.
I expected much better from John Vornholt. If you liked The Genesis Wave I and II, then you might also like Gemworld One and Two, by the same author. You might also look for a Deep Space Nine trilogy called Millenium, which is possibly the best Star Trek I have ever read. If you really want to read Book Three out of completeness, check it out from the library, but you'll be disappointed.


Contact from the Underworld of Redboy
Contact from the Underworld of Redboy
Price: $13.99
76 used & new from $0.01

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly Good, June 12, 2003
I really enjoyed "Music for the Native Americans", and I was not disappointed by this CD either. As with "Music", this CD is composed of an interesting blend of Native American music and chanting, and Robbie Robertson's excellent songwriting. If you don't understand the lyrics of the Native Americans songs, then you'll have to appreciate the chants, etc. based on their lyrical beauty- which is quite easy to do. As I speak only English, I am not qualified to discuss them in any depth greater than saying that they are worth listening to.
Robbie Robertson has nothing but good songs on this CD- every track is well-thought, and there are no throw-away songs that only make the CD longer. "Making A Noise", "Code of Handsome Lake", "In The Blood", and "Rattlebone" are the catchiest tracks. "Sacrifice", while it has a very catchy chorus, is a quite serious song. It familiarizes you with Leonard Peltier's life using audio of Leonard Peltier himself. I've listened to this song a lot. "Take Your Partner By The Hand" is very experimental and interesting. The lyrics take a turn for the surreal, but the overall experience of that song is enjoyable. The CD is better with "Partner" than without. "Unbound" is a relaxed, slow ballad that I would say is the best song of the CD.
I would recommend this CD to anyone who liked "Music For The Native Americans" or wants to hear something out of the ordinary. My interests are mostly pretty conventional, but that did not at all prevent me from enjoying this CD. The musicianship is all well done, the sound is complex and varied, and thus it earns five stars.


Dr. Bloodmoney
Dr. Bloodmoney
by Philip K. Dick
Edition: Paperback
35 used & new from $0.78

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Either Too Long Or Too Short, June 12, 2003
This review is from: Dr. Bloodmoney (Paperback)
This book contains a lot of great PKD-style inventions, and he also makes some good points about who we trust and why. A lot of the human interactions in this book are well done, and that is not as common in PKD books as we all would like. However, he introduces too many plot threads and characters. While he has merely a complex cast of characters, the plot goes through way to many twists and turns, and the two interact badly. Either one would be fine, but together, I feel this book would be a lot better if either about twenty-five unneccessary pages were edited out or another fifty pages to use these characters or ideas were added.
Don't get me wrong- PKD did a lot of stuff right in this one. His characters behave like people, when he's looking at the main plot, it shines, and using a disc jockey as the closest thing to God and the U.N. makes for a good book. However, it took a few readings for me to discover what he did right, and at first I was very frustrated with this book. I see that some characters or ideas might make the book feel more detailed, and make the post-holocaust world that much more vivid and gripping, but not to excess. At a point I stopped paying attention to the throwaway characters because their presence served no purpose.
If PKD was better known, then maybe people would be forwarned about the plot, and be able to handle it. I'm not saying that the average reader shouldn't buy this book, I'm just suggesting that the reader have either a background in PKD (you don't need it to understand the plot, but it helps with the general weirdness), a lot of tolerance for a plot that manages to be roundabout without leaving California, or the patience to read this book a couple of times to get a handle on it. Or maybe two of the three.


Interesting Times (Discworld)
Interesting Times (Discworld)
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
53 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of His Best, June 11, 2003
I've only read about seven of the Discworld books, so I'm hardly an expert, but I know enough to feel qualified to write this review. I feel that this is better than any of the other books of his I have read. While his books are all wildly original, this one wins on the points of comparison.
First off, the settings of Ankh-Morpork and the Counterweight Continent are both well done. Pratchett taps into the same vein of humor underrunning the image of Imperial China that Barry Hughart did in "Bridge of Birds". He also introduces a very interesting linguistic idea, playing off the use of tone in spoken Chinese to create a language with few words but many, many different pronunciations. The other plot ideas, such as the Mandelbrot Butterfly etc., are well done, but the language was such a well-thought yet off-the-wall idea that it beat everything else.
The characters are well done also. Old barbarians are a comic image, but Pratchett is able to really use his old barbarians to advance the plot rather than having them hang around solely for laughs. The Gods play off each other well, and Rincewind's cowardice and fleeing make the places he lands in all the more interesting. The ending wraps everything up well without being too perfect, and Death is funnier than ever.
Hitting nary a wrong note, this book is worth getting out of the library, or buying if you are a Discworld fan. I would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, and also "Thief of Time", by the same author.


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