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The Bone Clocks
The Bone Clocks

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A few fantasy bits in a vast, watery, soupy mess, September 7, 2014
This review is from: The Bone Clocks (Kindle Edition)
This is a long book, full of mundane, banal dialogue, strenuous and minute descriptions of stuff that is done just to create a sense of 'being there' and a little bit of fantasy. The fantasy part, about souls reincarnating, or jumping into other people, or about people killing others in order to live forever young (ahem)... That is used as the bait to pull in the reader onto this overlong waste of time. Is this literary fantasy? I would if I could berate the author for having just a tiny portion of fantasy which he used to sell a pile of everyday dialogue... I mean by this the content of the imaginative part... C'mon, people fighting by projecting psychic energy at each other, while some form a shield? The 'unexpected' turning of the tide? All sign of a flat, derivative imagination. I think Mr. Mitchell should just focus on writing loooong paragraphs about, i dunno, cooking, or some such, and forget the fantasy part....

LaCie Rikiki 500 GB USB 2.0  Portable External Hard Drive 301909
LaCie Rikiki 500 GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive 301909
7 used & new from $39.99

1.0 out of 5 stars lost all data, September 4, 2013
I think this is the one I got... black, 2.0 USB, 500 gigs
Yesterday it just stopped working; my computer said it had to reformat it in order to read it; I read on the internet that reformatting would wipe out everything. I tried to salvage something by going to Properties-tools, but it refused to access; and even when I tried reformatting it, it wouldn't... computer kept saying it didn't have access to it. Took it to a computer guy who said, 'sorry.'
Lost everything I had saved on it, tons of data. Thanks LaCie... I'll make sure not to buy any of your stuff again.

Spring Snow: The Sea of Fertility, 1
Spring Snow: The Sea of Fertility, 1
by Yukio Mishima
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.62
122 used & new from $0.14

2 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars boring and flat, July 16, 2013
I started this with high expectations but i quickly began to feel snowed under a profound burden of boredom. The doomed love story of Kiyo and Satoko is overlayed with earnest gobs of philosophizing but here is what you get as it starts: a languid pretty boy from a very rich family, who has the typical adolescent self-absorption, values his emotions more than people. At any rate, there is beautiful Satoko who adores him, but he's all annoyed by that for some reason... so he pushes her away. Eventually she gives up on trying to ask why and her family agree to marry her off to someone else; at which point the pretty boy discovers he cannot live without her. The story moves at a glacial pace, and the story is written with a lot of attention to irrelevant detail... after about 250 pages of heroic effort, of trying to care, i just gave up. Possibly the most boring major novel I ever began to read.

Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy
Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy
by Raghuram G. Rajan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.44
86 used & new from $5.33

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars at least one fault is false, November 9, 2012
I would limit myself to chapter 1, and his first fault: Rajan makes an argument that government acted to help the poor by increasing housing loans to low-income people through agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In doing so, the agencies acquired a great number of dodgy, high-risk loans, and this was a big reason behind the 2008 crisis. Please beware of this argument: first of all, it is a Republican talking-point, which Rajan does not acknowledge. It is mainly designed to steer blame away from Wall Street. Second, his argument is based on one Peter Wallison, who bases it on Edward Pinto - both from the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think-tank. Pinto's research has been thoroughly, by David Min (just do a google on 'Wallison and Fannie Mae' and you'll get David Min's reply and links to his paper). Short story long, the agencies did not have the numbers of dodgy, high-risk that Rajan and Pinto say they did; thus their argument is drastically undercut.
Whatever you think of the rest of the books, you should at least be aware that the first fault line relies on a single guy, Pinto, and that his study has been thoroughly demolished.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
by Barbara Demick
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.04
143 used & new from $5.03

5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, June 11, 2011
I read this book on the bus, as i was walking, in the coffee shop, at home, and finished it in a day - which is rather
rare for me.
It's the story of a few ordinary North Koreans, and how their life was turned upside down in the 1990s... which is the
beginning of a series of man-made catastrophes for North Korea. Anyone who wants to gain an insight into how it feels to live in North Korea should read this book.

by China Miéville
Edition: Hardcover
99 used & new from $0.01

13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars, June 11, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Embassytown (Hardcover)
The last two books by Mieville that I read, Kraken and The City & the City were very readable, and I do believe
the latter will become a classic. This one, though, is a piece of you know what...pardon my French.
First of all, it's really boring. It's written from the first-person point of view, which doesn't work here. The narrator is
a passive, dull person, who does nothing much. The interesting parts, like the biomachines, or the immer, are only described
by means of hints, tantalizing, but nothing more than a tease. The language of the Hosts is - again - just boring, and
unbelievable. I mean, I know this is sci-fi, but even so, I find it hard to 'believe'. A language where lying is not possible, which is somehow directly reflective of the mind - really? Can you picture any kind of idea that's not representative? And does that not instantly mean that a representation could be inaccurate? I mean, what if one of the Hosts
was mistaken in describing something? What if he was convinced that was the truth, whereas the others knew it was a mistake?
Voila, the concept of lying, and the capability. Not everything an author says should be accepted, even in sci-fi.
Overall, though, this is a book where nothing much happens; a lot of passive descriptions, a lot of dialogue that's left hanging... I don't take that as the brilliance of indirection; I take it as laziness, of an author who doesn't know how to move the story... and honestly, do you care about any of the characters? or to put it in a non-Oprah-like manner: do you give a damn if they live or die?
I hope I don't offend others who liked this book... Mieville continues to be one of my favorite authors, and I recommend to everyone 'City and the City' and 'Perdido Street Station.' Even 'The Scar' is almost up there, and Kraken is enjoyable, though rather self-indulgent and baroque. But skip this one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 2, 2011 10:08 AM PDT

The City & The City (Random House Reader's Circle)
The City & The City (Random House Reader's Circle)
by China Miéville
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.97
119 used & new from $1.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mind twister, February 17, 2011
This is a great detective and political fiction - a political noir thriller, if you wish.
The story is about two cities who share the same spaces, by and large. They are, however, politically distinct, and forced by law to ignore each other. Any transgressions into the Other's territory are harshly punished.

I loved the world Mieville created: it seemed so weird, and at the same time so true to actual life: like a distorted mirror that shows the truth better than an actual one. The book has echoes of the divided Berlin, of Jerusalem, of willful social blindness. On top of that, it's a rather good detective story (I won't spoil it for you).

I gave it five starts for the sheer inventiveness, and the mind-split it gave me as I was reading it. A small quibble, though: the ending seemed to me to have been a bit of a fizzle, rather than a pop... I think he should've hung on that idea of the spaces in-between a little more. Otherwise, an unusual and interesting read - a rare event nowadays.

by Iain M. Banks
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.89
123 used & new from $0.01

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars borrowed ideas pop up in average novel, February 17, 2011
This review is from: Transition (Paperback)
Here's the recipe: take the idea of jumping from people to people from Octavia E. Butler (Wild Seed)
add Asimov's idea of people who jump from worlds to worlds in order to intervene and make the future safer (The End of Eternity)
add to that perhaps the idea of multiple universes from many others, including Phillip Pullman
dress it all up in mediocre prose, add a number of graphic sex scenes (spoiler alert: even they are boring)
and, ta da...
you got a novel in which a mysterious group, called the Concern, are jumping from people in multiple versions of the Earth, trying to make the future safer; or this is what they say. But, oh you cynical generation of the Hollywood blockbuster: can you trust any organization that calls itself The Concern ?(or L'Expedience, in French - does that mean expedience, or is it a false friend?)

Yellow Blue Tibia
Yellow Blue Tibia
by Adam Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.32
49 used & new from $0.48

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a drop of vodka in a glass of water, February 17, 2011
This review is from: Yellow Blue Tibia (Paperback)
That's how I think of this book: an itty-bitty bit of science fiction diluted into a big glass of verbiage.
The story starts well, and the writing style is pleasant and alert. At the end of the Second World War, Stalin summons a bunch of science fiction writers in order to offer them a most unusual job. I won't spoil it for you, since the first few pages are the most entertaining of the book, the ones that drew me in. Suffice it to say that a very promising premise gets completely wasted in this book: what we get instead is a kind of weird-funny adventure in which an elderly Russian keeps needling the KGB verbally and escaping from their clutches again and again. Roberts can write well but he is so self-indulgent: page after page of clever dialogue, by which I mean the older guy sparring verbally with KGB people and showing them off as stupid oafs. Someone should introduce him to a real editor, one who can restrain his tendency to show others how clever he is, and who can force him to tidy up his plot. Are there any people like that left in the publishing industry?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2011 7:08 AM PDT

Night Train to Lisbon: A Novel
Night Train to Lisbon: A Novel
by Pascal Mercier
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.25
181 used & new from $0.01

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars yawning to Lisbon, February 17, 2011
A Swiss man, Gregorius, abandons his life as a language teacher and takes off to Lisbon in search of a Portuguese man
whose book he picked up in a used bookstore. The rest of the book is about him walking around Lisbon and talking to
people who knew the man, trying to reconstruct who the man was from the texts and personal recollections.

This is a book that has swept Europe, with the German newspaper Die Welt calling it a handbook for the soul, the intellect, and heart. Oh, sorry, I fell asleep as I was thinking about this, much as I almost did during the reading. This is an overhyped and overwrought book, one where almost nothing happens; the 'happenings' so to speak, take place in the texts that Gregorius is reading. Here's an example of the prose: "That's how it was: the texts seemed to disappear altogether in him and what stood on the shelf afterward were only empty husks. The landscape of his mind behind the impudent high forehead expanded with breathtaking speed; from one week to the next, new formations took shape in it, associations and fantastic linguistic inspirations that always amazed us." This is about Prado, the Portuguese doctor/author that Gregorius is fascinated with. The problem is that we never really get to read those fantastic thoughts and linguistic inspirations; no, we only read about him being a fantastically intelligent person - again, and again, and again. Moreover, big chunks of the book are in cursive letters. That is unfortunate, since I presume that most people have great difficulties reading cursive - it tends to fuzz up your focus.

So, to sum up, a book about a teacher of texts, where most of the 'action' is the reading of texts. A bored and regretful Swiss teacher who abandons his job and his students in order to jolt himself into feeling alive; but the way he does that is by chasing and trying to reconstruct an author's life, all the while pondering deep thoughts, like: who are we, why are we so hard to know, ah the depths of our soul, the unknowability of selfhood. Thank God the man, like any good Swiss, had enough money to make this a completely efortless trip, one where you can just run away from your job to follow your inner regrets.

What irks most is how this is presented as novel of ideas. There aren't many there. In a more uncharitable moments, I thought of this as typically Swiss: trying to get away from a boring and safe self in order to get fascinated with a man who lived passionately during a dictatorship; empathy and vicarious participation all from the safe distance and buffer offered by texts. At any rate, think hard before you fall for the hype.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 7, 2014 5:01 AM PDT

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