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John L Murphy "Fionnchú" RSS Feed (Los Angeles)
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My Name Is Red
My Name Is Red
by Orhan Pamuk
Edition: Audio CD
19 used & new from $31.46

4.0 out of 5 stars John Lee's audiobook reviewed, May 29, 2016
This review is from: My Name Is Red (Audio CD)
"Butterfly, Olive, Stork, and more tell their tales"

Where does My Name Is Red rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In terms of performance, once again for Turkish themed audiobooks, John Lee shines. In terms of Orhan Pamuk's works I've heard so far (this is the third), it is uneven if beguiling.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I liked the wonderful descriptions in Chapters 28 and 58 (these may vary a bit in the format used to access this online or as a download) of manuscript illuminators' tensions and successes. The challenge to create as if one sees the world for one's self as with the Franks, or the way Allah sees the world, as with the school of Herat in Persia, intrigues.

The least interesting was as with Pamuk's other books his tendency to wander off. He gives so much detail and so many subplots that he can lose the reader or listener. Better to let this narration float on, and not to worry about the intricate details of the mystery itself herein.

What about the narrator’s performance did you like?

John Lee masterfully captures the sounds of Turkish in translation. This as it's narrated by a variety of men and women as well as a dog, a horse, Satan, a gold coin, and maybe Death is difficult to follow as a listener. But Lee does his best to remind us of the different voices.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, as it is far too long. As I said above, it's preferable to take this at small portions. After a while, Pamuk's flow takes you up and the plot does not matter as much as the feel of the book. John Lee is a trustworthy guide as he navigates the ebbs and flurries of the novel.

Any additional comments?

It does encourage you to reflect on the shifts from traditional to modern art. Pamuk lavishes lots of love on the manuscripts he clearly loves. His enthusiasm is contagious, and erudite. (Posted also to Audible 5-29-16)


Kopack Anti theft Laptop Backpack Shockproof Computer Backpack Lightweight ScanSmart TSA Friendly Water Resistant
Kopack Anti theft Laptop Backpack Shockproof Computer Backpack Lightweight ScanSmart TSA Friendly Water Resistant
Offered by Kopack
Price: $41.99
2 used & new from $41.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solves a security problem, May 29, 2016
I always wonder when I have my computer backpack on or out if someone will sneak up somehow and steal something in the outside pockets. This Kopack Anti-theft laptop backpack solves this. The only pockets are internal, and all are accessed via only the portion facing one's back. This may limit quick retrieval of items, but it does mean it's safer to use. The felt-like material is attractive and adds to the visual appeal, too.

The inner compartment for the pack has a waffle-cushioned interior to help the protection of the laptop in the pocket closest to one's back. The other pockets are slots, not zippered. They have no flaps, but all are open. The straps do not have a waist loop, but they are only for the shoulders. While I would prefer more pockets with zippers for bulkier cords and plugs, this design allows a snugger and streamlined feel.

Given the chance to review this in exchange for my evaluation, this is my straightforward report on this item.


SENHAI 2 Pack USB-C to Micro USB Adapter, Metal USB Plug Convert Connector for Nexus 5X 2015, Nexus 6P, One Plus 2, with 56k Resistor (Golden)
SENHAI 2 Pack USB-C to Micro USB Adapter, Metal USB Plug Convert Connector for Nexus 5X 2015, Nexus 6P, One Plus 2, with 56k Resistor (Golden)
Offered by SENHAI
Price: $7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Check specifications, May 29, 2016
I ordered this as it said it was compatible with a 2015 Macbook. But apparently my wife's computer cannot accommodate this. So, my review of this product which I received at a discount is limited.


SSLR Men's Argyle Thin Pullover Wool Sweater
SSLR Men's Argyle Thin Pullover Wool Sweater
Offered by Camii Mia
Price: $110.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Elegant but very tight, May 29, 2016
This is a very slim fit pullover. It is made of thin wool, but despite my inquiring with the distributor before ordering if my L (US) size matched this rather than the Asian equivalent L, it is extremely form fitting for me, on the slim side. So, be aware of this, if your large is larger overall. It has more of a scoop neck than the slightly pointed one in the depiction on the page here. The sleeves come up to the start of the wrist on my thin arms. but not so they might be rolled up on the cuff at all. The pattern is muted. I received this for evaluation at no cost and this is my straightforward report.


The Yoga of Max's Discontent: A Novel
The Yoga of Max's Discontent: A Novel
by Karan Bajaj
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.60
65 used & new from $10.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting Max's act together, May 27, 2016
On a chilly December night, financial analyst Max Pzoras leaves Wall Street behind to return to his boyhood home in the South Bronx projects. Meeting the suspicious gaze of three youths as he disembarks from the train, he “gave them a cool, blank look and glanced away. Lingering longer was intimidation, not meeting eyes was fear–either could leave him bruised and bloodied on the subway station and without his $2,000.” The reason he’s carrying so much cash is what propels his destiny.

So begins Karan Bajaj’s novel The Yoga of Max’s Discontent. A Hatha Yoga instructor, Bajaj has long practiced meditation in the Himalayas as well as in an ashram in Southern India. This transplanted New Yorker and marketing executive integrates his experiences into a fictional quest that may remind readers of an updated take on W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. Rather than Maugham’s post-WWI Parisian milieu, Bajaj’s protagonist turns away from Manhattan to journey east. Yet his impetus is similar: a search for meaning sparked by a street vendor’s example is what generates his curiosity. This dissatisfaction brings Max to India, far from his first-generation Greek-American upbringing and his accustomed comfort. Abandoning the pampered lifestyle enabled by scholarships that fund his education, Max seeks inner peace.

Soon the novelty of an expatriate’s journey fades. Max is mocked in the Himalayas. While he doesn’t believe in reincarnation, the surrounding mountains prevent him from giving in and going back to the city. Instead, encouraged by a series of gurus, he confronts his past lives. The restless traveler goes to the arid plains of the subcontinent, permeated not by snow but by drought. Bajaj skillfully conjures the unforgiving climate extremes that reduce Max to elemental survival. Laboring at an impoverished ashram, Max toughs out what many international aspirants cannot. Tempted by sex as well as thirst and hunger, other concerns beyond these crumble in the harshness.

Bajaj gradually filters mystical transports and intangible states of heightened awareness through Max. Bajaj slows the pace of his story often. It mirrors Max’s unease. But it conjures up privileged languor. While Bajaj’s point-of-view distances itself from his protagonist, this increasingly requires a suspension of disbelief for the reader to continue. Likewise, Max must believe in the evidence which emanates from his soul and energizes his mind and his body.

Max critiques his own indulgences: “He had wasted too much time already; he had to get his act together.” This reaction to the hippie lifestyle enlivens Max’s compromised altruism. He hesitates between the necessity that inspired him to carry a wad of cash in the Bronx and the duty that pushes him away from urban poverty to take up life among impoverished millions. Max must choose his most honest path to transcendence.

This narrative ultimately tests Bajaj’s audience. Literary portrayals of spiritual quests are not unlike filmed depictions of chemically altered states, either unconvincing or persuasive. A skeptic may dismiss Max’s quest and in turn the author’s trust in the intangible. But a believer may embrace Max’s fervent, bold quest as a vivid illustration of letting go of all life’s fetters.

Enlightenment is a difficult to depict. It stretches Bajaj’s ability as a storyteller. Whether the author and his protagonist agree that it can be achieved may be left for the reader to interpret as his or her own parable. (I was given the chance to review this in an ARC in edited form for Spectrum Culture)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 28, 2016 7:29 PM PDT


Memed, My Hawk
Memed, My Hawk
by Yasher Kemal
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.87
106 used & new from $2.06

4.0 out of 5 stars Robin Hood in Anatolia, May 27, 2016
This review is from: Memed, My Hawk (Paperback)
Today, cosmopolitan Istanbul novelists Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak dominate the attention of those seeking out Turkish fiction in translation. But, fifty-odd years ago, Memed My Hawk (Ince Memed, or "Slim" M as Édouard Roditi translated the hero's nickname) was the book.

I turned to this after Pamuk and some histories of the new nation, and this takes place in an indeterminate time after the Republic has opened up tensions, for the feudal lords fear modern, popular discontent. While Yashar Kamal was of Kurdish origin, he only mentions his native affiliation once, when a Turk boasts of putting down the Kurdish uprising. Instead, he channels a pro-peasant message into this action-packed novel.
It reminded me of what I might have found as a teenager, and it would appeal to a genre-fiction audience, rather than an elevated literary one.

Despite the Robin Hood pattern, as young Memed revenges himself and his family against the cruel local warlord and his minions, there is nuance. A key character is torn between serving his lord and sympathizing with the brigand, and this does enrich his portrayal. Mostly, it's good and bad, with not as much grey. The peasants, all the same, cheer on whatever side is winning, but they seem a loutish lot despite the author's bias. This tends to weigh down the novel. For all the relentless harshness and fragile beauty of the Anatolian corner he describes vividly, many people in this novel do not advance much in terms of depth or appeal. They stand more, as in proletarian fiction, as representatives of positions.

I did chuckle morosely at one passage (p. 331 in my older ed.) After the police manhandle suspects, those people in turn take their humiliation out on others in the village. Then, the villagers beat each other up. This seems a parable that outlasts the changing Turkey after this rousing saga. While not subtle, it should retain the interest of the reader. Roditi's translation (his father was a Sephardic Jew from Istanbul) is slightly dated, but it does convey the vigor I assume survives from the original text, as often Turkish is not easily rendered in our very different English.


Memed, My Hawk
Memed, My Hawk
by Yasher Kemal
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.87
106 used & new from $2.06

4.0 out of 5 stars Robin Hood in Anatolia, May 27, 2016
This review is from: Memed, My Hawk (Paperback)
Today, cosmopolitan Istanbul novelists Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak dominate the attention of those seeking out Turkish fiction in translation. But, fifty-odd years ago, Memed My Hawk (Ince Memed, or "Slim" M as Édouard Roditi translated the hero's nickname) was the book.

I turned to this after Pamuk and some histories of the new nation, and this takes place in an indeterminate time after the Republic has opened up tensions, for the feudal lords fear modern, popular discontent. While Yashar Kamal was of Kurdish origin, he only mentions his native affiliation once, when a Turk boasts of putting down the Kurdish uprising. Instead, he channels a pro-peasant message into this action-packed novel.
It reminded me of what I might have found as a teenager, and it would appeal to a genre-fiction audience, rather than an elevated literary one.

Despite the Robin Hood pattern, as young Memed revenges himself and his family against the cruel local warlord and his minions, there is nuance. A key character is torn between serving his lord and sympathizing with the brigand, and this does enrich his portrayal. Mostly, it's good and bad, with not as much grey. The peasants, all the same, cheer on whatever side is winning, but they seem a loutish lot despite the author's bias. This tends to weigh down the novel. For all the relentless harshness and fragile beauty of the Anatolian corner he describes vividly, many people in this novel do not advance much in terms of depth or appeal. They stand more, as in proletarian fiction, as representatives of positions.

I did chuckle morosely at one passage (p. 331 in my older ed.) After the police manhandle suspects, those people in turn take their humiliation out on others in the village. Then, the villagers beat each other up. This seems a parable that outlasts the changing Turkey after this rousing saga. While not subtle, it should retain the interest of the reader. Roditi's translation (his father was a Sephardic Jew from Istanbul) is slightly dated, but it does convey the vigor I assume survives from the original text, as often Turkish is not easily rendered in our very different English.


Deluxe Wooden Zen Sand Garden with 2 Types of Rocks, Sand, and Rake
Deluxe Wooden Zen Sand Garden with 2 Types of Rocks, Sand, and Rake
Offered by Unboxed, LLC
Price: $17.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A little box of play, May 26, 2016
As a child, I visited a Japanese garden a few miles away and admired its rock gardens. So when I saw this, I wanted one. I admit I keep this away from my kitten and even on my desk I fear a mishap with it as it is. It is very shallow, after all. Put this on a firm surface, and be careful.

It does come with "extra" sand somewhat but if you want a decent amount in the box, you may wind up adding some. The rake is tiny and quite small to hold. I'd help if it had a longer handle, so one does not feel as if one is holding a toothpick with a prong.

The stones are charcoal black tone and mixed, one with "zen" imprinted for me rather obtrusively on it. That's it! As to whether this calms you or bores you, that's part of Zen that you must learn for yourself.

I was offered this at a discount in exchange for my honest review. Here it is.


Natural Woodfiber Anti Bacterial Odor Free Grease Free Dish Wash Cloth Mufti-functional Towel for Car, Counter, Cabinet,Sink,ect 9X8 Inchs (Set of 5)
Natural Woodfiber Anti Bacterial Odor Free Grease Free Dish Wash Cloth Mufti-functional Towel for Car, Counter, Cabinet,Sink,ect 9X8 Inchs (Set of 5)
Offered by JS LifeStyle
Price: $13.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Small but handy indeed, May 26, 2016
These natural woodfiber anti-bacterial towels are more like washcloths in size. They come in attractive colors. I wanted them to use for washing my car, along with a chamois, for a softer feel. They glide along as microfiber nicely.

They are rather small, however. This means they can fit over one's palm for scrubbing and cleaning, but they will run out of dry space soon. It's good, therefore, that they come five to a pack. Overall, a useful packet of product. I received these to review in exchange for an honest evaluation.


Set of 2 - Gold Waffle Weave Microfiber Drying Towel - Super Absorbent! Dry Your Car in Less Time 16x24"
Set of 2 - Gold Waffle Weave Microfiber Drying Towel - Super Absorbent! Dry Your Car in Less Time 16x24"
Offered by HomeChic
Price: $19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars For mop ups and car drying, May 26, 2016
I recall similar ones years ago marketed on tv but I never wanted to pay the "shipping and handling" fees or get on some calling list. So, these from Detail Buddy use that same waffle weave microfiber drying technology to soak up spills (as on the kitchen floor) or on the car as it dries.

As they are considerably large, they are not as practical for the dishes you daily (I hope) dry off. Their size is better suited for finishing off a car wash. Or for mopping up what paper towels or dish towels may not be able to handle inside.

So, they are recommended for cars and spills. I was given the opportunity to review them at a discount in exchange for my honest evaluation.


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