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Book Review

Sometime between March 23rd and June 6th… I am/have been reading…

Engines of Creation

2666 Roberto Bolano

verses and versions

Forbidden City

Z for Zachariah

 

Sometime between March 8th and March 23rd… I am/have been reading…

p.s. Im halfway through blindness and it is far superior to the movie – so i would say if you are into it, do the book without the movie, your imagination can then have no barriers to what someone looks like as i have now having seen the movie first. I am constrained within the characters and their attitudes portrayed in the movie. Unfortunate. But it is still a great book, and the movie was still good.

I find that with alot of books i am glad my imagination was given a free reign, i am glad i have not seen movie adaptations of alot of my favourites, i preserve my own creations.

Blindness

Cybernetics/Norbert Weiner

March 8th 2009, I’m reading

gunsgermsandsteel

February 23rd 2009, I’m reading

the selfish gene

February 20th 2009, I’m reading

the best that money can't buy

Feb 15th 2009, I’m reading

Life, the Universe, and Everything

________________________________

9780060816995

The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual (A History of terror in the name of God) by Jonothan Kirsch. What a read. There is a portion, about half way, where the author moves away from describing the structure of the Inquisition, the different Inquisitions (the Roman, the Spanish, the Medievil), and goes, in a few pages, into depth on the techniques used to extract confessions.

I am unafraid to say i felt queasy, the subway was moving, i had to get off for a minute. Waterboarding? It was called the ordeal by water by the Inquisitor, and was employed under the belief that as Jesus was baptized in water it had the propensity to exact truth by the will of God. And the rack? The chair with spikes on the seat? the PEAR? I don’t even want to talk about the pear.

It is a very important subject, and one that the modern bigot almost refuses to acknowledge. Well, it was a disgusting, dark, confusing period in our mental evolution, and i am pretty fucking glad i wasn’t a part of it… because i would have been a victim.

 

oryxandcrakeMargaret Attwood was a name that i had never heard until i read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, it was after reading this, hot on the heels if Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon, trawling the internet for more of these novels that i knew were out there, that i came across Oryx and Crake.

A fantastic novel, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, examines the acceleration of human technology and the perversion of an unstoppable eugenics movement inside an incredible mind; the mind of someone who can sway and shape history around their influences.

A man i admire told me once that reading Attwood is comparable to not paying your cheque before you leave a restaurant. I have heard alot of varying opinions on the other works of Attwood, like The Handmaid’s Tale (one of my favourites, hand in hand with 1984). Both the Handmaid and Winston Smith could very well have existed under the same oppression, such is the picture Attwood paints for the reader.

You know what, it may just be time to give it a re-read…

 

 

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There is something to be said for how i came to know the name Vladimir Nabokov. I have recently bought a subscription, at the stern advice of a former-Literature professor and good friend, to what he considers the best written publication in North America, if not the world. The New Yorker. Subscription aside, i expanded to listening to their podcasts, first to “the campaign trail” hosted by Executive Editor Dorothy Wickenden (who’s expertly written endorsement, along with “The Editors”, of the campaign and candidacy of now President-Elect Obama was my first issue to arrive – October 13th), the New Yorker Out Loud discussing the ‘Talk of the Town’ introductory piece that begins each issue, and the source of my new discovery, the podcast on Fiction.

A vintage short story called “Signs and Symbols” was read by Mary Gaitskill (Author of Veronica, and Two Girls Fat and Thin) on this podcast, who’s damp husky voice (double adverb, Tony would be proud) brings a certain sharp sadness. The words absolutely washed my ears as she read Nabokov‘s incredible genius.

“Man-made objects were to him either hives of evil, vibrant with a malignant activity that he alone could perceive, or gross comforts for which no use could be found in his abstract world.”

“In these very rare cases the patient imagines that everything happening around him is a veiled reference to his personality and existence. He excludes real people from the conspiracy – because he considers himself to be so much more intelligent than other men. Phenomenal nature shadows him wherever he goes.”

Aged ten: the year they left Europe. The shame, the  pity, the humiliating difficulties, the ugly, vicious, backward children he was with in that special school. And then came a time in his life, coinciding with a long convalescence after pneumonia, when those little phobias of his which his parents had stubbornly regarded as the eccentricities of a prodigiously gifted child hardened as it were into a dense tangle of logically interacting illusions, making him totally inaccessible to normal minds.”

The story is but a humble 7 pagesT in the hard copy i have in my lap, i would urge any Reader to consider this a literary gem, one that should not be excluded from any modest book-shelf. If you are an iTunes user, i would encourage you to look it up. (The New Yorker Fiction, the podcast is called ‘Sign Language’.)

(This is the first of what i hope will be an interesting book review series) π

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