Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway

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After missing out on an auction for the actual book, I was excited to find The Complete Short Stories Of Ernest Hemingway (Finca Vigia edition) on the Kindle store for $11, the first 49 and an extra 7 previously unpublished. I don’t plan on reviewing them all, but will likely do so for the ones I enjoy most. And so I have begun with The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber:

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What a fantastic story. I love Hemingway’s writing style and felt totally absorbed in Macomber’s hunting trip with his beautiful wife and guide. What I love about Hemingway (from what I have read so far in the Sun Also Rises and the Old Man and the Sea) is that he never gives it all away, and his descriptions are just enough to paint a clear picture but not enough to fully illuminate it. This story explored the rights of passage into a culture of masculinity, jealousy, humiliation and ultimately trust in a safari/big game hunt setting. Frances (the main character) seems to have a love hate relationship with his wife Margot, and from what happens at the end we can only speculate about how deep that hate was.

I both love and hate stories such as this, beautifully written and totally captivating, but  leaves you to cogitate in futility. A wonderful read, highly recommended and I look forward to more.


More weird things customers say in bookshops by Jen Campbell

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Another delightful read from Jen Campbell (and others), and a good follow up from the first one. A very short read, you almost blink and it’s over. I think it took an hour to read, and I couldn’t savor it as each one just made me want to read the next.

Some of the weird things customers say are quite funny, a few unbelievable and make you question the mental stability of some book browsers. I’m looking forward to Even More Things Customers say In Bookshops and the things customers say at book signings and libraries. I might even write my own version: Weird things people say at job interviews.

Overall a 6/10 for being good but very short.

 


How (Not) To Speak Of God by Peter Rollins

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One of the most profound, affecting and important books on spirituality I have ever read, and I have read a few. 

During my life in contemplation on various matters to do with God, Church and Spirituality I have often found that I know what I think, believe and practice but couldn’t quite articulate it when asked, but this book pretty much sums it up. Good things come in small packages, and this book is fairly small weighing in at 145 pages; but it’s a power punch and waffle-free, which is often refreshing these days. 

“In this book the reader is confronted with a type of theory and practice that ruptures the binary oppositions between theist and atheist, sacred and secular, belief and unbelief to provide a vision with the potential of revolutionizing Western Christianity”.

The book is written in two parts. The first is the theoretical background and the second is ten summaries of Ikon services (Ikon being the community Rollin’s is a part of in Ireland) which are beautifully brilliant and thoughtful. I have never finished a book and immediacy wanted to turn to the first page and begin again, but I do. And I will. But it’s not only ‘mind-enhancing’ it’s a birth of life lived.

A 10/10 and I implore you to get a copy.


MOBY DICK Herman Melville

 

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What an Epic! 

I really enjoyed Moby Dick, all 23 hours, 41 minutes and 48 seconds of the audio-book as I drove to and from work, washed dishes and walked. A beautiful story about Ishmael as he sets sail on his inaugural whaling trip, along with a cast of memorable characters. The 133 chapters consist of whale lore, character back-story, various digressions and a lot more.

I enjoyed the style and the way the story unfolded, and the way it was written; in honesty I think the print version would have been more difficult to follow but the narrator did a great job. What I did find both frustrating and also good was that we don’t encounter the white whale until the last few chapters, and then it’s all on. A great ending and in light of the story (especially that of Ahab: a madman driven by obsession) there is lots of room to explore the implications philosophically, if you feel the need to do so.  My facourite scene what that of Queequeg and Ishmael first meeting and then having to share a room together. And I really liked the way his outlandish ways captivated Ishmael and the way their friendship developed.

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable story and I give it a 7.7/10.

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The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

no1ladiesI really liked Mma Precious Ramotswe from the first page and continued to like her more and more until the end. What a great setting for a great story. It was a nice and uplifting look into Precious’ idea to trade in her fathers cows for a detective agency in Africa. She then sets out to solve numerous cases for friends and other community members.

It’s not a book that has much depth but it’s a nice and enjoyable frolic with a fun lady. Smith writes well too. I feel like he captures the essence of the characters simply and doesn’t waste time on unimportant waffle.  So if you are in the need for something light, or are sitting on the beach, this would be a good choice. An 8/10 for being a fun and delightful read.


Starting Over by Tony Parsons

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This story had a really cool plot idea; A policeman in his forties who had a heart attack got another chance at life with a heart transplant. He then thought he was embodying the owner of the donated heart, a 19 year old petty thief. He then essentially had to mature again into an adult. However, and it’s a big however, the plot meandered a lot and the believe-ability of events was not enough. The whole heart idea (which I really liked) fizzled out, his wife kicked him out for reasons barely credible and his daughter was in some trouble that we never get to the bottom of. The story and characters lacked depth and I felt like this could have been written so much better.

It did start well, very well, but alas it felt like Tony gave up on the book halfway through and then barely managed to tie things together at the end. I wanted to like it, and it would be good if someone else could take the concept and write a better book. It was my first Tony Parsons book, it might not be my last but I won’t be rushing out to get his work with any gusto. A 5/10 for being interesting at times but overall disappointing.


Shadow of a Dark Queen – Feist

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I have really enjoyed this series so far, although this one did feel like it was 99% filler. I can even summarize the entire book in one sentence:

Erik (the new main character who is a young smithy), Calis and others go to Novindus to see if the Pantathians are massing an army to strike Midkemia, and it turns out they are (meanwhile Pug does nothing and the sexy Miranda does even less) so they set out to go home and alert the authorities (who already know).

Not a lot to show for almost six hundred pages, so unfortunately not the best start to the epic Serpentwar saga. And the dark queen was such a shadow we never really encounter her at all, except at a vague distance.  I give it a 4.5/10. I hope Rise of a Merchant Prince is better.