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review 2018-12-14 15:57
Screw Your Brains Out: "Graham Greene: A Life in Letters" by Graham Greene
Graham Greene: A Life In Letters - Richard Greene



(Original Review, 2007-05-15)


There some odd little insights: about how people used to travel by sea and get horribly ill, but then air travel came along and changed all that; Greene's very Catholic attitude to extramarital sex - screw your brains out, go to Confession, go to Mass, go to Communion, come home, screw your brains out with partner not your wife, go to Confession ... (I'm Catholic so I think I can say these things).

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-12-12 19:15
The Juggernaut: "Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften" by Robert Musil
Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften: Band 1: Erstes und Zweites Buch. Band 2: Aus dem Nachlaß: 2 Bände. - Robert Musil


(Original Review, 2007-05-05)



I've long waited for someone explain to me what the criteria are to select the best fiction out there. I know when I like a book or when others like a book, yet critics and intellectually sophisticated people often talk about books as if one can assess their value objectively, going beyond mere preference. Yet, mysteriously, the criteria by which literacy value is to be assessed are never stated with sufficient precision so that they can actually be applied. This article is a case in point. Even though saying exactly what literary value is would be of extraordinary importance to make the point the author wants to. In the absence of any solid and justifiable philosophy underpinning assessments of literary value, I fear we have to take pronouncements on what's good and what's bad as a form of virtue signalling in certain circles.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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text 2018-11-18 15:09
Airing Aphorisms: “Night Train to Lisbon” by Pascal Mercier
Night Train to Lisbon: A Novel - Pascal Mercier,Barbara Harshav


(Original Review, December 21st 2007)



NB: Read in German.


Not every difficult book is by definition a good one - not every challenge is worth taking.

A good writer can do both, like Ishiguro. Write a book for the mainstream readers, to pick them up where they stand and travel with them. Or write a book so obscure that only very few will even want to go on that journey, those books are often a sign of arrogance, often more a book for them than for readers. And then you have Eco, who could mix the two.

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-10-30 09:25
Libidinal Art-Form: "The Magic Lantern" by Ingmar Bergman, Joan Tate (Trans.)
The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography - Ingmar Bergman


(Original Review, 2007)



Bergman devotes a number of pages to his experience as a 16 year old schoolboy on an exchange visit to a German family who were all ardent Nazis. He recalls attending a rally in Weimar, at which Hitler delivered a short speech, and being entirely caught up in “the eruption of immense energy”. When he left to return to Sweden the family gave him a present of a photograph of Hitler.

While I’m sure that Bergman’s account of his experiences is entirely self-serving, the things that strike me are:

Firstly, that many middle-class Swedes in the 1930s and into the 1940s did think that the Nazis, vulgar and prone to regrettable excesses as they were, were infinitely preferable to the godless Bolshevik hordes in the east, and that geopolitical reality meant that it really was a choice between one or the other.

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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