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text 2018-08-05 08:19
Reading progress update: I've read 3 out of 464 pages.
Four Revenge Tragedies: The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, and The Atheist's Tragedy - Cyril Tourneur,Thomas Kyd,Thomas Middleton,George Chapman,Katharine Eisaman Maus

The Introduction observes that Elizabethan-Jacobean Revenge Tragedy has antecedents in Classical Tragedy and descendants in Holywood revenge movies - however the latter often allow the protagonist to get away with mass murder entirely consequence-free which is a distinct evolution away from the English Renaissance dramatic genre.

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review 2017-03-03 10:53
Tragedies that should be remembered and never repeated
Warnings Unheeded - Massad Ayoob,Andy Brown

Thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy of his book that I review as part of Rosie’s Books Review Team.

I am a psychiatrist and have worked in forensic psychiatry (looking after patients with a history of dangerous behaviour and, on occasions, criminal records) and therefore when I was approached by this writer about the book, my interest was twofold. Although I’m not currently working as a psychiatrist, I wanted to read the book to see what lessons there were to be learned, especially from the incident of mass shooting, as it was particularly relevant to the issues of mental health assessment and treatment. I was also interested, as a reader, a writer and a member of the public, in how the author would write about the incidents in a manner that would engage the readership. More than anything, I was interested in reading about his personal experience.

As a reader (not that I’m sure I can take my psychiatrist hat off that easily), the book intertwines both incidents, that coincided in the same setting, Fairchild Air Force Base, within a week period. We are given information about previous concerns about the flying acrobatics of Holland, whose antics had worried a number of people at the time, although in his case we don’t get to know much about the person (the information is more about those who reported concerns and the way those were ignored or minimised), and, in much more detail, about the past history and behaviours of Mellberg, that read as a catalogue of unheeded warnings and missed opportunities.

Concerns about Mellberg follow him from school, where he was a loner, suffered bullying, never made friends and showed some odd behaviour and continue when he joins the Air Force. He becomes paranoid, starts harassing his roommate and despite concerns and assessments, he is simply moved from one place to the next, and the mental health assessments are either intentionally ignored or missed. Later on, when somebody decides to take action, there is no evidence of follow-up or organised system to check what happens when somebody is discharged for mental health reasons (some changes ensue, thanks mostly to the efforts of Sue Brigham [the wife of Dr Brigham, one of Mellberg’s victims], after the fact) and readers can feel how the tension builds up to the point where it’s only a matter of time until a serious incident happens.

Brown, the author, shares his background and his career progression to that point, his interest in policing and security from a young age, and he happens to coincide in time and space with Mellberg, being the first to respond to the calls for assistance when Mellberg starts shooting, first the people he blames for his discharge from the air force, and later, anybody who crosses his path. Although we know what’s going to happen, and, in a way, Brown has always been preparing for something like this, the reality is no less shocking.

Brown’s description of events, what the victims did, and what he did is exemplary, and it shows his experience in crime scene investigation. We can clearly reconstruct what happened minute by minute (almost second by second). As the description is interspersed with witness statements and personal detail I didn’t find it excessive, although that might depend on what readers are used to (I know from personal experience of writing reports that accuracy and details are prime, but that’s not what readers of fiction are used to, for example). The book also includes photographs of the scenes of both incidents, diagrams of the sites, etc.

As I said above, although the reader gets the same sense of impending doom when reading about the dangerous and reckless flight manoeuvres Holland does, we don’t get to know much about Holland as a man, only about his experience flying. The issue of warnings not being acted upon is highlighted, but we don’t know if anything else might have been behind Holland’s behaviour, and we’re therefore less personally invested in the case. I must also confess to having little understanding of acrobatics and individual planes capabilities, so I found some of the details about that incident more difficult to follow and perhaps unnecessary for the general reader (the message is clear even if we don’t know exactly how the gs a fuselage can bear might be determined).

Brown’s own reaction to the shooting and his difficulties getting his PTSD acknowledged and treated form the latter part of the book, and they come to illustrate a side of these tragedies that is hardly ever commented upon or discussed in detail, as if sweeping things under a carpet and not talking about them would make them disappear. (As he notes, people don’t know how to react: they either joke about the incident or avoid talking about it completely). He honestly shares his struggle, how long it took him to understand what was happening to him, the less than helpful behaviours he engaged in, and his self-doubt and guilt feelings, not helped by the reluctance of the Air Force to share the information he requests. He had the added difficulty of being removed from service every time he tried to get help, something that he, understandingly, saw as a punishment. He eventually decided to leave active service to try and find peace of mind, but it was a lengthy and difficult process, that might vary from individual to individual. It is always helpful, though, to know that one is not alone and it is not just a matter of getting over it, and that’s why personal accounts are so important.

Brown offers conclusions and lessons on how to keep safe. Although I don’t necessarily agree with some of the comments (the right to bear arms and use them for self-defense is a very controversial subject and I currently live in a country where not even the police carry them regularly), I agree with the importance of being aware of the risks, with the need to be more sensitive to the mental health needs of the population, with the importance of providing follow-up and support to those who experience mental disorders and also the need to see human beings in a holistic way, rather than only treating their bodies and ignoring their minds.

This is an important book that should be read by people who work in law enforcement (either in the military or in a civil environment), provide security to organisations, and of course by psychologist and psychiatrists alike. It is not a book to read for entertainment, and it is definitely not a light read, but I would also recommend it to people who research the subject and/or are interested in real crime and PTSD. I wonder if a shorter version of the book, dealing specifically with the PTSD experience of the author might be useful to other survivors of trauma who might find the rest of the book too difficult to read.

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review 2014-11-19 01:54
Review: Amor Maldito
Amor Maldito: Romantic Tragedies from Tejano Folklore - Simone Beaudelaire

This short but spooky collection of stories from the Rio Grande Valley is a great addition for any lover of history, culture, and that which lurks in the dark.

THE CALAVERA opens this collection with a story that will bring the Day of the Dead to life. New love in college meets the past with this tale of a girl, a boy, and a skull. Much more than a typical ghost story, I was chilled through after reading the last few pages.

DON'T CRY shares the legend of La Llorena, the Wailing Woman. Though legends are told from generation to generation, we find that sometimes the whispers in the night foretell a different ending than what might be expected. Or perhaps the lack of belief forms a loophole itself? Though this story is the shortest of the three, I found layers of meaning in the simple words.

FLY BY NIGHT is the final piece in this collection - a tale of a girl named Lysette and the consequences that change her life and that of her boyfriend, Alex. When camping in the dark of the night, it is best to heed the words of your elders, stay protected, and remember to always treat a witch with caution... as you may never know when you will see him or her again. This was an enjoyable look into the dark myths and legends of the Tejano people.

Thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.




If you enjoyed my review, please help me share it by marking it as being helpful on Amazon. I have included the link to the Amazon review in the Source section at the bottom of this review.

Source: www.amazon.com/review/R17JKC8WIDEL96
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text 2014-09-22 02:32
Classics and contemporary
Swann's Way - Marcel Proust,Lydia Davis
The Line of Beauty - Alan Hollinghurst
Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear: Three Tragedies - William Shakespeare
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon

A Sunday lunch with a friend bring me to this conversation, to choose to read books and why we choose them.


She like classics and keep buying and reading classics. I like them too but I found it even more important to buy contemporary books. Here is the reason why.


Classics, are a filtered selection of good books that survived the time, even when the writers themselves are long gone. 


We read them as to learn from them and get the basic ideas on what they are like. These are the foundation of our common knowledge, a point of reference of what we want to say, without too much explanation. 


But these writers do not need as much  of a support from readers as contemporary writers do. I as reader as a responsibility to encourage writers to write good books, and discourage publishers to decreasing their frequency of publishing bad books. 


It is not just a matter of taste. There should be some standard of what books would survive them and what would be fade out of people memory. 


There are so many contemporary writers and it takes much more of a personal affords to find a good one. This finding, is also part of the interaction of finding your own taste in books. 


For classics, many of the books that are pretty good already by today's standard might have lost to us already because the demand is not enough to reprint them. 


For contemporary, the first screening is by the publishing houses, that we know would miss many good stuff and then allow a lot of bad stuff published. 


Once it is published, it is a matter of getting to know a book by its writing. Spending hours and hours finding a good books and reading a good books and moving on to the next one. 


In the process, readers share not their time, and many times their money in support of a good books. 


When I saw Sam Harris new book got published and is on a top list, I'm happy for him. I too want him to continue to be a writer.


I like new books and I hope I could continue doing this for the rest of my very limited life. 



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review 2014-08-12 00:00
Eniac: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer
Eniac: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer - Scott McCartney "The story of Eniac, the world's first truly programmable electronic computer, is both inspiring and heart breaking. J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly were true visionaries, ahead of their time in many ways, yet exactly in the right place at the right time in more ways. Their story is one of technological innovation and political in-fighting. Unfortunately for them victory, fame, and most of the money went to those who could play the game, leaving the creators of this world-changing machine under appreciated and, in Mauchly's case, broke.

Scott McCartney has written an engaging and well researched tale of creativity, invention, and betrayal.

Highly recommended.
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