Archive for the ‘Novels’ Category

Margaret Atwood on Richard Powers

November 27, 2006

Margaret Atwood reviews The Echo Maker of Richard Powers for The New York Review of Books; link via Maud Newton. It is a delightful read:

On the other hand, there are books you read once and there are other books you read more than once because they are so flavorful, and then there are yet other books that you have to read more than once.

Also typical is the way Powers jams wildly disparate elements together in a kind of atomic-bomb manner—what he wants is fission, then fusion, and a big bang at the end.

And, Atwood strongly recommends Echo Maker:

The Echo Maker is a grand novel— grand in its reach, grand in its themes, grand in its patterning. That it might sometimes stray over the line into the grandiose is perhaps unavoidable: Powers is not a painter of miniatures. Of the two extremes of American mannerist style, the minimalist or Shaker chair (Dickinson, Hemingway, Carver) and the maximalist or Gilded Age (Whitman, James, Jonathan Safran Foer), Powers inclines toward the latter. He gets his effects by repetition, by a Goldberg Variation–like elaboration of motifs, by cranking up the volume and pulling out all the stops.

The Echo Maker is probably the best Powers novel so far. I say “probably,” because it’s not possible for Powers to write an uninteresting book, and after that it’s a matter of taste. Trying to describe it is a bit like four blind men trying to describe an elephant—which end do you start at, with something so large and multi-limbed?

Take a look!

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Ruby, Shakespeare and linguistics: some books!

November 8, 2006
  1. Here is a review of the book The Ruby Way at /. : “Hal Fulton’s The Ruby Way, Second Edition doesn’t try to be the only book a Ruby programmer needs. It tries to be a book every serious Ruby programmer needs, and it succeeds. The Ruby Way is a book about programming with Ruby, the object-oriented programming language from Japan. Ruby is free software and runs on Linux, Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X, and other operating systems. It is available for download from its web site, www.ruby-lang.org or its companion site www.rubyforge.org.
  2. A literary mystery novel called The Shakespeare Chronicles is available for $1.50 (and free, if you are willing to read on a weekly basis); I can resist anything but temptation like that! Link via B-squared: This book is a labour of love, but it is also an experiment in using Creative Commons Licenses to make material freely available, while still selling both paper copies and electronic books that are free of DRM. (That is, downloadable books that you can give to friends or share copies of, without breaking laws or electronic locks.) I will be releasing a chapter per week freely on this website. If you are impatient, you can buy the whole thing now for $1.50 (e-book). If you hate reading books on screen, you can buy in paperback or hardcover.
  3. Language log gives some pointers to books that “could give a potential linguist some sense of what it’s like to be a linguist, to do linguistics”.

Happy reading!

A novel full of

October 22, 2006

“stinkeroony”, “darnedest” and “ninny”, and of course, strongly recommended; link via Euro Crime. Even if you are not planning to read the novel, do read the review, which is in itself a bally hoot!

Poetry, philosophy, and meditative!

October 2, 2006

That is how I would describe Alex McCall Smith‘s Friends, Lovers, Chocolate. An excerpt of the book is available, if you want a sample. And, here are some interesting passages:

  • “…’Every society gets the taxi drivers it deserves.’ Do you think that’s true, Ian?” She answered her own question. “No. The United States is a good country. It deserves better taxi drivers.” (How about the auto drivers of Bangalore — Does Bangalore deserve its autowallahs?)
  • The envelope had that charged look about it, something which was difficult, if not impossible to identify, but which hung about love letters and letters of sexual significance like perfume.
  • Much Freudian theory was scientifically shaky, even if it was such a literary treat to read…
  • What is patriotism but the love of the good things that one ate in childhood (Attributed to Lin Yutang).
  • .. a house, like anything else, should not be denied the dignity of natural ageing.

Specifically, the last quote is a bit RKN-ian; I remember reading a short essay by RKN as to why rubbles should be left to themselves and not disturbed.

The book is full of references to (mostly Scottish) poets — Robert Garioch, Robert Burns, Auden, Norman MacCaig, Sydney Goodsir Smith, Hamish Henderson — and of such nice descriptions of places in Edinburgh, making you want to visit the city.

Apart from references to Asperger syndrome, and bipolar disorder, there is also a reference to The man who mistook his wife for a hat of Dr. Sacks. Probably, Alexander MacGall Smith is also a fan of Dr Sacks.

Finally, the book makes references to Daniel Dennet ‘s Consciousness explained, and John Berger’s Ways of seeing; and to Giacomo Meyerbeer, Hogg‘s Jacobite relics, and to Cavelleria Rusticana. In this sense, I guess the Sunday Philosophy Club is different from Mma Ramotswe books — there are plenty of references to books, music and poetry.

I will recommend the book heartily to everybody. Here are some other reviews!

An excerpt from Alex McCall Smith!

September 30, 2006

Here is an excerpt from the latest Sunday Philosophy Club: The right attitude to rain. Have fun!

A bit of science fiction!

July 19, 2006

Here is the Boing Boing story about a sf novel available online: Daniel Pinkwater’s The NEDDIAD. Have fun!

Wanna write a novel?

January 6, 2006

It is an year long project. Dropping in once in a while might be interesting! Link via Bookslut.

Any Grisham fans out there?

December 15, 2005

An interesting review for the latest Grisham novel called The Broker; have fun!