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Birchwood

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Capturing Ireland's famine with a devastating bleakness, the novel coruscates, overflows with elegiac prose.
Shadows Over Baker Street

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Much as I hate to admit it, Gaiman's story, "A Study in Emerald," which opens the collection, is utterly brilliant. It melds the content and narrative styles of H. P. Lovecraft and Conan Doyle more nicely than I thought possible. If you've never read "A Study in Scarlet," do so first. As an anthology, however, "Shadows Over Baker Street" disappoints--the rest of the stories on offer here are unremarkable.
The Maltese Falcon

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What really makes this novel a pleasure to read is not, actually, its plotting. Rather, it is the disturbed psychology of its protagonist (the legendary Sam Spade), which is all too often overlooked. Sam is an individual who is fighteningly out of touch with his emotions (much like the protagonist of the French film Le Samourai, who is described by his creator as schizophrenic) and perhaps suffers from flattening of affect or another psychological malady. This 'blond Satan' is all the more interesting to read of as a result.
Norwegian Wood

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At first I worried it would turn out to be an unremarkable, autobiographical coming of age story -- at some point it became incredibly sad, and not for the obvious reasons.
Red Dragon: (Hannibal Lecter)

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A William Blake painting fuels a killing spree and Dr. Lecter makes his debut. You could choose far worse books to curl up with for some trashy reading time. Surprisingly well written, with decently woven themes inspired by Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience."
The Wasp Factory: A Novel

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Brilliant and nearly flawless, with the exception of the novel's final moments. In this, his debut, Banks makes the mistake of telling us things he could've shown more artfully, though this is restricted to the denouement.
Gun, with Occasional Music

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It's essentially a noir private-detective story set in a wildly speculative future California. Hilarious, witty, and intensely disturbing, Lethem's future landscape is populated by human infant 'babyheads' who've undergone evolution therapy. Certain animals who have also undergone the treatment walk upright and possess the rights of legal personhood. Unlicensed questions are considered impolite and border upon the illegal. The Inquisitor's Bureau runs a semi-Orwellian police state in which state-sponsored drugs are the nose candies of the average citizen and a defunct karma-card earns you a spot in the freezer. Whats's more, the protagonist's sense of metaphor is flawless. It's entirely possible that this novel inspired Radiohead's 'Karma Police' and I'm virtually certain that Robert Shearman borrowed some of its major ideas and feelings for his 'Maltese Penguin' script.
The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

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I don't much care for Pinker and find it daunting that he's somehow attained "celebrity" status in cognitive science. Was it with books like this that he did so? This basically reads like an extended defense of Chomsky's universal grammar (UG) and Fodor's language of thought (LOT) hypothesis (perhaps not surprising--Pinker's name often comes up when a discussion of "mentalese" is at hand). A great deal of it is vacuous and it affords criticisms of UG and LOT barely a nod. Overall, lazy and predictable. Oh, and the jokes aren't funny.
Babel-17

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Delany almost certainly read Alfred Korzybski--several concepts in this novel come straight from general semantics.The prose is poetic, even elegiac at times. I definitely recommend this--very impressive, when one considers its context in the history of SF.
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