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Apologia
Apologia
von Barry Lopez
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Moving text, fine illustrations, 12. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Apologia (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Despite having lived with a variety of pets over the years, from tropical fish to canines (a dog and two cats currently), I do not believe I can say I have a great feeling for animals, especially wild ones. I think the one time I really connected emotionally with them -- at least in my mind -- was when an acid trip kept me up all night in the Oregon high desert and, walking down a dusty road at dawn, I noticed small creatures scurry out of my way and felt their stinging reproach: Your species has already overrun the planet, they seemed to say to me; can't you let us have this one quiet time of the day to ourselves?
Robin Eschner, a California artist, has executed woodcut prints to accompany an essay by nature writer Barry Lopez regarding his thoughts and actions in response to ... road killed animals.
If you've never read Lopez's wonderful nature writing, travel essays, or fiction, get moving! This book might not be such a good introduction, despite the author's customary elegant, rich but ever-precise prose. (For a fine and easily digested survey of his work, try the recent collection _About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory_, and for Lopez full out and leisurely, go for _Arctic Dreams_.)
The subject matter of _Apologia_ is perhaps a bit in-your-face, though Eschner's tasteful and evocative artwork never is. The pictures cast long, stark shadows, but are never creepy, disgusting, or manipulative.
If you have a strong feeling for animals, at least some ambivalence about the domination of the American landscape by the combustion-engine carriage, and the price the former pay for unsought violent encounters with the latter -- or if you know someone who feels that way -- this thin, coffee-table-style volume would be a lovely and appropriate purchase.
And if you ever get the chance to see Lopez speak or read from his work, GO! He is a truly sensitive and moral man, and a magnificent writer.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban[ HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN ] By Rowling, J. K. ( Author )Oct-01-1999 Hardcover
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban[ HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN ] By Rowling, J. K. ( Author )Oct-01-1999 Hardcover
von J.K. Rowling
  Gebundene Ausgabe

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Ranks well with the first two, 16. Mai 2000
I gave the first two Harry Potter books three stars for a general adult audience, four or five stars for kids, and this installment measures well against their standard.
Briefly, the evil wizard Sirius Black, imprisoned in Azkaban for 12 years after being convicted of killing 13 people with a single spell, has escaped and is reportedly looking for Harry. We learn more about Harry's parents and their death, and more loose ends of history get tied. New characters turn up, from the sickly but kind teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Professor Lupin, to yet another picture-guard, Sir Cadogan. A werewolf, a magical map, and an amazing hourglass turn up in the plot, as well as a winged creature called a hippogriff.
J.K. Rowling is to be commended for maintaining a fairly consistent level of quality throughout the Potter books thus far. By comparison, this one has less gross-out humor and a bit more Darkness and mystery.
Some sloppiness is evident, however. The dialogue gets a bit melodramatically extreme in the "revelation of the past" chapter 17 when our heroes, Snape, Lupin, Black and several animals confront one another; and at the end of chapter 18 Madame Pomfrey suddenly pops up in an old story where she has no apparent place to be. Perhaps this reflects a slip-up in revision and editing. On page 272, Mrs. Weasley briefly appears as "Mrs. Wealsey."
Nonetheless, the Missus and I hugely enjoyed reading this one aloud to each other, and look forward to book four in a few short months.


Paddle-to-the-Sea
Paddle-to-the-Sea
von Holling C. Holling
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 14,07

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A work of art for children ... and grownups who love them, 9. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Paddle-to-the-Sea (Gebundene Ausgabe)
I grew up in Oregon. My grandmother, who lived in Alaska and Oregon, gave me a copy of this book when I was about 8, many decades ago. I have never forgotten it and have been delighted to find another copy of late.
An Indian boy, landlocked in central Canada, carves of wood a small Indian man in a canoe, and places him on a snowy hillside, with a message on the bottom of his canoe identifying him as "Paddle-To-The-Sea" and pleading with anyone who finds him to put him back in the water so he can complete his long journey -- a journey the boy cannot make himself.
At the spring thaw, the wooden canoe slides down the mountain and into streams, ponds, and eventually the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River. Paddle encounters boats, animals, ships' locks, a forest fire, a sawmill, and many other threats and adventures. Many pairs of hands discover and help him along his mighty journey. One even repaints him after a year or more of bad weathering.
Each chapter-page of the book has a facing full-page painting in rich colors, as well as small marginal illustrations. The book is a great adventure story, but it's also an effective geography lesson for folks who don't live in or know that part of the country. Like someone else wrote, I will never forget that Lake Superior is shaped like a wolf's head and Lake Huron like a fur trapper with a pack on his back. (Can't remember which lake is the carrot and which the piece of coal, though!)
This is a beautiful, classic book for older children, which should remain in print for generations to come. I can't wait until my niece is old enough to be ready for a copy.


All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs
All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs
von Elie Wiesel
  Gebundene Ausgabe

3.0 von 5 Sternen An odd but pleasant memoir, 9. Mai 2000
I liked this book, but not for most of the reasons I read in other people's reviews. I believe they have overvalued it because of what the author has undergone, because he's written other, more stunning books, and because Wiesel is almost a monument in himself.
Having heard of his Holocaust speeches and read his famous early concentration camp account, _Night_, I was unprepared for the naivete and gentle self-mockery that pervade this book. Yes, it talks about his roots, his tussles with religion, his adventures and misadventures as a journalist and friend/antagonist of the great.
But what a surprise to see his repeated references to all the pretty faces that caught his eye and how badly he usually fared in approaching them: "I indulged in some serious flirting, by which I mean that I talked to them of things too serious to achieve the desired result." "I thought about all the girls in Versailles and all the unknown women in trains who didn't know how much I loved them, and about all the sins I lacked the courage to commit." "I knew if I lowered my guard I would be hit by one of those thunderbolts I never knew how to handle. So of course I lowered my guard." "I spoke to her of destiny, and of Dante for good measure. She told me not to be a fool."
It may strike some readers almost as monotonous, but I found Wiesel's willingness to speak of things all men experience, yet never include in their autobiographies, refreshing. The other reviews stress the IMPORTANCE, almost PONDEROUSNESS, of this book, yet that's not what I'm left with at all. Wiesel is also amazingly open and childlike. For instance, recovering from injuries suffered in a massive car accident, he writes:
"Confined to bed and condemned to immobility, one dreams, one thinks about and sees the world in a whole new way. A simple painkiller is worth more than a dozen wondrous poems. I was more grateful to the nurse who came to turn me onto my back or stomach than I would have been to the most ravishing of creatures granting me her all. The most astonishing world news affected me less than the doctor's smile."
This book shows the very human side of a "mere" journalist who in his time has become almost an institution.


Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil
Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil
von Ron Rosenbaum
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen Rich and thoughtful, yet smooth reading, 5. Mai 2000
I had heard this was a good book. I was not prepared for how excellent and absorbing it turned out to be.
_Explaining Hitler_ does NOT explain the mystery of der Fuhrer. In fact, it often questions whether such a thing can ever fully be done. The book is about the various parties who have devoted much of their lives to the attempt -- their theories, their possible motivations, the pitfalls and blind spots -- and in the course of that raises larger issues about the nature of knowledge, of history, of identity. The book manages a marvelous, near-perfect balance between narrative and theory, speculation and investigation, philosophy and psychology, character portraits and historic background.
Part of what makes Rosenbaum's book so enthralling is that he not only describes the arguments of various individuals and schools of thought, but seeks out the representative authors and chats with them in person, which enlivens the text considerably. We get to meet the historians, stately Professor Hugh-Trevor Roper (who is certain Hitler firmly believed everything he said) and Alan Bullock, (more inclined to regard Hitler as a manipulative mountebank). Rosenbaum spends time with canny, insecure David Irving, back in the news in April 2000 for losing a libel suit in London against Deborah Lipstadt for highlighting him as a Holocaust denier (or at best, minimizer).
Rosenbaum's judgments are fair and judicious, he never dislikes any of his subjects entirely, but he is not afraid to call someone out for intellectual hypocrisy and bullying (as in the case of "Shoah" documentary filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, who comes across as some sort of Old Testament prophet).
The statements and positions of the various "explainers" clash and knock one another down. Hitler and the Holocaust drive intelligent and thoughtful men to amazing extremes. Theologian Yehuda Bauer suggests God's silence might mean he is either Satan too or a nebbish; Emil Fackenheim refuses to write or speak of Hitler at all for 20 years; George Steiner, author of the stunning novelette "The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H." theorizes that Kafka metaphorically invented Hitler, and far from expressing something inherent in the German soul, Hitler might have risen to power even faster in France.
Like God, I find Hitler himself a bore, because insufficient evidence seems to guarantee no final understanding. But looking at those who try to account for him, thinking about how we ourselves see him, the world he came from, the world we live in because of him, is a fascinating process, and Rosenbaum's tremendous book is a great contribution to that form of inquiry.


Henry and June: From "A Journal of Love" -The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1931-1932)
Henry and June: From "A Journal of Love" -The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1931-1932)
von Anais Nin
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 10,20

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Nin and Miller wild and untamed, 5. Mai 2000
I read a lot of Anais Nin's fiction when I was in high school, because my girlfriend did. I didn't get it. I tried to read her famous diary, but couldn't finish even the first volume. There was an intelligent and interesting woman there, but I didn't feel I was really getting to her. The diary entries I read were too cool, too discursive for my taste.
Then _Henry and June_ came out in 1986. It covered the exact same period (Paris, 1931) as "Volume I" of Nin's diaries -- first published, but in highly edited form one could now see, in 1969. Here she begins to cheat on her husband Hugo with the young Henry Miller, meets and flirts with his flighty wife June, and opens to life and eventually other men in an explosive fashion. HERE was the flesh-and-blood woman I had sensed behind the original published diaries. She panted, she sweated, she lied, she used filthy language as well as high poetry, and she adored love and sex. I thought she was a wonder. Nin and Miller collide like titans; sparks fly when they talk and when they make love.
Unfortunately, I have read several of the subsequent, increasingly-appalling unexpurgated diaries, as well as the biographies by Noel Riley Fitch and Deirdre Bair. The bloom is definitely off the rose. Ms. Nin turns out to have been a consummate deceiver (though of herself as much as anyone else), an artist manque who thought herself -- wished herself -- far more talented than she turned out to be. She works better in fantasy than reality; I still might have liked to meet her in her prime, but it would have been dicey to get involved with her.
It is in this book that she shows to her best as a character (never mind whether it's all true or another kind of fiction). Here one sees a woman's passion in all its riotous fire and self-contradiction. Just read this one and leave all the rest (save, perhaps for the curious erotica and a decent collection of essays entitled "In Favor of the Sensitive Man"), unless you have a penchant for the odd and pretentious.


The Book of Questions
The Book of Questions
von Gregory Stock
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen You'll find yourself fascinating, 2. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Book of Questions (Taschenbuch)
It's a little odd to try to rate a book that doesn't really have any content per se; it is simply filled with questions for YOU. How interesting you find the book, then, depends on how deeply you want to delve into yourself.
The questions deal with everything from personal tastes and desires (such as whether you would prefer the free, unlimited services of an extremely good cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, masseuse, or personal secretary for five years), to personal behavior (when was the last time you sang to yourself, and to someone else? do you tend to listen or talk more in conversations?), to fascinating and challenging hypotheticals (what you would do if you could successfully wish people dead without getting caught, or whether you would leave the country forever for a million dollars -- although that was worth a bit more when this book first appeared, 13 years ago).
The questions are nicely arranged in no particular order, so each turn of the page brings a surprise and a shift, from mere daydreams to extreme tests of personal values. It might make a great conversation starter -- I seem to recall discussing some of the questions and answers with my girlfriend at the time -- but some questions may be a little uncomfortable among relative strangers.
If you keep a journal (or perhaps if you've had difficulty doing so), this book is an excellent spur to writing and thereby learning a little more about yourself. I answered most of these questions in my journal when I first got this book in about 1988, and I think perhaps now might be a good time to answer them all again (before reading what I wrote so long ago) and see how my answers compare. I recommend this activity to anyone....


Music for Torching
Music for Torching
von A. M. Homes
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Weirdly perfect, 26. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Music for Torching (Gebundene Ausgabe)
When people noticed me reading this book and asked about it, Iexplained that "this woman writes filthy books in beautifulprose." Her previous novel, _The End of Alice_, blew me away with its incredible combination of audacity and sensitivity.
_Music For Torching_ looks (and is) more conventional than _Alice_. Yet Homes manages to make the supposedly tired and overworked theme of suburban alienation and angst suprisingly gripping. For the first half to two-thirds of the book, I enjoyed it as a sort of cartoon for grownups, with dimly recognizable people involved in farcical situations, and a sort of mild but ever-present threat in every line that seemed to promise anything could happen. Dialogue seems especially rich with implications and unspoken realities. (The word "fine" and variations on "Everything's fine" somehow rung every tone from biting irony to utter sincerity.)
But by the last third I found myself laughing out loud on occasion, and surprised to find myself actually caring about Paul and Elaine, the central couple of the plot. How did Homes do that?
Strange things happen all through the narrative -- a couple impulsively attempts to burn down their house, female suburbanites initiate a fiery sexual affair, a cop commits attempted rape -- but the author often manages to pinpoint the motivations of the characters to perfection. The sex between Paul and his mistress, "Mrs. Apple," for example, seems to capture the essence of an affair when it works.
I'm convinced this writer can do just about anything she wants. The only reason I give this book four stars is to indicate that _The End of Alice_ was a little stranger, a little more bracing, a little better. I'm rating Homes against herself here, not against other writers.


With Cat for Comforter
With Cat for Comforter
von Ray Bradbury
  Gebundene Ausgabe

2.0 von 5 Sternen A slight companion to the dog book, 11. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: With Cat for Comforter (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Let's get one thing straight: Ray Bradbury is one of myfavorite writers. His novel _Something Wicked This Way Comes_ is oneof my personal favorites. I have read Bradbury stories aloud to live audiences, and performed a couple of them from memory as well.
But Bradbury is not much of a poet. On the spectrum from Eliot and Stevens down to McKuen, he comes much closer to the latter. Bradbury writes rich, poetic prose which works as such most of the time, but his poems are rarely more than mildly interesting or pretty thought-rambles.
So it is with this little book, a companion to "Dogs Think That Every Day Is Christmas" -- both being Hallmark-card-ish tributes to their respective domestic quadrupeds. (Lest you think me a non-animal lover, I hasten to add that I live with a dog and two cats, myself.) The illustrations by Louise Reinoehl Max are nice enough, but hardly inspired.
This inexpensive bauble is suitable only for Bradbury completists (which includes me -- I ordered one from Amazon, after all), or perhaps for people who are VERY sentimental about felines. An introduction briefly describes some of the more than three dozen cats who have shared Bradbury's life.
I'm glad to have a copy of this book to fill out my collection, but I doubt I'll crack it open again.


Dogs Think That Every Day is Christmas
Dogs Think That Every Day is Christmas
von Ray Bradbury
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 7,61

2.0 von 5 Sternen Pleasant enough, I suppose, 11. April 2000
Let's get one thing straight: Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite writers. His novel _Something Wicked This Way Comes_ is one of my personal favorites. I have read Bradbury stories aloud to live audiences, and performed a couple of them from memory as well.
But Bradbury is not much of a poet. On the spectrum from Eliot and Stevens down to McKuen, he comes much closer to the latter. Bradbury writes rich, poetic prose which works as such most of the time, but his poems are rarely more than mildly interesting or pretty thought-rambles.
So it is with "Dogs Think That Every Day Is Christmas," a Hallmark-card-ish tribute to our lively four-footed friends. The illustrations by Louise Reinoehl Max are nice enough, but hardly inspired.
What makes this inexpensive bauble collectible for Bradbury completists (which includes me -- I ordered one from Amazon, after all), or perhaps for people who are VERY sentimental about canines, is the introduction, which includes a story about a boyhood trauma relating to a dog, and the lifelong effects.
I'm glad to have a copy to add to my collection, but I doubt I'll ever open it again.


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