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Beiträge von M. H. Bayliss
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The Handyman: A novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
The Handyman: A novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
von Carolyn See
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 18,56

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5.0 von 5 Sternen there's something more than meets the eye, 29. Juli 2000
It took awhile for this book to make an impact, but what an impact it makes! The reader is a bit thrown off by the opening pages which contain a grant proposal to study the life of the most famous artist of the generation. Once the story is begun, it is so captivating that it's easy to forget the opening and get lost. The plot follows a young aspiring artist who can't seem to find his metier. He goes to Paris but just can't seem to fit in and instead returns to L.A. to try to make his mark. Rather than pursue art, he ends up rooming with an odd cast of characters (one of whom never bathes) and making money as a handyman. Though he's not particularly handy in terms of fixing things, he has a therapeutic effect on everyone he comes across. In short, he ends up fixing egos and lost souls rather than doing a bang up job with the laundry machine. See is such a fantastic writer that everything works -- the prose carries us from one oddball family to another. The beauty of the book is that once you reach the end, you could spend an hour re-reading the first two pages and saying "Ah HAH -- now I get it." The characters are so eccentric and interesting and the main character so compelling that it's hard not to be taken in by this thoroughly charming and well-crafted book.


Amsterdam: A Novel
Amsterdam: A Novel
von Ian McEwan
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,99

4.0 von 5 Sternen an entertaining read, 27. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Amsterdam: A Novel (Taschenbuch)
Something about the Booker Prize... I just don't seem to get what makes them select their prizes. Don't get me wrong -- I thoroughly enjoyed this witty, very well written novella about two "old" friends who have a major falling out, but besides the strong writing, I'm not sure what propelled it to the prize. That being said, McEwan does a terrific job of outlining his story starting from Molly's funeral and spiraling outwards from there following all of Molly's former lovers. Perhaps the best scene in the book occurs at the funeral when a staid looking state official pulls one of the main characters by the lapels and says some deliciously wicked things to him. I enjoyed the middle of the novel best, but by the end, I was getting a bit tired and found the ending a bit hyperbolic. Still, the scenes with the famous composer trying to write his masterpiece while hiking in the lake district, so absorbed that he fails to intervene and stop a rapist from attacking, made it an enjoyable read. I recommend it, although i don't think it's a classic that people will know about 50 years from now.


Dance Real Slow
Dance Real Slow
von Michael Grant Jaffe
  Gebundene Ausgabe

3.0 von 5 Sternen a sweet read in parts, 27. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Dance Real Slow (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Though Jaffe's novel is far from perfect (weak writing in parts that sounds contrived, some plot strands that just don't work out), let's dwell on the bright side. He captures quite well the frustrations and joys of parenthood. Even the most patient parent occassionaly feels like smacking his/her child at times. Calvin is a cute 4 year old who becomes enamoured of the Portuguese Man of War that his grandmother sends him in a jar! In one of the funniest scenes in the book, they make a trip to a doctor friend who treats the decaying jellyfish and adds formaldyhide which prolongs the creatures jar life a few more days. The love interest part of the book works, although we never find out much about her, but the scenes when his exwife comes back just don't seem to hang together. There were times that the writing sounded "workshoppy" to me. In short, this novel is worth reading for some poignant moments and sweet scenes, but it has several weaknesses that interfere with the novel as a whole.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
von J. K. Rowling
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen prime entertainment for adults and kids alike, 26. Juli 2000
I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I find these books so engrossing. As an adult and a muggle myself, I haven't found myself so lost in a book since The Lord of the Rings. I even read the book in Scotland, right in Edinborough where J.K. wrote the book. I kept it near me in case I ran into her on the street, but alas, I was disappointed. Don't be scared off by the book's length -- the plot is fantastic and moves quickly along. I loved the whole idea of the tri-wizard tournement. After all, if Hogwarts is the English model, there must be other wizarding schools from other parts of the world, right? Will we meet New Zealand, Indonesian and South African wizards in the upcoming books? The action is engrossing as always -- there's even a potential love interest. The new characters are great (old mad-eye moody). We don't see much of Draco Malfoy, but I have the feeling he'll be back. Dumbledore is my favorite -- he brings back memories of Gandolf from The lord of the Rings. This is a fantastic read that all devoted fans will enjoy.


The Golden Child
The Golden Child
von Penelope Fitzgerald
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,06

4.0 von 5 Sternen funny as only the English can be, 26. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Golden Child (Taschenbuch)
Don't expect a mindbending Agatha Christie novel when you pick up Fitzgerald's first novel -- it's much more of a British farce making fun of the stuffy art critic world, the English in general (the main character has to deal with his wife Haggie who finds him uninspiring and boring) and anything to do with pretension. The whole premise of the novel is funny: people are queueing for days in the cold for this incredible exhibition of the so called Golden Child, but it turns out to be a fake. At one point, the main character is strangled by the "golden thread" that is supposedly a key part of the exhibit. There is a superb scene when the main character actually is trying to kill time to avoid his wife and decides to stand on line to see the exhibit for himself. He develops a feeling of solidarity with the people in line who share war stories about their wait to see the statue for the brief 20 seconds they are allotted. Fitzgerald captures perfectly this "fan mania" that anyone who has ever lined up for an event will enjoy reading. He chickens out right before actually seeing the exhibit and never makes it. The mystery part of the book is not that great, but the hilarious characters and dry satire make it an enjoyable read.


Scotland Guide (Open Road's Scotland Guide)
Scotland Guide (Open Road's Scotland Guide)
von Dan McQuillan
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen my favorite of the travel guides to Scotland, 26. Juli 2000
After reading through almost all the available guides to England and Scotland, I chose to bring this one with me to Scotland because it was the best overall. Fodors is not bad, but it's just not organized as well as this one is. It lists more places to stay, but what I liked about this book is that he focuses on a few places that are superb. I'm also a fan of the insight guides, but I didn't see one for Scotland on the day I spent looking for books at a bookstore. We stayed at his most highly recommended B and B's and every single recommendation was on the mark. We even showed his descriptions to the proprietors of the B and B's who were impressed. This is the only book I found that really goes in depth in three areas that really matter: where to stay, what to see and what to eat. The introductory sections on history and background were very well done and should provide any traveller with the basic information to enjoy Scotland. In the book, the author devotes his two longest chapters to Edinborough and Glascow, but unlike other guides, he does an excellent job on the highlands (the northern ones) and the Grampian highlands. Since we spent most of our time in those two areas, I can say that he was very on target as far as what is worth seeing, how to get there, and how to plan your time. My cover looks different from the one pictured above: it's blue and has "Open Road Guide" on the top. I hope I'm referring to the same book -- the publication date is the same. If you are planning to go to Scotland and see some truly rugged and inspiring places, this book will help you appreciate the beauty of this rugged country. It avoids the temptation to cover too much information. It's just right in terms of providing detailed descriptions, particularly of the guest houses and the country side.


Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
von Anthony Bourdain
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 23,37

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5.0 von 5 Sternen much more than a simple expose, 9. Juli 2000
If this were only a tell all of the restaurant trade, it would have worn thin after a chapter or two of disgusting practices (I'm still cringing from the description of seafood on Mondays, well done anything, certain sauces that smack of "preservation" of foul meat or fish)in the world's kitchens. But, much like his personality,he jumps between biography (both auto and of interesting people he's worked with) expose, how-to, rants, etc.... That's what makes it interesting. I don't know how people could say he's conceited. I've never read any writer which such a good grasp of who he is. Bourdain is brutally honest about his fancy upbringing (and contrasts it sharply with that of the mostly South and Central American men who are the staple of the entire food industry), his desolate years, his drug habits, his puerile forays into better kitchens than his current level -- he will keep you in stitches while at the same time giving a no-holds barred view of what it's like to be a chef. It's definitely not for most normal people, and he explains why truly there are very few fine chefs. He'll make you appreciate the line cook who really does all the prep work and major cooking -- you want that person to be boring and regular, not an innovator at all! You'll learn why. After reading "a day in the life," you'll realize just what a sinecure your 100 hour a week investment bank job is -- you'd never believe the skills and organizational ability necessary to run a busy kitchen.
This turned out to be one of my favorite reads of the year. I stayed up until almost 2am to finish it. It may have been irregular (the writing) in places, but that's fine in the context of this book which jumps around a lot. He's a fine writer and a great storyteller. His chapter on how people like us should cook is eye-opening to say the least. Anytime your friends tell you than they have to have a fancy set of Henkels knives, refer them to this chapter. Definitely worthwhile reading and a good break from heavier fiction.


A Streetcar Named Desire (Signet)
A Streetcar Named Desire (Signet)
von Tennessee Williams
  Taschenbuch

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5.0 von 5 Sternen an emotional rollercoaster, 9. Juli 2000
It's amazing how much of its original power this play has maintained even though by all accounts it should be dated by now. After all, we have come far, have we not, from the south in those backwards years? Or have we? This was one of the works that we read in my AP English class this year and I was surprised how well a group of 11th graders were able to identify with the sexual tension, the deceptions, the characters and the plot. Blanche's hopeless situation is still quite poignant and Stanley's animal magnetism is something all of them could relate to. After reading the play countless times (and seeing various performances), I can say that this short play packs quite a wallop. Williams fits in a myriad of human emotions into this one short play. If for some reason you missed this one, read it and then rent the movie with Marlon Brando. With memorable characters like Stanley, Stella, Blanch and Mitch who have made their way into our everyday vocubulary, and a sizzling dialogue, it's a lasting work. The movie Body Heat is the closest modern parallel I can think of in terms of setting and mood.


The Painted Bird (Kosinski, Jerzy)
The Painted Bird (Kosinski, Jerzy)
von Jerzy Kosinski
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,27

4.0 von 5 Sternen a good luck at man's inhumanity to man, 7. Juli 2000
This is certainly not a pleasant book to read. Nothing very good happens to our 6 year old narrator as he goes from gypsy village to gypsy village and witnesses one thing more horrible than the next. There are some absolutely horrifyingly graphic, disgusting shows of man's brutality but you almost becomed numbed by reading it. By the time you hit the seen with the invaders at the end who rape and torture the women, it doesn't even seem as bad as half of the other stuff. More importantly, you can see how the boy cannot go back to living with his family now that his childhood is lost. An important book although don't expect any fun here.
For my taste, I prefer the gut renching agony of Primo Levi's Holocaust memoirs and novels. At times you forget you are reading about humans since the behavior borders on primate like. I'm not sure mankind has improved that much in the intervening time between the close of WW II and the present. This is kind of like reading a Lord of the Flies with eastern European gypsies and villagers.


TIMBUKTU -OSI
TIMBUKTU -OSI
von Paul Auster
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen an innovative take on the human condition, 6. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: TIMBUKTU -OSI (Taschenbuch)
This may not be Auster's most perfect novel, but he does such a good job with his characters that the book does have that quality of staying with you long after you close the last page. Even if you're not a dog lover, you have to relate to the way animals sometimes seem to understand just what we are saying. I agree that some of the middle of the book got stale, but several of the younger kids are well drawn which brought the interest right back. Even though the book seems like a light comedy at first, Auster has that knack of approaching world problems like homelessness, drugs, craziness, all through the back door, in this case, the comments of Mr. Bones, Willy's dog. It's quite a short book and probably would have made a better short story than a short novel, but still, I enjoyed it and found Auster's writing excellent.


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