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RupertOwen@bookwyrm.social

Joined 3 years ago

Orchardist, beekeeper, brewer of country wines and author.

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The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (2007, FQ Classics) 2 stars

Many works have been written on Expression, but a greater number on Physiognomy, - that …

The expression of the Emotions of Charles Darwin.

2 stars

This thesis by Charles Darwin is a curio for me. It begins quite casually observing emotions relating to humans and animals, especially dogs, cats, horses, and monkeys. It then focusses on humankind as the premise for the rest of the observation. Darwin references heavily on other works and adds smatterings of his own family experiences, as well as accounts from friends in distant places. At one point it seems Charles is quite fascinated with the brow (corrugator) to a point where his bemusement is ticklish and later on with his chapter on blushing seems particularly keen on reporting incidents of women baring their bosoms. "This case is interesting, as the blush did not thus extend downwards until it became intense by her attention being drawn to this part of her person."

It's written more from a kind of early David Attenborough style, blending the personal with the scientific but not …

Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb (1973, Ace Books) 3 stars

Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb is a 1965 science fiction …

Philip. K. Dick or How We Like A Quick Sci-Fi Read

3 stars

The blurb on the back cover is a poor summary to the unusual slice of post-atomic life Dick has served up as a snapshot of dystopian life. There are mutants, but not in the ubiquitous way contemporary fantastic science-fiction and urban fantasy tend to saturate their stories with. And the mutations are more considered and implicit as part of the narrative convention as opposed to characterisation or some sort of "super/magic power". Dick has been selective on the mutant/human ratio for greater affect. Like most of Dick's writing, he has the unrivalled talent of marrying offbeat nuances within the most mundane of circumstances. The story is a snapshot of several communities during the aftermath of an atomic accident. It's an easy, relaxing read with only a slight authorial parable at the end but mostly it focuses on how people interact with each other under the circumstances of having to put …

Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb (1973, Ace Books) 3 stars

Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb is a 1965 science fiction …

Review of 'Dr. Bloodmoney or How We Got Along after the Bomb' on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

The blurb on the back cover is a poor summary to the unusual slice of post-atomic life Dick has served up as a snapshot of dystopian life. There are mutants, but not in the ubiquitous way contemporary fantastic science-fiction and urban fantasy tend to saturate their stories with. And the mutations are more considered and implicit as part of the narrative convention as opposed to characterisation or some sort of "super/magic power". Dick has been selective on the mutant/human ratio for greater affect. Like most of Dick's writing, he has the unrivalled talent of marrying offbeat nuances within the most mundane of circumstances. The story is a snapshot of several communities during the aftermath of an atomic accident. It's an easy, relaxing read with only a slight authorial parable at the end but mostly it focuses on how people interact with each other under the circumstances of having to put …

Review of 'Confessions of two brothers' on 'GoodReads'

4 stars

"The more one tries to analyze oneself the more one is conscious of amazing paradoxes and inconsistencies which lurk under the simplest surface." And so J.C.P does exactly that. He launches into a confessional that is rampantly earnest but at the same time shrewdly conscious. Dictionary to hand, I enjoyed every drop of his flurry. This book was to involve all five brothers but ended up being just John and Llewlyn. The latter producing a diarist piece that was more reflective and less probing. Llewlyn states in his introduction that he felt a "confession" was more akin to airing one's sins. Both men were liberally open-minded for their time and it is no wonder that John was a writer's writer, inspiring many a new wave of literally rebel. I can mark the effectiveness of a book by the amount of book tags I place in the pages and in this …

Funny, Peculiar (Paperback, 2003, Pan Publishing) 3 stars

Review of 'Funny, Peculiar' on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

On the whole, a well-written biography. I was a little dubious to begin with as on page 95, the biographer describes a a moment when Benny is seduced by another man, the biographer retells the story but it is unclear if he was retold the story by the man in question. Mark ends the scenario with Benny stumbling over a doormat as he leaves the gentleman's flat. I was wary that this might be some "creative license" on the biographer's part and the book I was delving into might be littered with authorial interpretation of unknown finer details. However, this kind of writing didn't continue.



Being a Benny Hill aficionado, I was aware of most of the material within this sizeable tome but it was nice to read unabridged as can be possible with a biography. I suppose the facile nature of Alfie Hill Junior makes for delving any deeper …

Moloch Or This Gentile World (1994, Grove Press) 3 stars

Review of 'Moloch Or This Gentile World' on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

I imagine it is quite a challenge to write a despicable and deplorable character in the third person when inspiration is drawn from the first person. Moloch Dion isn’t without redeeming or hopeful aspects to his nature, I wouldn’t say he’s complex but he is certainly contradictory and nuanced like any well rounded human being. The problem with looking at this book through any kind of presupposed lens is like never having done something appalling compared to having done something appalling and being either ashamed or enlightened by it. The former will get you nowhere with this book, the latter will allow empathy and objectiveness to guide you through the narrative. I’m a stickler for the idea that writing allows expressive freedom that would otherwise be reprimanded in “real life”. I don’t think literature ought to be a parable and I don’t think it needs to apply a Disney moral …

A Modest Proposal and Other Satires (Paperback, 2007, Digireads.com) 3 stars

Review of 'A Modest Proposal and Other Satires' on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

This is a small collection of essays and letters. It's quite a subjective read as each piece demonstrates Swift's range as a writer of the political, satirical, theological and personal. I would say it is a taster for hunting down further collections depending on what you are interested in. For me, I enjoyed A Modest Proposal, A Meditation Upon a Broomstick, and Thoughts on Various Subjects. The other pieces were interesting but at times rambling. Don't get me wrong, I like rambling writing but find it strenuous when it pertains to political or religious content. He's not as acerbic as I like when it comes to satire, and I personally prefer Chesterton and Shaw in that respect but his writing is enjoyable, not so much when it comes to a turn of phrase but in summary of a well turned out opinion.

To Have and Have Not (AudiobookFormat, 2006, Simon & Schuster Audio) 2 stars

This 1936 novel tells the story of an American fishing boat skipper who dabbles in …

Review of 'To Have and Have Not' on 'GoodReads'

2 stars

I pleasurably read this book up until part three. The first two parts read like a beatific adventure tale with all the hooks and lines expected of such, it was the third part that was a sinker. I've only read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This, however, was a bit loose on a thread. The pensive ending felt like a narrative filler, I think in the hands of a direct and understated style, it kind of flops. I'm not one to uphold a piece of writing just because surrounding works of an author have been acclaimed, and To Have And Have Not may very well be an acclaimed work, I don't know, but what I do know is that in the range of similar novels of its time, for me it doesn't stand up as being particularly well written. I should have approached it as a few …

Collected poems. (1960, Dutton) 1 star

Review of 'Collected poems.' on 'GoodReads'

1 star

This collection was part of a revised edition of Faber & Faber publications collated by Durrell in a casual fashion. Having enjoyed Durrell's prose, I thought I might dip into his poetry. Not for me, I'm afraid. To be perfectly honest, I needed heavy annotation with these poems, not just a dictionary. Either by Lawrence or someone else. Much of the geographical, mythological, political, historical linguistic referencing was lost on me. I also found the surrounding metaphor or lyrical symbolism too fragmented and oblique to get a satisfactory feeling or picture of each poem's purpose. I noticed that when I did reach for my dictionary, pretty much all the words I found myself looking up were technical terms. Each time I ran aground on a word, it was a technical definition. It made me wonder if Lawrence purposefully chose these technical words to sound cleverer or to make the poem …

Review of 'Tate Henri Rousseau Calendar 2006' on 'GoodReads'

2 stars

There's something of the 'pataphysical about All or Nothing, reminiscent of Voltaire's Micromegas and Jarry's The Supermale. Cowper Powys's naming conventions certainly are a nod to classic nonsense. Such names as Zug, Wug, Bog, Urk, Bubble, Squeak, etc. The story is rather frenetic from one surreal state to another. The absurd creatures and interplanetary travel is as farfetched as could be fetched from the imagination. The main protagonists, John o' Dreams and Jilly Tewky render the narrative through some sort of mythopoeic madness with plenty of philosophical, theological, mythological substrate to keep the reader intrigued. However, I found myself towards the latter part of the book in a kind of aimless drift amongst the manic plot shifts and to make matters worse, when arriving at the pivotal elucidation of all or nothing, I felt like Cowper Powys was telling me he'd had enough and that was the end of it …

Review of "L'Ame de L'Homme sous le Socialisme / Oscar Wilde" on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

This copy of De Profundis, although a version of the full text, is abridged due to it being the copy made by Robbie Ross along with Robbie's emendations. De Profundis (from the depths) is a fairly long winded prison letter showing Oscar's incredible ability to blossom insight from conventionality. Despite this letter having been born from a passionate love affair, it is rather reserved, and for me, I couldn't help but feel it a shrewd rebuke, even though it is stated that Wilde was explaining his "conduct" rather than defending it. I believe that Alfred Douglas had intended later on for it to be published along with his own comments. The not unusual tit for tat often played out between broken down lovers. What makes it also interesting is the contrast between this opuscule and the letters Wilde wrote to Bosie after his release, it shows the complexity of emotion …

Review of 'Stiff upper lip' on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

If you fancy a leisurely read for an hour or two, Durrell's Stiff Upper Lip could well do the trick. Durrell departs from his more florid accounts of diplomatic life found in his other books to provide a few anecdotes from a "dip" (diplomatic) perspective. These are ditties with no twists or turns, pretty much standard gag material but the language is where the strength lies, a character described as "overlooked washing-up", of Martinis that "fairly whistles through the rigging", describing a dip rabble as having that "dreadful rinsed-out look which comes from Conferences", asking someone to take that "beastly sensual smile" off their face, and so on. Usually, for me, Lawrence is a much more poised writer. Apart from, The Black Book, and including this one, is Lawrence gallivanting across the page to entertain through quips and turns of phrase.

Lavondyss (2004, Orb) 5 stars

Review of 'Lavondyss' on 'GoodReads'

5 stars

After having re-read Mythago Wood as part of a critical study, I decided to carry on and re-read Lavondyss. Many people have commented that this narrative drags, but in my humble opinion, as with how cinema, prior to rhythmic editing trends, perhaps may seem slow or wafting, Lavondyss is no more unhurried than any other book of the 19th or 20th century. Whereas, Mythago Wood was a deliberate intrusion into the mythical realms of Ryhope, Lavondyss is a more gentle discovery of it through oracle and divination. The character of Tallis really carries the burden of life and death through her imagination, her journey is in the grandest sense of time, epic. Lavondyss is a book of familial sorrow, entropy, of suffering and superstition. You are not going to find a rip-roaring adventure full of spellbinding and combat, this book is more reflective but it is also, as Holdstock mentions …

Myth (Paperback, 2008, Routledge) 4 stars

Review of 'Myth' on 'GoodReads'

4 stars

I read this book as part of reference material I used for a critical study. What I like about Coupe is that he doesn't rely overtly on the reference material of others, and his own critical voice and opinions are well devised and thought out. His analysis is broken down in parts: Reading Myth and Mythic Reading, each section containing sections devoted to Oder, Chaos, Ends, Truth, Psyche and History. In this short work he covers a lot of ground across diverse media material but always returns to his heading concept as not to isolate his own theory as a critical study of that particular subject material.