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Women's Bodies
Women's Bodies
by Edward Shorter
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 39.95
22 used & new from CDN$ 21.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential - even for the squeamish, May 13 2000
This review is from: Women's Bodies (Paperback)
If you don't wince over and over again reading this book, then you're not human. This is a horrifying but very worthy book about changing (and unchanging) attitudes to women's bodies throughout the ages, mostly focusing on pregnancy, childbirth, and menstruation.
Hardcore feminists might not like the way Shorter glosses over the problems of the present day, but the historical work is so excellent and insightful - and so fastidiously researched and footnoted - that I'm prepared to overlook this.
This book will make you uncomfortable in more ways than one, but it's a book no-one should miss.

Popular Alienation: A Steamshovel Press Reader
Popular Alienation: A Steamshovel Press Reader
by Kenn Thomas
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 27.41

4.0 out of 5 stars A weird journey, well worth the effort, May 13 2000
Basically a collection of issues of _Steamshovel Press_, that bastion of bizarre conspiracy theorists, with a few articles pulled because of author problems, this is a fascinating read. It's not something you'll devour in one sitting, but if you have an interest in the underbelly of pop culture (whether or not you believe the theories themselves), you'll come back to it again and again.
The standard of writing is actually surprisingly high; this isn't like the garbled photocopies that guy in the park hands out. There's work here by Carl Oglesby, Jim Keith, and Robert Anton Wilson (his piece is actually a bit tired and disappointing, but oh well), and genuinely interesting interviews with Jack Hoffman and Kerry Thornley (among others). Overall, worth having on the bookshelf.

Book Of Mirdad
Book Of Mirdad
by Mikhail Naimy
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 21.90

2.0 out of 5 stars Avoid, May 13 2000
This review is from: Book Of Mirdad (Paperback)
_Mirdad_ is an attempt by Mikhael Naimy to imitate the kind of writing the Sufis did best: a little odd, but meaningful and rewarding on multiple levels. He fails. The best that can be said about this book is that it is a good insight into Naimy's mind, with half-baked anticapitalism, stupid comments on science, and smug self-satisfaction included. (Not that I'm against self-satisfied nonscientific anticapitalists, you understand, but I prefer it when they have a cogent position and can write well enough to express it).
If you think you can read passages like 'Verily, Man is the darling of the Universe. All things are glad to pamper him' or 'All orders of being below Man are enclosed in group ova . . . always the more evolved enclosing all the orders of Life below it down to the central nucleus' and still think that the author is wiser than you, then go right ahead and get this book. Otherwise, steer clear, and try Idries Shah for a wiser, infinitely more satisfying dose of spirituality.

The Hippopotamus
The Hippopotamus
by Stephen Fry
Edition: Paperback
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but not Stephen Fry's best, May 13 2000
This review is from: The Hippopotamus (Paperback)
When your first novel is as good as _The Liar_, it's only natural that your follow-up would be a bit of a comedown. When you're Stephen Fry, though, a 'comedown' book can still be better than most of what's out there.
The eponymous Hippopotomas is Ted Wallace, a cantankerous theatre critic who drinks too much, and his skeptical investigations into 'miraculous' goings-on at his old friend's mansion in the country. That's the plot, really; it doesn't sound like much, but the characters pull it off (for which see below). It's a lot more straightforward than _The Liar_, very much in the mystery genre with clues sprinkled throughout which are tied together at the end in a maddeningly logical way that will have you kicking yourself - unless you're more observant than me and actually figure it out yourself, of course.
While this book is very, very funny and very, very readable - stamped with Fry through and through - I will say that it didn't engage me emotionally the way most of his other work does. That's okay, though; it did engage me on an intellectual level, and the writing itself is a treat. One reviewer has called it 'fruity', and I can't think of a better word; it'll have you wanting to read out loud, just to savour the phrasing.
Much has been made of this book's "shocking" nature, but most broad-minded adults should be OK with it; it does include a lot of graphic sex of various descriptions (including bestiality), but never of a gratuitous nature (I know it might seem hard to imagine un-gratuitous bestiality, but trust me) and certainly never in a way that resembles pornography - except as satire, possibly.
It's definitely not for kids aged 4-8, though - let's hope Amazon fix this soon!

The Soul of Mbira: Music and Traditions of the Shona People of Zimbabwe
The Soul of Mbira: Music and Traditions of the Shona People of Zimbabwe
by Paul F. Berliner
Edition: Paperback
36 used & new from CDN$ 8.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Good coverage of the topic, May 13 2000
Anyone who liked _Thinking in Jazz_, another Paul Berliner book, will probably enjoy _Soul of Mbira_. It takes a similar approach, looking at the history, sociology, tradition and musical nature of the Shona mbira (also known as the kalimba, sanzhi, likembe, or 'thumb piano' - though after you hear Paul's comments on the latter name, you won't want to use it again).
Other musical instruments by the Shona are also covered, but to a much lesser degree. The section on performance is nice, but it is the part which suffers most from 'dancing about architecture' syndrome.
The appendix on 'building and playing your own mbira' is informative, but unless you have access to an anvil and fire, not very practical! It isn't hard to modify the design and make your own anyway, though, it just won't be as traditional.

Moab Is My Washpot
Moab Is My Washpot
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.63

5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing look at a brilliant man, May 13 2000
This review is from: Moab Is My Washpot (Paperback)
People who suspected that _The Liar_ was autobiographical can now check to see exactly how right they were.
This is one of the finest autobiographies I've ever read. Stephen Fry is a brilliant actor, writer, broadcaster, and all-around genius; this is his story, well and truly free from Bowdlerism. You'll read about his arrest for credit card fraud, his inventor father, his horror at all photographs of himself, and more - all in his unique writing style, alternately hysterically funny and deeply moving.
Not to be missed by anyone.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: A Singer's Stories, Songs, Seeds, Robberies
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: A Singer's Stories, Songs, Seeds, Robberies
by Pete Seeger
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 7.28

4.0 out of 5 stars The life of a very cheerful man, May 13 2000
If you like Pete Seeger (and who doesn't?), you'll like this overview of the folk scene from someone who was and is well and truly at the heart of it it.
The book takes the form of a pleasant, almost feelgood ramble through Pete's life, with lots of photos and play-it-yourself music (traditional, his own, Woody Guthrie's..) sprinkled throughout. Overall, it makes a very rewarding read.
Oh - and the cover's fantastic.

Songs of Work and Protest: 100 Favorite Songs of American Workers Complete with Music and Historical Notes
Songs of Work and Protest: 100 Favorite Songs of American Workers Complete with Music and Historical Notes
by Edith Fowke
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 27.00
18 used & new from CDN$ 16.30

4.0 out of 5 stars A great collection, May 13 2000
An excellent folksong anthology with a particular focus on songs about old (and ongoing) struggles between the haves and the have-nots. There's also a great introduction to each song, putting it in context.
While the songs in this book overlap a little with some other books I own, there are enough hard-to-find ones in here to make it worth thinking about.

The Banjo Picker's Fake Book
The Banjo Picker's Fake Book
by David Brody
Edition: Spiral-bound
Price: CDN$ 34.33
23 used & new from CDN$ 16.54

4.0 out of 5 stars No-nonsense collection of tunes, May 13 2000
If you're after the usual folk-tune-collection introductions to each song, you won't find them here: just the bare bones of the songs in various arrangements (mostly clawhammer, quite a few Scruggs-style). The music speaks for itself, though, and like all books of this type it's fun to pick a page at random and see what it sounds like.

44 And 66
44 And 66
Price: CDN$ 24.41
20 used & new from CDN$ 16.38

3.0 out of 5 stars Not Greg's best, but still pretty good, May 13 2000
This review is from: 44 And 66 (Audio CD)
This CD never really reaches the heights of _Dream Cafe_ or _Further In_, but it does have its moments. My favourites are the mellow folk-jazz "Beatniks Gonna Rise Again", the sublime "People Hide Their Love", and the vocals-so-schmaltzy-it-actually-works "20 or so".

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