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C. Williamson (USA)
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Down Here: A Burke Novel
Down Here: A Burke Novel
by Andrew Vachss
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Another powerful chapter in the literary life of Burke..., April 13 2004
It's difficult to believe that Down Here is the fifteenth novel about Burke, that grown-up "Child of the Secret" who lives across the border that separates the normal world from the world of lawlessness and violence. The novels read more like one lengthy, continuing story, each book another chapter in the story arc of Burke's life. Some chapters are naturally more interesting than others, but all have been well worth reading, and Down Here is one of the more effective ones. There is a power to Vachss's writing that sustains and nourishes the reader during even the most procedural of scenes, and there are a great many of those here. That's only natural, however, since Burke is put in the situation of investigator. The woman he deeply admires and possibly loves, Wolfe, is a former sex crimes prosecutor who has been accused of attempted murder by a convicted multiple rapist now free on a technicality. Burke takes it upon himself and his colorful crew to prove Wolfe's innocence, but once that's done, there are still more puzzles to be solved and links to be made. The plot is primarily that of discovery, and it's to Vachss's credit as a writer that the process never becomes boring. Interest is maintained by his icy prose style, the never less than fascinating characters, and the viewpoint of Burke himself, who, in an ethically ambiguous situation, pimps himself, initiating an affair with the rapist's sister, an artfully drawn businesswoman of whom Burke grows fond. The core of Burke's "family" is present - Mama, Max the Silent, the Prof, Michelle, the Mole, and the adopted offspring Terry and Clarence. They're their usual helpful selves, except when they want to help themselves to some money. Burke's altruism toward Wolfe isn't always shared by Mama and the Prof, who seem frustrated by the lack of profit in this particular job. Their greed is a quality that makes them both a little less admirable but a lot more human. Burke's humanity comes through as well, in spades. He's a living, breathing character whose observations can be touching, but whose cynicism still stings. As always, Vachss's Zen-like refusal to use traditional chapter breaks makes the novel flow like a stream, and once you pick it up it's a tough book to put down. When you finally do, you'll find yourself wishing, not for the next book in a series, but for the next chapter in the dark, brooding, and somehow hopeful life of Burke.

The Chaplin Collection, Vol. 2 (City Lights / The Circus / The Kid / A King in New York / A Woman of Paris / Monsieur Verdoux / The Chaplin Revue / Charlie - The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin)
The Chaplin Collection, Vol. 2 (City Lights / The Circus / The Kid / A King in New York / A Woman of Paris / Monsieur Verdoux / The Chaplin Revue / Charlie - The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin)
DVD ~ Charles Chaplin
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 170.08
9 used & new from CDN$ 130.75

5.0 out of 5 stars We're not worthy!, March 4 2004
After the first Chaplin Collection, I expected a terrific second set, but this far surpassed my expectations. My sole concern for the set as announced was that all the First National shorts would not be included, and that only the three which Chaplin compiled into the feature, THE CHAPLIN REVUE, would be present. But lo and behold, THE CHAPLIN REVUE is now a two-disc set which includes the four additional First Nationals! True, the other three are presented in Chaplin's 1959 compilation format, but still, it's all here. CITY LIGHTS, THE KID, and THE CIRCUS are all given two-disc presentations with tons of extras, while MONSIEUR VERDOUX, A WOMAN OF PARIS, and A KING IN NEW YORK receive one disc apiece, in which there are still some dandy bonus features. Add to the pot a widescreen version of the over two hours long CHARLIE, Richard Schickel's recent and acclaimed documentary, and you've got an amazing wealth of Chaplin material that will keep enthusiasts busy for weeks. The visual and audio quality is stunning, and the packaging quite attractive. When you divide the cost of the set by these twelve well-packed discs, it seems a financial pittance for a fortune's worth of Chaplin. I could have paid three times the amount for this material and not felt cheated. Unconditionally recommended.

Chet Atkins:Tribute to Chet at
Chet Atkins:Tribute to Chet at
DVD ~ Chet Atkins
Price: CDN$ 16.55
16 used & new from CDN$ 9.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Some clutter, but Chet is great, Feb. 12 2004
This 1980 TV special is a real treat for Chet Atkins fans. Being that it's a tribute taped in front of a live audience, Chet himself is on stage for perhaps a bit over a third of the running time, but at 99 minutes, that gives you well over a half hour of Chet(and the price is right). The highlights are his solo medley at the end and a sublime duet with Earl Klugh, but there are some charming things in between. There are also a few comedy routines, and a great many 1980 Nashville stars singing their hits. Some of these songs haven't aged well, and I fast-forwarded through a few. But let's face it, we're here for Chet, and what's here is prime. The sound is quite good, and the full screen image is clear and bright.

Storm Zone
Storm Zone
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 13.95
8 used & new from CDN$ 2.49

5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible young pianist!, Feb. 10 2004
This review is from: Storm Zone (Audio CD)
I just picked this up because I like Japanese jazz, and was astounded. Takashi Matsunaga is only 17, but plays like a veteran. His chops are excellent, and his compositional skills mature beyond his years. This is both a lively and emotionally moving album, and I recommend it to all jazz fans. We've seen prodigies flare and burn out, but this kid is the real deal. I tremble when I think about what he may be like in another ten years. But don't wait - discover him now.

Wodehouse Playhouse: Series One
Wodehouse Playhouse: Series One
DVD ~ John Alderton
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 25.95
8 used & new from CDN$ 25.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye, my old VHS tapes!, March 10 2003
Blessings upon the heads of those at Acorn Media! At last I can retire some of the VHS tapes on which I taped these off the air back in the mid-80s. These episodes constitute some of the funniest half hours ever televised, and "The Truth About George" never fails to leave me breathless with laughter, even after multiple viewings. To have these at last on pristine DVDs is a rare treat indeed, and I can't wait for Acorn to release the remainder of the series.

The Getaway Man
The Getaway Man
by Andrew Vachss
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.24
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A change of pace for a great crime writer, Feb. 13 2003
This review is from: The Getaway Man (Paperback)
Readers used to novels featuring Vachss's continuing character Burke will find this book a true change of pace. Vachss alters his literary voice completely in his creation of Eddie, a professional getaway driver. Eddie is as far from Burke as can be imagined, an innocent in a world of corruption, a man who is a criminal mainly because his talents are best suited for that particular job. He is a driver who lives to drive, and spends his evenings watching old movies that he likes to think parallel his own life (like Thunder Road and Moonshine Highway). Loyal and honorable, realistic but trusting, Eddie seems a sweet child in an evil man's world until, as in the classic plots of James M. Cain, a woman makes him reexamine his priorities and loyalties. To say more would give away too much of the plot, but Vachss never takes a wrong turn on Eddie's drive away from innocence.
The tight prose and simple style suit the subject perfectly. Eddie isn't nearly as eloquent with language as Burke, and there are frequent grammatical errors in this first-person narrative which only add to the richly drawn portrait. Nor is Eddie as outwardly intense as Burke. There's no crusader in these pages, only a guy trying to make a living doing what he loves to do, and trying to deal with the temptations and moral dilemmas that go with the job. The sense of the 1950s predominates, although there are frequent references to contemporary technology.
The book is short, less than 200 pages, and they fly effortlessly by, with Vachss's trademark style of using simple breaks rather than the artificiality of chapter heads. The trade paperback package is totally simpatico with the novel's spirit, displaying stylish 50's cover artwork and logo, and even creases printed on the covers, to give that stuck-in-the-back-pocket paperback feel (you'll have to break the spine yourself). It's a terrific book that ends with a perfectly measured body blow to the gut, and those who appreciate crime fiction at its best would be fools to miss it.

Chambergrass: A Decade of Tunes from the Edges of Bluegrass
Chambergrass: A Decade of Tunes from the Edges of Bluegrass
Price: CDN$ 17.80
13 used & new from CDN$ 14.04

5.0 out of 5 stars These musicians are hard to top!, July 26 2002
A CD full of inventive and intelligent acoustic string music. It's bluegrass at its most creative. These three guys play together like a well-oiled machine, with instrumental lines intertwining and reacting to each other like ping-pong balls in a steel drum rolling downhill (only it sounds a LOT better!) This is like a Master's Class in pickin', and I recommend it highly for bluegrass lovers and musicians alike.

Millionaire
Millionaire
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 13.95
3 used & new from CDN$ 7.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Another phenomenal album from Kevin Welch, July 16 2002
This review is from: Millionaire (Audio CD)
Here's a guy who deserves a whole lot more attention than he has now. Kevin Welch is one of the finest singer-songwriters working today. The music and lyrics he creates are rough-cut gems, and he performs them brilliantly. Like most great music, it's hard to categorize Welch's sound -- folk-rock, country rock, who cares? Just listen and enjoy. Welch is joined by several Danish musicians here, and they provide him with great support. You'll find a wide variety of songs, from the bare-bones "Witness," which provides enough dramatic material for a screenplay, to the haunting "The Sun King and the Winter Moon" to the robust wall of sound of "Stray Dog." MILLIONAIRE is another big step forward for this strong and soulful musician.

Miles To Go
Miles To Go
by Chris Murphy
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from CDN$ 4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A warm and affectionate look at a musical giant, March 26 2002
This review is from: Miles To Go (Hardcover)
I didn't quite know what to expect from this book, since the jacket copy called it "brutally honest (and bound to be controversial)," and I feared a somewhat raw expose. But instead I found this memoir a nostalgic and tender reminiscence of Miles Davis by Chris Murphy, who worked closely with him for many years. While not a total whitewash, it should go a long way toward balancing the "Prince of Darkness" image that so many other writers (and Miles himself) seemed to relish. The book is touching, funny and informative, and while Murphy does discuss incidents in his own life as well, it detracts little from the portrait of Miles he draws. Miles' then-wife, Cicely Tyson, comes off as a harridan, but Miles is always depicted with great affection. This is not the kind of book that Davis fans would refer back to, but it's certainly worth a read as yet another facet of a true artist who never ceases to fascinate lovers of great music.

Bela Flek & the Flecktones:Liv
Bela Flek & the Flecktones:Liv
DVD ~ DVD
Price: CDN$ 16.65
19 used & new from CDN$ 10.13

5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect music DVD!, March 23 2002
This is how all concert DVDs should be done! I saw this configuration of the Flecktones last summer, and this DVD captures the experience perfectly. The sound is terrific, the camera work is imaginative and fluid without being intrusive, and the extras add a great deal of insight. The Flecktones are at their greatest here, along with their super guests like Paul McCandless, Andy Narrell, Paul Hansen, and the rest. If you want to see one of the finest music DVDs available today, look no further!

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