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P. Costello "dreamyphil"
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The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
by Brian Greene
Edition: Paperback
131 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely riveting, March 18 2004
By far one of the most absolutely riveting science books written for the layperson I have ever read -- tops even Brief History of Time. A totally comprehensive summary of Newtonian physics, relativity, and the forces, followed by an intriguing explanation of string theory and beyond. If you are a scientist you might be above it, but this is perfect for the layperson to get a grasp of the issues.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.15
72 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply Awful, Nov. 30 2003
James Joyce is the most over-rated author in the history of literature. Anyone who claims to like him is pretentious and a liar. If you disagree, you are deceiving yourself. With the exception of a few short scenes, it is impossible that anyone could derive any satisfaction from reading "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." Disregard all reviews below giving this book anything more than 1 star. It is quite possibly the worst psuedo-intellectual piece of garbage I have ever read. There was absolutely no tension, no plot, no good characters, and the writing was awful. It is worse than Henry James. For example, toward the novel's end Joyce took tens of pages paraphrasing the aesthetic philosophy of Thomas Aquinas through the voice of Portrait's main character, Stephen Dedalus. If I wanted to learn about St. Aquinas's aesthetic philosophy, I would read Aquinas, not a painful and misplaced rendering of it by Joyce. If you want to read a good coming of age novel about youth, idealism, naivitee, sexual frustration, religious conflict, and yes, ART, read Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham, which has an excellent story, excellent characters, and is excellently written. Avoid this drivel at all costs.

The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.96
138 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not as great as all the hype, Nov. 28 2003
This review is from: The Sound and the Fury (Paperback)
If The Sound and the Fury were not so difficult to read, I don't think it would get all the hype it gets. Once I was able to figure out what was going on in the plot, what I was left with was an interesting story about the decline of a prominent Southern family, with some interesting characters (namely the idiot Benjamin Compson, the venerable servant Dilsey, and the self-interested Jason Compson). But, I did not feel the story was as compelling as my favorite Faulkner novel, Absalom Absalom. Reading The Sound and the Fury is like cracking a cipher code due to the constant shifts in time, two characters with the same name, and another character whose name gets changed -- all without informing the reader -- and references to events that make no sense until several hundred pages later in the book. As a literary experiment that is very cool, but it doesn't render the book the greatest novel ever. I also was not able to suspend my disbelief about some of the characters' motivations, most notably the fact that Quentin Compson committed suicide because he couldn't come to terms with his sister Caddy's promiscuity. I just didn't buy it. But don't get me wrong, I still highly recommend this novel. I just don't think it's as great as the hype.

Penguin Classics Golden Bowl
Penguin Classics Golden Bowl
by Henry James
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pompous and verbose, Nov. 16 2003
I just spent two weeks reading this book thinking that at some point there would be a hook or a payoff. There was none. James took 787 pages to tell a story that never develops into anything in terms of action, and only an ambiguous wishy-washiness in terms of the characters' subjective states. Yes, in some passages the writing was elegant and enchanting, but not enough to save the book. And no, I'm not ragging on this book simply because I didn't understand it. I did understand it. I'm ragging on it because it was a waste of my time. I'm giving it 3 stars because James is obviously a master of the English language, but this book is essentially for English professors. Read Edith Wharton instead if you're into this period and subject matter.

Penguin Classics Golden Bowl
Penguin Classics Golden Bowl
by Henry James
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pompous and verbose, Nov. 16 2003
I just spent two weeks reading this book thinking that at some point there would be a hook or a payoff. There was none. James took 787 pages to tell a story that never develops into anything in terms of action, and only an ambiguous wishy-washiness in terms of the characters' subjective states. Yes, in some passages the writing was elegant and enchanting, but not enough to save the book. This book is for English professors. Read Edith Wharton instead if you're into this period and subject matter.

The Da Vinci Code: A Novel
The Da Vinci Code: A Novel
by Dan Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.69
544 used & new from CDN$ 0.19

1.0 out of 5 stars Populist Drivel, Nov. 12 2003
This is pure drivel, made for the masses, much like a second rate Hollywood blockbuster film with tons of special effects but no substance. My intelligence was completely insulted by the hyperbolic plot disguised as genuine historical fiction. If you really want to learn about history while also reading a great work of literature, check out "I, Claudius" by Robert Graves. The Da Vinci Code is only one step above a corny James Patterson novel.

20th Century Kim
20th Century Kim
by Rudyard Kipling
Edition: Paperback
54 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly Overrated, Oct. 25 2003
This review is from: 20th Century Kim (Paperback)
Am I missing something here? Apparently. I found Kipling's writing extremely stilted and archaic, in a bad way (not in a say, Shakespeare way). The characters were one-dimensional, and the plot was heaped with deus-ex-machinas. I had to struggle to get through every page, and force myself to read a designated amount each night in order to finish it (it took me almost a week, and it's not a long book). The writing is filled with colloquialisms and foreign expressions, and I had to constantly flip to the Endnotes to decipher the code, which was extremely inconvenient. I did learn something about India and its history, and I can't wait to read a better novel on the subject.

I, Claudius
I, Claudius
by Robert Graves
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
67 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply The Best, Oct. 25 2003
This review is from: I, Claudius (Paperback)
This is my favorite novel of all times. A masterpiece. Robert Graves is a literary genius and a true scholar. An absolutely enthralling, multi-generational tale of the excess and scandal of ancient Rome. You will not only be blown away by the amazing, vivid prose, plot twists, and stellar characters, but you will become a "cocktail party" scholar of ancient Roman history!! No modern high-supsense espionage novel can come close to this crowning work of literature. Thank god the Modern Library recognized the genius of this stunning book by naming it the 15th greatest novel of the 20th Century. In my book, it's # 1, and I've read a lot of the Modern Library list. When you are done reading this, buy the Masterpiece Theater mini-series on DVD, which is quite simply the best thing ever put on tape in the history of television. I cannot say enough -- just read it, and your life will be enriched!!

Under The Volcano
Under The Volcano
by Malcolm Lowry
Edition: Paperback
22 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Good look into the alcoholic subconscious, Oct. 25 2003
This review is from: Under The Volcano (Paperback)
Through his stream of conciousness prose, Malcolm Lowry does a great job of getting inside the head of a hopeless alcoholic, British ex-consul Geoffrey Firmin. That and the vivid backdrop of a fictitious Mexican town in the 1930's made this a great read. It was amazing to so vividly experience the insanity of alcoholism. Lowry struck home on the utter confusion associated with being a black-out drunk, whether it be confusion in terms of one's sense of time and place and sequence of events, or the utter self-delusion of one's importance and place in the universe. All this was achieved by Lowry's very "abstract" and fractured writing style, through which he created the extremely amazing, complicated and intriguing character of Geoffrey Firmin. Lowry definitely wrote from experience. The book only gets 4 stars because two of the three main characters (Hugh and Yvonne) were a little one-dimensional for me, and I didn't really get into the book until about halfway through. But it is definitely well worth the effort and was well-deservingly included among the Modern Library's Top 100 novels of the 20th Century.

To the Lighthouse
To the Lighthouse
by Virginia Woolf
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.68
126 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Great Writing but Short on Plot, Oct. 17 2003
This review is from: To the Lighthouse (Paperback)
Virginia Woolf is a genius at creating and evoking intense moods in reference to seemingly banal attributes of our existence. Such as eating dinner with your family and guests, the trivial conversations that occur during the dinner, and, most importantly, the drifting inner thoughts of her characters and their unspoken conversations underneath the surface. All that is fine and good and worth a read, but I found myself struggling a bit to finish To The Lighthouse due to the lack of any major plot conflicts or action. Virginia Woolf takes up a huge portion of the book describing a character's inner thoughts and feelings as she tries to finish a painting. I know, that's the point of the book, and I see its value, but if I'm in a mood to explore the literary subconscious, I prefer Faulkner, who weaves in compelling plots in addition to the inner lives of his characters.

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