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wiredweird "wiredweird" (Earth, or somewhere nearby)

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Erotic Literature of Ancient India
Erotic Literature of Ancient India
by Sandhya Mulchandani
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 6.27

4.0 out of 5 stars Wide-ranging and enjoyable, Nov. 3 2006
This is not just another wrapper on Sir Richard Burton's tired Victorian translations. This anthology covers at least 1000 years of India's history, and hints at 7000 more.

The bulk of the text is Mulchandani's own commentary and historical outline. It's thoroughly well researched, but still lively and informative. And, although it stays close to intensely and varied sexual themes, it is never crude. Quite the opposite, the tone ranges from friendly and factual to reverential. For most of those thousands of years, India's population was largely agrarian. They depended on the fertility of the land and its creatures for their lives, and on their own fertility for their loves. If biblical literalists can make so much of one act of creation, think how much more splendid it must be to witness and be part of the new acts of creation that happen every day.

This lovely book presents extracts from many eras' tributes to the power of that creative force. The first of this book's chapters celebrates bhakti, holy bliss in the surrender of self - an ideal that proves itself in physical surrender and bliss. Next, Mulchandani presents the Krishna mythos. Krishna is many things, but the enveloping lover above all. The poetic extracts glory in his seduction of the hundreds of cowherd (gopi) girls in a single moment, but also in his devotion to Radha and her devotion to him. A later chapter traces the texts more familiar to western readers, from Vatsyayana's third century sutra to Kokkoka's 11th century "secrets of love" and beyond. Then, Mulchandani presents a brief summary of tantrism, devotional practices that dig into the deepest energies of men and women to elevate them to their highest.

The coffee-table format is filled with lovely and inspiring artwork. The high standards of the book's text leave me just a little disappointed here. Reproduction standards are generally very high, with brilliant colors and sharp printing, but I want just a little more. Where did the picture come from, and when, and from what society? Mulchandani's captions are tangential at best, and the photo credits say nothing about the images' provenance. Maybe I'm picking a nit here, but it's one that matters to me.

It doesn't matter enough to stop me from enjoying this gorgeous book, or from coming back to it. For once, the many quotes from love poems and erotic paeans equal the book's imagery. I recommend this to anyone happy with their human and animal spirit.

//wiredweird

The Colour of Magic
The Colour of Magic
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.69
87 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic silliness, Oct. 18 2005
This review is from: The Colour of Magic (Paperback)
If you haven't travelled Pratchett's Discworld yet, you're not alone. Mr. Twoflowers hasn't travelled it yet, and he lives there. Feel free to join him and his reluctant guide, Rincewind, as they sample Discworld's dives, tavern brawls, dragons, assassins, pirates, and a charming assortment of near-death experiences.
Twoflowers has the tourist's implacable confidence that every demonic temple, every hero with a magic sword, every brigand, and every catastrophe of nature was placed and scheduled for his amusement - and will hold still for a picture. He's also quite convinced that, as a tourist, he's immune to any possible harm.
That premise gives Pratchett's comic genius plenty to work with. Even Death - the Reaper himself - is just a straight man in this world. (There's also The Luggage, but I'll let you discover that for yourself.)
This is the first book in a long-lived series, and gets it off to a great start. I have to warn you, though, there's no such thing as one Pratchett book. Even one is enough to cause addiction.
//wiredweird

Going Postal
Going Postal
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.79
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Gets the stamp of approval, Oct. 8 2005
Lord Vetinari is not a crude man, and would never offer anything as crude as "the offer you can't refuse." You can always refuse. All you need to do is adjust expectations about your lifespan downwards by a good bit if you do.
It was an adjustment that Mr. Moist von Lipwig was unwilling to make, given that his recent execution was very fresh in his mind. What was this fate marginally preferable to another death? Civil service. And that doesn't just mean being polite. Moist became the new Postmaster, reviving the moribund band of letter carriers, and finding some way to enhance his undocumented retirement fund in the process. The extra challenge here was competition from the "clacks", a sort of mechanical internet (staffed by recognizable networking geeks), that could send a message across thousands of miles in just a few hours.
Moist, of course, succeeds, despite the rapacious financial lords of the competition, despite his geologically implacable parole officer, and despite his own chronic failure at anything resembling honesty. Come to think of it, that whole honesty thing seems over-rated by a fair margin, especially when there's a lot more work to do than time in which it can possibly be done.
Pratchett succeeds in keeping his Discworld franchise alive and healthy, infusing old characters and story lines with new life. He manages to connect to all the dozens of previous Discworld books and also to connect to the first-time reader. And, after so many books in the series, he keeps the new ideas coming - like the dreaded Woodpecker, the internet virus that would bring the network of gears and pulleys crashing down around their ears. (If you've ever seen data-dependent networking failures, this one will have a gut-sinking reality about it.)
If this new document of Discworld events lacks the frenzy of earlier volumes, it lacks nothing in cleverness and good fun. Enjoy!
//wiredweird

The Fifth Elephant
The Fifth Elephant
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 14.86

5.0 out of 5 stars A lot to like, Sept. 14 2005
This review is from: The Fifth Elephant (Paperback)
The Discworld and its denizens keep moving forward.
In particular, the much-reviled police captain Vimes and the much-honored Duke Vimes move forward. I mean, like a glacier moves forward. Not the fastest one around, I won't even warn you to get out of his way. Glacier-like, it wouldn't matter. Go ahead, get in his way - he might even notice. Probably not.
This time, in his ducal capacity, he has been appointed to an ambassadorship by Lord Vetinari. Vetinari is not a bad man (by local standards, at least) and doesn't do bad things (again, by local standards). Pray that you're nowhere near when he attempts something good. It might be like lighting a candle in the darkness, with you as the match.
Or it might be like lighting the fuze on the powder-keg. Vimes isn't much the candle type. Around him are many people. There's his finishing-school wife who can finish off dwarves and lots of others, six against one, in unarmed debate. There's Officer Angua of the city watch. A very capable woman but watch out for her "monthlies". You know, new moon, howling over the heath, and and all that were-sort-of-thing. Then ... well, Angua is the predictable one. There are lots of others who aren't.
This is a long-running series with lots of character development in previous volumes. Pratchett is uncommonly well tuned to the newcomer, though. Even if the writer knows the two-dozen stories before this one (and a dozen-squared he never wrote), this story still stands well on its own. The newcomer may as well start here as anywhere. The tone is a bit more serious and less haha than most of the Discworld series, but it fits well.
Enjoy!
//wiredweird

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 5.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Waddya mean "ages 9-12?", Sept. 6 2005
I'm - well, a lot more than either 9 or 12, and I like the series. I keep liking it better as the series goes along.
Harry and his friends are well into their teens by now, with all the complexities of who dates who - or doesn't. As in the real world, there are baffling moments, uncomfortable ones, and occasionally the very comfortable ones (discreetly hidden behind the vague term "snogging").
Harry gets a more mature view of the adults around him, too. They're not all the godlike wizards of his first year, they have their human flaws. The Hogwarts professors are seen with a more critical eye, and Harry addresses the Ministry on his own trems. Even Dumbledore is now seen to have his blind spots and failures - that injury scarcely counts as success, and his reliance on Harry in gaining crucial information falls well short of omnipotence. Harry's closer enemies are maturing, too.
`Nuff said. Go and read it yourself. It helps a lot if you've read the others, in order, but you'd probably like it even as your first taste of the series.
//wiredweird

The Color of Magic
The Color of Magic
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.79
32 used & new from CDN$ 5.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic silliness, Sept. 1 2005
This review is from: The Color of Magic (Paperback)
If you haven't travelled Pratchett's Discworld yet, you're not alone. Mr. Twoflowers hasn't travelled it yet, and he lives there. Feel free to join him and his reluctant guide, Rincewind, as they sample Discworld's dives, tavern brawls, dragons, assassins, pirates, and a charming assortment of near-death experiences.
Twoflowers has the tourist's implacable confidence that every demonic temple, every hero with a magic sword, every brigand, and every catastrophe of nature was placed and scheduled for his amusement - and will hold still for a picture. He's also quite convinced that, as a tourist, he's immune to any possible harm.
That premise give Pratchett's comic genius plenty to work with. Even Death - the Reaper himself - is just a straight man in this world. (There's also The Luggage, but I'll let you discover that for yourself.)
This is the first book in a long-lived series, and gets it off to a great start. I have to warn you, though, there's no such thing as one Pratchett book. Even one is enough to cause addiction.
//(...)

Small Gods
Small Gods
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.69
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.08

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And they're all small --, Sept. 1 2005
This review is from: Small Gods (Paperback)
-- sooner or later.
Pratchett has done the unthinkable - kept a series (and a humor series at that) alive and fresh well into its second dozen. This book started that second dozen.
It's about Brutha, a minor novitiate even among novitiates who are all minor. He's doing what he does best, hoeing the beans, when his god arises before him in physical manifestation:
A turtle. Slow. Partial to lettuce. Not fond of being turned over or dropped. Not much for conversation when it gets cold out. And, as near as Om can tell, the god of Brutha only. No one else seems to be paying much attention when the god calls down plagues, or at least some really nasty rashes.
In Prathcett's hands, this small start yields a very worthy bit of amusement. No, there's really no point to what Pratchett writes (well, that's what he wants you to think). Brutha crosses his world, overturns empires as easily as he overturns weeds in the bean-patch, and dies happy. Everyone dies, and Brutha has seen lots of the other ways - this really is a happy ending.
For all of its shallow jests, this book has rewards for the serious reader. Brutha wins in the end by be slow, thick, and mind-bogglingly even-handed. Om finally comes out of his shell and really makes his entry, even among the more exclusive clubs of the gods. Everyone gets what they deserve in the end, no matter what you thought they deserved. By the way: observe Om, the lowly turtle, and the place of the turtle in Discworld cosmology.
Pratchett fans: watch Vorbis. Yes, the character dies, but that doesn't mean much in Discworld. He may reincarnate as Vetinari, or maybe as Vetinari's evil identical twin. Death is there, all caps, but really quite a congenial chap - says "Thank you" when you pass him the bottle, sort of thing. The librarian is there, working hard in librarian heroics. Lu Tze is there, makin sure that history turns out the way it's supposed to, not that he has a lot to work with.
Every series has its ups and downs. This is a serious up for Discworld. Enjoy!
//wiredweird

The Truth
The Truth
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.79
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The truth is a nuisance, Sept. 1 2005
This review is from: The Truth (Paperback)
And William de Worde sets out to become the very finest nuisance that Ankh-Morpork ever knew. You know it's true, because you read it in the newspaper. The paper that he writes.
This whole book is a tangled story of who is in power, and who wants it, and wouldn't touch it with somebody else's stick. There are good guys, bad guys, and misunderstood guys - but people cross lines in a heartbeat. (Well, not all of them actually have heartbeats, and some of the heartbeats get beaten heartily, but you know what I mean.)
This is standard Pratchett goofiness, but that is a very high standard. He builds his story around a few new characters, but builds it within the framework of the established characters. The current book refers to all the previous ones, but welcomes the new reader anyway.
This is high-grade silliness. It's one more very enjoyable chapter in the Discworld's ongoing saga, but also a good story without all the others. For me, another Discworld book is almost a little vacation.
//wiredweird

The Three Incestuous Sisters: An Illustrated Novel
The Three Incestuous Sisters: An Illustrated Novel
by Audrey Niffenegger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.36
33 used & new from CDN$ 6.79

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic, with remarkable illustrations, Aug. 30 2005
The illustraton is the real strength of this book, for my taste. They are aquatints by the author, an etchinq process originally meant to imitate watercolor. Although Goya used it extensively and successfully, it's not common these days. As an achievement in control of the process, this is a worthwhile display of what can be done with the technique. Some plates, such as 'Haunted,' demonstrate how burnishers can be used, somewhat in the mezzotint manner. I found the drawings plain, not always the best renderings of people. The set of prints, as a whole, is still a delight, though.
The book itself is a labor of love - in the best sense, but in others as well. The author started it long before her very successful "Time Traveler's Wife," and I suspect that TTW's success had a lot to do with bringing this to life. That success may have given the author enough clout to publish a story that might not have seen the light of day otherwise, one that has meaning for her if not for others. It's like an Edward Gorey book, with one picture per two-page spread, and a sentence or two - or less - on the opposite page. There's little of Gorey's mystery, though, and none of his macabre atmosphere. Much is left implied by the epigrammatic writing, and probably a lot more than I was able to deduce. Parts of it seem to have eluded me.
Still, it's interesting enough, the pictures generally work well, and word and image add up to more than just their sum.
//wiredweird

Lords and Ladies
Lords and Ladies
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.69
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Never quite what you expected, Aug. 30 2005
This review is from: Lords and Ladies (Paperback)
Pratchett's Discworld continues in fine style. It combines his signature combination of incredible characters, groanable puns, wild adventure and maybe, just maybe a little serious reflection. I'm not sure that Pratchett would admit to that last, though.
And no, no one is quite what you expected. There's the king, elevated from his former role as jester (or was he?). The queen is shy, uncertain, and naive (or is she?). The witches' contest of power ends when one looks away (or does it?). The elves are wondrous and glamorous - or are they?
The serious side flirts with the many-worlds ideas from physics, serious science sure to warm the soul of any comedic writer. It also raises some symbols of a long-gone warrior queen, and leaves with some pointed observations on symbols being what you let them. Mostly, though, it's just more of Pratchett's laugh-out-loud history of a world that's even more ridiculous than our own - or is it?
//wiredweird

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