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Philip Stein

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  1. Being Emily by Anne Donovan

    There's a review of it here.
  2. Nice Guy Eddie's reading list from now

    Sorry, didn't mean to!
  3. Nice Guy Eddie's reading list from now

    Ah, but is he?
  4. Nice Guy Eddie's reading list from now

    Just like the other three! - Ishiguro specialises in first person narrators, usually of the less-than-reliable variety. Christopher Banks in When We Were Orphans is probably the least reliable of them all. Will be interested to know what you make of it, Eddie; it's one of Ishiguro's stranger books, along with The Unconsoled. One friend of mine absolutely hated it but when discussing it with him, I felt he was coming at it from the wrong angle.
  5. Eating for England by Nigel Slater

    I think it's pretty certain, Lucy. Slater is a clever guy and a fine writer. The context would be helpful but on the face of it, it looks ironically intended to me.
  6. Nice Guy Eddie's reading list from now

    Yes, I agree, it was like a companion piece to Dead Famous, wasn't it? My only problem with Chart Throb was that it went on for far too long, so that it really did feel like a 16-week series of The X Factor! Maybe that was the point, but I could have done with 100 pages knocked off. The lack of a secondary plot, which Dead Famous had with the murder mystery to keep things bubbling, was the problem I think. I was interested in reading Blind Faith, as I thought from the blurb it was about, well, faith - a subject interesting to me - but Eddie's lukewarm comments kind of put me off.
  7. Nice Guy Eddie's reading list from now

    My favourite was Stark, though I suspect that might partly be because I was in my teens when I read it and I sort of dread to think how it might stand up now. Of his more recent books, I most enjoyed Dead Famous, mainly because of Elton's raging hatred of the reality TV genre and Big Brother in particular which comes through on every page.
  8. Top 5 books you would not recommend

    I don't think that's what I meant to suggest, though I may not have expressed it clearly. What I meant was that if something has been proved to be the case, you don't have 'faith' in it: you know it to be true. 'Faith' or 'belief' carries with it a necessary undercoat of doubt. So if there was proof of God's existence, people would no longer have faith or belief in him, at least not in the sense that those words are generally understood. Just as we don't 'believe' in gravity or dogs. Ah well, now that is a view you are entitled to.
  9. Top 5 books you would not recommend

    But the two aren't equivalent; though it's true believers sometimes respond to the question "Can you prove God exists?" with "Can you prove God doesn't exist?" as though it's an unanswerable rejoinder, when it's just a misunderstanding of what proof means. You can't prove something doesn't exist, obviously - as with Bertrand Russell's teapot metaphor. Or as someone else (whose name escapes me) said: That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.
  10. Top 5 books you would not recommend

    Well without wishing to open an ugly can of worms, do you mean "wrong" as in objectionable, or "wrong" as in factually incorrect? If it's the latter, I can't agree. If I remember right, the thrust of Dawkins' argument in The God Delusion is that in our society, belief in a supernatural 'personal' God is illogical and flies in the face of evidence and reason. That's unarguable, surely. Indeed, faith defies, or ignores, proof by definition. That's why it's called faith. Dawkins addresses this old chestnut in the paperback edition of The God Delusion. (You can also read it here.) It's an invalid comparison because fundamentalism (again, by definition) means the holding of a position irrespective of the evidence, and a refusal to change one's mind even when the facts change. Dawkins makes it clear that he - and any other scientist - would change their mind in a jiffy if proof were made available to show that he was wrong. In other words, his beliefs are reliant on the present condition of scientific knowledge and are subject to change because scientific knowledge changes all the time. A religious fundamentalist, on the other hand, has beliefs which are reliant on a book written maybe two thousand or fifteen hundred years ago and which therefore will not change, ever.
  11. Yes that's right. That's under the Data Protection Act rather than the Freedom of Information Act.
  12. Sorry to dampen your ardour ladies, but the Freedom of Information Act only applies to public bodies like government departments, health and education authorities, even (I think) quasi-public bodies like the BBC. Private and public limited companies like Amazon aren't covered. Makes sense really, otherwise rival companies would be able to extract all sorts of confidential information for business benefit.
  13. Well don't forget in the UK under monopolies laws they cannot have more than 25% of the market for any given range - having said that I think they have 13% of the book market at the minute so they could effectively double their market share before falling foul of those laws. Here's a thought: do books sold on Amazon Marketplace count toward Amazon's market share? Probably, as Amazon make money from them (the seller's fee they deduct); but really the bulk of the money is going to the third party seller, like the Book Depository or Aphrohead. Does it also then count toward their market share?
  14. Who, Amazon or Hachette? I'm with the publishers here. Amazon are like Tesco, using their might to press for more discounts mainly for their own benefit. When Amazon started, most books whether bestsellers or backlist titles, had 20% off. Now bestsellers are routinely half price (does anyone really need the new Tom Clancy for
  15. John Updike

    Spot on; I remember it now. Something like Heller saying, "Whenever people say to me, How come you haven't written anything as good as Catch-22, I reply, Well, neither has anyone else." Funnily enough I don't agree with him - because I think Something Happened is better. It's a horrible, bleak, bitter book, but absolutely wonderful. Written in a circular, repetitive monotone by a successful executive with wife, children and lovely house - and who is absolutely crushed to death with misery. I'm probably not selling it very well, but there is terrific black humour and the long snaking sentences become hypnotic and poetic. Just about every page is quotable in its way, but out of context it would seem bizarre or boring. The cumulative effect is extraordinary. It also has a terrific opening paragraph: And closing lines: And middle lines, such as this on his daughter growing up: But I could never say it as well as Kurt Vonnegut did, reviewing the book for the NY Times on publication in 1974. And if that doesn't make you want to read it, nothing will! One thing I will say is that I've read it three or four times, and I find it less funny and more frightening as I get older... EDIT: Sorry, I think you may need to register to read that NY Times link. But it's free, and it's worth it!