That so many men (and some women) live lives of servitude and never stop to think about who they are or what they might want to really achieve in the short space that we have is a modern tragedy. Marsh gently and humorously makes this obvious, and in the changes he’s created in his own life, sets a trend that others can easily follow.
A review of Real Writing: Word Models of the Modern World by Michael Lydon
Throughout Real Writing Michael Lydon creates a solid thesis for the power of realism. Though each of these writers are products of their own times, with settings and themes determined by the key concerns of the day, there is a timelessness to their themes and characters.
A review of The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
The Sense of an Ending is a beautifully crafted exploration of a character arc that happens too late to affect change. The motion from clever smugness to painful self-awareness is flawless. The absolute control of Barnes’ prose coupled with the philosophical power of his meditations has resulted in a book that’s as dense and powerful as it is readable.
A review of The Moral Lives of Animals by Dale Peterson
Dale Peterson takes the unusual angle of examining how evolution has shaped animal behavior in the area of cooperation. He uses research in cell biology to talk about the limbic brain, emotional responses to things like tickling, fear, grief and love
A review of Brain Cuttings by Carl Zimmer
Zimmer conducts us through a world that possesses many of the qualities of fantasy. For example, we keep track of time, more or less through the medium spiny neurons eavesdropping on the cortex. This could easily be the subject of a ballet by Merce Cunningham and John Cage.
A review of New Kinds of Smart: How the Science of Learnable Intelligence is Changing Education by Bill Lucas and Guy Claxton
The discussions of meta-cognition and self-efficacy were interesting, and also the notion of ‘communities of practice’: if you ignite fervour for learning and it ceases to be simply ‘being taught’, then you’re on a roll.
A review of The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction By Dean Young
Throughout, there’s a lot of luminous polemic, a slue of terrific poems (Man Ray’s ‘Untitled’ was a new one on me), a bevy of insights about art and poetry. If you are looking for a classy thought-provoking rant, if you want something to stir and shake you up and perhaps inspire you to start writing poems (if you don’t already) then The Art of Recklessness is prescribed.
A review of On the Smell of An Oily Rag by Ouyang Yu
Ouyang Yu is a poet who works the gap between languages, looking closely at our linguistic assumptions, etymologies, and correspondences. His latest book is a nonfiction created in a pen-notes style (biji xiashuo) inspired by ancient Chinese fiction.
A review of The Element by Ken Robinson
If this book makes even a small chip in the notion that a standardized test score is the best indicator of intelligence, it will have been worth Robinson and Aronica’s investment of time. For those of us reading it, it could do much more. It could open our eyes about the great diversity of unique capability that we all have and help us to think in much broader terms about ourselves, our children, our colleagues, and indeed our world.
A review of Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
That the book remains elegant, moving, upbeat, erudite, lucid, and calm throughout the morass is due to Barnes’ great skill as a writer. Nothing To Be Frightened Of is, as one would expect from Julian Barnes, a tightly written, and ultimately affirmative piece of work that takes the reader on a journey that ends in exactly the place you’d expect. Black humour notwithstanding, it’s one of those books that will enrich your life, at least while you’ve still got it.