Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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Entries from June 30th, 2009

"What the Chinese Don't Eat", XinRan

June 30th, 2009 · Comments Off on "What the Chinese Don't Eat", XinRan · Chinese

Synopsis: A collection of newspaper columns on Chinese/Western society written by the a columnist on Chinese life for The Guardian. My Take: I grabbed this wanting an accessible layman’s guide to the quirks of Chinese society. Unfortunately this collection is very uneven, ranging from shallow and patronising observations about the west to insightful explanations of […]

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"The Boat", Nam Le

June 30th, 2009 · 2 Comments · Asian, Australian, Literature, Short Stories

Synopsis: Young former Melbourne corporate lawyer turns hundreds of other young, former Melbourne corporate lawyers green with envy by publishing a phenomenally successful collection of nuanced and beautiful short stories. My Take: Sigh. I guess it is an inevitable part of getting older to be confronted with the increasingly spectacular public successes of people who […]

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Tags:Nam Le

“Words that Work: It’s not what you say, It’s what people hear”, Frank Luntz

June 29th, 2009 · Comments Off on “Words that Work: It’s not what you say, It’s what people hear”, Frank Luntz · Politics

Synopsis: Politics is about voters, not politicians. It’s not what politicians say, it’s what voters hear. My Take: Frank Luntz has an impressive CV. An Oxford University PHD, Luntz rose to prominence as the chief pollster for Ross Perot’s outsider presidential bid in 1992. After providing polling for Rudy Giuliani’s successful NYC mayoral campaign, Luntz […]

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“The Slap”, Christos Tsiolkas

June 28th, 2009 · 3 Comments · Australian, Literature

Synopsis: Man slaps boy. Mother sues man. The fragile and interdependent settlements of modern suburban life are disturbed. My Take: “The Slap” is clearly a very special book. As the editor of The Australian Literary Review, Stephen Romei, has noted, the book has realised: “a rare quadrella in publishing: it’s a page turner that sells […]

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“The Blair Years”, Alastair Campbell”

June 27th, 2009 · Comments Off on “The Blair Years”, Alastair Campbell” · English, History, Policy, Politics

Synopsis: Tony Blair’s Director of Communications and general master of the dark arts tells (almost) all about The Blair Years. My Take: Ordinarily I steer clear of political biographies (diaries in particular!) but beore I moved to the UK I thought I needed a bit of a crash course in the who’s who of the […]

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Tags:Alastair Campbell

"Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes", Mark Penn

June 26th, 2009 · Comments Off on "Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes", Mark Penn · ICT, Over-Rated, Politics

Synopsis: In/famous Clinton pollster, Burson-Marsteller CEO and Bowser look alike claims that small-scale, niche trends, identifiable through statistical analysis, are the key drivers for societal change. A long bow, stretched WAY too far for its own good. My Take: Love him or hate him (and let’s face it, most people hate him these days), Mark […]

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Tags:Mark Penn

"Heart of Darkness", Joseph Conrad

June 25th, 2009 · 4 Comments · African, English, Literature, Philosophy

Synopsis: Freed from the constraints of European morality, a man confronts the underlying nature of humanity. Madness ensures. My Take: For quite a short novella, “The Heart of Darkness” has certainly prompted a lot of meta-discussion. The subject of critical attention as a part of the Western cannon, as a flash point in post-colonial literary […]

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"Shut Up and Listen and You Might Learn Something", Edna Carew and Patrick Cook

June 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Australian, Politics, Quotes

Synopsis: The bite and bile of the greatest Treasurer Australia has ever had. My Take: Published in 1990, this collection of Keating quotations comes from the golden era of PJK. The period before he became PM and was forced to moderate (at least to some extent) his more extreme instincts for public, rhetorical bloodshed. Most […]

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Tags:Edna Carew·Patrick Cook·Paul Keating·

"Norwegian Wood", Haruki Murakami

June 23rd, 2009 · 1 Comment · Asian, Japanese, Trash

Synopsis: Boy meets girl. Boy commits suicide. Boy’s best friend falls in love with girl. Girl loses grasp on reality. Boy meets another girl. Metaphysical angst ensues. My Take: The cover blurb of Norwegian Wood describes the novel thus: “When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend […]

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Borders Bargains?

June 22nd, 2009 · Comments Off on Borders Bargains? · Reading Related

Again, not strictly related to a book on my bookshelf, but interesting for Melbourne readers nonetheless. Andrew Norton comments on Borders’ practice of offering frequent discount coupons on any full priced book in store (an offer that I for one frequently take advantage of) and speculates as to the rationale behind the practice. Unfortunately, Norton […]

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