97 Followers
65 Following
arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Peter Pan and Other Plays: The Admirable Crichton; Peter Pan; When Wendy Grew Up; What Every Woman Knows; Mary Rose (Oxford World's Classics)
J.M. Barrie, Peter Hollindale
Progress: 74/384 pages
The Essential Shakespeare
Ted Hughes
Progress: 61/259 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 842/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
Palladio
Taschen Publishing
Progress: 78/248 pages
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Progress: 729/1220 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 272 out of 1327 pages.

The Riverside Chaucer - Geoffrey Chaucer It's only another five miles to Canterbury when a stranger rides up to the Pilgrims and asks to join them. It turns out he's a Canon's Yeoman and, astonishingly, he has a Tale to tell!

Reading progress update: I've read 758 out of 1220 pages.

The Complete Novels of Jane Austen - Jane Austen

OK, Emma - what adventures are you going to get involved in? Romantic ones, maybe?

Reading progress update: I've read 14 out of 72 pages.

Prints and Drawings of Käthe Kollwitz - Carl Zigrosser, Kathe Kollwitz

Best known for various types of print-making, Kollwitz also made drawings and sculptures.

Reading progress update: I've read 778 out of 1102 pages.

Complete Poems, 1904-1962 - E.E. Cummings

Ah! The one about the king bird! :-D

Reading progress update: I've read 74 out of 384 pages.

Peter Pan and Other Plays: The Admirable Crichton; Peter Pan; When Wendy Grew Up; What Every Woman Knows; Mary Rose (Oxford World's Classics) - J.M. Barrie, Peter Hollindale

The Admiral Chrichton

 

What if Lord of the Flies happened, except everyone is adult and civilised? Of course, this was written decades before William Golding's only good book and Barrie's aims were more by way of social satire via comedy of manners than getting in-yer-face with the underlying brutal savagery of human nature, papered over by civilisation. Which in turn was JG Ballard's favourite theme, though he probably never quite succeeded so spectacularly.

 

But back to Barrie: You can rip through this in no time and be gently amused but it's about an alien world for most of us - hardly anybody has even one live in servant any more od course, let alone an entire staff of hierarchically minded people presided over by a Butler who keeps everyone rigidly in their places. Probably why it's nowhere near as famous as a play about a boy who never grew up - because we all had a childhood, whenever or wherever we lived.

The Traders' War, Charles Stross

The Traders' War: A Merchant Princes Omnibus - Charles Stross

I'm ambivalent about this series: most of Stross's flaws are absent - no Luggage Syndrome! - but somehow it's not the page turner most of his books are. Thinking about why that is led me to two conclusions. Firstly the characters are not that interesting. Secondly, the characteristic Stross humour is conspicuous by its absence. There's another volume combining books five and six that wraps up the series and I'll likely read it some time, because I'm just invested enough to want to see how things turn out.

Reading progress update: I've read 773 out of 1102 pages.

Complete Poems, 1904-1962 - E.E. Cummings

I have arrived at the beginning of the collection (73 Poems) that inspired me to read the Complete Poems in the first place. It was the last collection published in Cummings' lifetime.

Reading progress update: I've read 58 out of 384 pages.

Peter Pan and Other Plays: The Admirable Crichton; Peter Pan; When Wendy Grew Up; What Every Woman Knows; Mary Rose (Oxford World's Classics) - J.M. Barrie, Peter Hollindale

Upheaval upon upheaval; where's it gonna end?

Collected works, Julian Opie

Julian Opie Collected Works - Sandy Nairne, Julian Opie

Julian Opie clearly considers himself a portraitist, which is interesting, in that realism is not a big concern of his and the people he uses as models are often unidentifiable from the finished works. He uses various media but seems generally to create the image using computer software then convert it to his chosen physical medium afterward - these media are varied: vinyl, LEDS, computer monitors, painted sculptures, animations, to name several but not all.

 

The animations are particularly interesting to me. Imagine you see a painting of a woman hanging on a wall, looking unexpectedly bright but otherwise not very remarkable, then - did she just BLINK?! - YES! It's not a painting at all - it's a computer animation and the brightness comes from the fact that it's a monitor emitting light rather than just reflecting it like a painting.

 

So that's one half of the book - Opie's own work. The other half is a selection from his collection of other people's work. Portraiture is the common theme here, with very few exceptions, and the range of the collection is striking, with sculptures from ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian artists right through to 18th century paintings of the kind rich families had done as status symbols and vanity projects.

 

The book really opened my eyes to the fact that realist portraiture is largely not for me; give me a Rembrandt of someone with a characterful face, yes, but a Gainsborough of some dynastically minded minor noble or rich merchant and - well, the trees in the background will be much more interesting. I noticed it in the book comparing african and European art, too. The African art had no interest in realism at all, where-as the European seemed to pize it as the most valuable aspect of the work in most cases. And I much prefered the African work, almost invariably.

 

In this exhibition, the least realist work was also my favourite, whether it be an outline human figure made from LEDs, like a programmable traffic sign, or an ancient Egyptian funerary sculpture intended to represent a servant in the afterlife. I am wondering whether this preference has an Aspie connection or not? I need to look into it a bit to find out.

 

Anyway, the physical design of the book is an annoying and unnecessary distraction (start at either end; meet in the middle), as is the consequent lack of page numbers, but still, it's a good reminder of the exhibition and I like Opie's style in his own work.

Reading progress update: I've read 8 out of 72 pages.

Prints and Drawings of Käthe Kollwitz - Carl Zigrosser, Kathe Kollwitz

Käthe Kollwitz had strong connections to Berlin and there is a museum dedicated to her, there, which is where I bought this book. The format is huuuuuuuuge - big enough for "over a dozen" reproductions (out of 82) to be full size.

Reading progress update: I've read 768 out of 1102 pages.

Complete Poems, 1904-1962 - E.E. Cummings

Reading bo(this)ok is
affecting t
he way i
express
my(i)self ~

Reading progress update: I've read 38 out of 384 pages.

Peter Pan and Other Plays: The Admirable Crichton; Peter Pan; When Wendy Grew Up; What Every Woman Knows; Mary Rose (Oxford World's Classics) - J.M. Barrie, Peter Hollindale

Shipwrecked! On the island the former social order begins to unravel and Crichton begins to show his Admirable qualities.

Reading progress update: I've read 96 out of 108 pages.

Julian Opie Collected Works - Sandy Nairne, Julian Opie

I wonder if my lack of interest in realistic portraiture is Aspie related? It takes a subject with a really interesting face for me to really like it. Opie's own work, which, whilst usually figurative, is far removed from realist painting, is much more interesting to me.

Reading progress update: I've read 22 out of 384 pages.

Peter Pan and Other Plays: The Admirable Crichton; Peter Pan; When Wendy Grew Up; What Every Woman Knows; Mary Rose (Oxford World's Classics) - J.M. Barrie, Peter Hollindale

So, definitely a comedy of manners, showing up the rigid hierarchical nature of aristocratic households and how difficult they are to break down when the servants are just as hierarchical as the Lords and Ladies...

Reading progress update: I've read 402 out of 624 pages.

The Traders' War: A Merchant Princes Omnibus - Charles Stross

The second book moves faster than the first.

Reading progress update: I've read 482 out of 784 pages.

The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 - J.G. Ballard

Passport to Eternity: Psychedelic bonkersness! Even more psychedelic and bonkers than PKD's We can Remember it for You, Wholesale, though in a similar vein.