Thursday, June 26, 2008

Book Review: Overtaken by Alexei Sayle

Overtaken, by Alexei Sayle, is a tale of the events that happen to Kelvin immediately before, during and after a road accident that kills his entire group of friends. Fighting with emptiness and depression he decides to create a "memorial" to them in the most unusual fashion - a story that contains a strange twist at the end which although it was not completely unexpected, was only anticipated, by this reader, in the final few pages preceding the ending.

With a few moments of humour, this is not the comedy novel one might expect from an author who is a well-known comedian but instead an unusually calculating story of revenge which does not work out quite in the way the reader or the main character expects or hopes for, and a few things about Kelvin's personality and ways of thinking are fairly thought-provoking.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Book Review: The Eventful History of the Mutiny and the Piratical Seizure of HMS Bounty by Sir John Barrow

This is probably the most complete and balanced account of the well-known true story of The Bounty. Compiled from accounts from mutineers, William Bligh and transcripts of the Courts Martial this tale is told from a number of viewpoints and as such gives the reader a clear picture of the confusion at the time and the poorly thought out seizure of the ship, as well as telling of the horrors that the seamen loyal to Bligh and those mutineers who were captured had to endure on the voyage home.

The chapters recounting the voyage of the Bounty, its time at Otaheite and the casting adrift of Bligh and his loyal followers tell a gripping tale and the privations endured by the group of sailors are incredible. The story of how a number of mutineers were captured, their ship wrecked and the consequent voyage to Kupang is equally amazing and rather less well known.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Book Review: Borat - Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan by Sacha Baron Cohen

This is in fact two books in one, with the second part being entitled: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S and A. Both are spoof travel guides, by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, introduced by the comedy character, Kazakhstani reporter Borat Sagdiyev. For those that know this character the book holds few surprises, playing on the cultural preconceptions of westerners towards Eastern Europe and the perceived cultural naivete of Borat.

Those who are fans of Borat will find a lot of amusement in this book which contains visual and verbal humour, although they may be disappointed to find a number of jokes being recycled. However, those who are easily offended by racial, religious or sexual jokes will despise this publication; one thing that most will probably agree upon is that in this book Baron Cohen has taken this character just about as far as he can.

Book Review: The End of Nature by Bill McKibben

The End of Nature, by Bill McKibben, is a book about environmental issues, largely revolving around global warming and climate change. Here the author tries to explain why man has now changed every corner of the earth through his negligence in altering the climate and in the first few chapters he makes some interesting philosophical points that the reader may agree with or not; the point about how man has created a new type of nature in creating a climate which has been altered is thought provoking.

This new, updated version contains an interesting introduction by the author where he comments on how many of the predictions of climatologists have now come true and how we now live in the age of global warming - it is no longer something that could happen but something that is happening now. However, after the introduction and first few chapters the author rather labours his point, which is actually a fairly simple and easy-to-understand one.