The Double (Jose Saramago)

November 13, 2019 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Fiction, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WRITING & LITERATURE |
Doppelgangers

Painting by Sebastian Bieniek

(English translation: 2004) Secondary-school history teacher Tertuliano Maximo Afonso (almost always referred to by his full name) is depressed and apathetic. He cares little about his work (believing that history should be taught in reverse not forward), neglects his mother, can’t remember what led him to get married, forgets why he got divorced and is trying to dump his girlfriend, Maria da Paz (also almost always named in full). He lives alone and spends most of his free time listlessly plodding through a large tome on Abyssinian history. His only friend, a fellow teacher, suggests that he is out of…

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Nabokov’s Conundrum

September 1, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Fiction, PETER'S WRITING |

You are doubtless familiar with Poe’s Law: “Satirical expressions of extremism online are hard to distinguish from genuine ones without indicating intent.”*  As inventor Nathan Poe put it, in relation to fundamentalist religious belief: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake it for the genuine article.”** But, as usual, the master of English as a second language formulated something even better.  Writing about the announcement of Facebook from the terrace of the Montreux Palace in the Spring of 1977, Vladimir Nabokov formulated his…

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Fall, or Dodge in Hell (by Neal Stephenson)

Apparently a psychopath feels negative emotions such as fear or disappointment only slightly, but experiences the highs of (say) skinning people so very much that he or she continues to take risks which neuro-normals wouldn’t countenance. Clearly, having learned so little from the decidedly negative emotions I suffered upon reading Seveneves and The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., and being so ridiculously hopeful that the latest Neal Stephenson novel will be another Snow Crash,  I must be a psychopath. Again: Great idea – Drab execution. Richard Forthrast, billionaire (previously met in Reamde) has instructed that, upon death, his remains are…

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Daisy Jones and The Six (by Taylor Jenkins Reid)

Cobalt Blue Eyes? Call the Doctor.

Daisy Jones and the Six is a fictional 1970s Fleetwood Mac style-ensemble fronted by a bewitching, raspy voiced woman (the eponymous Daisy) and a handsome, brooding guitarist-singer. The number is made up by a less ravishing woman on keyboards and a couple of other people not worth bothering about. Don’t bother reading Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel either, just wait a while and you can watch it. The front cover declares deliriously that Renaissance Woman Reese Witherspoon “devoured” this book in a day, and you can bet that she’s put it on her shelf marked Miniseries? Netflix? Role for Ava?  We…

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The Light and The Dark (C P Snow)

"Can't we simply make them Welsh by statute?" "Who?" "The Jews."

(1947) Roy Calvert has a light, quick, graceful stride. He is over middle height, slightly built but strong, upright and slender, full of ease and grace. His eyes glint a clear transparent hazel yellow and his expression is mischievous and grave when it is not sad, grave, stricken and haunted by a wild melancholy. His voice is clear, light and reedy. His smile is intimate and kind, or it might  be demure and secretive*. His is a style of extreme elegance and ease, he hits a cricket ball with statuesque grace and measured power. He is young, gifted and high-spirited….

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