« September 2008 | Main | November 2008 »

October 29, 2008

The Consolations of Philosophy - Alain De Botton

The Consolations of Philosophy - Alain De Botton

Book 36 in my 52 books in 52 weeks in 2008

Several years ago I was visiting a friend and this book was on their side table. I picked it up and browsed through it and it looked really interesting. Not interesting enough for me to subsequently pay around £7.99 for it though. Then "The Times" newspaper started a promotion of giving away free books every day. I checked each morning, and amazingly one day this one was the pick, and so I got it free with a 70p newspaper. Bargain.

But unfortunately, the promise of my early browsing experience wasn't fulfilled. I learned quite a lot about philosophers through history, as there are quite lengthy biographies. I learned a bit more than I wanted to about De Botton's sex life. And though I think the consolations promised are in there, the books was too wordy and didn't contain enough lists and bullet points to make them stand out - so I've pretty much forgotten them. This is a shame, because I think a little judicious editing could have helped to emphasise the relevant points he was making. I expected more of a self-help book than a rambling discourse.

Definitely an interesting book about philosophy, but it needed to be a bit more practical for me.

Posted by se71 at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2008

Mamma Mia

The review of the film, not the stage musical.

I got dragged (though not kicking and screaming, I like Abba a lot) to the cinema to see this last night. I was quite interested to see what this would be like, quite apprehensive about it, and was pleased and disappointed in equal measure.

Lets start with the positive. The singing was really pretty good. It is first and foremost a musical, so if you do not get the music right, you're in real trouble. The only fly in that particular ointment was Pierce Brosnan - listening to him was tough going. The musical numbers themselves were well coreographed, hardly ever boring, and worth watching. The premise of the story, of a young woman inviting three men to her wedding to try and discover which one is her father is also interesting, and the Greek island setting is also beautiful and well used. Also, the three main actresses are very good.


The songs are shoehorned into this story like a size 10 foot into a size 4 sandle. They have only managed to get a few toes of meaning to poke through the strap of plot. Err, hmm, that analogy doesn't really work does it. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that the plot progresses a little, and then it's time for a song, and in many cases, the one chosen is hardly anything to do with the plot at all. "The winner takes it all" was the worst - no idea at all why Meryl Streep would want to sing that to Brosnan at that point. Some almost work, and some have had a few words changed to make them a little more appropriate, but all in all, I found it very jarring. A musical normally has songs written especially for a story, and move that story along. Here, the story just stops, they sing a song, and then it goes on again. I did laugh though at how they named Harry after a line in "Our Last Summer", even though they got flower power about 20 years too late.

I know every Abba song very well indeed - maybe if you know them less well you can let some of this detail wash over you? Maybe I should just lighten up a bit?

My other objection is just that this is completely a girls film. There are no guns or aliens, only a very perfunctory car chase, but plenty of bumbling males, sisters doing it for themselves, tissues and issues, and hearts on sleeves. You get the picture.

Verdict: women will like it, fans of Abba will like it if they just listen to the excellent music, and women fans of Abba will love it.

Posted by se71 at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2008

52 Books in 52 Weeks - September 2008

Oh dear.

Cycling every day to work, tired in the evenings, and only managing a few pages a day of the four books I currently have on the go. Make that five books.

October isn't looking much better.

No books finished this month.

Posted by se71 at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)