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Member: janey47

CollectionsYour library (408)

Reviews43 reviews

TagsFiction (229), Nonfiction (138), race (30), essays (12), National Book Award nominee (10), New Yorker Staff Writer (10), Vietnam War (10), mystery (9), Iraq (8), memoir (7) — see all tags

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About my libraryFormerly a collector of modern first editions, now just husbanding what is left of the collection and trying to keep the closets from filling.

GroupsBooks that made me think, Buddhism, Happy Heathens, Non-Fiction Readers, Progressive & Liberal!, The Prizes

Membership LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway

LocationSan Francisco, CA

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URLs http://www.librarything.com/profile/janey47 (profile)
http://www.librarything.com/catalog/janey47 (library)

Member sinceOct 25, 2006

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I love your reviews. :)
i was editing my collection and realized that a lot of the literature i consume these days is not via the printed page. and here i was thinking that i was a hardcore printed page guy. stick my nose in the crease of yellowed pages and smell the glue kinda guy. but i think a lot of it is taken it in through podcasts now. its like cheap whore day in the strip club when a new new yorker fiction podcaast comes out once a month to me. ive listened to matt dillon read On The Road so much that its the only way for me to properly experience what kerouac wrote. but i dont like the audiobook for Zero History. from jump when dude tries to read inchmales voice in some falsetto i cant get with it. i watch the mavericks play with my headphones on and listen to nabokovs signs and symbols.
Thanks so much for buying the book. I'll look up that writer now. Thanks!
Janey47,

I just wanted to thank you for the work of your reviews. I much enjoyed your review of Cryptonomicon and The God Delusion. As for Dawkins, I share your views of the book. I have not read much "atheistic" writing, and I wonder if there are any books you might recommend which do a better job of analysis and critique. The only I know (which I admire a lot) is Walter Kaufmann's "Critique of Religion and Philosophy", but I would welcome other choices, if you can think of any. I recently was trolling through Amazon.com on a related search, and stumbled over MANY books that have been written in response to Dawkins -- many. It seems he touched a nerve among fundamentalist Christian authors (and perhaps other Christian authors) who have developed quite an industry "refuting" Dawkins.

I also noted your interest in Richard Powers. Did you hear him speak in SF last year?

Thanks again,

appleby
Hi,

Was wondering if you'd be interested in reviewing my new novel and posting your comments here as well as a few other book-related sites. Saw you liked Paris Trout, and thought you might like my novel since it's also southern and a bit dark (in the same vein as Paris Trout). I could e-mail you the novel in an e-book format if you'd like. Let me know if you're interested. Here's a link to a summary in case you're interested:

http://christophertusa.com/blog/?page_id=724

Thanks,

Chris
janey47--just to follow-up on our conversation a while back about Richard Powers. I just finished Echo-Maker and loved it. Or rather, I appreciated the first half and loved the second. Wonderful novel.
Thought you'd be interested in this.
Hitchens on Buruma and Hirsi Ali:
She's No Fundamentalist
What people get wrong about Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, March 5, 2007, at 1:35 PM ET

W.H. Auden, whose centenary fell late last month, had an extraordinary capacity to summon despair—but in such a way as to simultaneously inspire resistance to fatalism. His most beloved poem is probably September 1, 1939, in which he sees Europe toppling into a chasm of darkness. Reflecting on how this catastrophe for civilization had come about, he wrote:

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analyzed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

"The enlightenment driven away … " This very strong and bitter line came back to me when I saw the hostile, sneaky reviews that have been dogging the success of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's best seller Infidel, which describes the escape of a young Somali woman from sexual chattelhood to a new life in Holland and then (after the slaying of her friend Theo van Gogh) to a fresh exile in the United States. Two of our leading intellectual commentators, Timothy Garton Ash (in the New York Review of Books) and Ian Buruma, described Hirsi Ali, or those who defend her, as "Enlightenment fundamentalist[s]." In Sunday's New York Times Book Review, Buruma made a further borrowing from the language of tyranny and intolerance and described her view as an "absolutist" one.

Now, I know both Garton Ash and Buruma, and I remember what fun they used to have, in the days of the Cold War, with people who proposed a spurious "moral equivalence" between the Soviet and American sides. Much of this critique involved attention to language. Buruma was very mordant about those German leftists who referred to the "consumer terrorism" of the federal republic. You can fill in your own preferred example here; the most egregious were (and, come to think of it, still are) those who would survey the U.S. prison system and compare it to the Gulag.

In her book, Ayaan Hirsi Ali says the following: "I left the world of faith, of genital cutting and forced marriage for the world of reason and sexual emancipation. After making this voyage I know that one of these two worlds is simply better than the other. Not for its gaudy gadgetry, but for its fundamental values." This is a fairly representative quotation. She has her criticisms of the West, but she prefers it to a society where women are subordinate, censorship is pervasive, and violence is officially preached against unbelievers. As an African victim of, and escapee from, this system, she feels she has acquired the right to say so. What is "fundamentalist" about that?

The Feb. 26 edition of Newsweek takes up where Garton Ash and Buruma leave off and says, in an article by Lorraine Ali, that, "It's ironic that this would-be 'infidel' often sounds as single-minded and reactionary as the zealots she's worked so hard to oppose." I would challenge the author to give her definition of irony and also to produce a single statement from Hirsi Ali that would come close to materializing that claim. Accompanying the article is a typically superficial Newsweek Q&A sidebar, which is almost unbelievably headed: "A Bombthrower's Life." The subject of this absurd headline is a woman who has been threatened with horrific violence, by Muslims varying from moderate to extreme, ever since she was a little girl. She has more recently had to see a Dutch friend butchered in the street, been told that she is next, and now has to live with bodyguards in Washington, D.C. She has never used or advocated violence. Yet to whom does Newsweek refer as the "Bombthrower"? It's always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it's the victim of violence who is "really" inciting it.

Garton Ash and Buruma would once have made short work of any apologist who accused the critics of the U.S.S.R. or the People's Republic of China of "heating up the Cold War" if they made any points about human rights. Why, then, do they grant an exception to Islam, which is simultaneously the ideology of insurgent violence and of certain inflexible dictatorships? Is it because Islam is a "faith"? Or is it because it is the faith—in Europe at least—of some ethnic minorities? In neither case would any special protection from criticism be justified. Faith makes huge claims, including huge claims to temporal authority over the citizen, which therefore cannot be exempt from scrutiny. And within these "minorities," there are other minorities who want to escape from the control of their ghetto leaders. (This was also the position of the Dutch Jews in the time of Spinoza.) This is a very complex question, which will require a lot of ingenuity in its handling. The pathetic oversimplification, which describes skepticism, agnosticism, and atheism as equally "fundamentalist," is of no help here. And notice what happens when Newsweek takes up the cry: The enemy of fundamentalism is defined as someone on the fringe while, before you have had time to notice the sleight of hand, the aggrieved, self-pitying Muslim has become the uncontested tenant of the middle ground.

Let me give another example of linguistic slippage. In ACLU circles, we often refer to ourselves as "First Amendment absolutists." By this we mean, ironically enough, that we prefer to interpret the words of the Founders, if you insist, literally. The literal meaning in this case seems (to us) to be that Congress cannot inhibit any speech or establish any state religion. This means that we defend all expressions of opinion including those that revolt us, and that we say that nobody can be forced to practice, or forced to foreswear, any faith. I suppose I would say that this is an inflexible principle, or even a dogma, with me. But who dares to say that's the same as the belief that criticism of religion should be censored or the belief that faith should be imposed? To flirt with this equivalence is to give in to the demagogues and to hear, underneath their yells of triumph, the dismal moan of the trahison des clercs and "the enlightenment driven away." Perhaps, though, if I said that my principles were a matter of unalterable divine revelation and that I was prepared to use random violence in order to get "respect" for them, I could hope for a more sympathetic audience from some of our intellectuals.
Man, I'd kill to see Hitchens speak. He actually talks about Amis in this piece:
http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_1_urbanities-steyn.html
I need to read some Amis I think. Where should I start?
The last thing I need is another online addiction. At least this one has some real content.
Good review of The God Delusion. Are you going to be reading God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens? It should be interesting in comparison to Ian Buruma's book.
Hi Janey47, and yes, I was very aware of the Gathorne-Hardy book and planned to get around to it sooner or later, but did enjoy the Jones book anyway, even though I understood he fairly demonized Kinsey and found his sexual behavior mostly on the aberrant side. Have you read TC Boyle's Kinsey novel The Inner Circle? Boyle sort of tweaks Kinsey's reputation a little in it, but it's certainly great fun and I really liked it.

Looking through your books I see you've got quite a few of Richard Powers, whom I'm also quite fond of too, and I see you've alway got Chris Adrian's The Children's Hospital, which was one of my favorites of the last few months. Good luck!

Louis
Janey,

I like your review for The God Delusion. I was equally disappointed by it. I had good expectations.

Cheers,

BHO
janey,
hi. i haven't read *dead language* yet, but i intend too. let me know how you like *pinkerton's sister."

happy reading!
maryintexas39
Yeah, tribe is kinda lame, but I keep up with a few friends on there. I'm over their groups, tho.
Well, now you just reminded me about trying to find out which books in the novel were real. I'm going to assume that all except the books written by Ludo's father (and other father figures) are?

With a title like that, I'll definitely pick it up next chance I get. Pleasure to make your acquaintance as well.
"And it's about the value of granting an individual autonomy over his/her own existence and what, if anything, we can responsibly do to aid a person who is in distress without compromising their autonomy."

Dammit! I've been trying to express this aspect of the Last Samurai, and you went and took over part of my brain! I'll get you back for this.
**edit**

We have a copy of the Hornby book here at work, so I'll give it a try.
Ah, okay, yes they do sound similar. I've now finished and reviewed Buddha Da. It will be interesting to see whether Hornby's book draws similar conclusions - I'll see whether I can track that down too.

I appreciate the recommendations too, btw. Since joining LT, I've realised that I still have a lot of avenues to explore when it comes to reading :)
Hi Janey,

Thanks so much for the recommendation - I'll certainly add the Powers book to my ginormous wishlist on Amazon.

I haven't read any Nick Hornby, though I'm aware of his work. Did you mean that the subject matter is similar to Buddha Da, or the language?
Awesome review on the Dawkins book.
I think you might Like this Janey

http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html
You sweet talker Janey Its a wonder I did not blush. I pulled out of the thread because I had the feeling that every time I restated my opinion of Dawkins it was reinforced and I wanted to pull out before my real feelings about him, "He is a bit of a pratt" started to look like "He is Pol Pot's evil twin" It was all getting a bit polarised. I am tempted to say that the "inherently irrational." remark was a gift from heaven:^)

It seems that my library has a copy of Murder in Amsterdam... so I will be reading it.
happy cataloguing.
Well Janey47 having a said I would not return to the Richard Dawkins thread. I find I must post here to say Well said!
Hey Janey!

I've not read _Becoming Justice Blackmun_/. Indeed, I try to and do stay away from both movies and books about the law, lawyers, and judges. It's what my high school English teacher used to call "Coals to Newcastle" for me to read or see that stuff. I really enjoy the literature, nonfiction, history, philosophy, etc. What sort of work are you doing? Congratulations on leaving the practice.... If I had a chance, I'd probably jump at it, too, but my body has become used to inordinate amounts of stress. lol

Thanks so much for being in touch...

Be well,

Randy
Hi-

Thanks for your comment! I am actually in San Diego. I live in the same district as "Duke" Cunningham. The silly Republican (Bilbray) is under Grand Jury investigation for a little lie about his residence...he's apparently never lived in the District. I've never lived in Orange County, and can't see doing that ever. I am looking for a new position someplace like SF or LA where there's a little more Leftist tolerance. It's really quite stifling here. I need to get out before I choke! Anyway, thanks so much and do keep in touch.

Best regards,

Randy
Thank you for the Arab-Israeli conflict book recommendations. I probably wouldn’t have noticed them amongst all of the other comments on the message board, so I appreciate you pointing them out. It might be awhile before I get around to reading them, but they’ll definitely be added to the pile!
I did not know that janey47. Thanks so much for the info. I am a big Michael Chabon fan as well (and I'm a Mcsweeney's subscriber) I'm not sure how that got past me. I think a shopping trip is in order. Thanks again for pointing that out, it is much appreciated.
Thanks for your comments Janey. The review was written awhile ago, but posted in an attempt to comply with a challenge from a friend to review 5 books a week. I have thankfully been able to read the rest of his books by now. And I concur with your take on each of them. It's true that none of them are as good as Cloud Atlas, but I enjoyed all of them. I was especially impressed that he was able to take such an overdone idea as the coming of age novel, and really make it his own. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as I did, another pleasant surprise from one of my favourite young authors.
Thanks again for the comments, I'm glad you enjoyed the review.
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