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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten
Mrs. Warren's Profession - George Bernard Shaw I thought of Shaw's play last week when reading Populärmusik från Vittula, Mikael Niemi's fine memoir of life in the extreme north of Sweden. In Mrs Warren, the action proceeds at a rather sedate pace. After an hour or two, it gradually becomes clear that Mrs Warren is a former prostitute who's turned respectable, and that the girl her son is keen on is in fact his half-sister. Tears, raised voices, shocked expressions all round.

People in Pajala are better at this kind of thing. When Matti turns sixteen, his father tells him that there are some important things he needs to know. "Oh shit, not the birds and the bees!" thinks Matti, who's already got some rather embarrassing sexual experience after being half-raped by a beautiful in-law at a wedding party. But his father has a different agenda in mind. He calmly tells Matti that his father - Matti's grandfather - put it around a bit when he was young, and three girls in the town are consequently off limits. Matti absorbs the new information and is disappointed; one of his newly revealed cousins is in a parallel class at school and quite hot. Oh well.

Now that's the way to do it.