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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
Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse - Henry Beard Earlier today, we were walking past one of the open-air bookstalls on Rue de la Marché when I noticed a second-hand copy of this book. It opened naturally at the following poem, which I liked so much that I immediately had to read it aloud:
Kubla Kat
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Cat

In Xanadu did Kubla Kat
A splendid sofa-bed decree
With silken cushions soft and fat
A perfect feline habitat
Set on a gilt settee.
And twice ten yards of fine brocade
The golden ottoman arrayed:
And there were pillows packed with airy down
Hand-plucked from sacred swans in Thessaly;
And lace draped from a massive silver crown
Adorned the ornate rosewood canopy.

And ah! that seat effused a potent lotion
Pressed from the leaves of rare hypnotic herbs
Sweet source of wondrous dreams that naught disturbs.
Oh magic mint! Sublime and blissful potion!
The fragrance of that place of slumber
Floated on the balmy breeze
Drawing kittens without number:
Persians, Manx, and Siamese.
It was a miracle of opulence,
A shining sofa-bed with catnip scents!

A songbird with a small guitar
In a vision I once did note:
It was a wise and winsome owl,
Sitting in a pea-green boat,
Singing a song to me,
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
We danced by the light of the moon.

And when I arose from my languorous swoon
I build that divine divan,
That cushy couch! that smell of spice!
And all who saw should stop and yawn,
And none would cry, Get Down! Begone!
The lights are dimmed, the curtains drawn.
Tiptoe round him, still as mice,
And let him catnap on his bed,
For he on catnip leaves has fed,
And lapped the milk of Paradise.
The others weren't quite as fine, though I also recommend To a Vase, by Elisabeth Barrett Browning's cat, Abyssinias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley's cat and The Love Song of J. Morris Housecat, by T.S. Eliot's cat. The last of these, in particular, incorporates a fine quotation in 14th century cat Italian from Dante's cat:
M'io muoiano muole miù
miei ma miogni noi parlamiaou
muoi m'uomi ne più
miolo muoiano mio siamiaou