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MannyRayner

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
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
- So are you still trudging through the Margaret Atwood?

- George, you should stop being so dismissive! Have you ever read it?

- Well, I think I got as far as chapter three. Typical po-mo cleverness with a story inside a story inside... anyway, I decided I couldn't take any more, so I gave up.

- So do you want to know what it's about?

- You're going to tell me, aren't you?

- Only if you want me to.

- Okay, okay. I want you to. Snuggle up and tell me all about it. Satisfied?

- Mmm. Well, satisfied for now anyway. You know, George, you actually might like it. Some of it's a bit depressing, but there's this very sexy thread where in each episode she meets her lover, and they lie in bed together and he tells her this bizarre science-fiction story...

- A bit like we're doing now?

- A bit.

- I like that. So what kind of story is it?

- Well, he's a pulp SF writer, so it's very pulpy, but in a good way. There's this planet with three suns and seven moons and deadly mountains haunted by beautiful nude undead women with azure hair and eyes like snake-filled pits...

- That does sound sexy. I like the snake-filled pits too.

- I knew you would. And he's telling it in a very clever, ironic way, and some of the time he's just having fun, and some of the time it's sort of about him and her.

- Where does the blind assassin come in?

- Well, in the science-fiction story, there's this character who's a blind master assassin. That's sort of the guy telling the story. And he falls in love with this beautiful girl, who's supposed to be sacrificed on the altar. She's sort of the girl he's telling the story to.

- How could a master assassin be blind?

- Honestly, George, don't be so literal about everything. Anyway, you liked Daredevil, didn't you?

- Okay, you got me. Carry on.

- Well, the science-fiction story is the innermost one. The guy and the girl are characters in a book that was written by a girl who killed herself by driving off a bridge...

- Why did she kill herself?

- You don't find out until the end of the book. It's a whydunnit...

- You mean there's a plot and everything?

- Honestly, George, of course there's a plot! There's even a twist.

- Wow. Okay, so the girl killed herself driving off the bridge?

- Yes, and her sister, who's now very old, is writing about her and her book, and what happened to make her write it.

- And I suppose the book she wrote is about stuff that happened to her and her sister?

- Could be. I don't want to drop too many spoilers.

- I still don't see why it has to be so complicated.

- Well, you thought Inception was great, didn't you? All those layers?

- Yeah...

- Okay, it's a bit like that. It really works. But you'd have trouble explaining why to someone who hadn't seen it.

- Mmm.

- Mmm?

- You know, it's Valentine's Day.

- It is. Sorry, I won't try and sell you any more Margaret Atwood for a while. George. Mmm.

- Mmm.

- Mmm!

*************************

- George?

- Mmm?

- Were you having a dream?

- I think so.

- What kind of dream? You had such a funny look on your face.

- A dream inside a dream inside a dream. You know, I might read that book after all.