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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

Lili Veut Un Téléphone Portable

Lili Veut Un Téléphone Portable - Dominique de Saint Mars, Serge Bloch Some of the most agonising problems for the modern French 8 year old are clearly concerned with cellphones, and this episode of Ainsi Va La Vie does the usual responsible job of walking you through them. First of all, there's envy. Lili arrives at school, and there's bloody Valentine showing off her new iPhone. It's got a video-camera and internet and everything. "Very handy for talking to your boyfriend," she adds. Lili grits her teeth.

"Did you get your Christmas present early?" asks one of Valentine's clique.

"Nah," says the Queen Bee casually. "My Christmas present's going to be two weeks in Guadaloupe."

Lili can't stand any more of this provocation. "I don't want a mobile phone!" she snaps. "I'd rather talk to people face to face!"

Luckily, her own boyfriend, Hugo, really does hate cellphones, and eats up her words. But Lili knows she's lying. The next picture is my favourite: you see the whole class, with a thought-bubble for each kid. Lili's wondering why she had to say such a dumb thing; Valentine's thinking she's going to get even with that little bitch; Hugo's thinking how sweet he is on Lili; and every other kid in the class is lusting after Valentine's iPhone.

So Lili's been less than truthful, but it turns out that Valentine's no better. She doesn't currently have a boyfriend. The only person who ever calls her is Mom, who checks in every fifteen minutes to see make sure her darling daughter is okay. Each time she calls, Valentine has to go through the same routine: where I am, where I'm going, I miss you, I love you Mom, bisous. It's absolutely driving her nuts.

I didn't think the rest of the story was as good - Valentine uses the video function to record Lili saying something compromising, which was rather too similar to the plot of Lili se fait piéger sur Internet - but it was still fascinating to see the kid's eye view of this ubiquitous new piece of technology. If your own 8 year old is asking for a cellphone and you aren't sure what line to take, I strongly recommend it.