Posts tagged with "Books"
Review: The Sense of Style

Most writing sucks. Academic writing is dull and turgid, business and political writing is incoherent and stuffed with mostly meaningless jargon, and much journalism is borderline illiterate. The internet, for all that it has done to advance humanity’s knowledge, has also perpetrated the heinous crime of making everyone a writer – and just like most people can’t draw a portrait, assemble an engine, sing an opera or jump a salchow, most people can’t write. In the face of all this bad writing, it’s very easy for people of a certain temperament...

Review: Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby

Out of an anal-retentive desire to put as much of my output in a central place under my control, I’ve added and appropriately back-dated a bunch of old book reviews I like and still agree with to this blog. This was going to be one of them, but I ended up expanding it enough that I decided back-dating would be dishonest. Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby, available for free on this lovely domain hack, is the strangest book about programming you’ll ever read, combining instructional...

Review: The King in Yellow

Having read enough HP Lovecraft, I’m slowly, unsystematically making my way through his many influencers and contemporaries: writers like Edgar Allen Poe, Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Clark Ashton Smith, William Hope Hodgson and many others mentioned in passing in ST Joshi’s Lovecraft biographies. One such minor influence is Robert W Chambers, particularly his 1895 collection of short stories, titled The King in Yellow. Chambers, while a popular author in his day, did not prove to be a timeless one and has mostly...

Review: The City & The City

On its surface, China Miéville’s The City & The City is a police procedural-type murder mystery set in an Eastern European city-state called Besźel. A woman is discovered dead in an alleyway, and it’s up to Inspector Tyador Borlú to find out whodunnit. Once “dead hooker” is ruled out, the case soon escalates into an international incident between Besźel and its unfriendly neighbour, the city-state of Ul Qoma, and things get more tangled from there, as is customary for the genre. But the murder mystery’s not really the point. It’s fun...

Review: Infinite Jest

The best way I’ve found to describe David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is as the literary equivalent of Homestuck or Arrested Development (especially season four). It’s long and digressive and as it goes on it produces more and more material for self-reference and references that material in rich and unexpected ways. It’s humorous but never laugh-out-loud humorous, and at some points it’s just a slog to get through. It’s about a film called “Infinite Jest” that viewers...