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This may be the best of the Blandings series. It introduced Gally, a charming, disreputable younger son of an Earl whose main crimes are enjoying life and refusing to be a snob. He's an older gentleman who is rarely without a whisky in his hand or a story on his lips. If you've never read Wodehouse's Blandings books, this is a good place to start, followed by its sequel, Heavy Wather.
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This one has been very helpful to me as it gives precise yet comprehensible definitions. This is maybe the most important point of all.
I found it very easy to look up a word i did not understand and gain a conceptual understanding of that word after a short period of time. The definitions just make sense and are not too complicated and confusing.
It also includes example sentences and idioms and information for the further usage of a particular word.
It also has a section with colored pictures (maps, categories such as clothing, food, animals etc.) that provide a picture of the real thing that the word represents - a quite useful tool for foreigners and non native speakers like me.
If you are currently studying english, reading english texts (but have a limited vocabulary) or just don't want to run into too many complexities when using a dictionary and don't want to be too confused but you just want to know the meaning of a word and understand it, then this is the right dictionary for you.
As it is a dictionary for "learners" it does not include things like etymology and syllables (the only negative points), technical definitions (although it includes some where their appearance is reasonable) etc.
But it includes phonetic symbols at the bottom of each page and has, as all dictionaries, a section wich explains each symbol and abbreviation that can appear in an entry.
If there would appear some symbol or abbreviation in the entry that you wouldn't understand, you would find it easy to find its meaning as everything in this dictionary is exactly where you would consider it to be.
So you don't fool around loosing time and getting frustrated. I think the editors of some dictionaries assume that you already know all these symbols but include their definitions anyway in a very complicated way.
Not with this one.
I highly recommend this dictionary. You can buy it without reservations.
But...you should have a second one with etymologies at hand.
The dictionary has lots of pictures (over 1700) for words that can be explained but for which a picture is much more effective like "hinge". The words have a pronunciation guide with a mark (') showing the main stress. There are many useful appendixes like irregular verbs conjugation, usage of numbers, punctuation, family relationships and a few colorful maps.
Over 220 usage notes clarify the subtle differences among words such as dealer trader and merchant. Although it's mainly a British English dictionary the differences in spelling, use or pronunciation between American English and British English are stressed.
By far the most interesting feature is the extremely reduced defining vocabulary constituted of 3500 words. The great majority of definitions are written using that reduced defining vocabulary. This simplifies the definitions and it's a great starting vocabulary for the beginners. The use of such a small defining vocabulary rules out the use of this dictionary as a thesaurus but the advantages compensate this drawback.
My copy is a paper back that has been reinforced with adhesive tape. This makes the dictionary lighter and handy. I used to put it on my back pack and take it to all my classes when I started college in USA.
The drawbacks are the need of an additional thesaurus and the fact that the entries are not syllabified. Nevertheless I would give it 10 stars if I could.
Leonardo Alves - December 2000
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The appendices are also valuable: a table of irregular verbs, punctuation, numerical expressions, weights and measures, geographical names, common forenames guides with explanation both in English and Chinese. Also included is a detailed guide of the entries, covering pronunciation, grammar, verb patterns, and more.
An added bonus is that the traditional forms of the Chinese characters are used, and the pronunciations of headwords is the received pronunciation.
However, this dictionary is definitely not for learners of Chinese. The title is somewhat misleading in this respect. It is suitable only for Chinese learners of English, not for English speakers learning Chinese.
don't buy anything from a chinese bookstore when you can can it from amazon or local. I seen this book sell for $55.00 in a chinese bookstore in nyc.
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"Fever Pitch" is an obsessive's tale as much as it is a fan's story, and so should appeal to the same wide audience that enjoys his excellent novels (It was my love for "High Fidelity" that sent me straight to this book). It is a memoir of surprising depth considering how it is organized only by the dates of soccer matches between 1968 and 1991, and it makes perfect sense that Hornby, or any true fan, should see the rest of his life (parents' divorce, his own education, romantic and career trouble) primarily as it relates to the team he spends so much time, money and psychic energy on.
The irony, for me, was finding out after I read "Fever Pitch" for the first time that Arsenal was one of the top teams of the last decade in England, so Hornby at least gets to feel the joy that we Red Sox fans are still waiting for. Sure, we're ecstatic the Pats won the Super Bowl, but our lives will change forever when Boston brings home the World Series. But after "Fever Pitch," I'll remember to laugh like the rest of the world laughs when American sports leagues crown their title-holders "world" champions.
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"High Fidelity" was a funny, witty, novel that at some points dragged, but at most points was gratifying. I rarely do this, but I'm going to have to say it: this book I guarentee you will enjoy, even for a brief few chapters, but for most people, the entire novel is enjoyable. Good Luck with it!
I absolutely loved this novel. It was witty, exploring with a keen eye relationships and the reasons why men and women get together, and sometimes drift apart. Narrator Rob is a self-indulgent whiner who tries to make himself feel better after getting dumped by making lists to himself of "top 5 breakups", as well as lists of "top 5 breakup songs". He does something many of us 30-something men often think of doing, namely contact old flames out of an odd, morbid curiosity as to their whereabouts and marital status.
While Rob and his incessant ruminations on his past and present love life can sometimes get old, Hornby deftly changes gears whenever a change is needed and involves numerous excellent secondary characters, including record store employees and comrades-in-arms Dick and Barry (played amazingly well by Jack Black in the recent movie) as well as a folkie American female musician living in London. The scenes in Rob's second hand record store are priceless, as well as some memorable episodes in North London's pubs where Rob and the boys hoist a pint or two while they argue meaningless musical debates.
It is difficult to categorize the novel, but I can simply say that as a male of approximately the same age as the protagonist, it appeared Hornby (and Rob) were talking my language (albeit with a British flair), and I therefore breezed through this book quicker than most. You need not be male and over 30 to enjoy it, but reading it will reveal some of our secrets and obsessions. Pick it up, you won't be disappointed.
Hornby captures the longing, ennui, humor and bitterness of the single male so perfectly, that every guy is bound to see some of himself in the lead character. The use of "Top 5" lists is a brilliant literary device. It advances the plot in almost every instance, while at the same time painting a complete and well-rounded portrait of the protagonist (and his friends). Plus, it's a fun way to start a debate with your own friends. The writing is sharp, the characters real and the plot engaging.
As a footnote, I think the movie did a wonderful job of adapting the book. The book is better, of course, but the film stays remarkably true to the spirit and letter of the original. There are entire passages from the book that are repeated in the script, which is very, very rare among adaptations.
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While wacky hijinks ensure, his life also becomes entwined with that of Marcus, a 12-year old boy desperately in need of a father figure. While Will is a cad in terms of the women, he's more or less a decent fellow, with some deficiencies recognizable in a lot of men, the most significant being his inability to grow up. Both he and Marcus are naive and wise In their own ways, and through their odd relationship they become better adjusted. Funny and sometimes bittersweet, many young men will recognize parts of themselves in Will, and while his method of coming to terms with the world and aging isn't particularly useful as a guide, the book may lead to moments of introspection on one's own life.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a clever, tightly written story about Will Freeman, a 36-year old adolescent who has discovered the pleasures of dating single mothers, and Marcus, a socially awkward 12-year old boy of a depressed hippy. Fabricating a fictional child, Will meets Marcus at a picnic for a support group for single parents. Upon taking Marcus home with another single mother, Will and Marcus find Marcus's mother, Fiona, passed out from a suicide attempt.
This incident launches Marcus on attempt to expand his social circle to insulate himself from tragic events. So Marcus inserts himself into Will Freeman's life. Marcus soon discovers that Will Freeman, a jobless man obsessed with coolness and style and supported by the royalties of his late father's Christmas song, is the perfect guide to usher Marcus into the social world of adolescents.
Chapter by chapter, Hornsby alternates viewpoints between Marcus and Will, mirroring their parallel journeys: Marcus, the outcast, social incompent's journey from childhood to adolesence, and Will, whose own journey from adolescence to adulthood stalled out some time ago. The catalyst breaking both Marcus]s and Will's inertia is, of course, love.
ABOUT A BOY paints vivid portraits of its two main characters. Both Will and Marcus are written quite authentically. (I was reminded quite vividly of Judith Rich Harris's book, THE NURTURE ASSUMPTION when reading about Marcus's desire to be accepted by his peers and Will's understanding that to be accepted is to be similar to your peers.) The interaction between these two characters is poignantly detailed.
Unfortunately, the book begins to lose steam when the love interests, Rachel for Will and Ellie for Marcus, are introduced. Though the plot point seems necessary to move the book along, Hornsby doesn't provide the same level of detail or motivation for Rachel or Ellie, and, as a result, the book slows down.
This doesn't keep the book from being a good read or from provoking good thoughts. One of the most interesting thoughts that Hornsby brings up is the idea of "The Point" (as in "What's the point of it all?") When Will plans to confront Marcus's mother about the possibiltiy of another attempt at suicide, he worries that "the Point" will come up, and Will doesn't have a good idea and what "the Point" is. In detailing the daily workings Will's life, Hornsby examines the existential angst and boredom that comes by default to most modern human beings, and when Will finds no one point, but rather, a multitude of daily small points (a daily quiz show, the daily crossword puzzle, and, most importantly, meaningful relationships with other people.), Hornsby proposes a way of coping with the lack of some overarching purpose to human existence that I could relate to.
Sometimes, looking forward to finishing a good book is all you need to get through a tough day.
Dav's Rating System:
5 stars - Loved it, and kept it on my bookshelf.
4 stars - Liked it, and gave it to a friend.
3 stars - OK, finished it and gave it to the library.
2 stars - Not good, finished it, but felt guilty and/or cheated by it.
1 star - I want my hour back! Didn't finish the book.
For lack of anything else to do (he is independently wealthy living off the royalties for a Christmas carol his father penned), Will discovers a population of women with whom he could have flings -- single mothers. He joins a support group by claiming he has a little son whom his fictitious ex-wife won't allow him to see very often. He even goes so far as to buy a car seat, put it in his car and mess it up with cookie crumbs so it looks like his son was there!
Marcus takes a liking to Will and wants him to go out with his mom. They have one disastrous date. But though the date doesn't work out, Will somehow ends up being a big brother, if not a father figure, to Marcus.
Because Marcus needs someone to teach him how to be cool. It is intriguing how Will does 'adopt' Marcus even though he no longer wants a relationship with his mom. Perhaps he isn't so selfish after all ....
The great thing about this book is there is no pithy life-affirming change or epiphany -- events simply unfold that involve Will and Marcus, the way they would in real life.
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Hornby has assembled an all-star team of emerging young writers, most of whom hail from the UK. Actor Colin Firth pens a sort of twisted fairy tale in "The Department of Nothing." Giles Smith gives a portrait of a cook for deathrow inmates. Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones) checks in with an expectedly sarcastic mother/daughter relationship study. American Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) writes from a dog's point of view in "After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Was Drowned." Melissa Bank's romantic tale, "The Wonder Spot," was one of my favorites, and Irvine Welsh's unsettling commentary on homophobia, "Catholic Guilt," was also interesting. Hornby himself examines the different effects a work of art can have on people in "Nipple Jesus." Other contributing authors are Robert Harris, Patrick Marber, Zadie Smith, Roddy Doyle, and John O'Farrell. This is quite a collection.
On the whole, Hornby's collection may not rise to the level of great fiction, but it offers some truly entertaining writing along the way. Readers will encounter stories told by a Prime Minister, a middle-aged family man, a prison cook, a skinhead bouncer, and a dog. And while some of the angels collected here soar higher than others, all are hip, and a few are even downright devlish.
These stories run the gamut and are really fun--coming of age tales, unusual narrators (like dogs, humiliated prime ministers, and death-row cooks), and stories that ask the big question: "What is art?" They're fresh, provocative, and often humorous.
Do yourself and a good cause a favor and get this book. It's at the top of my list for gift-giving this year.
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Sure, this isn't great literature. I wouldn't expect him to rake in the literary awards for "Songbook". But reading it was a quietly enjoyable experience, like sitting down for coffee with a good friend and talking about life, love, and art. Hornby's writing style is, as always, deceptively casual. Accessible, astute, and precise, but not self-satisfied or self-concious. I envy that.
I won't disagree with the critics here who were disappointed that the included CD only contains a few of the selections Hornby describes. But I give you this: Most of the selections on the CD are songs I'd never heard of and wouldn't have been able to find easily. Others that aren't included on the disc, like, say, "Thunder Road", a person might already own. Or could find somewhere, quickly. Given the market pressures that I'm sure shaped the CD selection I'm pretty satisfied with what we've been given. These songs, though, form a nice, mellow soundtrack to read by. I like, too, that they all seem to have the same sort of rhythm to them, and similar lyrical styles. They made me feel like I was getting yet another peek into Hornby's mind, on a more personal level than through his words alone.
"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strongest part..."
Although I'm fairly sure the majority of readers, will not be familiar with many of the songs that Hornby writes about, the point of the songbook is more personal. It will help you reawaken your own love of music as you shuffle through your music collection and go through a similar period of self reflection.
Personally, the book was worth it once I listened to Aimee Mann's "I've Had It", a beautiful soulful song that I've lived without for as long as I can remember, and now I can't go without listening to repeatedly along with the Soundtrack to About a Boy by Badly Drawn Boy.
If I have a complaint with this book (and it's a very minor one), it's that some of the essays only tangentially explore their corresponding song. For example, the combined Dylan/Beatles essay only mentions the Beatles "Rain" in the very last paragraph of the essay and it's rather glossed over. This is a minor flaw overall, however, and I highly recommend this book to all music lovers. It will make you think about your passion in some new ways and it will also expose you to lots of great new music.
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As usual, most anthologies or collection of essays from a range of authors tend to have the 'good', the 'bad' and the 'ugly'. It is no different with this collection.
Ultimately, determining the good and the bad is dependent on personal choice. I found the majority of the essays to be rather dull, and uninspiring. Hornby's piece was probably typical.
However there were three essays that made the experience pleasurable, as they described the highs and lows of the season, the love and hate of following a club and being a ardent club supporter, and the drama that overlays it all.
The central premise of putting together a collection of authors to write about a season in the history of their club, and from the fans perspective, is to be applauded. But somehow, the expectation and the output never quite meet.
For someone not acquainted with the world of (mostly) English football (there are inclusions here as well of Scottish, Welsh, and Irish teams), some of these essays may be a tough go. I'd be tempted to say that the best pieces here are the most widely accessible ones--that is, the ones that cater to a more general public--but that wouldn't be true. The elation of Roddy Doyle's opening salvo could capture anyone's attention, since it seems less about soccer than about infectiously good memories. But some of the most interesting and powerful glimpses here will be impenetrable to those with little knowledge of the inner workings of club politics in England; Ed Horton's amazing probing of the woeful and criminal mismanagement of Oxford United is both engaging and important, but I confess that some of its finer points were lost on this American reader, despite the fact that I know a fair amount about the background.
So, unlike Hornby's "Fever Pitch," which manages to make itself about life-in-general masquerading as life-in-soccer, this collection might be a little harder to penetrate for the casual observer of the beautiful game. If you're a bigger fan of the sport, I highly recommend it, especially during the upcoming World Cup year 2002. "My Favourite Year" is a great hors-d'oeuvre for a month-long World Cup meal of soccer at its best.