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Leo Fergusrules.Com: A Novel
Published in Paperback by Leapfrog Press (1999)
Authors: Arne E. Tangherlini and Pagan Kennedy
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Alice in Cyberland Indeed
This book is brilliantly witty-the first page I laughed twice-and the first chapter sticks in one's mind for its beautiful imagery (Leo describing her relationship with Bri) and Leo's sharp and amusing asides. The ending is surprising in its abruptness-it leaves the reader feeling slightly cheated, but this is a memorable story, well worth the read, and I'll be surprised if you don't go back with Leo to Apeiron often.

A "must read" if you own a computer and have an imagination. is a wonderfully rich and absorbing fable,sharply defined with an edge of modern technology. It's rare that a book can satisfy both my imagination and my intelligence to such a great degree. Arne Tangherlini's heroine, Leo, appealed to me in every way. She's fiery, defiant, brilliant and hilarious all at the same time, and her heart is as huge and beautiful as the tapestry of scenes through which you follow her on her journey. Don't miss this book.

A tasty literary minestrone
Italian cusine is known and appreciated around the world. Much has been said to account for its success: tradition, ingredients, a people's flair for the good life. But Italian cuisine is above all simple. The best pizza is made of only seven ingredients: what makes a margherita delicious is the delicate balance of its primal flavours, the feel of the cook while kneading the dough, and a sense of timing with the oven. is not a pizza margherita; the dish it comes closest to is minestrone. Minestrone is a soup made with at least ten kinds of vegetable. What counts is that you use vegetables that are in season and go well together. So, minestrone is the most anarchic of plates: you can invent your own recipe on a whim. Yet, anarchy does not lead to chaos if you know how to keep it simple. Why is this book a literary minestrone? Because of the right ingredients, simplicity, that undefinable feel and controlled anarchy. Ingredients first: when you read, your palate will detect Dante's Inferno, J.L. Borges's fictions, Umberto Eco's first novel, historical reports on the American occupation of the Philippines, a pinch of Greek mithology, Philippine folktales and a generous dollop of Alice in Wonderland. Mr. Tangherlini also added less high-brow condiments: cyberspace, TV series, videogames, the atrocious discourse of education 'experts,' and the sub-culture of shopping malls. This is a large enough number of ingredients and, given the peculiar way time moves in the realm of the letters, they are all in season. You have to be a pretty daring cook to try and blend Dante with starship Enterprise, but the author has courage enough to feed a batallion. This is how he did it: he took the Divine Comedy and simmered it in post-modern oil. Thus, the medieval poem became the main ingredient, the root taste to which all the others would be grafted upon. The other ingredients were added on the soffritto, one by one, in good order, paying attention to the cooking time of each. A fourteen-year-old heroine called Leo embarks on a journey through cyberspace with Fra Umberto as her guide. She soon finds herself in cyber-hell, one that is not dug through the Earth crust, but is a portion of virtual reality. During her trip, Leo encounters--among others--classmates, teachers, relatives and ancestors from her manifold genealogy, murderous Barbie dolls and a crowd of her own selves, each coming from different moments in the past. How did Mr. Tangherlini keep the book simple? He made it a 'close work;' a choice that would have made Mr. Alighieri happy. And this is a scandal, because today's novels are supposed to be 'open works.' breaks away from this modern tradition in search of an exciting, inventive recipe. Leo can go through her amazing adventures with all the ease afforded by narrative solutions that are seven centuries old. Citations from the Inferno are so many that you end up expecting them as you proceed through the text. And when they actually turn up, they have the same soothing effect of a recurring line in a lullaby. But the surest sign that is a close work comes from its poetics. Metaphors are few and far between in Mr. Tangherlini's novel, which is based on allegory instead. Allegory admits only one correct interpretation: Fra Umberto, for instance, can only be Umberto Eco because--among other things--he introduces himself as a native of Alessandria, which is Mr. Eco's hometown. Close figures are simple and fun because they provide intellectual challenge and a sure reward if you rise to meet it. A few random examples of them from the novel: why is the last monster Leo meets in her journey a dog with three heads? Why does "Like a flock of sparrows blown by the wind..." sound familiar? What battle is the "massacre on the bridge" that Leo's grandmother's grandmother--a Filipina--survived? Why is cyber-hell called Dlön and "one of the best commercial environments" Uqbar? The choice of analogy over metaphor and the reliance on a narrative structure that has charmed the world since the Middle Ages give the architecture required to support a multitude of characters, a rapid-fire sequence of vicissitudes, and a breathless narrative pace. This is why this novel is an excellent minestrone: the ingredients are in season and harmonious; the recipe original and simple; the preparation expert and well timed. Serve warm--not hot--and sprinkle with a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese.

Smart Kids: How Academic Talents Are Developed and Nurtured in America
Published in Hardcover by Hogrefe & Huber Pub (1993)
Authors: William G. Durden and Arne E. Tangherlini
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