Friday, October 28, 2011

Ricky Gervais Presents: The World of Karl Pilkington, by Karl Pilkington


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Taken from the famous podcasts which later became the basis of The Ricky Gervais Show, The World of Karl Pilkington is supplemented with doodles and ramblings of Karl himself. A must for any fan of the idiotic genius that is Pilkington.

Murder With All the Trimmings: Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper, by Elaine Viets


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This is a pretty typical "chick lit" cozy mystery, complete with an overworked single mom heroine and her budding romance with a hunky boyfriend in the midst of an unpleasant drama with her hapless ex. Standard fare in the genre. Enjoyable, but not a thinker.

Jigsaw: A Carroll Quint Mystery, by Jerry Kennealy


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This was the first book I read by Jerry Kennealy and I didn't hate it. It was lighter than a hard-boiled novel but more serious than a Kinky Friedman book. The main character, a man with the unfortunate name of Carroll Quint, is a San Franciscan entertainment reporter with an aging fan base and a penchant for solving crimes. The story was light, often improbable, but genuinely entertaining. I'd give this series another go in the future.

Happyslapped by a jellyfish: The words of Karl Pilkington, by Karl Pilkington


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Karl's travel log, while the ramblings of a grumpy idiot, does start to make a sort of twisted sense if you read it long enough. Karl Pilkington is like that embarrassing voice in your head that pops up for a moment before reason and logic sets in.

The Amazing Absorbing Boy, by Rabindranath Maharaj


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There have been some wonderful books written from the perspective of a child with a limited and specific point of view that reveals a very adult world to the reader. Some that come to mind are Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Stephen Kelman's Pigeon English, and Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This book fits neatly into that sub-genre. The main character is a young man from Trinidad who tries to make sense of his new life in Toronto by imagining comic book heroes (and villains) everywhere he goes. In places I felt the author could have taken this premise even further, but fans of superhero comics will certainly appreciate the subtle references.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Where Has Oprah Taken Us? The Religious Influence of the World's Most Famous Woman, by Stephen Mansfield

Oprah Winfrey must really bug Stephen Mansfield. A lot. Sure, he claims to admire her and he seems to have spent a lot of time reading other people’s biographies of her, but his basic thesis is that she has turned away from Christianity (meaning, his specific interpretation of Christianity which he insists repeatedly is the one that is “true”) and has turned to other, lesser forms of religious expression and, in so doing, has lead millions of television viewers down a dangerous path.

It is clear that this thesis was formed long before he started the book, and all of his “evidence” is merely there to confirm what he already believes to be true. In a chapter entitled “The Age of Oprah” he outlines the social forces at work during Oprah’s lifetime, including the Beat Generation, the rise of The Church of Satan and Transcendental Meditation. The problem with this is that it is an extremely limited vision of the factors leading up to the current spiritual climate of America and there is absolutely no reason to think these were the key factors in Oprah’s personal journey. He talks about Jack Kerouac and The Beatles but barely mentions segregation in the south, the Civil Rights Movement or the Women’s Liberation Movement. Surely these would have informed Oprah Winfrey’s world view, including her spiritual journey?