Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Books Read

I finally finished a book or two that had been hanging over me.

Before Christmas I finished the 'Pocket Essentials: Steven Soderbergh' by Jason Wood. Like most books in this series, the director comes out as a saint, the author/apostle finding nuggets of gold and pearls of wisdom in even his most obscure works (although I do agree on the positive appraisal of 'Schizopolis'). I have a lot of respect for Soderbergh, who has a lot of intelligence and something to say, but I would never rank him in the top tier (though who I would place there I'm not too sure these days). The book stopped at 'Ocean's Eleven', so we were spared Wood's excuses for 'Ocean's Twelve' or the needless remake of 'Solaris'. Nevertheless it was a pleasant trip through his back catalogue.

Last week I finally finished Russell's 'Problems of Philosophy'. You cannot expect me to refrain from anger when he resorts to Platonic Universals to back up his case (something Schopenhauer's 'The World as Will and Idea' annoyed me by doing too), but I perservered and in the end there were some insights to be gleaned. Still not convinced by Russell's argument though.

I also finished, 'The Power of Darkness', a collection of horror tales by Edith Nesbit. Despite my admiration for some of her work, even I have to admit that there is too much sentimentality too often throughout the collection. I suspect Nesbit, earning her living from her writing, had to appeal to magazines (and their audiences) that gave her little room for innovation. A very modern style is almost always apparent, and in her masterpieces, the much anthologised 'Man-size in Marble' and 'John Charrington's Wedding', and the lesser seen 'The Violet Car', 'The Shadow' and the caustic 'The Pavillion', she shows what she was capable of. Unfortunately she was also capable of pieces such as 'The Letter in Brown Ink' and 'The Five Senses'. On a positive note, there is something positive that can be said about each story in this collection and so ultimately it's something the horror buff ignores at his peril.

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