Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
TED Talks are a great web resource. I confess that I first discovered the site by skimming through the weekly Viral Video Chart at http://viralvideochart.unrulymedia.com/ which can too frequently, for me, be an exercise in egregious attention deficit time wasting. Anyway a while ago I stumbled upon Ken Robinson’s wonderful talk Changing Educational Paradigms http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html and I instantly became a fan of the TED Talks website.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
I’m very pleased to relaunch Barrie’s Blog with this “Recent Reading” page.
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell can hopefully be found in the non-fiction section of your local public library (Dewey Decimal category: 996.9). It is a history of the Hawaiian Islands from the arrival of the first New England missionaries in 1823 until the annexation of the islands by the United States in 1898.
Ms Vowell is a vocal performer. She frequently can be heard on National Public Radio. In this side of her career she is witty, an excellent story-teller, engaging and intelligent. This is the second of her books I have read and I can report that her writing - in book form - demonstrates all her qualities as a performer plus an ability to convey empathy for both her heroes and villains alike. In Unfamiliar Fishes the “hero” is Hawaii itself. Her villains, as I see it, are human greed, xenophobia and many other “base” qualities of those who have inhabited, visited and lived on these islands from the mists of its early history until now.
Ms Vowell is unafraid of revealing her personal bias but she is also unafraid of empathizing with both people and ideas that are obviously not her cup of tea.
She shows us that she has researched widely and deeply to write this story but she tells us the story not in a staid scholarly manner, but as if she and her reader were having a delicious tropical drink in a cafe on one of Hawaii’s beaches and just chit-chatting away the time.
I’ll say no more. I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of reading this book for you. I’m sure you have already guessed that I am a huge fan of Ms Vowell’s performing and writing!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah
Ms. Hannah is the queen of the first person dialogue. Her characters speak directly to you with passion and wit, and they draw you in to their worlds with the momentum of a runaway train. You are going so fast that you pick and choose characteristics, tics, moods and motives which at first seem straightforward and unequivocal. Only there is a clever catch. Maybe you’ve presumed wrongly; maybe you have assigned more weight to a verbal “turn of phrase” than you should have; maybe you should reassess what you have assumed and take a somewhat more relaxed look at the big picture? At some points the central characters appear almost like clones of each other, but are they? Ms. Hannah’s skill is in her nuanced portrayal of reaction and emotion. You know there is something going on in the text that you cannot quite grasp, just like an itch you can’t scratch. Mercifully she does turn up the lights at the conclusion and lets you see the cast sans makeup! A superb read.