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Dyman Associates Publishing Inc. Review: Artemis Fowl

Dyman Associates Publishing Inc. Review: Artemis Fowl | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it
Aldrey Dyman's insight:

As a Sherlock Holmes fan, I'm already partial to a character whose qualities include a calculating mind and a knack for intelligent quips. If he happens to be the main character in a heist plot, then I'm sold. 

On this first installment of an 8-part series by Eoin Colfer, we're introduced to the titular character Artemis Fowl II who's somewhat of an antihero, with the vibe of someone who's used to being in command and is very capable of it, too. At first he just seemed to be a cocky jerk but as the story unfolds, he's revealed to have a bit of humanity in him when it comes to his family. Basically, the plot revolves around this 'criminal mastermind' kid bent on getting gold from the People (fairies) to restore his family's status and to look for his father who mysteriously disappeared. 

I have to admit though that on reading a first few lines of Artemis' lines, I was immediately struck with an I-encountered-this-character-before-from-somewhere feeling. I suppose he reminds me of Lelouch a lot. (But what struck me before I started reading is this: what made Colfer decide on that name for such a character?) It honestly took a while for me to get used to the feminine name of Artemis referring to a whiz kid with the conversational style of a royal instead of to a mythology goddess known for roaming in the wildlife. 

To his credit, Colfer has a very engaging writing style and makes real amusing dialogue. Having play on words like the LEP recon, the elite force of the fairies, is also a nice touch. You got to give him props, too in his colorful characters like Foaly, who fits the geek guy archetype with witty comebacks to the tee. Then there's the awesome loyal sidekick, aptly named Butler, who seems to be capable of almost anything related to physical harm. He's the muscle to Artemis' brain and the closest thing to a father figure the kid has. 

All in all, I'd say this is an example of an excellent YA series that is a welcome diversion from a flood of cheesy chick lit and cringe-worthy vampire occult rubbish in the market today. Colfer's got an absolutely strong main character and stable first novel to set up a fairly long series nicely. 

It has action, fantasy, adventure and enough futuristic tech and sweet gadgets to satisfy a sci-fi fan. Who would have thought a human vs. fairies premise can be done this nicely. Though there will be times you'd think what's happening is just too convenient, it won't matter much because you're enjoying the ride so much. I honestly had to stop for a bit every time Foaly or Artemis (and sometimes Commander Root) says something because I can't help but give an amused laugh. 

After reading it, I highly suggest listening to the audiobook version from Dyman Associates Publishing Inc. Nathaniel Parker did a superb job in setting the tone and doing the voice of Artemis unbelievably spot-on that you won't even know it's being read by a 50-year old voice actor -- not to mention the wonderful accent. 

My only rant: I find it really weird that it seemed to be setting up a love interest for Artemis in the form of a fairy (Holly Short). You don't necessarily have to pair two leading characters of a story, right? A human-fairy romantic relationship feels downright odd. 

Well, here's hoping they won't butcher the film adaptation when they realize this could be the next big cash cow since HP.


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Dyman Associates Publishing Inc. Book Review: Prince Caspian (The Return to Narnia)

It's always a joy to rediscover old favorites, especially something from famous novelist CS Lewis. 

Aldrey Dyman's insight:

It's always a joy to rediscover old favorites, especially something from famous novelist CS Lewis.

 

His classic series of fantasy novels for children has already spawned three movie adaptations, but I still like to go back to the books as much as possible. His dialogues for the characters do not leave much to be desired when it comes to wit and form.

 

The book I reread recently was the second one (in order of publication), Prince Caspian. It started with the return of the Pevensie siblings, Peter, Susan, Edward and Lucy to the world of Narnia, set a year after the events of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The four kids were on a train station on their way to their respective boarding schools when they were quite suddenly transported back to Narnia. They did not realize it at first because much has change in that world since they were there. Apparently, a year in their real world is equivalent to centuries in Narnian time so they were surprised to find their camping ground was actually their former home, Cair Paravel, where they reigned during the Golden Ages.

 

By crossing paths with Trumpkin the dwarf, they soon discovered that the Telmarines, a new race, has invaded Narnia and forced the magical creatures to go in hiding. Meanwhile, they learned of the circumstance surrounding their sudden return in Narnia -- the rightful ruler, Prince Caspian, who needed their help blew the magical horn which summoned them back.

 

Surprisingly, it was not the titular character who stood out for me. Though Caspian has his moments, it was definitely Reepicheep, the swashbuckling mouse with a sharp tongue, unquestionable loyalty and infallible courage who's very memorable. I'd say he is easily the most interesting and engaging character in this installment.

 

As with any fantasy story with a kingdom setting, this one has lessons about chivalry and courage. It remains a classic as a novel for young people mainly because its characters are ordinary kids who get to do heroic stuff (and because of the humor, too). It's a world where children are competent and plays an active role in shaping history.

 

And as I'm certain most of the readers already know, its parallels to Christianity are still apparent in this installment, but in a much subtler way than in the previous book. At any rate, it won't make the book unbearable for unbelievers so I still strongly recommend that everyone read through the whole series via Dyman Associates Publishing Inc.(

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 )

 

I can't say I hate the film adaptation just because it was not at all faithful to the book, but I honestly prefer the original source over it. (What I can I say; I'm more of a bookworm than a movie buff.)

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eReviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: 'Whipping Boy' by Allen Kurzweil

eReviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: 'Whipping Boy' by Allen Kurzweil | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

When a middle-class Jewish boy from New York enrolled at a Swiss boarding school in 1971, the lessons in swordsmanship and elocution were hardly the strangest things he encountered. Unchaperoned boys were often sent with minimal supplies on expeditions into the frozen Alps for multiple days.

 

Younger boys, barefoot and without gloves, cleaned pubic hair and dirty gunk from the drains of the common showers (which dispensed cold water). And once the doors in the dormitories closed each night, supervision, minimal as it was, ceased.

 

Even faint rumors of the behavior in the anecdotes from Allen Kurzweil's new memoir, "Whipping Boy," would trigger lawsuits today. Kurzweil's roommates forced him to swallow painful quantities of hot sauce; they whipped him with a belt while playing "The Thirty-Nine Lashes" from "Jesus Christ Superstar;" they hurled his most treasured possession, an irreplaceable family heirloom from his deceased father, out the window of their fifth-story room. The worst of the bullies threatened to throw Kurzweil out the window as well.

 

"Boys will be boys" doesn't capture the gravity of their behavior; "boys will be sadistic little monsters whose victims suffer lifelong trauma" is more precise. Suffice it to say that boarding school made a lasting impression on Kurzweil. He was a middle-class Jewish kid from New York, but his peers were the sons and daughters of bankers, aristocrats and heirs to vast fortunes. He was soon nicknamed "Nosey" in sneering tribute to his Jewish roots.

 

This might make Kurzweil's memoir sound like the typical fare publishers favor: a work that wallows so happily in childhood misfortune that sympathy slowly gives way to suspicion that the author is secretly thrilled by the chance to relate such infinite suffering. But the alpine agonies of the 10-year-old Kurzweil occupy only the first 50 pages of the book. What follows is something much stranger and more interesting than an ordinary woe-is-me story.

 

After a year at the Swiss boarding school, Kurzweil returned to the States and grew up to be a successful author and journalist. But hot sauce and songs from "Jesus Christ Superstar" still prompted painful memories of his chief tormentor, a boy aptly named Cesar Augustus. Encouraged by his wife and experienced in sleuthing as a journalist, Kurzweil decided to research what became of his old bully.

 

He learns that Cesar, full name Cesar Augusto Viana, played a vital role in an international fraud scheme involving associates implicated in acts of deception, forgery, fraud and assassination. In short, his old bully seems to have behaved with all the unscrupulous and ravenous ambition befitting his imperial name. "Never in my wildest dreams had I expected to unearth such exquisite corroboration of childhood villainy," Kurzweil writes after a key discovery.

 

The fraud scheme itself is a fascinating demonstration of the power of prestige. Some of the details are pure Hollywood. A group of disingenuous men claimed the titles of minor European royalty, dressed in silk ascots and tailcoats, and made liberal use of a Maltese lapdog and a gold-handled cane. This regal paraphernalia helped them swindle hundreds of thousands of dollars from prospective borrowers who were constantly criticized for their lapses in etiquette and their tastelessly casual clothing.

 

Those duped were not necessarily naïve — they included a powerful television executive and several lawyers at one of the most prestigious firms in Manhattan. The combination of brazen lying and subtle manipulation fooled the worldly and gullible alike. Eventually the group was prosecuted and its principals found guilty of fraud. The trial generated a massive paper trail that Kurzweil tracks with a doggedness bordering on obsession. But his research is rewarded with appalling and hilarious revelations about Viana and his fellow con men.

 

Certain features of the hustle are suspiciously evocative of the Swiss boarding school that Viana and Kurzweil attended. The crest of the invented loan consortium resembles the logo of the school, and an emphasis on ornamental displays of rank is central to both institutions. A deeper continuity runs between Viana as a 12-year-old bully and an adult con man: He inflicts material and psychological damage with the same callous cruelty in both incarnations.

 

Kurzweil's book is a captivating hybrid of investigative journalism and memoir. His tone is more often comic than aggrieved or vindictive, but the stakes are serious. Viana inflicted real emotional anguish and financial loss on many people. When Kurzweil confronts Viana in person at the end of the book, he's not simply settling a private score; he's standing up for anyone who has ever been bullied.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: 'Tennessee Williams' by John Lahr

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: 'Tennessee Williams' by John Lahr | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

Book Review: 'Tennessee Williams' by John Lahr

 

This is by far the best book ever written( http://dyman-publishing.blogspot.com/ ) about America's greatest playwright. John Lahr, the longtime drama critic for the New Yorker, knows his way around Broadway better than anyone. He is a witty and elegant stylist, a scrupulous researcher, a passionate yet canny advocate. But "Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh" is not exactly what its title page claims it is—a biography.

 

The extensive chronology at the back of the book is more or less an admission of this fact. It is only here, for instance, on page 606, that we discover that Thomas Williams (born 1911) attended the Stix School in St. Louis and later the University City High School. In the body of the book, we hear about the psychological effect of the parents on the child but really nothing about his education, his reading, his friends. And when the book comes to focus on key figures in Williams's career, like his agent Audrey Wood, the director Elia Kazan or his dubious friend Maria St. Just, Mr. Lahr wanders freely among the dates of their exchanges with the playwright. The book is more a study of Williams's imagination and career than any plodding account of his "life." Mr. Lahr has decided not to track his subject in sequential detail but to dive into the tumultuous depths of the author's psyche and the glamorous chaos of his stage productions. He brings us as close to Williams as we are ever likely to get.

 

Certainly Williams had a traumatic upbringing. His mother, "Miss Edwina," was a monster: a spoiled, joyless, puritanical, manipulative, frigid dragon who breathed fire on her family, scorching ambitions and circumstances, bitter at the lackluster life that her feckless husband provided her. His father, Cornelius (known as "CC"), took refuge in drink and rage. Young Tom adored his maternal grandfather, a remote parson and, in Williams's own words, "not the most masculine of men." He was also devoted to his older sister, Rose, a schizophrenic, who in 1943, at her mother's insistence, became one of the first patients in America to be given a prefrontal lobotomy, rendering her permanently damaged (though she lived until 1996, 13 years longer than Williams himself). Their younger brother, Dakin, was a hamstrung cipher, unable to make his way with or without his brother. His birth in 1919 led their mother to banish her husband from her bedroom.

 

In 1939, at the start of his career, Williams changed his name from Thomas to Tennessee and vowed to write plays that were "a picture of my own heart." Mr. Lahr paints the portrait of that bloody, tortured, triumphant heart, which was, from earliest days, a pawn in the battle between his parents—each instilling in him traits that would often render him helpless, like his neediness and alcoholism. Edwina's terror of the physical took its toll on her son, who had to overcome a nearly terminal fear of his body and its desires. Williams didn't masturbate until he was 26. After both his first fumbled heterosexual encounter and a year later his first homosexual one, he vomited.

 

Mr. Lahr demonstrates how this home life shaped the young author's psyche. Against the stifling and repressive forces of convention, he posed a romanticized version of himself—especially in his letters, which detail his early erotic longings with a glistening poetic edge—as a free spirit at once volatile and tender, possessed of and by an assertive and redemptive sexuality. And this became the essential pattern of all his work, each play a version of his childhood and adolescent struggle. As compelling an argument as this is, it can seem—and perhaps this is appropriate for a study of the postwar era—too often to look at things with Freudian blinders on.

 

For instance, when in 1940 Williams was madly in love with his first boyfriend, Kip Kiernan, he wrote from Provincetown to a friend about Kip's appeal:

 

The wind blows the door wide open, the gulls are crying. Oh, Christ. I call him baby . . . though when I lie on top of him I feel like I was polishing the Statue of Liberty or something. He is so enormous. A great bronze statue of antique Greece come to life.

 

Mr. Lahr concludes that "Kip's large size is associated with the female (the Statue of Liberty); Williams's smallness places him in the position of an infant with his gargantuan mother." Admittedly, if Williams had invoked the Chrysler Building, there would have been a different spin, but even so such passages strike me as reductive.

 

Mr. Lahr makes extensive use of Williams's letters and journals—all of them well written. Like D.H. Lawrence or F. Scott Fitzgerald, Williams was an instinctively good writer. He was frank, precise and often hysterical in his journal. Here he is in 1949, in Rome, worrying about his literary output even as he is speeding through the cobbled back streets in a red Buick nicknamed "Desiderio":

 

There is no point in hiding from the stark fact that the fire is missing in almost everything I try to do right now. Is it Italy? Is it age? Who knows. Perhaps it is just the lack of any more deep need of expression, but I have no satisfactory existence without it. Without it, I have nothing but the animal life that is so routine and weary.

 

But I wonder how literally he should be taken. People noticed that when he was typing up his plays, he would become the characters, acting out a part as he wrote it. My guess is that he was often trying out emotions and situations as he wrote up his journals and that their tone is sometimes more hyperbolic or martyred than he may actually have felt. But God knows, it was a carnival ride of a life, and at its center was a shrewd, heart-baring artist who stood the theater world on its head. Continue reading:  http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-review-tennessee-williams-by-john-lahr-1411161481

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: God Is Dead In This 'City Of Stairs.' Several Gods, In Fact

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: God Is Dead In This 'City Of Stairs.' Several Gods, In Fact | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

On the Continent, no one is allowed to talk about their gods. No one can display their signs or symbols. They certainly can't be worshipped. No one is even allowed to know the history of the Divinities who once walked among the people, performing miracles left and right, though scrubbing the memory of such things from a city, a continent and a people is not quite as easy as passing laws that make the dead gods verboten.

 

Particularly when the dead gods in question might not in fact be, you know, actually dead.

 

This is the setup for Robert Jackson Bennett's newest book, City of Stairs . Bulikov, center of Continental government, was once the most prosperous and powerful city in the world. With a direct hotline to the miraculous, the Continent ruled the world — oppressing all others whom the Divinities had ignored. And this went on for a very long time, until one of those oppressed nations figured out a way to do the impossible (or at least the highly improbable): They discovered a weapon that could kill a god. And then they used it.

 

City of Stairs begins a generation later — in a Bulikov that has been reduced to abject poverty and dependence. When the Divinities were killed (or fled), they took with them all their protections and miracles, leaving the chosen people bereft and floundering in their absence and the small, militaristic island nation of Saypur (the victors in the war) as the new colonial power. There are rules and regulations that suppress all knowledge of the long-gone Divinities, and there are those who chafe under such laws. Thus, conflict — ripe and waiting.

 

But here's the thing — City of Stairs is one of those books that's tough to get into. It opens, rather inexplicably, with the trial of a shopkeeper charged with displaying an illegal symbol on his hat shop. It is a scene most notable for the extraordinary boredom expressed by all the characters involved as they wade through legal minutiae. They yawn, they doodle, they think to themselves how they can't wait for this all to be over as Bennett rolls out name after unrecognizable name and explains the framework of the Saypuri legal system (at some length). The boredom of the characters becomes the boredom of the readers and, three times, I put the book down and went off to read something else.

 

Granted, I also came back, drawn by something about City of Stairs, even in those interminable opening pages, which glittered fitfully beneath the heavy front-load of a chapter-one info dump. It was the shine of a wholly and fully realized world. The hard gleam of competence coming from a writer who knows what he's doing, where he's going and just exactly how to get there.

 

But still, a hat shop? A dozen pages of dull legal proceedings? When the whole opening trial comes to a crashing halt with word that yet another character with a funny name has been found beaten to death in his office, there was an instant when I thought, "Well, lucky him. At least he doesn't have to sit through any more of this."

 

A funny thing happens at that point, though. Bennett the writer exits the premises and Bennett the storyteller enters. Suddenly, we are somewhere different, out on the streets of Bulikov on a foggy night with a train arriving from the east, bearing mysterious visitors. A tiny woman who is probably a spy. Her enormous, one-eyed bodyguard. Suddenly there is tea to be drunk and dull diplomats to be fired. Suddenly City of Stairs starts to read more like Fritz Leiber or a great Rudyard Kipling story of the Raj, and less like the minutes of a Decatur, Ill., city council meeting. Suddenly, the pages are whipping by, 50 at a clip as mysteries are uncovered, miracles happen and assassins begin scaling the walls.

 

It doesn't maintain this momentum completely, but Bennett is plainly a writer in love with the world he has built — and with good cause. It's a great world, original and unique, with a scent and a texture, a sense of deep, bloody history, and a naturally blended magic living in the stones. Wanting to explore its strange corners (and, particularly, wanting to explore it with Shara the Spy and Sigrud the Bodyguard, who've got all the modernist magnetism of a post-feminist Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) was enough to keep me reading through the laggy parts.

 

I was just thankful that none of the multiple, thread-tying denouements following the primary, action-movie ending took place in a courtroom. And that no one, by the end of the tale, was the least bit concerned with what the hat maker was doing.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc on the Mockingbird Next Door

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc on the Mockingbird Next Door | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/life_and_entertainment/2014/07/17/neighbors-memoir-insightful-yet-gentle.html

 

The Mockingbird Next Door: Neighbor’s memoir insightful yet gentle

 

Now that J.D. Salinger is gone, Harper Lee might be the most famous literary recluse in the United States.

 

In 1960, Lee published the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird, still one of the best-loved American books[ visit: http://dymanblog.com ] and required reading in 70 percent of U.S. school systems.

 

During the same period, she helped Truman Capote research In Cold Blood, started work on another novel and helped publicize the 1962 movie adaptation of Mockingbird (starring Gregory Peck).

 

By 1965, however, she had stopped appearing publicly and refused to grant interviews. She has never published another book.

 

So, in 2001, when Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills was sent to Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Ala., to get background on the town and its most famous resident, she wasn’t expecting to meet the author.

 

To her surprise, when she rang Lee’s doorbell, she was greeted by her older sister, Alice Finch Lee, who at the time was 89 and still practicing law every day. They had a long, comfortable chat, and the next day, Mills was startled to receive a phone call from Alice’s sister, whose full name is Nelle Harper Lee (Nelle to her friends).

 

“It was as if I had answered the phone and heard: ‘Hello. This is the Wizard of Oz,’ ” Mills writes.

 

The two sisters and the journalist became close. By 2004, Mills, who suffers from lupus, was experiencing so much pain and fatigue that she could no longer work at the Tribune, and she decided to spend more time in Monroeville researching the Lees.

 

Alice and Nelle suggested that the owner of the house next door to theirs might be willing to put it up for rent.

 

Mills moved into the house — complete with a deer head, a stuffed bobcat and another unidentifiable “crouching creature” — and stayed for more than a year.

 

The Mockingbird Next Door details the time Mills spent with the Lees and their friends, making daily expeditions to feed the ducks, fishing for catfish with hot-dog chunks as bait, going to the Laundromat and drinking coffee in Mills’ kitchen.

 

In a surprise turn of events this week, however, Lee released a letter claiming that she never authorized Mills to publish[ visit: http://dymanblog.com/ebook-review/ ] anything about her.

 

The book is as far from an expose as one can get. It’s a respectful and clear-eyed account that sticks to the apparent boundaries that Lee set — which means that, among other things, it records only Lee’s life in Monroeville, not in New York, where she continued to spend several months a year for many years.

 

Not that it is sugar-coated.

 

Lee, 88, comes across as prickly, at best, and capable of casual barbed remarks such as one about Capote, her former friend: “Truman was a psychopath, honey.”

 

Mills counts herself lucky not to have been subjected to the late-night, alcohol-fueled rants that many of Lee’s friends said they have endured.

 

The book, despite its subject’s complaints, should be a treat for anyone who has longed to get closer to Lee.

 

Visit our facebook page( https://www.facebook.com/DymanPublishing ) and follow us on twitter @DymanPublishing( https://twitter.com/DymanPublishing ).


 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: 12 klassiske historier fra verden av Wall Street

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: 12 klassiske historier fra verden av Wall Street | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it
Market Overview Analysis by Brenda Jubin covering: . Read Brenda Jubin's Market Overview on Investing.com.
Aldrey Dyman's insight:

Gjenopplive en 45 år gammel bok, Bill Gates inkludert Business eventyr: tolv klassiske historier fra verden av Wall Street på hans 2014 sommeren pensum. Hans entusiasme ("Warren Buffett anbefalt denne boken til meg tilbake i 1991, og det er fortsatt den beste business boken jeg noensinne har lest"- og hevder det er Warren Buffett favoritt business bok, også) var smittsom. Med prodding av Gates, ut-av-print bok ble gjenutgitt som en e-bok av åpne veien, og som jeg skriver dette innlegget er det Amazon's #1 beste selger i handel og #2 i bøker.

 

John Brooks opprinnelig publisert fortellingene virksomhet i The New Yorker, så det går uten å si at de er godt skrevet. Beskriver aksjemarkedet som "dagtid eventyr fortsettelsene velståendes," Brooks vier første kapittel til et slag etter slag redegjørelse av "lite krasj" og rask utvinning som skjedde i den siste uken i mai 1962. Mandag falt Dow mer enn det hadde alle dager unntatt 28 oktober 1929. Av torsdag, etter onsdag Memorial Day ferien, stengt det "litt over nivået der det hadde vært før all spenningen begynte."

 

Infrastrukturen på plass på tiden kunne ikke takle den overveldende handelsvolum. På tirsdag 29 mai var"det noe veldig nær en fullstendig sammenbrudd av reticulated, automatisert, ufattelige kompleks av tekniske anlegg som landsomfattende stocktrading i et stort land der nesten ett av seks voksne var aksjonær. Mange ordrer ble henrettet på priser langt forskjellig fra de samtykke fra kundene bestilling; mange andre gikk tapt i overføring eller i snøen skrap papir som dekket Exchange gulvet, og ble aldri henrettet hele. … Sendt fra himmelen slag av forutseenhet, Merrill Lynch, som behandlet over tretten prosent av alle offentligheten handel på utveksling, hadde nettopp installert en ny 7074 datamaskin-enheten som kan kopiere telefonkatalogen i tre minutter- og, med dens hjelp, klarte å holde sine kontoer ganske rett. En annen ny Merrill Lynch installasjon-en automatisk teletype bytte system som okkuperte nesten halvparten en by blokk, og var ment å fremskynde kommunikasjon mellom firmaet er ulike kontorer-steg også til anledningen, men det fikk så varmt som det ikke kunne bli rørt. Andre bedrifter var mindre heldige, og mange av dem forvirring fått overtaket så grundig som enkelte meglere, lei av å prøve forgjeves å få de nyeste tilbudene på aksjer eller for å nå sine partnere i Exchange etasje, er sagt å ha bare kastet opp hendene og gått ut for en drink. Slike uprofesjonell oppførsel kan ha reddet kundene mye penger." (s. 17)

 

Det første kapittelet alene er verdt prisen på e-boken, men Brooks har elleve mer. Han skriver om skjebnen til Edsel, føderale inntektsskatt, innsidere i Texas Gulf svovel, Xerox, Haupt krisen, ikke-kommunikasjon i GE, et firma som heter Piggly Wiggly, David E. Lilienthal, årlige møter og corporate kraft, rettssaken Goodrich v. Wohlgemuth og pound sterling.

 

Jeg innrømme at jeg ikke helt ferdig med å lese boken, men siden noen vurdering jeg kunne skrive vil bleke i forhold til Gates og Buffett godkjenning, jeg vurdert det tilstrekkelig å legge min stemme til de ringe oppmerksomheten til disse essays.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: Questions are the key to change

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: Questions are the key to change | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it
One of the most powerful business tools is not a spreadsheet.
Aldrey Dyman's insight:

It's neither Big Data nor innovation, despite all the business books and management gurus touting the disruptive potential of each.

 

It's the simple question, right there on the tip of your tongue.

 

A new book demonstrates just how far an inquisitive mind can take you.

 

Change usually starts with a question. Inquiry has toppled monarchs and empires throughout history.

 

It's the basis of one of the earliest forms of education - the Socratic Method - used to train young minds in the rigours of critical thinking.

 

Yet, it's a mostly ignored business tool, overlooked by executives trained in the MBA arts that "tend to place more value on answers, pronouncements, and promises," according to author Warren Berger.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘The Literary Churchill’

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘The Literary Churchill’ | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

The character and career of Sir Winston Churchill are both so protean that it is not surprising that there have been studies of the great man emphasizing innumerable aspects, running the gamut from military strategist and statesman to painter and gourmand.

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The character and career of Sir Winston Churchill are both so protean that it is not surprising that there have been studies of the great man emphasizing innumerable aspects, running the gamut from military strategist and statesman to painter and gourmand. Certainly, Churchill as a literary figure is a topic also well worth considering. What other British prime minister won the Nobel Prize for literature? (It was awarded to him in the midst of his second premiership in 1953.) Interestingly, although it was widely believed that this accolade came to him because of his magisterial history of World War II, Jonathan Rose, Kenan professor of history at Drew University, informs us that it was the autobiography “My Early Life” that impelled the (neutral in World War II) Swedes.

 

Well-researched and clearly informed by great admiration and attunement to its subject, “The Literary Churchill” is simply crammed with interesting facts like this — and not just about his oeuvre and his accomplishments. We find out about the origins of his writing with his discovery of it as a talent and much-needed boost as an indifferent student, his literary and theatrical tastes and his affinity for melodrama.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: 'The Skeleton Crew' by Deborah Halber

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: 'The Skeleton Crew' by Deborah Halber | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

About 4,000 unidentified corpses turn up in the U.S. every year, of which about half have been murdered. Can the Internet help?


The public seems fascinated, if not obsessed, with crime-solving, if the high ratings of TV shows such as "CSI" and "NCIS" are any indication. The interest in crimes often proceeds from the high-profile identity of the victim or perpetrator. Think of the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, the vanishing of Jimmy Hoffa or the trial of O.J. Simpson. At the other end of the spectrum are crime victims who have no identity at all.


These are the John Doe and Jane Doe corpses that are found without any papers or other identification markers. Even in an age when we are tracked electronically by our phone companies at every single moment, about 4,000 unidentified corpses turn up in the U.S. every year, of which about half have been murdered. In 2007 no fewer than 13,500 sets of unidentified human remains were languishing in the evidence rooms of medical examiners, according to an analysis published in the National Institute of Justice Journal.


In her brilliant book "The Skeleton Crew," Deborah Halber explains why local law enforcement often fails to investigate such deaths:"Unidentified corpses are like obtuse, financially strapped houseguests: they turn up uninvited, take up space reserved for more obliging visitors, require care and attention, and then, when you are ready for them to move on, they don't have anywhere to go." The result is that many of these remains are consigned to oblivion.


While the population of the anonymous dead receives only scant attention from the police or the media, it has given rise to a macabre subculture of Internet sleuthing. Ms. Halber chronicles with lucidity and wit how amateur investigators troll websites, such as the Doe Network, Official Cold Case Investigations and Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community, and check online databases looking for matches between the reported missing and the unidentified dead. It is a grisly pursuit involving linking the images of dead bodies to the descriptions posted by people trying to find someone.


Ms. Halber devotes most of "The Skeleton Crew" to describing a handful of cases that have given rise to this bizarre avocation. It started with an infamous Kentucky crime known as the Tent Girl Case: The victim was known only as Tent Girl because her body was found in 1968 inside a canvas tent bag. The hero of the story is Todd Matthews, a factory worker in Tennessee. Mr. Matthews became fascinated with the mystery in 1988, when he was still a teen, but was unable to find any clues to her identity until a decade later, when he stumbled on new information on the Internet. In 1998 he began searching forums and found one for lonely hearts and genealogy that had an intriguing post from a woman still looking for her long-lost sister, Barbara Hackmann-Taylor.


Barbara had vanished in late 1967, on a date not far from the time when the Tent Girl was found. She had lived near the Tent Girl's locale, and her sister's description roughly matched that of Tent Girl. Mr. Mathews wrote the Kentucky police, who arranged for the remains of Tent Girl to be exhumed and her DNA to be tested. Eureka, it matched, and Tent Girl finally had a name. Mr. Matthews later founded the Doe Network, which became a nexus for curious citizens who wanted to follow in his footsteps.


Ms. Halber superbly reports [ https://www.facebook.com/DymanPublishing ] on this morbid new subculture. Aside from Tent Girl, she describes such odd cases as the Lady of the Dunes found in Cape Cod, Mass., in 1974; the Jane Doe in a red T-shirt who was found in Baltimore in 2000; and what Ms. Halber calls the "head in the bucket" case from Kearney, Mo., in 2001. Besides interviewing the Sherlock Holmes wannabes who have pursued these cases, Ms. Halber talks to police officers, forensic experts and medical examiners. She even attends grisly autopsies. As a result, we learn many unusual details: A human skeleton, it turns out, will fit in a 200-square-inch box.


But the focus on anecdotes, as interesting as they are, diverts attention from a larger question. Just how many murders do these amateur sleuths help solve (if one considers cases like Tent Girl, where the murderer was never discovered, to be solved)? Ms. Halber estimates that, since the identification of Tent Girl in 1998, roughly 30,000 unidentified murder victims have been discovered. The posse of amateur sleuths, as far as I can see from her book, have helped police crack no more than a dozen cases. So 99.99% remain unsolved.


The key to finding a solution to the stockpile of unidentified corpses, I would suggest, is not Internet sleuthing or crowdsourcing the identification of images of human remains, but increasing the efficiency of the FBI's National Crime Information Center database. At present, the NCIC stores more than 100 million fingerprints in its automated fingerprint-identification system and is in the process of developing a national DNA- matching system. Its computers and software need to be upgraded to better mesh with those of local police, sheriffs and medical examiners. Once that task is accomplished, it has the potential to greatly (and speedily) reduce the population of the unidentified dead.


Amateur sleuths, no matter how great their dedication, simply lack the resources. Because of legitimate privacy concerns, they do not have access to this FBI database. To be sure, they now can use a government-run website [ http://dymanblog.com/ ] called National Missing and Unidentified Person System to find a roster of fresh cases, and they can continue searching for macabre matches on the Internet. And amateur sleuthing provides great satisfaction to armchair detectives, the author makes clear, not only in America but in such far off places as Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Indonesia. Ms. Halber's real service is to bring to light the workings of this fascinating new subculture and one can expect her entertaining book [ http://dymanblog.com/ebook-review/ ] will only add to their numbers.

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: Book Review on '935 Lies' by Charles Lewis

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: Book Review on '935 Lies' by Charles Lewis | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

With the founding of the Center for Public Integrity in the 1980s, Charles Lewis probably did more than anyone else to launch institutional nonprofit journalism in America. So it is worth paying attention to what he has to say, especially when his subject includes the fate of journalism itself. Mr. Lewis's "935 Lies" repays such attention, though not right away.

 

The first half of the book is an unremarkable recounting of America's supposed loss of innocence—its missteps and transgressions as well as its attempts to restore the nation's ideals—from the Tonkin Gulf and Freedom Summer to the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, from the Chilean coup to Iraq. An entire chapter, breaking no new ground, is devoted to the stubborn problem of race in America. The book's historical narrative is meant to show, as the subtitle has it, "the decline of America's moral integrity." The title itself, which the author essentially disowns in a concluding note, refers to 935 statements by the George W. Bush administration about Iraq. Mr. Lewis asserts that the statements were all erroneous but concedes that they may not have been "lies" in the sense of knowing falsehood. In any case, the Iraq war plays only a limited role in Mr. Lewis's tale of woe.

 

But hang in—or skip to the second part, which is mostly a memoir and almost all about journalism. It includes one of the toughest critiques of television news ever written by an insider. From 1977 to 1989, Mr. Lewis worked for ABC News and then for CBS's news program "60 Minutes."

Mr. Lewis begins with an admiring portrait of Edward R. Murrow, whose wartime reporting and work at CBS in the early 1950s, he believes, embodied a time when the news business managed to avoid the plague of risk aversion that would later come from corporate masters seeking ever larger profits. Then he takes us into the halls of Don Hewitt's "60 Minutes" and makes the most of his own disillusioning experience.

 

"Serious journalism," Mr. Lewis says, "will necessarily be undertaken by commercial TV news executives with great caution." He argues that, as TV news began seeking a mass audience, the networks became "mostly interested in the illusion of investigative reporting." Time pressures required that almost all their work in this area be derivative of work previously done by others, usually in print. "Well-connected, powerful people and companies with questionable policies and practices," he says, were not investigated "precisely because of the connections and power they boasted."

 

He describes a CBS corporate culture in which his first 150 story ideas yielded only three broadcast segments, either because there was insufficient time to develop them or because they lacked "characters." What he was being asked to produce, he ultimately recognized, was "formulaic, good-versus-evil" pieces devoid of policy or nuance.

 

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The most acute of Mr. Lewis's frustrations came when Hewitt, the executive producer of "60 Minutes," refused to broadcast a Lewis report on former government officials profiting as U.S. lobbyists for foreign interests unless the name of Hewitt's good friend Pete Peterson, then chairman of the Blackstone BX +1.27% Group, was excised from the script. In the story, a photograph showed five smiling Blackstone executives, all former federal appointees, in a Japanese newspaper advertisement seeking business for their lobbying efforts. Mr. Peterson was singled out by name in the voice-over narrative. Correspondent Mike Wallace, for whom Mr. Lewis worked directly, implored him in a shouting match to remove Mr. Peterson's name, to no avail. But Hewitt was more subtle, simply refusing to schedule the piece for airing. Mr. Lewis bitterly relented to Hewitt's implicit demand and quit the day after the story was broadcast.

 

As for ABC, Mr. Lewis reports that its legendary news chief Roone Arledge killed a tough story on tobacco at the request of "the Corporate guys," who were fearful that the network could complicate its position in a libel suit that Philip Morris PM -0.35% had already filed against the broadcaster. In another instance, Mr. Lewis was given just a few hours to determine the veracity of an allegation that Lyndon Johnson, when he was Senate majority leader, had accepted large cash bribes. Mr. Lewis accurately calls such an assignment "a fool's errand."

 

The book's critique is less sure-footed when Mr. Lewis turns from TV to newspapers. At one point he suggests that investigative journalism in newspapers has been in retreat since 1968. He blames the decline almost entirely on "shortsighted greed and increasing corporatization" and hardly at all on the true culprit, the digital revolution that wreaked havoc on newspaper business models. The decline has largely occurred over the past decade, not anything like 45 years, and it has coincided with a collapse in newspaper profitability, which peaked in 2000.

 

Mr. Lewis's personal story by no means ended when he left broadcast television. The Center for Public Integrity opened its doors in late 1989, and its first report followed up on his last "60 Minutes" piece. The center's mission was to do investigative work in the public interest "using a 'quasi-journalistic, quasi political science' approach," issuing long reports and later books. CPI was really the nation's first independent nonprofit newsroom.

 

A serial nonprofit entrepreneur, Mr. Lewis has also founded the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other organizations aimed at promoting and undertaking nonprofit reporting. His reflections, especially on network television, point up the inherent limits of our largest legacy news organizations and embody the hope that new entrants will fill the gaps in newsgathering and, thereby, enlarge the public's capacity for democratic governance.

 

By Richard J. Tofel

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: Emerging Markets In An Upside Down World

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: Emerging Markets In An Upside Down World | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

Jerome Booth, a British economist, investor, and entrepreneur, has written a refreshing book. Emerging Markets in an Upside Down World: Challenging Perceptions in Asset Allocation and Investment (Wiley, 2014) is not the usual whirlwind trip around the emerging market world—“if it’s Tuesday it must be sub-Saharan Africa.” Rather, Booth looks at some generally accepted notions that both inform and misinform emerging market investors and tries to set the record straight. The book is, to labor the travel metaphor, a tour of ideas conducted by a knowledgeable, articulate guide.

 

Booth challenges the reader, as the title indicates, to turn the world map upside down (and, for good measure, make it a Peters projection—that is, an area-accurate map). We no longer see emerging markets as peripheral. They occupy much of the middle area on the map and account for most of the land mass. Moreover, as the map doesn’t show, they also account for “over 85% of human population, the bulk of industrial production, energy consumption and economic growth, and around half of recorded economic activity using purchasing power parity.” And, contrary to standard perceptions of the investing world, “many emerging markets are now safer from some of the worst loss investment scenarios than many developed countries.”

 

The goal of the book is to help the reader develop new frameworks for investing, “frameworks which may cope better with structural shifts and risk.” The first step, and perhaps the most important, is to become conscious of starting assumptions that require reevaluation. Booth suggests four areas that investors may want to reexamine: “i) risk, uncertainty and information asymmetry assumptions; ii) investor psychology and behaviour assumptions; iii) structure, efficiency, equilibrium and market dynamics; and iv) asset class definitions.” Fortunately, these are areas that Booth himself explores in the book, so the investor has a leg up—whether or not he agrees with all of Booth’s conclusions.

 

One of the central themes of the book is risk, and one often neglected component of risk (a dangerous oversight) is the nature of the investor base. Prior to the ruble crisis in 1998, “perhaps a third of the investor base in emerging market dollar-denominated debt was highly leveraged and speculative.” But, as hedge fund money and other speculative investment left the emerging debt market, a more stable investor base took their place—long-only Western institutional investors and local institutional investors. “With local liabilities, these [local] investors do not have the same propensity to flee the market when risk perception rises. Indeed, since the mid-2000s local bond markets often rally in most of the larger markets during episodes of risk aversion—because the dominant movement of funds is by domestic investors moving from domestic equities to domestic bonds. At the time of writing,” Booth notes, “local currency debt, largely locally held, is over 80% (and growing) of all emerging markets debt.”

 

Although Booth focuses on emerging markets, much of his analysis can be extrapolated to other markets. He explores some key investing principles and defines areas ripe for further research. Investors as well as students of the financial markets can profit from his thorough work.

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: The World’s First Stock Exchange

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: The World’s First Stock Exchange | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

In his famous book Confusión de confusions Joseph Penso de la Vega wrote: “If one were to lead a stranger through the streets of Amsterdam and ask him where he was, he would answer ‘among speculators,’ for there is no corner where one does not talk shares.” And, Lodewijk Petram adds, “the people of Amsterdam were talking about options, too, and forward selling, quotations and prices, risk and speculation—all relating to the trade in the shares of the Dutch East India Company (the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC), which had been established in 1602. Fortunes were made and lost, and the men who engaged in this trade were wholly in thrall to it.”

 

Petram did extensive archival research, including mining the records of active traders, to shed new light on de la Vega’s account of the Amsterdam stock market. The Dutch edition of his book appeared in 2011. Columbia Business School Publishing/Columbia University Press has just released the English edition, The World’s First Stock Exchange, skillfully translated by Lynne Richards. It’s an engrossing tale.

 

Traders in Amsterdam occasionally used questionable strategies--strategies that have endured, in both legal and illegal manifestations. They engaged in “short selling through forward contracts, spreading rumors, buying even more shares.” These “vile practices” were decried in petitions to the government by the directors of VOC, who argued that they were “very disadvantageous to the investors and particularly the many widows and orphans.” Petram notes that “the number of widows and orphans who were dependent on an investment in the Company would have been very small indeed, but playing on their painful situation pricked the puritanical conscience of the authorities.” In February 1610 the government issued an edict banning naked short selling, a ban that share dealers blithely ignored.

 

Large numbers of VOC investors had no direct experience in trading. “If these shareholders wanted to sell their shares … they had to [travel to Amsterdam and] brave the bear pit of the exchange, where they were complete novices.” (p. 102) By 1633, however, they were offered an alternative—to do business with a market maker (initially, the Raphoen brothers) who would make “a small margin on every deal because they always offered a little under the market price when buying and asked for slightly more when selling.”

 

The Raphoen brothers also played a major role in standardizing the VOC share at 3,000 guilders, a huge sum at the time. “And as the share price rose, the amount that actually had to be paid for a share became even larger. In the 1640s the price of a Company share stood almost continuously at above 400, which meant that over 12,000 guilders had to be paid for a share with a nominal value of 3,000 guilders. To put this in perspective, in 1645 the substantial and prestigious canal-side mansion (with a rear annex) at 105 Herengracht was sold for 5,100 guilders.” The always shrewd Raphoen brothers bought up odd lots of VOC stock and combined them into 3,000-guilder shares, which could be sold for a better price.

 

In his famous book Confusión de confusions Joseph Penso de la Vega wrote: “If one were to lead a stranger through the streets of Amsterdam and ask him where he was, he would answer ‘among speculators,’ for there is no corner where one does not talk shares.” And, Lodewijk Petram adds, “the people of Amsterdam were talking about options, too, and forward selling, quotations and prices, risk and speculation—all relating to the trade in the shares of the Dutch East India Company (the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC), which had been established in 1602. Fortunes were made and lost, and the men who engaged in this trade were wholly in thrall to it.”

 

Petram did extensive archival research, including mining the records of active traders, to shed new light on de la Vega’s account of the Amsterdam stock market. The Dutch edition of his book appeared in 2011. Columbia Business School Publishing/Columbia University Press has just released the English edition, The World’s First Stock Exchange, skillfully translated by Lynne Richards. It’s an engrossing tale.

 

Traders in Amsterdam occasionally used questionable strategies--strategies that have endured, in both legal and illegal manifestations. They engaged in “short selling through forward contracts, spreading rumors, buying even more shares.” These “vile practices” were decried in petitions to the government by the directors of VOC, who argued that they were “very disadvantageous to the investors and particularly the many widows and orphans.” Petram notes that “the number of widows and orphans who were dependent on an investment in the Company would have been very small indeed, but playing on their painful situation pricked the puritanical conscience of the authorities.” In February 1610 the government issued an edict banning naked short selling, a ban that share dealers blithely ignored.

 

Large numbers of VOC investors had no direct experience in trading. “If these shareholders wanted to sell their shares … they had to [travel to Amsterdam and] brave the bear pit of the exchange, where they were complete novices.” By 1633, however, they were offered an alternative—to do business with a market maker (initially, the Raphoen brothers) who would make “a small margin on every deal because they always offered a little under the market price when buying and asked for slightly more when selling.”

 

The Raphoen brothers also played a major role in standardizing the VOC share at 3,000 guilders, a huge sum at the time. “And as the share price rose, the amount that actually had to be paid for a share became even larger. In the 1640s the price of a Company share stood almost continuously at above 400, which meant that over 12,000 guilders had to be paid for a share with a nominal value of 3,000 guilders. To put this in perspective, in 1645 the substantial and prestigious canal-side mansion (with a rear annex) at 105 Herengracht was sold for 5,100 guilders.”  The always shrewd Raphoen brothers bought up odd lots of VOC stock and combined them into 3,000-guilder shares, which could be sold for a better price.

 

VOC paid a dividend—somewhat sporadically in the first twenty years and then, starting in 1623, every two years, and finally, from 1635 on, every year or every six months. “The dividend was still often paid in kind, primarily in the form of cloves, but the higher frequency and above all the regularity with which the payments were made caused the share dealers to change their forecasts about the Company’s profitability. The future now looked very bright.”

 

The Netherlands was experiencing a golden age in the first half of the seventeenth century and people’s purchasing power was rising. VOC shares also rose in price, as (more famously) did the price of tulip bulbs. Petram notes that “tulip mania has always attracted a great deal of attention because so much money was offered for something as commonplace and perishable as a bulb, but the scale of the trade in tulip bulbs should certainly not be exaggerated. There were some 285 people actively involved in bulb trading in Haarlem, with an estimated sixty traders in Amsterdam. By way of comparison, in 1639 in Amsterdam 264 people carried out one or more share transfers. The total number of active share dealers … would have been around 350. Amsterdam’s bulb trade was thus nothing more than a peripheral phenomenon compared with the dealing in shares.”

 

I’ve recounted bits and pieces of only about half of the story that Petram tells. He describes the domination of Jewish traders in the share market in the second half of the seventeenth century, the rise of information networks, and the split between the “princes” and the “gamblers” or “players.” The gamblers/speculators “did not have significant capital in their VOC account but traded in derivatives on a grand scale” (p. 164) in trading clubs. They “played fast.” Petram also recounts the events of the “disaster year” of 1672 when the VOC share price sank like a stone as well as the crash of 1688.

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eReviews Dyman Associates Book Publishing Inc: Book Review - Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey

eReviews Dyman Associates Book Publishing Inc: Book Review - Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it
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This memoir is wonderfully written, beautifully arranged, and a heart-wrenching but hopeful masterpiece.

 

"Something is afoot within me that I do not understand, the breaking of a contract that I thought could not be broken, a slow perverting of my substance."

 

Anna was living a pleasantly ordinary life, working for the British government, when she started to develop her sensitivity to light. At first, her face felt like it was burning whenever she was in front of the computer. Soon this progressed to intolerance of artificial lights, then of sunlight itself. The reaction soon spread to her whole body. Now, when her symptoms are at their worst, she must spend months on end in a dark room covering window and door cracks, and mummified in layers of light-protectant clothing.

 

She spent her days in the dark talking to people on the phone, watching TV during short periods out of her blacked-out room by looking at its reflection in a mirror, making word games to keep herself occupied, but usually she got through audio books.

 

Lyndsey discovered she could go out for a walk at dawn and dusk for about an hour without it affecting her skin, and her husband made a covering of black felt for the back of the car so they can drive somewhere else, such as a forest, during daylight hours, ready for a sunset walk.

 

Despite everything, Anna's husband named Pete stays around with her. Pete brings some light, although only of the emotional kind, into her life. She feels she should leave him, but is incapable of doing so unless he asks her to go – and thus far, he has not. "That is the miracle that I live with, every day," she writes.

 

With gorgeous, lyrical prose, Anna brings us into the dark with her, a place where we are able to see the true value of love and the world.

 

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eReviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: Why Are We Obsessed With the Great American Novel?

eReviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: Why Are We Obsessed With the Great American Novel? | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Cheryl Strayed and Adam Kirsch try to get to the bottom of our long-running obsession with the Great American Novel.

 

By Cheryl Strayed

 

The idea that only one person can produce a novel that speaks truth about the disparate American whole is pure hogwash.

 

In 1868, John William De Forest published an essay in The Nation titled “The Great American Novel.” In it, he argued for the rise of fiction that more accurately reflected American society than did the grand, romantic novels of the time, whose characters he thought belonged to “the wide realm of art rather than to our nationality.” In the course of making his case, De Forest considered, then cast aside, the likes of Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne before landing on Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was, in De Forest’s opinion, if not quite the Great American Novel, “the nearest approach to the desired phenomenon” of a book that captured what was, to him, America — a populace of “eager and laborious people, which takes so many newspapers, builds so many railroads, does the most business on a given capital, wages the biggest war in proportion to its population, believes in the physically impossible and does some of it.”

 

That De Forest was arguing in hopes of not one Great American Novel, but rather the development of a literary canon that accurately portrayed our complex national character, has been lost on many, as generation after generation of critics have since engaged in discussions of who might have written the Great American Novel of any given age, and writers have aspired to be the one chosen — a competitive mode that is, I suppose, as American as it gets. It’s also most likely the reason that the idea has persisted for so long. To think that one might be writing the Great American Novel, as opposed to laboring through a meandering 400-page manuscript that includes lengthy descriptions of the minutiae of one’s mildly fictionalized childhood (pushing a bicycle up a hill on a hot Minnesota day, sexual fantasies about Luke Skywalker), is awfully reassuring. I have a purpose! I am writing the Great American Novel!

 

Or so one can tell herself until one day an austere portrait of Jonathan Franzen shows up on the cover of an August 2010 issue of Time magazine alongside the words “Great American Novelist.” As I beheld it, I could all but hear the wails and curses of 10,000 novelists across the land — a sizable fraction of whom are also named Jonathan, as it turns out — each of them crushed and furious over the fact that they weren’t deemed the One. Never mind that Franzen is indeed a great American novelist. Never mind that a lot of other people are too. Never mind that this idea — that one person, and only one person, in any given generation can possess the intellectual prowess, creative might, emotional intelligence and writing chops to produce a novel that speaks truth about the disparate American whole — is pure hogwash. Jonathan Franzen on the cover of Time with that age-worn, honorific phrase beside his solemn face either rattles or reassures us because we’re American. It’s in our national character — which is to say, deep in our bones — to believe that when it comes to winners, there can be only one.

 

But art isn’t a footrace. No one comes in first place. Greatness is not a universally agreed-upon value (hence there’s no need to email me to disagree with my admiration of Franzen, or to offer advice about whether I should include Luke Skywalker in my next novel). America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power. Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist. As Americans, we keep looking anyway.

 

Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller “Wild,” the New York Times best seller “Tiny Beautiful Things,” and the novel “Torch.” Strayed’s writing has appeared in “The Best American Essays,” The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Salon, Tin House, The Rumpus — where she wrote the popular “Dear Sugar” advice column — and elsewhere. The movie adaptation of “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, was released in December. Strayed holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and their two children.

 

*****

 

By Adam Kirsch

 

The more deeply a novel lays bare the darkness in American society and the American soul, the more likely it is to become a classic.

 

Early last year, the publication of Lawrence Buell’s study “The Dream of the Great American Novel” gave critics a chance to ask whether that dream is still alive. For the most part, their answer was no. The GAN, to use the acronym Buell employs (taking a cue from Henry James), represents just the kind of imperial project that contemporary criticism has learned to mistrust. What writer, after all, has the right, the cultural authority, to sum up all the diverse experiences and perspectives that can be called American in a single book? To Michael Kimmage, writing in The New Republic, the “dream of the GAN” appeared “silly and naïve and antiquated.” Adam Gopnik, in The New Yorker, observed wryly that “nothing is more American than our will to make the enormous do the work of the excellent. We have googly eyes for gargantuan statements.”

 

In his book, however, Buell reminds us that the term “Great American Novel” has seldom been used unironically. Almost from the moment it was coined, by the novelist John De Forest in 1868, it has been used to mock the overweening ambition it names. Buell quotes one post-Civil War observer who compared it to such “other great American things” as “the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school [and] the great American sleeping-car.” When Philip Roth actually wrote a book called “The Great American Novel,” in 1973, it was, inevitably, a satire.

 

It might be hard today to find a critic, especially an academic critic, who would accept the idea of the GAN or even of its component parts. Greatness, Americanness and the novel itself are now concepts to be interrogated and problematized. Yet somehow the news of this obsolescence has not quite reached novelists themselves, who continue to dream about writing the big, complex book that will finally capture the country. There is nothing subtle about this ambition: When Jonathan Franzen wrote his candidate for the GAN, he called it “Freedom”; Roth named his attempt (sincere, this time) “American Pastoral.” These are titles that call attention to their own scope, in the tradition of John Dos Passos, who titled his trilogy of the-way-we-live-now novels simply “U.S.A.”

 

And the response to “Freedom” and “American Pastoral” — two of the most successful and widely praised literary novels of our time — shows that readers, too, have not given up on the promise of the GAN. The thirst for books that will explain us to ourselves, that will dramatize and summarize what makes Americans the people they are, is one manifestation of our incurable exceptionalism. Of course, we could learn from Tolstoy or Shakespeare what human beings are like, but that does not satisfy us; Homo americanus has always conceived of itself as a new type, the product of what Lincoln called “a new birth of freedom.” This conviction, which can be traced in our politics, economic system and foreign policy, cannot help influencing our literature.

 

Yet as Buell also emphasizes, the novels that we now think of as canonical GANs are by no means patriotic puffery. On the contrary, the more deeply a novel lays bare the darkness in American society and the American soul, the more likely it is to become a classic. “Moby-Dick,” the most obvious GAN candidate, is centered on a vengeful megalomaniac; “The Great Gatsby” is about a social-climbing fraud; “Beloved” is about slavery and infanticide. Even “The Catcher in the Rye,” a book whose modest scale and New York focus might seem to keep it out of the pantheon of Great American Novels, is at heart a naïvely passionate indictment of American phoniness and fallenness.

 

Perhaps what drives these books, and drives us to read them again and again, is the incurable idealism about America that we all secretly cherish, and which is continually disappointed by reality. “America when will you be angelic?” Allen Ginsberg demands in “America,” which belongs in the much less discussed category of Great American Poems. As long as the question makes sense to us, our novelists will keep asking it.

 

Adam Kirsch is a columnist for Tablet. He is the author of two collections of poetry and several other books, including, most recently, “Why Trilling Matters.” In 2010, he won the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism.

 

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eReviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘Amnesia,’ Peter Carey’s novel about cybercrime

eReviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘Amnesia,’ Peter Carey’s novel about cybercrime | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

Halfway through Peter Carey’s new novel, “Amnesia,” I began to worry I was suffering from it.

 

Who wrote this tedious mess?

 

Where was that two-time Booker winner who gave us such spectacular novels as “Oscar and Lucinda” and “Jack Maggs”?

 

Readers may have trouble remembering the jacket copy, too, which describes “Amnesia” as a cerebral thriller involving cybercrime and international intrigue. That’s true for about 20 pages. Carey, a former advertising executive, knows the importance of a great hook, and the opening of “Amnesia” couldn’t be more relevant and exciting:

 

“It was a spring evening in Washington DC; a chilly autumn morning in Melbourne; it was exactly 22:00 Greenwich Mean Time when a wormCar entered the computerised control systems of countless Australian prisons and released the locks in many other places of incarceration, some of which the hacker could not have known existed.”

 

Because those computer systems had been designed by American firms, the worm instantly spreads through the United States, too, breaking open thousands of prisons, including secret black sites in [REDACTED] where the CIA keeps [REDACTED]. On computer screens across the world, the group behind this apocalyptic amnesty announces: “The corporation is under our control. The Angel declares you free.”

 

Who you gonna call — James Bond? Ethan Hunt? Jason Bourne?

 

No, this is a job for a glib, left-wing writer named Felix Moore, “the most controversial journalist of his generation.” He’s just been financially ruined by a defamation case (his 99th), which makes him especially grateful for the support of a rich old friend, Woody Townes. Bereft of money, home and family, Felix could use a big project to rehabilitate himself, and for his own mysterious reasons, Woody wants Felix to write a flattering biography of the Angel computer hacker. “The defendant won’t talk to anyone but you,” Woody tells him. “I bailed the bloody Angel before the US could touch her.”

 

Her. Yes, the Angel is a young woman.

 

“Australianize her,” Woody demands. “Make it up, and most of all make the bitch lovable,” so lovable that the CIA won’t be able to spirit her away without causing national outrage. Because this isn’t just any young woman. She’s Gabrielle Baillieux, the daughter of a famous actress that Woody and Felix knew (and loved) in their radical student days. Writing an exculpatory biography about the young computer criminal will be an audacious and dangerous literary stunt, but it also promises to bring Felix back in touch with the girl’s mother.

 

This exhilarating setup is infected with all kinds of destructive malware, but for a while, the story races along Carey’s fiber-optic lines. Woody is a lot more threatening than he first appears. Young Gaby is aligned with some awfully unsavory figures, and she seems unwilling to participate in the sugarcoating of her life story. Most troubling of all, Gaby’s mother, the famous actress, is surely manipulating everyone involved. Even before Felix can figure out whom he’s really working for, he’s given miles of meandering audiotape and whisked away to an undisclosed location, where he’s ordered to start writing — fast — on a manual typewriter (the last defense against the NSA). It doesn’t take a computer genius to realize that whatever he composes is likely to get people — starting with himself — killed. But he knows, “This was the story I had spent my life preparing for.”

 

Truth and deception have long been adulterous lovers in Carey’s fiction. He lashed together a similarly treacherous triangle a few years ago in a svelte novel about art crooks called “Theft.” And in “My Life as a Fake,” he nested deceptions within hoaxes surrounded by monkey business to write about literary fraud. Those novels, though, no matter how much they feinted, were always fantastically engaging.

 

“Amnesia” may leap off today’s front-page headlines, but it quickly gets lost in Felix’s dull recreation of Gaby as a young hacker in the early days of personal computers. This teen drama — think “DOSon’s Creek” — can’t possibly compete with the chaos we’re asked to imagine is now ravaging the world’s computer systems.

 

It doesn’t help that “Amnesia” is predicated on a largely forgotten political conflict between Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and President Richard Nixon. Old spooks and students of Asia-Pacific politics will remember what Felix calls “the traumatic injury done to my country by our American allies in 1975”: The CIA conspired with MI6 to bring down Whitlam in a bloodless coup designed to protect Pine Gap, America’s secret listening post in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. That evil footnote in our nation’s diplomatic history received a bit of new attention in 2013, when Edward Snowden revealed that Pine Gap is now part of the PRISM program that allows the NSA to spy on almost everyone all the time. But U.S. and British fiddling with Australian politics in the mid-1970s might as well remain classified information for all its currency among American readers — and Carey’s elliptical and erratic narrative does little to draw back that veil of secrecy.

 

What a missed opportunity for one of the best writers in the world. With his story of the muckraker and the cyberterrorist, Carey might have given us a provocative update on Janet Malcolm’s “The Journalist and the Murderer.” Or he could have breathed life into that forgotten coup of 1975 the way he reimagined the folk hero in “True History of the Kelly Gang.” But instead, all the potentially fantastic elements of “Amnesia” are minced and scrambled and finally overwhelmed.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘What Stays in Vegas’ by Adam Tanner | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc.

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘What Stays in Vegas’ by Adam Tanner | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc. | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it
Aldrey Dyman's insight:

If you walk through the doors of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, you’ll find two ways to play the games. You can take cash from your billfold and gamble anonymously until you’ve had enough. Or you can sign up for the casino’s frequent-visitor program, Total Rewards, and get a better deal—in return for allowing Caesars Entertainment to digitally keep track of everything you do.

 

In “What Stays in Vegas”, Adam Tanner uses Caesars as a case study of how a business can make use of what has become known as Big Data—the analysis of vast amounts of quantitative information in search of useful patterns. The title is unfortunate, because “What Stays in Vegas” has little to do with gambling and even less to do with Vegas: The book is about how corporate America amasses and uses information about its customers. Mr. Tanner’s findings, based on interviews and, in some cases, onInternet detective work, are unpleasant, but don’t bother being alarmed. It’s too late for that. Las Vegas, he writes, is less a sin city than “a vast data collection machine.”

 

At the center of Mr. Tanner’s narrative is Gary Loveman, a former Harvard Business School professor. In the late 1990s, Mr. Loveman took on a part-time consulting gig training employees of what was then Harrah’s Corp. in customer satisfaction. Shocked by the company’s lack of sophistication, he suggested to Phil Satre, then the company’s chief executive, that Harrah’s use data it was already collecting to build customer loyalty. Mr. Satre responded by making Mr. Loveman his chief operating officer, a heady position for a young academic who had never run much of anything.

 

Mr. Loveman set to work, not necessarily to his loyal customers’ benefit. In an elevator at Harrah’s in Las Vegas, he met gamblers complaining that the slot machines were too “tight,” paying off less than those at Harrah’s in Atlantic City. Mr. Loveman knew that the opposite was true, that the company kept seven cents of every dollar pumped into the slots in Atlantic City but only a nickel in Vegas. From this chance conversation came the sort of brainstorm by which fortunes are made: If customers don’t know the odds, they probably won’t know when the odds worsen. Today, Caesars Entertainment keeps 8% of its slot machine take in Las Vegas instead of 5%. Those three extra cents on the dollar are pure profit. The gamblers don’t seem to have noticed.

 

At the center of Caesars’s data-collection effort is Total Rewards. Loyalty programs with rewards for repeat customers go back at least to the 1880s, when the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. gave buyers coupons that could be exchanged for clocks or tableware displayed in its stores. Total Rewards, which began in a rudimentary form in 1997, is a program of a different order. The member offers up his number each time he sits down at a poker table or eats in a restaurant. The details—you spent three hours playing blackjack, never bet more than $50 on a hand and lost $750 in an evening—end up in Caesars’s computers, which crunch them to identify useful patterns. Your reward, at least in theory, is that Caesars will market to you in ways it expects will please you, whether that means having the manager come offer a personal hello when you’re at the roulette wheel or sending you a coupon for a free dinner at the sushi bar, where you dine every time you visit. Behind the scenes, computers are evaluating which rewards are likely to make you want to spend more money. As Mr. Loveman explains: “We should be able to give you things that you care about—not have you littered with things you don’t care about—and have it work out profitably for us.”

 

Customer relations by algorithm represented a revolution in the casino business. The savvy manager whose instincts led him to offer a free cocktail to a big bettor has been replaced by a computer that reckons that the small bettor who comes every Thursday night is actually more profitable to the casino.

 

Why does it work? The story of Dan Kostel, a salesman at a Los Angeles asset-management firm, sheds light on that question. Mr. Kostel loves playing blackjack in Las Vegas. He also thinks that Caesars Palace is a bit stodgy. But a few months after he spent an evening there, he received a letter offering a free room and $1,000 in chips on his next visit. The freebies brought him back. Once the computers identified him as a regular, the offers diminished. So Mr. Kostel learned the game. He played elsewhere for a few months, and Caesars Palace upped the offers. He checked into his free room at Caesars even when he was staying in a free room elsewhere, because he would receive more credit toward future rewards if Caesars thought he was staying there while gambling in the hotel’s casino. As Mr. Tanner observed, “for Kostel, winning comps was part of the overall game.” Of course, Caesars knows that if it has evaluated Mr. Kostel’s behavior correctly, it will win in the end.

 

Not all data collection is so benign. Casino operators collect information about their customers from many other sources beyond loyalty programs; how deeply they probe Facebook FB -0.56% profiles and divorce-court records depends on the operator. Mr. Tanner explores an obscure company called Global Cash Access, which specializes in operating automatic teller machines and cash desks at casinos. If you use its services, it may (for a fee) tell the casino how much cash you withdrew there last month and how much you withdrew at other casinos. This is golden information for a marketer, but gamblers who use the teller machines may not understand that their transactions are far from private.

 

Mr. Tanner’s engaging book is realistic; he knows that this particular genie cannot be stuffed back in the magic lamp. At the same time, he shows how harmful it is when private companies compile electronic dossiers on their clients. Data collectors, he writes, “should be clear about what they are doing, and customers should have a choice about the extent to which they participate.” It’s a sensible response. But, as “What Stays in Vegas” shows, the collection of personal data is now so widespread that the choice has already been made for us.

 

Article Source:
http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-review-what-stays-in-vegas-by-adam-tanner-1410123539

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc on the Economist's review

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc on the Economist's review | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

The Economist's review of my book reveals how white people still refuse to believe black people about being black

 

The Guardian (By: Edward E. Baptist) - In 1845, Frederick Douglass, a fugitive from slavery, joined dozens of white passengers on the British ship Cambria in New York harbor. Somewhere out on the Atlantic, the other passengers discovered that the African American activist in their midst had just published a sensational autobiography. They convinced the captain to host a sort of salon, wherein Douglass would tell them his life story. But when the young black man stood up to talk, a group of Southern slaveholders, on their way to Britain for vacation or business or both, confronted him. Every time Douglass said something about what it was like to be enslaved, they shouted him down: Lies! Lies! Slaves were treated well, insisted the slaveholders; after all, they said, the masters remained financially interested in the health of their human “property”.

 

In a review of my book about slavery and capitalism published the other day, the Economist treated it the same way that the tourist enslavers treated the testimony of Frederick Douglass on that slave-era ship long ago. In doing so, the Economist revealed just how many white people remain reluctant to believe black people about the experience of being black.

 

Apparently, I shouldn’t have focused my historical research on how some people lived off the uncompensated sweat of their “valuable property”, the magazine’s anonymous reviewer wrote: “Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains.” Worst of all, this book reviewer went on, I had, by putting the testimony of “a few slaves” at the heart of book ( http://dymanblog.com/) about slavery, somehow abandoned “objectivity”’ for “advocacy”.

 

Of course, the reviewer wasn’t treating me like the slaveowners on the Cambria treated Douglass. They threatened to kidnap him and send him to New Orleans – the largest slave market in North America. No, a single nameless reviewer from a single stodgy magazine couldn’t do much to me.

 

Still, the review enraged a significant number of people. Within a few hours, Twitterstorians scorched the earth of the magazine’s comments page with radioactive reviews of the review. The parodies and viral disdain forced the Economist to retract the review and issue a partial apology.

 

But the Economist didn’t apologize for dismissing what slaves said about slavery. That kind of arrogance remains part of a wider, more subtle pattern in how black testimony often gets treated – sometimes unknowingly – as less reliable than white. The Economist reviewer was saying that the key sources of my book ( http://dymanblog.com/ebook-review/ ;), African Americans – black people – cannot be believed.

 

As the historian Jelani Cobb pointed out to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Friday night, the reviewer’s ideas about slavery’s history are not actually as uncommon as many of us would like to believe. He’s right: All across the American south, you can go to historic plantation sites still pushing the idea that slaves who had a “good” master were happy, and “faithful”.

 

If you write about the history of slavery, you become used to the pattern: No matter how many accounts you cite from ex-slaves, people often say they need more information before they can accept what former cotton pickers say about how cotton picking worked. And when we’re talking about contemporary events, the presumptive doubt is just as bad.

 

For instance: white people have had numerous opportunities, especially after Ferguson, to hear what African Americans think about how policing takes place when white civilians aren’t around. Yet twice as many white Americans as black Americans still think that police treat African Americans fairly.

 

Perhaps this is because, according to a recent survey, 75% of white Americans have zero black American friends. Surely if more white people knew more black people on a personal level, some would be more ready to accept the accounts from African Americans about how white privilege affects their own lives.

 

Instead, we’ve still got white magazine writers refusing to believe first-person accounts of history, which re-enforces white privilege at the very time when we should be revoking it. In the meantime, both historians and advocates of contemporary change often have to turn to the strategy of getting white people to vet black testimony before other white people will believe it.

 

Back in 1845 on the Cambria, as the attackers surrounded Douglass, threatening to throw him overboard, he told the other white passengers that if they didn’t believe his words, he would speak the words of the enslavers. Straight from the book of state law in the south, Douglas read aloud those punishments allotted to slaves, then – “lashings on the back, the cropping of ears and other revolting disfigurements” – as now: “for the most venial crimes, and even frequently when no crime whatever had been committed”.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

Robert Galbraith captures the worlds of crime drama and literature of past eras, writes Sue Turnbull.

Aldrey Dyman's insight:

‘‘Writing as Robert Galbraith,’’ Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling has suggested of her recent venture into crime fiction, has been a ‘‘pure joy’’. Judging by the bestseller lists, this is a joy squillions of readers are already sharing – begging the questions why and how? What’s the appeal of an undeniably retro crime series featuring a surly-looking, ex-army private detective with the unlikely name of Cormoran Strike?

 

While The Cuckoo’s Calling saw the one-legged Strike (he lost the other one serving his country) navigating the perils of celebrity culture and high fashion, in The Silkworm, Strike is confronted with the petty rivalries and grand egos of a ‘‘fictional’’ London literary scene. Having published two difficult and obscene allegorical novels, troublesome author Owen Quine has gone AWOL and his wife Leonora and daughter Orlando would like Strike to bring him home.

 

The dowdy Leonora is concerned that Owen’s disappearance has something to do with the manuscript of his latest roman à clef featuring a cast of literary enemies in a scandalous allegory with the unappealing title Bombyx Mori. Quine’s last sighting was at a famous London restaurant having a very public stoush with his agent who has declared the book unpublishable.

 

Galbraith/Rowling is playing cryptic mindgames with her readers. Bombyx Mori is the Latin moniker for the domesticated silkmoth, which in its larvae stage is boiled to extract silk. The hapless silkworm, as a metaphor for the writer ‘‘who has to go through agonies to get the good stuff’’, thence burrows its way through the book, popping up in all sorts of places, including the epigrams that frame each chapter.

 

These epigrams deserve a treatise all their own, drawn as they are from a breathless sweep of 16th and 17th-century poetic dramas, from Beaumont and Fletcher to Restoration comedy via lesser known luminaries such as George Chapman and Thomas Dekker. Most telling of all are those featuring the bloody Jacobean revenge dramas characterised, as Quine’s agent tells Strike over a reassuring bowl of soup, by ‘‘their sadism and their lust for vengeance’’.

 

Indeed, it is a quotation from The White Devil by John Webster that nails the plight of both missing author Quine, and quite possibly that of Galbraith/Rowling herself: ‘‘Ha ha ha, thou entanglest thyself in thine own work like a silkworm.’’ In its self-reflexivity, The Silkworm is thus a tale that resonates as much with the literary rivalries of the 17th-century coffee house as it does with those of contemporary London.

 

And contemporary London is very present, from the Monday morning faces on the Tube, ‘‘sagging, gaunt, braced, resigned’’, to the bustling back streets of Soho and Covent Garden in all their rain-sodden, wintry gloom. In terms of cultural tourism, Cormoran Strike may therefore well do for Denmark Street what Holmes did for Baker Street, or what Harry Potter did for Kings Cross, come to that.

 

Much of the pleasure lies in the vivid description of fictional people and real places, as well as the subtly evolving relationship between the defensive Cormoran and his ‘‘secretary’’, the beautiful Robin, who is about to be married to the manipulative Matthew. Note the moment of self-revelation when Strike considers how Robin’s engagement functions as the means ‘‘by which a thin, persistent draught is blocked up, something that might, if allowed to flow untrammelled, start to seriously disturb his comfort’’.

 

There is unresolved sexual tension at play here – and Galbraith knows better than to let it slacken. Observe also the elegant periodic sentence structure, the use of the arcane adjective ‘‘untrammelled’’.

The Silkworm thus brings to mind the crime fiction of another, more leisurely and more literary era. In her respect for the structure of the classic detective story, and her obvious delight in its multi-layered artifice, Galbraith – aka J.K. Rowling – is evidently re-creating her own golden age of crime.

 

The Silkworm is indeed a joy.

 

Article Source:
http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/book-review-the-silkworm-by-robert-galbraith-20140711-zt347.html

 

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Book review: ‘Happy Clouds, Happy Trees’

Bob Ross, with his big brown Afro and soothing on-screen persona, was known as the ultimate encouraging instructor to thousands who watched his PBS series “The Joy of Painting.” Until he died in 1995...
Aldrey Dyman's insight:

Bob Ross, with his big brown Afro and soothing on-screen persona, was known as the ultimate encouraging instructor to thousands who watched his PBS series “The Joy of Painting.” Until he died in 1995 at age 52, he was always firm in his belief that there are no mistakes and that any viewer following his simple oil-painting approach could, with a little patience, create pretty landscapes. His hit show spawned a sprawling empire of instructional tapes and franchise art studios, and now “the Bob Ross phenomenon” is the subject of a new book from the University of Mississippi called “Happy Clouds, Happy Trees,” by Kristin Congdon, Doug Blandy and Danny Coeyman.

 

Why is there no Bob Ross artwork in this celebration of Bob Ross? The authors gingerly hint at the “uneasy relationship” that exists between Bob Ross enthusiasts and the folks at Bob Ross Inc., the multimillion-dollar corporation that zealously guards the painter’s legacy (and once slapped a cease-and-desist order on a newborn Bob Ross fan club in the United Kingdom).

 

Hence, artist Coeyman, working on general Bob Ross principles, does his best to imitate the style of the roughly 30,000 paintings Ross left behind — although sometimes he’s unsure whether he’s making “a Bob or just a blob.”

 

The authors fill in the gaps with an open enthusiasm so vulnerable to parody that the reader can only admire its bravery. They look at Bob Ross as guru, as shaman, as life coach — even, improbably, as sexual provocateur: “Close-ups of Bob’s hand showed him mixing, spurting, spilling, whacking, and stroking paint all over the studio,” they write as we cringe. “Bob made paint porn.”

 

They look at his oil techniques, simple as they are, and dutifully construct whole worlds of significance for them. Those of us who remember “The Joy of Painting” mainly as a treasured oasis, a deep, cleansing breath in the middle of a busy day, might have to stifle the odd giggle when reading these overly earnest passages. Does everything, we might ask, need to be significant? When the authors defiantly assert Ross’s importance to “Art History, pedagogy and cultural anthropology,” they seem to be working way too hard.

 

There are touching moments in “Happy Clouds, Happy Trees”: The authors effectively capture the sense of quiet optimism Ross conveyed to his viewers, many of whom probably never got any closer to a blank canvas than the ones they watched him decorate on “The Joy of Painting.” There also are defensive moments, most of them in a hilariously catty chapter explaining the differences between Ross and Thomas Kinkade, the feel-good treacle-artist for whom he’s often mistaken. (“Kinkade did not paint nature,” we’re told, “he painted real estate.”) And as for any deep personal conflicts that drove Ross to perform, well, you’ll have to take that up with Bob Ross Inc.

 

Article Source:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/book-review-happy-clouds-happy-trees/2014/07/16/c7cfcb20-06b3-11e4-a0dd-f2b22a257353_story.html?tid=hpModule_5fb4f58a-8a7a-11e2-98d9-3012c1cd8d1e

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: The Book of Loco, Malthouse Theatre

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: The Book of Loco, Malthouse Theatre | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it
THE
Book of Loco starts with a suitcase.
Aldrey Dyman's insight:

Alirio Zavarce’s one-man show on the nature of something he’s termed “rational madness” begins in an airport. He’s just flown back to Australia with a prop suitcase, and as the story reaches fever pitch, with the federal police brandishing machine guns and a gaggle of customs officials staring him down suspiciously, he stops the show.

 

He’s troubled. There’s a divide between Zavarce the man and Zavarce the actor. Maybe that’s the wrong place to begin. Things carry on, but it’s not the last time he’ll stop the show. Loco is peppered with Zavarce’s asides, and the whole thing proceeds in kooky fits and starts.

 

Jonathon Oxlade’s enchanting set — a towering wall of cardboard boxes — becomes a playground. Sections fall down, some of them contain secrets, and more than a few become the canvas for Chris More’s projection design.

 

Zavarce’s marriage and the twin towers of the World Trade Centre collapsed on the same day, and this is where his “rational madness” began. Everyone’s a little bit loco, and sometimes we have to give in to it in order to get through. He’s a beguiling, fascinating performer who’s at his best engaging directly with the audience.

 

Sasha Zahra’s direction is solid, but there’s a gap between the darkness and the light in these stories. These semi-autobiographical tales are told mostly in big print, and the net effect is beautifully polished, but fundamentally shallow.

 

Like The Rabble’s Room of Regret last year, this show features a plate of human faeces. But it’s there to do more than just shock: it’s glad wrapped, and it’s a prop in a didactic little bit about the value of things. And just like the poo, everything from David Gadsden’s manic lighting to Duncan Campbell’s sound design — which features a mind-bending mashup of Glenn Miller’s In the Mood and Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name Of — is perfectly calibrated.

 

Ultimately, all the mess and madness is a little too choreographed; the version of himself Zavarce presents here is a few clicks too close to children’s television presenter to really connect with, but maybe that’s the point.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘Price of Fame’

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘Price of Fame’ | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it
Throughout her life, playwright and diplomat Clare Boothe Luce insatiably aimed for the top.
Aldrey Dyman's insight:

Throughout her life, playwright and diplomat Clare Boothe Luce insatiably aimed for the top. In “Rage for Fame,” published in 1997, Sylvia Jukes Morris traced how a beautiful and intelligent girl, born of humble origins, married a millionaire decades her senior; transformed herself as managing editor at Vanity Fair, wrote her hit play, “The Women,” married again, to Henry Luce of Time Inc.

 

“Price of Fame” continues the second half of this amazing story, clearly capturing the successes and pathos of a narcissist infused with shame and self-hate. (“Nobody could love me who really knew me.”)

 

Fame Clare now has, but with it came personal loss: the death of her only child; of her brother; the suicide of a close friend; the disappointment in her dysfunctional marriage to Luce, her love and enemy. Their extramarital affairs, along with Clare’s schemes to extract millions, is told without censure. Those millions, later bequested to institutions and charities, also significantly benefited women entering the field of mathematics, science and engineering.

 

The book opens with Clare’s election in 1942 as a Republican congressman from Connecticut. The only female member of the House Military Affairs Committee, she traveled to Europe, visiting liberated Nazi concentration camps. She crossed the aisle to work with Democrats, and is credited with advancing 18 initiatives, including human rights, equal pay, and the rehabilitation of veterans, and the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission. No fan of FDR, she said he had created a nation of “hypochondriacs, introverts and psychotics.” Nonetheless, she was a friend of his wife, Eleanor (both were advocates for civil rights). After Clare’s conversion to Roman Catholicism, she was appointed ambassador to Italy, the first woman ever appointed ambassador to a major foreign power, playing a role in negotiating a peaceful resolution to the Trieste Crisis.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘Unstoppable’ by Ralph Nader

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: ‘Unstoppable’ by Ralph Nader | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it
Aldrey Dyman's insight:

Ralph Nader wants liberals and conservatives to work together. In his new book, “Unstoppable”, he cites many instances in which such cooperation ought to be possible, at least theoretically. But the book’s greater value may lie in the opportunity to contemplate, almost half a century after he first stepped onto the national stage, where Nader himself fits on the ideological spectrum.

 

Any discussion of Nader must begin with the acknowledgment that he is a great man. He created modern consumer advocacy when he published “Unsafe at Any Speed,” his 1965 book about auto safety, and he founded a network of nonprofits dedicated to muckraking and lobbying in the public interest, challenging the government on a host of regulatory issues that previously received scant attention. It’s a backhanded compliment to Nader that the stampede of corporate lobbyists into Washington starting in the 1970s began as an effort to counter him (before it acquired a fevered momentum of its own).

 

Most people would situate Nader on the left. That’s a reasonable judgment but also a simplistic one, because in many ways he is fairly conservative — conservative enough to harvest favorable book-jacket blurbs for “Unstoppable” from the likes of anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and anti-immigration activist Ron Unz. No doubt part of Nader’s appeal to such folks is their sheer gratitude that he helped keep Al Gore out of the White House (though with a margin as thin as the one in Florida’s vote count, you could blame Gore’s 2000 defeat — or, if you prefer, thwarted victory — on just about anything). But the right’s affinity for Nader is not based solely on partisan interest. He holds more beliefs in common with conservatives than is generally recognized.

 

Income distribution, a long-standing concern for the left, has seldom interested Nader, except insofar as government can be stopped from redistributing upward. He favors much stronger government regulation of corporations, but his argument is that corporations would otherwise avoid the sort of accountability that any well-functioning market demands. If a pro-regulatory, highly litigious libertarian can be imagined, that’s what Nader is.

 

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Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: J.K. Rowling’s New 'Harry Potter' Story Is a Marketing Scam

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc: J.K. Rowling’s New 'Harry Potter' Story Is a Marketing Scam | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

There are celebrities—and then there are celebrities.” That’s the first line of J.K. Rowling’s latest Harry Potter short story, published this morning on her own website, Pottermore. Rowling, who has always had a strained relationship with her own fame, might as well be talking about herself. (She published her second pseudonymous detective novel last month, to solid reviews.) There are celebrity writers, and then there are celebrity writers—the kind who can post a 1500-word piece of writing on their personal website and immediately make international headlines.

 

If, like me, you woke up this morning excited by the headlines and tweets ( https://twitter.com/DymanPublishing ) declaring that Rowling has written a new Harry Potter story, you may be disappointed. Almost seven years after publishing the final Harry Potter book, Rowling has returned to the wizarding world for the first time, but the results are flimsy. What’s being billed as Rowling’s first post-Deathly Hallows short story set in the “Harry Potter” universe is just a brief fictional dispatch from Rita Skeeter, the wizarding world’s nastiest gossip columnist. If you aren’t already a member of Pottermore, Rowling’s official fansite, you’ll have to sign up for an account. When I finally read the story, after surrendering my name, email address, and birth date, I felt a little conned. This wasn’t a short story—this was a digital marketing campaign.

 

Rita Skeeter is writing from the Quidditch World Cup championship fifteen years after the events of the final book, providing a “Where Are They Now” game that’s sort of fun. Harry is nearly 34, his hair is beginning to gray. Poor Ron is already losing his hair. (As someone who was the same age as Harry when the first books were published, this premature aging is tough to read about.) Hermione is balancing motherhood with a demanding career. (“Does Hermione Granger prove that a witch really can have it all?” Skeeter asks.) We get updates on Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, and even Viktor Krum. Like the reunion special of a TV soap, the next generation—Bill Weasley’s daughter and Remus Lupin’s son, now teenagers—are romantically involved.

 

All this information comes from an unreliable source, of course. Rita Skeeter, with her poison pen and claw-like nails, was one of the minor villains of the Harry Potter series, spreading catty, made-up gossip about our heroes and showing no moral qualms. She’s also an avatar for Rowling’s aggrieved relationship with the media. “It really was like being under siege or like a hostage,” Rowling told the Leveson Inquiry when testifying a few years ago about the British press. In that light, the new story reads like a barely veiled attack on the entitlement and moral bankruptcy of British tabloid culture. “One always hesitates to invade the privacy of young people,” Rowling, in the voice of Skeeter, writes. “But the fact is that anyone closely connected with Harry Potter reaps the benefits and must pay the penalty of public interest.”

 

Unlike the series’ ill-advised epilogue, the new story doesn’t wrap everything up in a bow. We’re left wondering where the cut on Harry’s face came from and how much of the column is vicious rumor. But like that epilogue, it’s a symptom of Rowling’s reluctance to cede control of her creations. Since ending the series, she’s revealed that Dumbledore was gay, that Harry and his cousin Dudley reconciled, and that Harry and Voldemort were related by blood. You don’t have to be a Barthesian grad student to chafe at Rowling’s impulse to clarify the words on the page. When writers adopt the paratextual world of fanfic as their own, they both diminish their books’ literary authority and interfere with the freewheeling spirit of fan writing.

 

So if you’re really jonesing for a Harry Potter fix, you’re probably better off re-reading the originals or turning to some of the fantasy writers who influenced or were influenced by Rowling—Diana Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper, Suzanne Collins. And don’t forget: harrypotterfanfiction.com has 82,406 stories, and counting.

 

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MONEY: How the Destruction of the Dollar threatens the Global Economy — and what we can do about it

MONEY: How the Destruction of the Dollar threatens the Global Economy — and what we can do about it | Dyman Associates Publishing Inc | Scoop.it

Originally written by By Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames

 

Book Reviews Dyman Associates Publishing Inc - In “The Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith wrote, “The sole use of money is to circulate consumable goods.” Truer words have rarely been written, but the remarkable thing about Smith’s passage was that it was a throwaway line in what remains to this day one of the most important books on economics ever written.

 

Smith’s line about money was throwaway simply because it was a tautology. The world is round, the sun sets in the west, and yes, money’s sole purpose is to facilitate exchange. Money is not wealth, it’s merely what we use to measure our production so that we can exchange it for that which we don’t have, not to mention place a value on investments representing the production of future wealth.

 

Precisely because money is a measure, much like a foot and minute are, it’s essential that its value be as stable as possible. Gold has historically been used to define money not because it’s nice to look at, but simply because its stability renders it “money, par excellence,” in the words of Karl Marx.

 

In modern times, the economics profession has perverted money, and turned it into wealth itself. We’ve seen this most notably through the monetary machinations (quantitative easing — QE) foisted on the economy by then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. Money is no longer seen by economists as a low-entropy measure; now, its simple creation is viewed as the path to actual production. In light of this, it’s no surprise that the economy took a dive under our former Fed chairman.

 

Enter Forbes editor-in-chief Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames. They’ve co-authored an essential new book, “Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy — and What We Can Do About It,” which seeks a return of money to its proper place. Channeling Smith, the authors write that the money in our pockets is “fundamentally simple,” and that it’s singular purpose is “as an instrument of measurement.”

 

The problem, described by the authors expertly, is that ever since 1971 when President Nixon delinked it from gold, the dollar has floated in value. Just as houses would be asymmetrical and souffles burned if the foot and minute were to constantly change in terms of length and time, so has economic growth been sadly restrained thanks to a dollar that is no longer a stable measure of value. As the authors explain it, “This ever-fluctuating system of ‘fiat money,’ with its gradual weakening of the dollar, has produced four decades of slow-motion wealth destruction.”

 

Why is this? The answer is as simple as the correct conception of money is. The authors write that “when money is weakened, people seek to preserve their wealth by investing in commodities and hard assets” least vulnerable to the decline of the dollar itself. Looked at in historical terms, we didn’t have “oil shocks” in the 1970s; rather, we experienced commodity shocks across the board as the dollar in which they were measured declined in value. Just the same, oil isn’t currently expensive; instead, the dollar in which it is once again measured has declined substantially since 2001.

 

Looked at from an investment perspective, economic growth is derived from information, good and bad, entering the economy. In short, it’s about experimentation with always-limited investment. However, when money is losing value, investment flows into hard assets representing wealth that already exists (think land, art, rare stamps, oil, gold) and away from the stock and bond income streams representing wealth that doesn’t yet exist. Floating, cheap money signals a descent into darkness that robs the economy of the information necessary to power it forward.

 

Some readers will understandably point out that the U.S. economy performed well in the 1980s and ‘90s despite a floating dollar, but the authors know why this is. As they note, the dollar back then, “despite ups and downs, averaged around $350 an ounce,” as measured in gold. With the dollar largely stable during the Reagan and Clinton presidencies, investment was reallocated from the prosaic wealth of yesterday, and back into stocks and bonds representing future wealth. The technology explosion in the ‘80s and ‘90s was no accident.

 

That’s why the authors so confidently and correctly assert that quantitative easing “did not just fail as stimulus. It prevented recovery by causing a destructive misallocation of credit.”

 

In their clear-eyed way of looking at the economy, the authors make plain that QE’s imposition explicitly deprived the dollar of its essential role as a measure, and with the value of money once again uncertain a la the 1970s, the investment that powers growth has once again gone into hiding. The authors’ solution to our economic malaise rooted in devalued money is simple: We must give the dollar a gold definition once again. As they explain, “getting the economy right requires getting money right.” It’s no accident that gold was used to define money for the hundreds of years leading up to 1971, and it will be no accident when the economy takes off again, assuming a return to gold.

 

Mr. Forbes and Ms. Ames have laid out a simple plan for returning to good money. Unknown is whether either political party is aware. What’s certain is that the party that discovers the basics of money yet again will oversee an economic boom that will make the Reagan and Clinton eras seem tame by comparison.

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