Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Book Review: The Trial of Robert Mugabe by Chielo Zona Eze

Author: Chielo Zona Eze
Title: The Trial of Robert Mugabe
Publication Info: Okri Books Inc (2009)
ISBN: 0615278116

Summary/Review:

Nigerian author Chielo Zona Eze pulls no punches in this fictional account of the brutal Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.  Set in heaven, Mugabe is put before a jury of pan-African luminaries and victims of his oppression and terror come forth to tell his tales.  There stories vary from Zimbabweans forced to find work in South Africa where they are killed for being outsiders, women raped, tortured and killed in prison camps, and even a soldier who dies of AIDS from participating in these rapes and torture.  The testimonies are graphic and yet there are also acknowledgments of gratitude for Mugabe himself suffering imprisonment under the British and eventually liberating Zimbabwe from colonial rule.  The horror is all the greater that Mugabe recreates the terror he lived through on his subjects.

This book is a definite tribute to human rights and those who persevere in protecting them.  Authors Yvonne Vera and Dambudzo Marechera are specifically singled out but there are also more subtle allusions to Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.  This novel is not going to cheer you up but it offers important insight into the state of the world.

Favorite Passages:

Guku is born of the spirit of ressentiment, in which case a person develops a gukunized personality.  The logic of a gukunized personality runs thus:  I am a victim, therefore I can’t be blamed for any wrong, therefore I am right.  A gukunized mindset finds nothing wrong in killing or harming other people because he already justifies this on the grounds of his having been harmed earlier. – p. 33.

Should I tell you that retribution, sir, is antithetical to civilization; that it has no place in civil society?  Should I tell you, sir, that the greatness of a leader is no measure on the degree of his anger toward other people, it is not based on what he hated and destroyed, but on what he has built?  It is based on how fare he has enhanced the lives of his people. – p. 150

Recommended books: Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga,  Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Snakepit by Moses Isegawa, The Stone Virgins by Yvonne Vera, and House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera.
Rating:

Beer Review: Buzzards Bay Black Lager

Beer: Buzzards Bay Black Lager
Brewer: Buzzards Bay Brewing
Source: 12 oz Bottle
Rating: *** (7.1 of 10)

Comments: This dark beer looks like a stout but as the name should imply it doesn’t taste like one.  The aroma and flavor is malty and smoky with some hints of chocolate.  There’s also a nice tingle of carbonation on the tongue.  This is a good beer in a unique style and I’d like to try it again on tap.

Concert Review: Butterflyfish

On Saturday, June 27th we saw the new band Butterflyfish at the Wellesley Village Church.  We were enticed by a listserv description of the band that plays a mix of folks, gospel, bluegrass, and country (and reggae, not mentioned in the invite) targeted to children and families:

There is an underlying theme of spirituality – as parents we were looking for music that underscored the idea that we are all rooted in spirituality without being heavy handed or laced with synthesizers! Couldn’t find any so we wrote our own!

As an added bonus, a musician we like a lot, Marc Erelli – a fine singer/songwriter, folk, country, troubadour – would be playing with the band.  Erelli must be one of the most generous musicians around and really like performing, because he plays with everyone!

We were late for the show but glad we made it.  The band performed standards like “Amazing Grace” and “This Little Light of Mine” along with some lovely originals.  I’m fond of the song “Music” which has the chorus:

We are going to a place where music falls and fills up everything. Though it might be a long time, but it’s going to be all right because we’ve already started to sing.

The band members Matthew Myer Boulton, Zoë Krohne, and Elizabeth Myer Boulton sing some lovely harmonies and keep things upbeat and entertaining.  Even my son who is a non-stop bundle of energy sat still on my lap for several songs.  Peter got up to dance and run around the sanctuary during the encore but even then was really enjoying the music.  The instrumentalists were great too, with Mark Erelli on guitar, Zack Hickman on bass and Charlie Rose on banjo.  Erelli also sang lead on “I’ll Be There” in tribute to Michael Jackson, which was far better than the Mariah Carey version.

After the show there was a reception with church punch and cookies.  We also picked up a copy of the Butterflyfish band album “Ladybug“.  I suggest you do to if you like folk music, gospel and children’s music, or any of the above.

Book Review: The Last Fish Tale by Mark Kurlansky

Author: Mark Kurlansky
Title: The Last Fish Tale
Publication Info: Blackstone Audiobooks, Inc. (2008)
ISBN: 1433214776

Summary/Review:

Mark Kurlansky, author of excellent books about Cod and Salt, takes on the unique fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts in this work.  Kurlansky approaches Gloucester from all angles with a historical survey stretching back to colonial times (and earlier), cultural and sociological insights into Gloucester people, and every so often throws in a traditional seafood recipe for good measure.  Kurlansky alternates between fish tales – adventures of exaggerated braggadocio – and Gloucester tales – peculiarly tragice stories of those who went down in ships.

Mostly though, this is a book about Gloucester’s life blood – the fisheries and the commercial fisherman who sail out into them.  In fact, Kurlansky ventures far beyond Gloucester to Canada, Britain, and Europe to other fishing villages who essentially share the same ecosystem and suffer the same fate of fishing villages in a time of dwindling stocks, pollutions, and sometimes counterproductive government regulation.  This is a fascinating and lively book and I really enjoyed a learning a bit about a town so close to home, yet so distinctly separate.

Recommended books: Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic by Redmond O’Hanlon; Ptown: Art, Sex, and Money on the Outer Cape by Peter Manso; The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men against the Sea by Sebastian Junger
Rating:

Book Review: Becoming Manny by Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg

When Manny Ramirez played in Boston, I enjoyed watching him play and always thought he got a raw deal from the Red Sox fans & media who accused him of being selfish, lazy, and disruptive (among other things I can’t print here).  I always got the sense that Manny was shy and just wanted to play baseball well and not deal with the stresses of public scrutiny, which I can find understandable.  Becoming Manny: Inside the Life of Baseball’s Most Enigmatic Slugger (2009) by Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg confirms my understanding of Manny, although my esteem for him has fallen since he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (ill-timed for the release of this book as well).

Still this is a well-written and informative biography, especially the parts about Manny’s early years before he reached the major leagues.  Rhodes is a psychologists and offers some great insights through he lens of Manny Ramirez of children of immigrants, the extremes of poverty and strong community in inner-city neighborhoods, and the life of youth athletes.  There is a special emphasis on coaches teachers, and friends who mentor young athletes.  In Manny’s case there are older and wiser men to guide him through most of his life, most importantly Carlos “Macaco” Ferreira a Little League coach and lifelong friend.

Manny-lovers and more importantly Manny-haters should check this book out.  It’s an excellent example of baseball biography at it’s best.

Becoming Manny : inside the life of baseball’s most enigmatic slugger / Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2009.
ISBN: 9781416577065
1416577068
Description:304 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed.

Beer Review: Presidente

Beer: Presidente Imported Beer
Brewer: Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana
Source:  12 oz. bottle
Rating: No stars (4.5 of 10)
Comments:  A lager from the Dominican Republic.  Just the type of beer that you’d expect to drink on a hot day at the beach.  Pale, weak, and not to exciting but okay if you’re not too discerning in what you quaff to cool off.

Beer Review: Boddington’s Pub Ale

Beer: Boddington’s Pub Ale
Brewer:  InBev
Source:  Draught
Rating: ** (6.3 of 10)
Comments: A golden bubbly beer with a thick creamy head. I detected a scent of melon and despite being a bitter this beer tasted malty and mellow.  In fact, I thought it tasted rather like a lager  instead of an ale.  The head sustains while drinking, leaving a lot of lacing on the glass.  Not bad.  Very smooth if not too exciting.

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