“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson

2013/04/09 § Leave a comment

If you’re looking for a book that will make you feel agoraphobic, this is the one for you.

Told from the perspective of a girl whose strangeness and narratorial unreliability are evident from the start, this novel is a story about otherness and consequent isolation and anxiety.

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“Copenhagen” by Michael Frayn

2013/04/07 § 1 Comment

If you’re interested in history of science and WW2, especially physics and atomic bomb, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Of course, this is a work of fiction and Michael Frayn knows nothing about quantum mechanics, but still… it’s interesting, informative and cleverly written.

Why did Heisenberg go to Copenhagen in 1941?

Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr after the war
(click for the background story of their 1941 meeting)

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“The Elementary Particles” by Michel Houellebecq

2013/04/05 § 1 Comment

“The universe is merely a chance arrangement of elementary particles. A transitory image in the midst of chaos. Which will end with the inevitable: the human race will disappear. Other races will appear, and disappear in turn. The heavens are cold and empty, traversed by the faint light of half-dead stars. Which, also, will disappear. Everything disappears. And human actions are just as random and senseless as the movements of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, fine sentiments? Pure ‘Victorian fictions’. There is only egotism. Cold, undiluted and dazzling,”

writes Houellebecq in his essay on H. P. Lovecraft, in which we find many elements of “The Elementary Particles”.

This novel reflects author’s cultural pessimism, his contempt for the atomized, egotistic, decadent Western civilization, its liberal democracy and capitalism. It is a bitter mixture of loneliness and misanthropy, desire, frustration and disappointment; philosophy, social critique and speculative science, and pornography, loveless and pleasureless.

Michel Houellebecq in “Le Cap d’ Agde” naturist club (2000)
[© Lise Sarfati / Magnum Photos]

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“Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” by Edwin A. Abbott

2013/04/03 § 2 Comments

“Flatland” is a mathematical satire and religious allegory, written in the shape of the memoirs of A Square, an inhabitant of a two-dimensional world, who had visited other lands – Pointland, Lineland and Spaceland – and gained invaluable insights into the structure of the Universe.

Lineland (illustrated by the author)

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