Hampton on the Growth of Privatism in Public Spaces

Keith Hampton’s very faced-paced talk dealt with the impact of network and mobile technology on traditional face-to-face communication and the function of neighbourhood communities. He cut his teeth in the study of the Newmarket/Netville. More recently he has been experimenting with the intervention of email and website as neighbourhood building tools in established communities and measuring their rate of adoption and impact on face-to-face social contact. This was followed by his e-Neighbours study and most recently the creation of the iNeighbour online community. Hampton’s framing question is does the internet encourage privatism and if so, does it continue the trend of grounding it in the family home, or does it permit privatism to creep into the public and parochial realm.
These studies are blunt in some of the finding. A recent study of mobile technology usage in public spaces for example is quite clear: laptop users are largely solitary in public spaces, having limited interaction with those around them, using the technology as a shield. Thus his Continue reading

Report on The Naked Swiss by Claire O’Dea

And so the Swiss…..
 
The Naked Swiss were well received into the Waterloo Bar ;-)
 
The general appreciation of the book was quite positive – some reading to substantiate or illuminate their own feelings and connections with the Swiss – most reading purely for general interest. The use of anecdotal injection was appreciated and did enliven what was otherwise relatively dense recitation of statistics. This certainly substantiated that the author did a fine job of marshalling research to address the myths that she aimed to address, but left a sense with some that it may have been somewhat tending to the journalistic in this regard. Good journalism though.

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Report on Norse Mythology by Gaiman

As with the past few novels, ‘Norse Mythology’ was generally well received. The overarching question asked was: Where was Neil Gaiman’s contribution to the canon. There was a sense that tales were well told and that length, language and introduction made for both an accessible and enjoyable read. The Gods are patently malicious, arbitrary and outright capricious. In that the author catches the sense and delivers.
Mortals are mere playthings and the nature of the Gods and their traits explains much about how a culture can perceive the natural world. Continue reading

Report on the HillBilly Elegy by JD Vance

Reporting back on our discussions I reflect that Hillbilly Elegy was not badly received, so first off thanks to Mike and Fergal for that coalition recommendation – again escaping the dreaded penalty round of drinks. Thanks to Joe for his round of drinks to allow for a brief visit.
The Elegy did have mixed reviews and the general pronouncement seemed to be that it did not actually tell us anything we did not already know – but they we are such and erudite and well informed group ;-)

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Report on the Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInnerney

I am reporting back on our April Book Club Meeting – a cosy snug at the Waterloo Bar shared by four stalwarts. Thanks and apologies to those who could not attend, but submitted such thoughtful reviews – our work seemed done before actually arriving to meet ;-)
There was not a general consensus on the novel other than (I think) that Lisa Mcinnerney was well deserving of the awards she received for this first work. We had mixed reactions towards the characterisation in the novel. Some found empathy for the characters and others not – but all agreed this was a very character-driven piece. Admittedly actually finding hostility rather than empathy towards some of the characters suggesting she did accomplish something. Ryan did stand out as the character most evoking of this empathy and particular notion of vulnerability and cloaking being particularly well captured.

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Report on a Gentleman in Moscow

“If one did not master one’s circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them.”

Was also thrilled that everyone enjoyed the read of A Gentleman in Moscow and it fared so well in the ratings.
It was praised for the deep, rich and effective characters and setting and for engaging storytelling. I hope that those still to finish enjoy it right to the end. The parallel to Hotel Budapest was well pointed out – something that I freely admit to having missed. The setting and the tale was totally alive for me and I quite enjoyed the twists, turns and was left with a most satisfied feeling on having been invited into the Count’s world. Continue reading

Report on a Shrinking Violet: A Field Guide to Shyness

As always a great discussion and a book well considered.
Thanks to those who thoughtfully provided their reviews in advance.
Mike did the leg work clearly and there was general agreement with his assessment.
Adding to Mike’s quite comprehensive and thoughtful treatise:
All attending completed the book and agreed that the quality of prose was quite good, anecdotal, but well told little snippets. The book itself was full of great anecdotes and Jim aptly described it as a Trivial Pursuit sort of novel. Lots of great little nuggets. A parallel was drawn between this work and those we have enjoyed from Bill Bryson. 

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EuroBookVision 2016 at the Gentlemen’s Book Club

The crowning event of our book club year is our annual get together to review the year and rank our reads. One of the intriguing and fun aspects of this is how our scores change over the year and how (when forced to rank) as a complete series the measures compare to our monthly evaluation of the books.

This year we enjoyed the hospitality of the Royal Irish Yacht Club courtesy of one of our distinguished members. The atmosphere was warm, convivial and wonderfully festive. The company a pleasure as always and the ranking spectacular good fun. Continue reading