PositiveThe Times (UK)The grimmest section of the book is a fictional account of the travails of a family living in the inspect-sparse 2060s ... Goulson’s most outlandish suggestion is that we replace industrial agriculture with the more insect-friendly practices used on allotments, which are far more productive than pesticide-saturated fields, but also about 15 times more labour-intensive ... Keep dreaming, Dave Goulson. We’ll need more dreamers like you.
PositiveThe Times (UK)The book is a sometimes punishing read, as stomach-turning in its depictions of industrial farming as any of those videos that Morrissey likes to show at his gigs. The annoying thing about many anti-meat activists is their disingenuous astonishment that anyone could know something was wrong yet still do it, as though cognitive dissonance were not a universal human failing, but Mance gives vent to no such sanctimony. His own journey toward veganism lagged behind his love of animals, and his openness about that makes him a more persuasive advocate for not eating them. If Mance’s depiction of their slaughter is horrifying, it is partly because he does such a charming job of revealing the richness of animal inner lives.
PositiveThe Times (UK)Kleeman is an acerbic guide, whose understated common sense contrasts with the grandiosity of her interviewees ... Kleeman’s description of [the sex doll] workshop reads like a feminist’s bad acid trip: dolls with impossibly tight waists hang from hooks in the ceiling like animals in an abattoir ... to her, each of the inventions in this book is an attempt to obviate a painful but necessary public conversation ... I’m not sure whether Kleeman intended it, but her book seemed to me like a tacit elegy for a time when Silicon Valley was not rapidly rewiring our brains. She seems caught between a hope that an informed public might decide which of these technologies to legalise, and a despondent feeling that the free market won’t allow for such deliberation ... \'Technology dehumanises us,\' she plangently concludes. That’s too easy a judgment.
MixedThe Times (UK)The World Beneath Their Feet contains plenty of rollicking stories, but reading it is nevertheless something of a trudge. To reach the end, intrepid readers must brave the blizzard of Ellsworth’s clumsy metaphors, tiptoe round his broken grammar, and skirt the yawning crevasses of hyperbole into which his prose frequently falls ... Weighing up these risks against the reward, the sensible reader might conclude that The World Beneath Their Feet is a peak not to be assailed, but to be squinted at, from the safe distance of a book review.
Javier Marías Trans. by Margaret Jull Costa
MixedThe TimesMarías recounts [Berta\'s] agitation in long, looping sentences that meander like passages of experimental jazz before circling back on the same motifs. As with experimental jazz the effect can be tedious. Berta faces a long, gruelling wait for her husband. Fans of pacier novels may share her feelings of desperation.