Original Book Reviews, Recommendations and Discussions

A masterful depiction of boredom – The Evenings by Gerard Reve

The Evenings, by Gerard Reve, translated from the Dutch, De Avonden, by Sam Garrett, published by Pushkin Press, London, Jan. 31 2017, 352 pages, hard cover.

The book published under Reve’s original pen-name, Simon van het Reve. It was first released on 1 November 1947.

This is the first English translation, published in January 2017, of the famous Dutch novel. It is a novel about boredom – tedium – monotony – ennui. You’d think that with such a subject the book would be, well, boring. It isn’t. Remember the TV series Seinfeld? Pretty much nothing happened in each episode, yet, it was entertaining. Seinfeld is often described as being “a show about nothing”, since many of the episodes written by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld are about the minutiae, the small humdrum matters, of daily life. It’s same in this book. As author Tom McCarthy explains in an article about his favourite books in which nothing happens, the lack of an exciting plot, “creates the perfect blind spot in which a hundred events can take place, and everything can be said.” Continue reading

Thptpth!! to ppt’s, yee-haw to Prezis

Prezi HOTSHOT, by Hedwyg van Groenendaal (Packt Publishing, London, April 2014)

Prezi HOTSHOT, by Hedwyg van Groenendaal (Packt Publishing, London, April 2014)

Here’s a prezi for you – “Prezi HOTSHOT”, by Hedwyg van Groenendaal

Everyone who’s up-to-date with apps for business knows of Prezi, the cloud-based presentation software. (I can almost hear the howls of “No more death by PowerPoint!” in the background.) Prezi, which is short for “presentation” in Hungarian, is a giant forward leap in presentation technology: it allows users to display and navigate through information within a 2.5D or parallax 3D space on the Z-axis. There are no slides – there’s a “canvas”; no slide transitions, rather, zooming in, out and around. In short, what makes it radical also makes it tricky. You have to learn how to do it, same as most people did when they started using MicroSoft Office.

Some Technologically-Backward Bears, having just wandered out of their caves, might give it one horrified look and climb straight back to the comfort of PowerPoint. Others will be Brave Bears and get the hang of it and enjoy the good results, because, being so different, a prezi (referring to the presentation, not the program) has much more visual and emotional impact than traditional slides.

It’s been around since 2009, but lately, with better internet access and faster up-load ability, people who really care about how they come across are adding Prezi to their arsenal of presentation tools. Like all disruptive technologies, the main objective of the owners of Prezi would be to get past the early adopters and institutionalize the software as the “standard” to use. With some 40 million people using it now, it would be safe to say they’re getting there. But, like all newish apps, it has its ups and downs – the main one being that, like moving from a PC to a Mac, you need to make a massive mental shift to get into it. The buttons you’d want to click ain’t there. The stuff you want to type and pull in won’t work like you’re used to. The terminology is different.

Precision writing

Continue reading