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Customer Comments

Marilyn Stachenfeld has commented on (12) products.

Crime of the Century

Marilyn Stachenfeld, July 2, 2008

The Daily Telegraph asked Kingsley Amis to write a mystery serial, and according to him, he took the job to pay his bills. The title lets you know it was an ironic task for him, and he says that, like all writing, it proved difficult as well. Amis writes well, but this is a not really a mystery but rather a book written to resemble a mystery with clues and some character development and a ridiculously unsatisfying resolution. The fact that the newspaper ran a contest where the author could choose the best alternate ending by a reader shows how randomly plotted and developed this story is! Any character could have committed the murder and the one that did is a silly choice. I was greatly disappointed in this book.
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Marilyn Stachenfeld, July 2, 2008

This was a marvelous read! Amis takes the situation of an unexpected suicide to explore whether there are any happy pairings, any couples where both people really know each other. He uses an anonymous American city for setting, which to me made no difference in interest or meaning, and didn't provide any extra stimulus for understanding the characters; but perhaps it helped him in his concept of why people commit suicide. His building of clues, evidence, and reasons pertaining to the two major characters, the narrator and the woman who kills herself, was surprisingly satisfying with a sharp twist at the end.
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Marilyn Stachenfeld, July 2, 2008

This is a brilliant book using Amis's particular talent of making events in a story add up to more than they seem to in order to reflect the meaning--or lack of it--in the narrator's life. A beautiful dead girl is found, an apparent suicide, and "police" Mike Houlihan, a forty-four year-old bleach blonde, is called upon to make sense of it. Make sense of it she does, in a reversal as dark as any in Amis's novels. A thoroughly satisfying read, way beyond the depth of most genre fiction.
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Dashiell Hammett: Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett: Complete Novels

Marilyn Stachenfeld, April 16, 2008

If you're learning to write fiction, study this book! Description of movements--face and body--which characterize as well as the slow, steady build up of character underlie Hammett's plots and their resolutions. His character study makes him a master, and the intricacy yet clarity of his plots force close and well-repaid attention. Dialogue adheres to each character's eccentricities like glue. I just re-read "The Glass Key" and and found consistencies I'd overlooked at first reading. Well worth studying.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)



The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell by Rachel Herz
The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell

Marilyn Stachenfeld, March 8, 2008

Rachel Herz writes smoothly about her field of study, the influence of the sense of smell on our lives and its potential in science. Occasionally the studies she quotes are not sufficiently documented (for my needs), such as her discussion of cases where inbreeding is prevented by smell's directing potential mates toward those with less similar gene pools. But mostly Herz's studies are based on sufficient information. Her major interest within her field is the severe loss of interest in life that accompanies losing one's sense of smell. She proves that often what is understood as taste is really smell, or a combination of the two, and how the loss of the one sense affects more areas than we would imagine, such as response to one's mate. To me, the most interesting aspects of her book are her presentations of harnessing the sense of smell to advance human and environmental benefit: how animals such as bees, wasps and dogs can be trained to detect specific smells and thus detect cancer, land mines, and other specifics that provide enormous benefits to mankind.
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