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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Parkhurst, Carolyn: The Dogs of Babel | Main | Paul, Jim: Catapult: Harry and I Build a Siege Weapon »

Finney, Jack: About Time

  

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Touchstone © 1998, 224 pages [amazon]
3.5 stars

The twelve stories in this collection by the author of Invasion of the Body Snatchers were originally published in 1957 and 1962. The stories are similar to Finney's classic novel Time and Again--in which the book's protagonist travels back to late 19th-century New York--both because nearly all of them have to do with time travel ("Lunch-Hour Magic" and "Home Alone" are exceptions) and because many of the characters express their dissatisfaction with the modern world and wish to escape from it. Usually this flight from modernity is to be achieved by time travel, but it can also take the form of interplanetary migration ("Of Missing Persons") or balloon flight ("Home Alone").

Time travel in these stories is achieved almost effortlessly, when the "thousand invisible chains" that keep us in the present--modern coins and manufactured items, apartment buildings--are, for a moment, loosed.Time travel in these stories is achieved almost effortlessly, when the "thousand invisible chains" that keep us in the present--modern coins and manufactured items, apartment buildings--are, for a moment, loosed. If there's nothing on you that wouldn't belong in the world fifty or sixty or seventy years ago, and if you're in a place that hasn't been altered much in all that time, and if you're in the right frame of mind, you can slip into the past, easy as can be. Just so, the car-obsessed college student of Finney's "Second Chance," while driving along an old highway in his restored Jordan Playboy, finds himself sharing the road with Model T's. His brief presence in the past has the effect of altering history in a way that will influence his own future.

Al and his wife Nell of Finney's "Such Intersting Neighbors" find the Hellenbeks, who have just moved into their California neighborhood, strange but pleasant. Ted Hellenbek is an inventor, an intelligent guy who was born and raised in the U.S., and yet he fumbles with his money, unable to count it out himself, when he has to pay the driver of his cab upon his arrival in town. Alfred Pullen buys a paper with a 1958 Wilson dime in "The Coin Collector" and finds himself at once in an alternative universe where such coins exist--and where he has married a different woman. In "Where the Cluetts Are" an architect helps a couple build a house following blueprints that belonged to his grandfather. The house, with its peaked roof and many gables, is an anachronism, and it has a curious effect on its inhabitants. In "Lunch-Hour Magic" an advertising agency employee buys a pair of glasses that allow him to see through women's clothes:

"I kept the glasses on nearly all afternoon, wandering around the office with a sheaf of papers in my hand, and strangely it was Mrs. Humphrey, our middle-aged overweight bookkeeper, that I stared at longest. Last year, I knew, she'd celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of her marriage to her husband, Harvey. But there, unmistakably, tattooed on her left hip, was a four-inch high red heart inside which, in a slanted blue script, was inscribed Ralph, and I wondered if she'd had the fearsome job of hiding it from Harvey for a quarter of a century."

Finney writes well--that "fearsome job" is quite good--and his stories are clever. If they are not quite as well done as his novels, this collection nevertheless makes a pleasant and easy read.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.