The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins – A review

It has not been many years since we grasped the idea that humans can understand the laws that govern the universe. This immense accomplishment was only made possible due to the actions of many ingenious scientific minds. Richard Dawkins might be considered one of those brilliant individuals.Indeed, one of the precepts of his book is to address the numerous quarrels sparkled by “creationists” regarding the ideas proposed by Charles Darwin, 150 years ago.

 During its genesis, the theory of evolution was just a coherent hypothesis elaborated by a great scientist. Today, the advent of many other branches of knowledge – namely genetics – the theory has become undeniable fact. It becomes obvious, then, that the goal of the book is not to persuade the reader to believe in evolution, but to enlighten about the evidence for such assumptions.

As a staunch supporter of reason and critical thinking, his purported goal with this book might be to attack the unenlightened “creationists”. Although some of these individuals are perfectly aware of the overwhelming evidence, they still fervently deny it. Some are obdurate and blinded by faith, others are just perfectly reasonable people who suspend their logic to support the religious texts, who argue otherwise.

Above all else, “The Greatest Show on Earth” is an eclectic, beautiful journey through the captivating world of empirical biology. Elegant in style, yet perfectly understandable, this book instills within the reader fundamental basis of the scientific method, the pillar of unrestricted critical thinking.


Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley – A review

In Huxley’s universe, no idea was too onerous to be written on paper. Throughout a long and successful career as a novelist, he always tried to guarantee his narratives contained the necessary substance to be considered intemporal.

Crome Yellow” – his first attempt at fiction writing – feels underwhelming in comparison. It is understandable. Released on the verge of what came to be known as “The Roaring Twenties” – an epoch of particular economic and technological prosperity – the novel denounces all of the cynicism imbued in that particular era and, although Huxley seems to struggle with the development of certain components of storytelling such as character development, he is guilty of excelling at language. Huxley bestows the reader with erudite, yet understandable prose, capable of inciting an intense amount of pleasure to people who admire and obsess about the infinitude of words.

The author’s ideas, vociferated by Dennis – the protagonist of this story- might sound contemporary for their brilliance and poignancy, but still resonate of a classic era. In “Crome Yellow” Huxley’s modern façet still dormant, yet the mentality-shift that occurred in him and many of his contemporaries, during that period is still entertaining to observe.

The Picture of Dorian Grey – A review

There’s a reason why some readers abstain themselves from classical literature. The English Language might have changed very little since Shakespeare graced it with his genius, yet the way we communicate – such as the meaning and the manner in which the writer construct sentences – has been significantly altered. The peculiarity of Oscar Wilde might reside in the prose he so eloquently produces:  vibrantly rich text that is capable of being understood by the modern Man.

In the Picture of Dorian Gray”, every single aspect of the narrative resonates profoundly with its reader: from the love story between Gray and his enamored seventeen-year-old girl, to the preternatural dialogues between Basil and his muse. Even at its elitist core, the book can only be condoned of presenting itself as a poignant endeavor into the human condition – eternal at its essence.

Stephen Fry, a prominent intellectual and public figure in Britain, once defined Oscar Wilde as one of the very few Lords of the English language. Having explored the world of “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, I can only concur to such brilliant observation. His prescience and clairvoyance might be something necessary in every artist, if his ultimate goal is to convey a message that perseveres the raucous test of time.

“Coming Up For Air” by George Orwell – A review

Written in a Europe on the verge of war, this book reveals itself as dauntingly realistic: an accurate portrait of what it was like to be alive in such tension-filled times.  “Coming Up For Air” is its title, but it could also serve as the accurate description of the act of reading it. George Orwell delivers a story that doesn’t allow you to breath. That is, it does not give the reader an opportunity to digest all the intricate meanings he purports. However, its theme is easy to discern. The approach of an ominous threat which civilization can do nothing about.

George Bowling, 45, is one of those helpless creatures who also wait for the inevitable: war. As a result, Bowling becomes restless about the future. He forebodes evil approaching. That is why a need to narrate an account of his early life arises.

That life as a young boy, a life before the First World War is a time filled with innocence. Bowling permeates it with nostalgia.

Released in 1939

Even though Bowling’s life is fiction, it all feels absurdly realistic. Yet the reason for this deceiving authenticity may reside in the author himself. It is known that Orwell – the author- was about the same age as Bowling – his character – when he wrote the novel. Not only is Orwell’s childhood and first name imprinted in Bowling, but his political views are imprinted in it too. They both despise the Bolsheviks. Both men hate ideologies and mindless propaganda.

Another important aspect about the book’s nature are it’s overwhelming accounts of humanity. Orwell was a journalist which makes people the center of attention in his novels. It becomes evident throughout his works – and this one is no exception – the literary quality contained within his writings.

“Coming Up for Air” may not be qualified to achieve the notoriety that “1984” achieved, yet it is as pertinent and meaningful as the latter.

Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays by George Orwell: A review

Although a writer, Orwell was primarily a journalist. As a result, the sheer necessity to extricate himself from the depiction of something he his witnessing first-hand is quite evident along his works.

What differentiates him from his other novelist-journalists of his epoch such as Steinbeck or Hemmingway is the ability to drop a considerable amount of humanity into his accounts. The essay “A Hanging” – in which Orwell describes how it was to witness a public execution of a prisoner in India – is a perfect example of this. In it, he not only expresses his contempt for the man who is about to die, but he also acknowledges the wrongness of the situation. In “How the Poor Die”, he recounts his memories of his unpleasant stay at Hôpital X in Paris. Once again, he shows affection towards the unfortunate people who died alone and helpless in the corridors of the establishment.

Other than his empathy, Orwell holds a pragmatic view regarding writing, language and communication. “The prevention of Literature” and “Politics and the English Language” are the most conspicuous examples. In these two essays, he argues about the pretentiousness of certain writers, who use ideas to convey words, and not the other way around. One can say that these points of view might have emerged during his years working as a journalist, yet the arguments he utilizes hold enough poignancy to persuade the reader. In essence, and from his perspective, the “ego” should not count when writing. He reveals he writes only when he has something to tell the audience, and not exclusively as means of self-recreation.

Defining someone as “ahead of his time” might be regarded as a cliché or commonplace. But when it comes to portraying George, this needs to be done. This book should be seen as essential. That is, if you the reader wants to explore the mind of a man who lived through most of the pivotal points in the first half of the XX century, although not always fully belonging

“The Stand” by Stephen King and the Ebola Virus outbreak

Why did I decided to read “The Stand” again, while an outbreak of Ebola virus started occurring in certain parts of Africa?

Truth is, I don’t really believe in anything other than coincidences, and it’ll stay that way. In an interesting manner, I picked up the book I loathe the most, the one I’ve read with huge glee three years ago. But now I’m an adult, and I am curious to see how my perspective towards that story had changed.

But, to no avail, my search for a different outlook failed. The book is stupendously well written, and the characters and story arch is so believable. As a result,I still look at it in the same way and I still regard it as my favorite book of all time.

And what makes it so interesting?

Is it because of the subject matter: a virus outbreak clears 99% of the human population, leaving the one percent to wander, trying to rebuild a somehow lost species, with evil lurking in every corner? Maybe it was, or maybe because it had the potential to be a timeless tale. Good vs Evil, the oldest story ever told. You might know one other book who uses that formula. Some people call it the bible, others call it primitive fiction. But that besides the point…

Good vs Evil

The reason I consider the 1978 Stephen King novel the best popular novel ever written it is because of the influence and impact it had on other well-known stories in western civilization, over the past thirty years. Lost, the ABC television show was pretty much entirely based on the philosophy of “The Stand”: the strongness of the characters, the evil entity wich dominated all of those people, and so on. Or perhaps, flash forward to today, where the most popular TV Show on air “The Walking Dead” as a lot of the same similarities.

The Ebola Virus is one of the many viruses known to man to kill viciously and without mercy but, curiously, it also one of the many who were portrayed by the media as being dangerous to all of the civilization. Somehow, the media propagates the idea of human annihilation, and is fond of it.

The swine flu, the bird flu, just to name a few, all victims of media frenzy and greed. “Captain Trips”, as Stephen King’s created virus was known as, didn’t even give time to media to react. In just a few days, almost all of humanity vanished. And that, folks, is what most resembles the truth. Because sometimes fiction is the representation of reality, a reality we can’t even fathom to replicate and build. Because, believe me… if an epidemic struck, we wouldn’t even have time to print a newspaper. It would be that quick.

“The Stand” is a book you must read. An ode to storytelling. Perhaps one of the few pop novels still relevant a hundred years from now.