Nuno Yanfu Yanfu itibaren Sofiivka, Khersons'ka oblast, Ukrayna
Another in a continuing series: books I was assigned to read in college but *cough* couldn't find the time to. This is a very brief epistemological investigation (by a philosopher) of how science is done. Using examples such as Aristotle, Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton, Kant, Boyle, and Lavoisier, Toulmin argues that we shouldn't dismiss as naive the efforts of earlier scientists (or natural philosophers) just because their explanations don't comport with the "facts" or systems of thought we have in place today. On the contrary, their work was an essential kind of timber-clearing that made possible the edifices of modern science.
In his first novel, Doyle has achieved the near-impossible feat of breathing vigorous life into the time-worn "tale of suburban angst." While the characteristic middle-class dread is present, it derives not from the easy lampooning of broad targets like conspicuously consuming neighbors or relgious hypocrites. Instead the unease springs from complicated, deeply troubled personae of the characters, and their suspicions about themselves (which ultimately motivates the calamitous events). Plus, this novel is snort-out-loud funny, where the reader draws odd looks from others when she reads it in public. The humor is dark, sure, but it is the most impressive kind of humor that derives from the design of the story (as opposed to easy slapstick or tired irony). In fact, one of the key things that made me love this book is that it's a love story for people who hate romance. The proclivities (emotional, sexual, and otherwise) of Mr. Portwit and Mary Ann make them idiosyncratic and geniunely authentic, in the end, because they possess the same desires that we all do. Problem is, they go to absurd and ridiculous (and hilarious) lengths in attempts to sate those desires. On top of it all, it is a rip-roaring, page-flipping, good-time read that delivers the emotional goods again and again.