[ARC] Mend the living by Maylis de Kerangal

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Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal is one of the novels listed in the 2016 Man Booker International Prize long list. It’s a long, thrilling tale about the fate of a heart.

Simon Limbeau went surfing with his friends, and, during the drive to home, maybe for tiredness, maybe for the iced streets, their van derails and Simon, without safety belt, suffers the worst damage. He is taken to the near hospital in the ICU section, but he soon enters in a coma until the cerebral death. It begins this way the fine procedure to evaluate the possibility to harvest his organs, a procedure involving Simon’s parents, the hospital doctors and the people working in the harvesting administrative procedure.

The narrative style is fast paced, a flow of emotions to overwhelm the reader and a series of point of view, one after the other, from the doctor who admits Simon to the surgeons called to harvest the heart and the other organs. Each phase allow us to meet new characters and the author makes each of them familiar to the reader by telling some of their dreams, life and emotions related to Simon’s situation.

This is a novel that makes the reader hold his breath, each phase is a delicate one, the controls to check the compatibility numerous, the harvesting and transplant are difficult operations that involve a good number of specialists. The story is well-built and detailed not only from the emotional point of view, but also from the scientifical and medical one, the details about the harvesting procedure are very interesting, from the process to match donors and receivers, the privacy issues to protect the families, the complexity of the operations.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* Mend the living by Maylis de Kerangal ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] Decoding the Irrational Consumer by Darren Bridger

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Il libro prende spunto da un concetto di base: il consumatore è irrazionale (ipotesi corretta, come evidenziano vari ricercatori, tra cui Dan Ariely in Predictably Irrational) e il marketing deve sempre più cercare di comprenderne le esigenze per garantire che i prodotti promossi abbiano mercato.

Oggi più che mai i consumatori hanno accesso a una enorme quantità di informazioni e non hanno più un ruolo passivo rispetto a pubblicità e attività promozionali.

L’autore introduce la tematica dell’irrazionalità, ovvero della presenza di una parte razionale e una emozionale che guidano le scelte di ogni essere umano, e dettaglia le varie teorie nate intorno a questo concetto (economia comportamentale, neuroestetica,…). Nella seconda parte passa invece a dettagliare gli strumenti e tecniche utili per acquisire dati sul consumatore (dall’eye-tracking fino a sistemi complessi come EEG) e nell’ultima parte cerca di tirare le fila descrivendo le modalità di integrazione di teorie e strumenti.

Premessa: non lavoro in un laboratorio o in una università dedicata all’analisi del comportamento, e cercavo spunti più operativi applicabili in ambito lavorativo, ho trovato quindi interessante la prima parte in cui si fa una carrellata delle varie teorie da tenere in considerazione e per certi versi la terza in cui vengono dati alcuni spunti operativi (in particolare riguardo alla costruzione dei questionari). La seconda parte può essere interessante a livello generale, ma penso trovi scarso riscontro con il reale: gli strumenti descritti hanno più applicazione nei test sperimentali e nel campo della ricerca l’esperienza è di solito tale da rendere superflue le brevi descrizioni qui proposte (della seconda parte trovo poco chiaro il target dei lettori).

Ringrazio l’editore per avermi fornito la copia necessaria per stendere questa recensione.

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The book is based on a basic concept: the consumers are irrational (the assumption is correct, as various researchers point out, like Dan Ariely in Predictably Irrational) and the marketers must try to understand his/hers need in order to sell.

nowadays consumers have access to a huge amount of information and they do not have anymore a passive role with respect to advertising and marketing.

The author introduces the theme of irrationality by describing the two parts that guide any human being in making decisions, a rational and an emotional one. In the first part of the book he describes the different theories dealing with this concept (behavioural economic, neuroaesthetic,…). In the second part he talks about techniques and instruments useful to acquire information about the consumer (from eye-tracking to complex systems like the EEG) and in the last part he puts all together describing some ways to integrate theories and instruments.

A premise: I do not work in a lab or a university dealing with behavioural analysis, and I was looking for hints and suggestions about marketing useful in my working field. Hence I found interesting the first part in which various theories are described and somewhat the third one where some operational suggestions are provided (in particular concerning survey design). The second part, while interesting at a general level, describes techniques applicable in research and experimental test, and I think that in the research field the experience is such to make irrelevant the brief description provided in the book; in general I did not understand the reader target for the second part.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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Decoding the Irrational Consumer by Darren Bridger ★★★☆

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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The Goldfinch is the last novel by Donna Tartt, and the first I read from this author.

The novel takes the title from the painting by Carel Fabritius about a goldfinch chained to a perch;the painting will have a particular role into the novel and it follow the main character into the difficult choices life impose him.

Theo, a twelve year old boy, finds himself involved in a terroristic attack at the where his mother, the only parent who cares for him, dies, and while coming out from that place of horror he steals the painting and he hid it in his home.

The boy’s life will be deeply marked by the death of his mother, event that will bring him to live with the Barbour, the rich family of an old friend of him, and that will exacerbate his inclination toward depression and self-destruction bringing him towards various kind of addictions, from alcohol to drugs.

Essential in his life will be the meeting with Boris, a Russian boy already on the path of an existence at the edge of legality, and the inconstant presence of Pippa, who shared with Theo the attack moment and who is able to understand his feelings about it.

The Goldfinch / Il Cardellino by Carel Fabritius

The painting will arise in Theo mixed feelings: on one hand he is aware of having deprived the humanity of a work of art and of having committed a crime, on the other hand the attraction to the painting – that reminds him of his mother – is too strong to allow him to give it back; this element makes impossible for him to let go his past and to live a serene existence.

 

The plot is engaging, a part of some chapters where everything slows focusing maybe too much on the boy’s emotions that permeate the whole novel (and that poses a risk of depression for the most emphatic readers) : Theo lives an unlucy life, both for chance and for some choices he makes, his reflexive character brings him to share with the reader his doubts, uncertainties and driving emotions.

I have to talk about the descriptions, so vivid and true, that are able to bring the reader just there, where the author wants us to be, beautiful also for the linguistic choices made and for the love of art and music that is a carrying force of the whole novel.

In its construction the novel reminds us of the old great literature, and it’s a read I suggest, despite its complexity and being emotionally demanding.

Least but not last I ask myself: why that specific painting? The goldfinch in the picture is chained, that could be a reference to the fact that Theo choses no to let go the memory of his mother, but to froze himself in that specific, last moment they shared. Or it can mean that Theo’s life is chained in a path he was not able to choose himself.

I read that the goldfinch means the soul of man who leaves the body after death: maybe Thes’s mother whose soul cannot leave the world ?

In a novel where nothing is for chance I think it’s normal to ask some questions of this kind and to answer them, even if giving a non-universal answer.

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* The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt ★★★

*I read this book in English

[ARC] A calculated life by Anne Charnock

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Jayna lives a calculated life: she is not an organic (a standard human being), but she is a genetic engineering construct with some enhanced capabilities, such logic, analysis, in order to be extremely efficient on work without being burdened by the common human emotions.
The world she lives in it is full of being like her, some works are given to them, so much more able than human beings. Humans can access manager roles or more humble works and to live in the suburbs.

The ones like Jayna live together in central structures where their Constructor may monitor them, sometimes some present anomalous behaviours that force the Constructor (a corporation a few is known about) to take them back and to reallocate them in another work with their personality overwrite.
Jayna herself is aware of her changing in character: she is more and more interested in her coworker life, she has developed some hobbies and she begins feeling attracted to a colleague of her.

The novel follows Jayna perspective, and this allows to follow her changing in behaviour from being mostly analytical to developing emotions.

The worldbuild is described by Jayna eyes, so the reader becomes aware of the true society structure only once Jayna visits different places. The novel is nice and interesting, more focused on the psychological component and on Jayna’s increase of self awareness.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* A calculated life by Anne Charnock ★★★☆☆½

*I read this book in English

The stories of Breece D’J Pancake

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Twelve stories are the legacy of a young, suicide dead, writer.
Stories where people live of rarefied emotions and disillusioned hopes; glimpse of lives destined to be unchanged, despite of dreams and desire of change that tries to emerge.
A surgical writing, scenes described as they are, without any emotional involvement of the author; stories that move for the unexpressed desperation that saturates every place.

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* The stories of Breece D’J Pancake by Breece D’J Pancake – ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

[ARC] Starring Me and You by Geneviève Côté

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Two adorable friends: Bunny is shy and does not want to stage a play with his friend Pig, who likes pirates
One each page they show their way to express emotions (eagerness, fear, angry), but, more than anything, they help us remember that to be friends it is necessary to listen to each other and compromise.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* Starring Me and You by Geneviève Côté – ★★★★★

*I read this book in English