Thursday, January 25, 2007

Reviews of THAT Book

It occurs to me that, as I linked to the Spectator review of my book, you might think my subsequent silence on the matter means the reviews have been bad. They haven't, they have been excellent. So thanks to John Preston in the Daily Telegraph, Peter Conrad in the Observer, Kathryn Hughes in the Mail on Sunday and any others I have missed. I exclude Mary Wakefield in the Daily Telegraph as she appears to have read a different book from everybody else, or, perhaps, not finished this one. Anyway, the reasons to buy How to Live Forever or Die Trying are now pretty much overwhelming.


  1. Just picked up my order from the bookshop. A cursory glance reveals flawless spelling. Though tis early days.

  2. Susan B. of PhillyJanuary 25, 2007 3:39 pm

    Is there a reason that "blog" and "flog" rhyme?

    Well, why not. I ordered my book a while back and am eagerly anticipating its arrival....

  3. Fifty pages or so in and very interesting and readable though science isn't my natural domain. My initial feeling would be that the scientific pursuit of such an aim is probably a natural extension of the ethos of the age, but that the ethos of the age is an infantile one, actively devoid of any serious relationship with life.
    Anyway on the little I've read, the question that has leapt out is to ask the immortalists about the measures they envisage enforcing so as to deal with the calamitous growth in the human population. I think it was 100,000 a day they wished to prevent shuffling off this mortal coil. And this would of course grow exponentially. Though obviously the more intersting philosophical questions lie elsewhere.

  4. I'm not quite sure how Amazon manage to create their Sponsored Links, but I would be tempted to have a word with them....

    "Customers interested in this title may also be interested in:
    Sponsored Links:
    Gerhardt - Die Cutting Specialists
    You'll find Gerhardt a reliable partner in reaching your goal of cost efficiency in cutting tools. We have been in the forefront of development for 50 years, specialising in die cutters."

  5. Nothing wrong with that, man of steel. I have been going to Gerhardt for all my die cutting needs for some time. And, Andrew, it just gets better. And, Susan, blog almost rhymes with plug, but not puff.

  6. My copy arrived today. Puff? We'll see.

  7. Hello Bryan,

    Good response!

    With this in mind, I do feel obliged to support a fellow blogger and so I'll order a copy of your book...

    ... and will encourage others to do likewise.

    Keep the faith.

    Man of Steel

  8. Well presumably, Bryan, these immortalists are going to have to become as stringently anti-birth as they are anti-death in their heroic attempts to conquer death....or is it life, and yet not make life impossible. Reminds me of the Maoists killing off the sparrows so as to protect the crops, leading of course to catastrophic famine because of those pesky insects.
    Anyway, my admiration of Huxley grows greater with special mention here to After Many a Summer- its fantastic climax being directly related to these issues. Fantastic in its literal meaning.

  9. Have read it and thoght it an excellent book, Bryan. Congratulations. If you don't mind, or even if you do, a few scattered thoughts largely about the successful climax of the enterprise, ie univeral immortality, though these thoughts might be more or less covered in the book. Having read the book, my opinions on the immortalists themselves is essentially my initial feeling confirmed. An example of the ultimate shallowness of their vision being the line by De Vrey, I think, that a well educated man couldn't be bored. This a ridiculous stance and reminds me of the materialist optimist people Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground man took such umbrage with.
    i see this could get quite long so I'll try and at the cost of elegance keep it concise.
    These people have no faith in life, not necesarily relgiion but life. From a position of "death" prior to life, reason would have had no reason to conceive of life and yet here we are. A similar trust in what happens next is the only sensible option, and obviously life well beyond the limits of reason to understand. Though I better get away from the vastness of this subject.
    The most humanising aspect of normal adult lives, or that which fosters love which is an absolute value, is children- the greatest gift to sanity after sleep. The by and large curtailing of
    children from life would be especially fatal to people's humanity.
    For other reasons also as you say, love would diminish but also in time faults become magnified.
    Again because of need to stabilise population issue, totalitarianism would be necessary.
    Immortality'd kill the religious yearning and with it the virtues of humility, selflessness.
    As you say there would be boredom but for the above reasons and more incliding probably the pride of immortality, it seems most likely it would be a diabolical state of being, with suicide at a level of angry despair beyond the suicides we have now which are deeply human and tragic. The kind of pitifulness of our suicides would be very different to these immortalists' barren ones, if I make myself understood.
    Regarding the idea of chance that was mentioned towards the end of the book, & the efforts to provide some kind of fixed point against which life could acquire meaning in this state & perhaps a bond for society, I would suggest the requirement that once every fixed period each citizen be forced to participate in a ritual of Russian Roulette with 5 other citizens.

    Finally congrats on somehow resisting what must have been an overwhelming temptation to have made some kind of joke regarding the George Bush of the book. Perhaps this was not for the want of trying but I prefer to see it as an incredible achievement of stoical restraint.
    My first of your books and will certainly read more.