Joined: Jan. 2006
Fitting that Gil would worship a guy who "got fired from almost every job I ever had" before becoming a writer.
Judging from the reviews at Amazon, many readers have fired him from that job as well:
|Upon reading the Preface and Introduction I can't believe my eyes. I have seen english comp 101 papers with more clarity than Berlinski... after my brief journey with Berlinski's prose I'm feeling carsick from the yo-yo inebriated turn of phrase...|
|An example from the first chapter, while describing Leibnitz: "He has a high forehead, arched cheekbones, wide-set staring eyes, and a large handsome nose; his is the face of a man, I think, who would enjoy mulled wine, poached eggs on buttered toast, a warm fire as the wind rattles the windows of a country castle, a young serving girl bending low over the plates and after dinner saying softly but without real surprise: Why, Herr Leibnitz, really now, bitte!" Who edited this book? They should be fired! ...Its like Mr. Berlinski is writing for the Danielle Steel crowd...|
|...Berlinski chooses to shroud this simple theme in page after page of self-important, over-written, pretentious drivel. One of the reviews on the jacket puts this book in the same category as Godel, Escher, Bach - holy smokes! Nothing could be further from the truth. Buy GEB, stay away from this book!|
|The author mentions the comment of his high school English teacher who said (I paraphrase from memory here, so the figure may be wrong, but the meaning should be clear): "Mr. Berlinski, once more you took ten pages to say nothing." The comment to some degree applies to the book. I can only assume that the poor editors who tried to cut it down to something reasonable gave up exhausted at the futility of the task. |
|This time I picked it up thinking I could finish it because I'm teaching calculus this term. I knew the prose was absurdly flowery, to the point of severe distraction, but I thought I could get some nice images and phrases for my students. But I can't read any more. It's like listening to a Dan Fogelberg song.|
Unfortunately, for every discerning reader who fires him, Berlinski seems to find an uncommonly dense reader willing to rehire him. Yet even the positive reviews tend to bemoan his stylistic pretensions and incompetence:
|The text preserves all of Berlinski's extravagant, quirky and sometimes difficult style...|
|David Berlinski certainly was not an English major; his book often rambles, he goes on lengthy side trips and his discussions with his editor and agent can be irritating to anyone wanting to understand the subject of his book...|
|The style is pretentious, as if the writer was on a great high that only he could appreciate.|
This one might as well have been written by Gil:
|I adore Berlinski|
Not for the faint-hearted, this is my most favorite math read of all times. It should be, since it's been a difficult companion for more than five years. Nevertheless, the whipsmart Berlinski has an uncanny knack at making math make sexy sense for the nonsensical fraction-challenged. He invites passage into the deeper language that only a few really understand. I adore Berlinski and his book; await the simplicity that's certain to be hiding in the challenge.
This reviewer seems to have pinpointed the source of Berlinski's appeal to the UD types:
|David Berlinkski has done for algorithms what he had previously done for the caluculus; that is, he has taken a bare minimum of technical explaination and buried it in thick, affected, barely readable prose. And as with his calculus book, he is wading into waters where far more skilled writers have gone before. Like the calculus book, this will appeal to readers who don't really want to be troubled by detail, and who like the idea of reading about science without actually having to deal with the difficult notions. It may also appeal to those who don't mind the confusing narrative and who will appreciate the scattershot style and pointless asides.|
I have to admit I couldn't finish this book. After numerous attempts I just put it aside. Life's too short to waste on some things.
And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number. -- Joe G
Please stop putting words into my mouth that don’t belong there and thoughts into my mind that don’t belong there. -- KF