Memoir style writing by Coats about being a black boy and then man, fear experienced in the streets and home in a ghettoized Baltimore neighborhood, lMemoir style writing by Coats about being a black boy and then man, fear experienced in the streets and home in a ghettoized Baltimore neighborhood, learning to see the world more broadly through life experience and education, the mythology and tenuousness of the other safer world of the American Dream, and the dangers that still haunt and threaten a black boy or a black man even when he escapes to the middle class. Thoughtful and intimate and short enough to read pretty quickly. I'm glad to have read this....more
I liked it. Good points: the story and writing by Dellilo is philosophical, with sly, self deprecating, dry humor. There are several philosophical refI liked it. Good points: the story and writing by Dellilo is philosophical, with sly, self deprecating, dry humor. There are several philosophical reflections on modern middle class life that are addressed in entertaining and thought provoking ways. Shortcomings: some sections of the book get bogged down by tedium. Conversations about tangential topics last a little too long. That being said, past the middle of the book, the reading flows better and the slice of life, tedious conversations between characters last just long enough. The tedium is part of the style the author employs, but it interrupts the flow of the book when it goes on too long. This is probably a miss in the course of editing. Written 33 years ago, the story still feels modern and relevant. ...more
First of all, I will mention that I started reading this book just after I gave up trying to read the insufferably jumbled and barely edited writing oFirst of all, I will mention that I started reading this book just after I gave up trying to read the insufferably jumbled and barely edited writing of David Foster Wallace in the novel Infinite Jest. Turning to Oliver Sacks' writing was a much needed literary breath of fresh air. The structure and style of the writing is clear and organized, to the point but not dull, and very personable. Sacks was truly an excellent writer.
In The Mind's Eye, the author recounts his experiences investigating some odd brain disorders that cause people to be able to write words but unable to read anything they just wrote, or any other text. He discusses his own face-blindness and place recognition issue and that experienced by others, in a way that is investigative and also highly personal. Other chapters addressed stereo vision and the lack or loss of that dual vision, and there is a recount of Sack's own experience of loss of vision in one eye and the disorienting process of adapting to this experience.
Throughout, Sacks is honest, self-deprecating, and inquisitive, and always respectful the humanity of himself and his subjects of study. He looks into not only at the frustrations experienced due to these brain disorders, but also at the resilience of the people coping with these disabilities. The topics are unusual and inherently interesting, but the key is that Sacks' own writing is clear and engaging as well....more
As a sum of its parts, this is a decent book. I would suggest it to anyone who enjoys reading about US history. It pulls together a broad overview ofAs a sum of its parts, this is a decent book. I would suggest it to anyone who enjoys reading about US history. It pulls together a broad overview of attitudes about the poor in the American colonies and eventually the United States as we know it now.
I was expecting an element of a people's history perspective in this book, but I was disappointed to find little to none. Isenberg's approach to writing the history of (white) poverty in the US was largely to look at the attitudes of elites, founding fathers, and statesmen, and their attitudes, not surprisingly, have long been full of disdain, despite the lofty rhetoric of the Enlightenment. Certainly, it is difficult to find any primary sources written by the poor, especially in the earlier eras where illiteracy was very common, but, then again, I have read history books that have found the voices and details of the lives of common people through creatively researching what can be found in newspapers and court documents.
Around chapters 3-5, the book became most interesting to me. Isenberg touches on class issues on the "frontier," the Civil War, and the high level of poverty found in the South in those times. These are complicated and compelling topics, with impacts from that past that are useful to think of today. I would like to find a book, as a companion read, that discusses the Civil War and its repercussions specifically from the perspective of social and economic class dynamics.
Further in the book, Isenberg delves into more recent history in the 20th Century and conflicting attitudes in American mainstream culture, including political culture, that both embrace and reject redneck, hillbilly, and similar identities. This book is a survey of a broad subject, and I feel it has shortcomings because of its broad goal, but it does touch on some interesting topics that will provoke further reading....more
Light and sarcastic in tone, yet filled with a lot of interesting anecdotes and some real research information about dating in the online/smart phoneLight and sarcastic in tone, yet filled with a lot of interesting anecdotes and some real research information about dating in the online/smart phone era (and before). There were occasional passages where Ansari made a dumb joke that fell flat for me, but overall the mix of humor and serious content made the book quite enjoyable. I would recommend it to friends....more
Interesting topics and clear, easy to read writing style with a sense of humor thrown in here and there. Ouellette is a good writer and puts a personaInteresting topics and clear, easy to read writing style with a sense of humor thrown in here and there. Ouellette is a good writer and puts a personal spin on the tone of the book which makes the book feel personable and friendly, like we're discovering things about the subject matter along with her. This is definitely a popular science book with a broad overview of many topics, so nothing goes too deep, but then again the writing is accessible and one could pick up on topics of interest and read other related books that are more in depth on any given topic. My favorite section of the book addressed some current/recent research on gender and sex identity. This was just one of many disparate topics addressed in the book, but it did stand out for me. Ouellette pulled together this information really well and I thought the section was really poignant and included some less familiar information about scientific thought on these topics that was quire interesting. I also found the section about addiction and the differences between people's responses to alcohol, etc. due to genetic/biological differences to be particularly interesting. Anyway, was the book "amazing"? Maybe not amazing, but I did "really like it" so I give it 4 stars and recommend it for those who are curious about the world, psychology, neurology, biology, identity....more
At first I was skeptical about this novel. The two story lines seemed not to be at all connected. However, true to Murakami's often-used novel structuAt first I was skeptical about this novel. The two story lines seemed not to be at all connected. However, true to Murakami's often-used novel structure, two seemingly unrelated things come together as the book progresses. The premise of the main character's job is pretty far fetched, but part of the joy of reading Murakami's works is knowingly suspending one's expectation of realism in exchange for being surprised by his plot developments and unreal twists. This story had fewer parallels with others of his novels that I have read, but the tone and mood was pure Murakami, and I was pleased with the book....more
This novel had a mystery in the plot, but no surrealism to speak of. I was a little let down by the lack of Murakami's usual weird elements, but I stiThis novel had a mystery in the plot, but no surrealism to speak of. I was a little let down by the lack of Murakami's usual weird elements, but I still enjoyed the story. The pace and tone were still the usual Murakami, which I can't seem to get enough of....more
More short stories from H. Murakami. All have a mention of an earthquake, but the earthquake doesn't act as a real character or setting for events. AsMore short stories from H. Murakami. All have a mention of an earthquake, but the earthquake doesn't act as a real character or setting for events. As usual, the stories are calm and paced, matter of fact. Reading the stories is almost meditative. Murakami is a gem....more