The Talented Mr. Ripley gets 4 stars; Ripley Under Ground gets 3; Ripley's Game gets 3.5. So I'm marking this as a 3. Highly enjoyable reading, though...moreThe Talented Mr. Ripley gets 4 stars; Ripley Under Ground gets 3; Ripley's Game gets 3.5. So I'm marking this as a 3. Highly enjoyable reading, though it grows progressively less enjoyable as the series progresses. Still, I love Patricia Highsmith's books and the depths of depravity she goes to are astounding -- seriously, Ripley playing mindgames with a guy with Leukemia in order to trick him into executing mobsters? Tough stuff. (less)
Awesome. Two quibbles: Wolfe calls Wright-Patterson AFB "Wright-Pat" throughout. It's Wright-Patt. (Half my family works there.) Gus Grissom gets a re...moreAwesome. Two quibbles: Wolfe calls Wright-Patterson AFB "Wright-Pat" throughout. It's Wright-Patt. (Half my family works there.) Gus Grissom gets a really hard time here. He was later exonerated for the capsule sinking. As proven by the other astronauts, he would have had a bruise on his arm if he'd have manually opened the hatch. Grissom didn't have the bruise and stuck to his story that the hatch blew on its own, thus letting in the water that sunk the capsule and almost caused him to drown. Other things I've read paint Grissom as less of a hick and more of an engineer absorbed in the minor details of things. Still, I enjoyed the personalization of the Mercury program and all of the Chuck Yeager stories. This is my favorite Tom Wolfe book. If only he'd gotten to Apollo and the moon landing. Wow. (less)
**spoiler alert** Rabbit Redux is sort of a trainwreck. It's like that episode of Six Feet Under where Dexter smokes crack. There are so many wrong tu...more**spoiler alert** Rabbit Redux is sort of a trainwreck. It's like that episode of Six Feet Under where Dexter smokes crack. There are so many wrong turns that it is almost beautiful. I could not put this thing down.
One of the main characters is Skeeter who is a black Vietnam vet who has moved in with Rabbit and Rabbit's possibly underage hippie girlfriend. They smoke a lot of pot and talk about the war, and I realize that Updike is trying to do something about race, but all of his black characters are either pimps or on drugs... So that's uncomfortable. I never felt as though the book transcended beyond the filter of a well-to-do, highly educated and accomplished white dude trying to be edgy.
In the end, Rabbit can do whatever he wants and his wife will come back to him, which considering that neither of these people really seem to like each other isn't so much a victory as just a safe way to bookend this chapter in the series.
I'd read DFW's essay on Updike's misogyny without having actually read Updike, and in this book it is in full display. There is a passage where Updike describes Rabbit's weenis as almost too big to fit inside of his girlfriend. He also describes Rabbit as this late-30s, kinda overweight, conservative jerk... yet the ladies can't get enough of him. It's also OK if he punches them. He beats up his wife and also his girlfriend and also Skeeter and this violence is never really dealt with, just mentioned matter of factly.
There are a lot of important issues that this book brings up, and I am far too stupid to properly try to address what they mean, but I will say that really fine writing and a willingness to venture into dangerous emotional waters is what ensures this book will last, even though its exploration of the values middle-of-the-road 1960s dudes hold is woefully dated.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and will read the next one as I know eventually this series will end with Rabbit dead. (less)
Hoagland is a menace. His credentials are over-exaggerated and his NASA theories are harmful to the actual good that the organization produces. No gov...moreHoagland is a menace. His credentials are over-exaggerated and his NASA theories are harmful to the actual good that the organization produces. No government agency is without sin, but this isn't the book to go looking for factual dark secrets.
Hoagland sets himself up as a purveyor of scientific theories but he is not a scientist and thus is free from third-party verification and peer reviews. He uses distorted satellite imagery to back up his creepy claims.
Domes on the moon. The face on Mars. JFK's assassination. It's all in here. Even so, Hoagland's biggest sin is that as a whole his theories are boring. Even the cover photo of an astronaut planting a Masonic flag on the moon is faked! (less)