This is a very empathetic commentary on how our prison system is harming people and communities. There are facts, but also a lot of anecdotes from theThis is a very empathetic commentary on how our prison system is harming people and communities. There are facts, but also a lot of anecdotes from the author -- she herself chronicles her sister in the system, as well as many prisoners she has come in contact with (mostly through penpalship).
People think we put bad apples in prison and everyone is better for it. But often they are not. Families lose sources of income and contact with their loved ones. And the system makes it so difficult to keep in touch with those in prison -- moving the person out-of-state, huge fees and limited time for phone calls, no human touch. These things not only harm and severe family ties, but the prisoner themself loses contact with society and those that cared about them inevitably move on.
It also becomes very apparent that the people this system harms the most are those that are poor and targeted by the police... people who can pay their fines, bails, better lawyers, etc. are less likely to get trapped in the system. As for police targeting, all one has to do is look at studies on Ferguson. One cannot deny that certain people are targeted and capitalized by the police any more (if they ever could).
The book provides some examples of things we could instead be doing instead of locking people up. A lot of it is healing and conflict resolution... and we cannot "restore" when things were not okay to begin with. One particular example that stood out to me was an Alaskan town changing the way they deal with minors. A teenage boy broke into someone's house... people got together and talked about the issue instead of prosecuting. The victim explained how unsafe and violated it made him and his wife feel, while the teenage boy was able to express his frustrations and problems -- as well as apologize and feel genuine remorse! This is something that isn't encouraged by our legal system -- nobody admits and apologizes unless they think it is in their client's best interest legally. In this case, the victim happened to be a sport's coach. He found out the teen had dropped out of school, but had an interest in sports. He decided what needed to happen was to get the boy enrolled in school again, and a part of his team.
One other thing that struck me is motherhood in prison. Being pregnant in the system is not rare. The women are typically induced for prison convenience, and then taken to a hospital where they are often shackled to the bed. The mother has a couple days with her baby, and then has to go back to prison without it. I cannot imagine how devastating and heart-breaking this must be.
Even if you find prison inevitable and unavoidable, I think this book will question a lot of your ideas about it. It is a very easy but emotional read. People need family and community, people need dignity and respect, and people need hope and healing....more
Oh dear lord. I couldn't think of a "better" guy to have to spend years in prison, under torture, for no justifiable reason. What an incredible man. TOh dear lord. I couldn't think of a "better" guy to have to spend years in prison, under torture, for no justifiable reason. What an incredible man. Through all of his ordeals, he is seeking the good in everyone, even in the masked men who beat him. He sees the humanity in people performing some of the most inhumane acts.
But as Mohamedou puts it, one pretty much has to. His interrogators and prison guards are some of the only people he is to see for lengthy periods of time -- until the entire repetitive process starts over again with the next trained interrogator.
The "war on terror" is a complete hypocritical failure. Torture is but more terror. Mohamedou comes to recognize a lot of the people in this whole process are themselves trying to justify their own actions -- and Mohamedou being imprisoned is yet another attempt to justify even worse actions.
This is a very upsetting look at injustice. It's also interesting to see how people react to torture (some simply go crazy, says Mohamedou) and even more interesting is the relationship between the prisoners and the people in charge of them. Some of the oddest dynamics and friendships rise.
I primarily got this book for a "living" example of censorship, which is one of the most immediately eye-catching things about the diary. The text is full of black bars, mostly obscuring names and other "sensitive" data. In reality, it is haphazard and sometimes even puzzling -- it is clear the word "tears" is once blackened. Feminine pronouns are nearly always blackened out, except sometimes they miss one, and names and dates are often blackened, except when they sometimes miss those, too. This was very hastily and embarrassingly censored.
After putting the book down, I feel an extreme amount of respect for Slahi. I address this to him specifically, as I hope one day he will be able to see this: You feel like a very close friend and brother, and I admire your unshakable faith and humanity. I feel ashamed to be a part of a country that would not admit its wrong-doings for so long. I hope the tea invitation extends to me....more
A nice book from a man (and his wife) who visit some of the known Norse settlements and sites in Greenland. There are tinges of this more personal jouA nice book from a man (and his wife) who visit some of the known Norse settlements and sites in Greenland. There are tinges of this more personal journey, but the bulk of the book is on the known history of the Norse Greenlanders based on digs, studies, recorded sources, oral tradition, sagas, and educated speculation. There are many pictures of found Norse objects, clothing, and buildings throughout.
It's a popular question and something that seems to itch the curiosity of many -- what happened to the Norse Greenlanders, and why did their settlement fail? To what extent did they travel North America?
As with many older nonfiction books, I would love to compare the work to a modern consensus, so I will try to find a more recent book on the topic or hunt the internet for newer studies....more
The first time I read this I thought I missed something. But now I think my confusion was part of the point, and it's made me think about how the themThe first time I read this I thought I missed something. But now I think my confusion was part of the point, and it's made me think about how the theme of horror is executed in literature. I doubt any of the obvious references to Christianic themes etc. mean anything, but the references make it more jarring for our psyche in their vague familiarity, like a frightening dream.
But one meaning I do wonder on is what the boy's animal was going to be, and if it was that he was simply a boy, and all the others were men....more
I was attracted long ago to this book by the title. It sounded dark and serious and brooding -- the "southern gothic" genre iced the cake. And FlannerI was attracted long ago to this book by the title. It sounded dark and serious and brooding -- the "southern gothic" genre iced the cake. And Flannery O' Connor, gee, why haven't I read her? Isn't she supposed to be great? So I have kept the book on my radar since I was a teenager.
And lo and behold, I had enough to read, but I saw this in the new fiction section at my library. What was I getting myself into, did I really need a slow and laborious dark and soul-crushing tale?
I found however much different attractants. O'Connor writes extremely well and the story progressed at a smooth pace. I swayed between the sobering gloom and the ironic hilarity portrayed (but I'm not exactly sure if the book was supposed to have any humour). It's a tale started by extreme religious madness and how the raving great uncle, now dead, has permantely effected those around him in various ways, portrayed in a sea of religious symbols.
I am unsure what the author meant by the book, but this doesn't trouble me, and if anything only intrigues. Her fame lies in short-stories, so I will look for them....more
The premise of solving murders in a world that is only months away from being destroyed by a deadly asteroid is pretty tantalizing. Or at least it isThe premise of solving murders in a world that is only months away from being destroyed by a deadly asteroid is pretty tantalizing. Or at least it is before you read it. I expected a lot of chaos, but the world portrayed here is mostly one in deep mourning and depression.
Except for our Detective Mr. Palace, who is all about murders and work. He seems to have little to him but a driving, obsessive force to solve murders and do his job. The only problem being nobody else really cares. I wish I had found him more compelling. Mostly, I thought he was quite a bore and irritating. Except for his love for his sister, it seemed like he was just his role/job and nothing else.
The case the novel is centered around is peculiar in that it's nearly unrelentingly not the murder Mr. Palace feels it to be, and we're not given enough to string us on to find it interesting until a bit too late.
So we have an uncompelling character, an uncompelling mystery, but a quite interesting setting. It is unfortunate the setting was not fleshed out more through our main character, and I hope for the rest of the trilogy he changes as the environment will surely change.
If I see the next one at the library, I might pick it up, but not with expectation for anything more than a ho-hum mystery case....more
Maybe children get more of a kick out of this than adults? The idea is hilarious (interpreting "history" incredibly wrong) but none of it was subtle oMaybe children get more of a kick out of this than adults? The idea is hilarious (interpreting "history" incredibly wrong) but none of it was subtle or very clever....more
I used to crave a fantasy book. Not your cookie-cutter grand adventure, no sirree, I wanted something entirely unknowable, completely foreign, not a sI used to crave a fantasy book. Not your cookie-cutter grand adventure, no sirree, I wanted something entirely unknowable, completely foreign, not a speck of dust from the Earth. It'd be transcendental and achingly beautiful, beyond my own words.
That doesn't exist.
But it made me of think of the stories in this book, how many of them simply plunge you head-first into a world full of references and places and ideas and characters, some strange world you will never get all the pieces of, similar to a child listening to adults speak with patchy comprehension to all the details and allusions at first, yet then absorbing the whole.
Maybe I am overblowing it, but it definitely reminded me of it, and most of these take a bit of effort before you can sink into their worlds. It's not warm and snugly though. They are all dark, and in one case even spirit-breaking, but all worth the read. Good luck, -slides a glass of black juice across the table-....more
Video games are a relatively new medium, which is really brought into perspective when reading this. Such a slow start to gaming... and then it all exVideo games are a relatively new medium, which is really brought into perspective when reading this. Such a slow start to gaming... and then it all explodes. Replay does a swell job of covering the starting point of video games. Soon it is clear though that it doesn't really know what thread to follow. It shuns a linear tale in favour of chapters devoted to specific subjects -- music and dance, MUDs, sims, indie, the era of Doom.
I know Nintendo well, so let's take Nintendo as an example. It talks much of Nintendo and the concept of virtual reality... yet nowhere is the Virtual Boy brought up (something I wanted to read about)! And I think the Gamecube only received two off-hand references. Clearly the book is not a comprehensive history but a quick dash through various highlights, and that's okay because it does it well. Don't expect much of modern gaming*, though.
The meat of the book is only around four-hundred pages, and the rest of the book is devoted to a list of recommended games from a variety of genres and across a multitude of platforms. I haven't scoured this yet like I need more games but it seems useful for specific recs.
*subject to mean something entirely different in just a short decade...more
I bought this because I wanted to read something really fucked up and was then reminded of the world of bizarro fiction and extreme horror. And what sI bought this because I wanted to read something really fucked up and was then reminded of the world of bizarro fiction and extreme horror. And what sounds more twisted than pornography for sociopaths?
After getting the package I went to the library, got a couple other books, and I opened it there and then I felt pretty weird for even owning the book. But that is part of the appeal, as I find out, of this kind of thing. I wouldn't want to read it on the computer. I want to own the damned awful thing in all its physical, mutilated-woman-on-the-cover glory.
And then things get really weird when I decide to look up the guy who wrote it. Who is this Wrath James White guy anyway?
Ahhhhhhhhh. Okay. If I write a shitty review of his book maybe he'll punch me to death and feature a story of it in his next collection. No, but really. I found the image on his blog which features an interesting post on people who dismiss his genre. I thought: I'm not going to be one of those people but holy hell, I had a rough start with this collection.
The first story? Sorry, Mr. White, but I thought it pretty dumb and wondered why I was reading this awful collection which was bound to be a trainwreck, but, I don't know if I got into the rhythm and attitude or if the collection simply amped up in quality, but I ended up enjoying most of the rest of it.
Despite that, the book is too small. There are probably less than seventy pages of actual content and it is sandwiched between two poems that I didn't think were very great. But then again, could I survive 300 pages of this? Maybe you should write an endurance challenge. I am difficult to shock but this made me feel nauseated and fascinated and even laugh. Nicely done. I will try some more.
My favourite is the story about the lions and the one about the undead dog....more
Do not judge books by their covers, or because they are about hippies, or even because you found the only other book by the author you've tried to reaDo not judge books by their covers, or because they are about hippies, or even because you found the only other book by the author you've tried to read unfinishably bad. The wonder of bookclubs.
Unfortunately, I am having trouble saying much about it. It occurs in short lyrical scenes, beginning before our protagonist is born -- the first child in a hippie commune, Arcadia, that he considers a utopia, and which shades his life forever. We see the commune blossom and eventually fall through the eyes of a child, then adolescent, then adult living with the ghost of Arcadia in an empty and troubled modern world. It was happy and sad and beautiful....more
Four stories, might as well be the same narrator in them all, really, where paranoia or the vaguely incongruent and absurd takes hold and results in aFour stories, might as well be the same narrator in them all, really, where paranoia or the vaguely incongruent and absurd takes hold and results in a gush of bodily fluids.
The sense of atmosphere is fantastic. My fingers yellowed from nicotine, I was hot with the flu, my throat burned from booze, I shuffled along the streets in foreign clothing and I threw up everywhere. And it's all somehow delightful.
There's quite a sense of being powerless, a victim to a mysterious stranger, authority, or just to life that makes nothing one does matter in the end. The incongruance and absurd sparks more incongruance and absurdity; the unexplained doesn't get explained.
Very entertaining and dark stories. I am very impressed this is available free, and it makes me feel all good about literature on the whole. If this wasn't loved by two of my GR friends, I never would have tried something free, on some misguided delusion that it then must be awful. I hope to buy a copy, anyway, so maybe I haven't shed my delusion entirely....more
It's classic old science-fiction. It reads more like a parable (although I hate to use that word), so maybe more like a historic story told around a fIt's classic old science-fiction. It reads more like a parable (although I hate to use that word), so maybe more like a historic story told around a fire by an old man with a white beard.
And it's full of awe and wonder, and emptiness, consequently because it deals with time in the billions, distances beyond the universe; and yet it begins in a city who won't look beyond its own walls.
The city is Diaspar, and I never could stop my mind from tricking itself into reading instead Despair. Alvin is born unique from the people around him. He is not innately terrified of the idea of life outside the city like the others, who live thousands of lives by being reborn by the machines which also keep the city from eroding or any major change. But this is Alvin's first life. The city is quite well imagined.
I think the book captures the ambition and curiosity of humanity, and warns against safe stagnation from fear or any misguided ideas of utopia. It fills me with awe and yet uncertainty and emptiness, because I am unsure if there is anything beyond a rise and fall, rise and fall or eventual extinction of people....more