An excellent story! Darker and less humorous than the usual Twain, but nonetheless an entertaining examination of the human condition. A lot of food f...moreAn excellent story! Darker and less humorous than the usual Twain, but nonetheless an entertaining examination of the human condition. A lot of food for thought about religion and morality that even this long-time nihilist had not yet considered. It is rare that I find a book that I know I will reread, The Mysterious Stranger is one such book.(less)
This story is a (fairly) realistic novelization of the Epic of Gilgamesh that is told mostly- but not entirely- from the point of view of the priestes...moreThis story is a (fairly) realistic novelization of the Epic of Gilgamesh that is told mostly- but not entirely- from the point of view of the priestess who has been sent to tame the wild man Enkidu. The premise is a good one and the author does an excellent job of fleshing out many details of ordinary life in Sumerian times. I mostly enjoyed the story but, as usual, have a few small gripes... In the process of making the story more realistic, some of the mythic resonance of the original tale is lost, especially when the author uses modern idiom. Also, the pace of the story seems a little off, richly detailed and increasingly suspenseful for the first, say, two-thirds and then sort of petering out at the end. I was a little disappointed that there were no details about the two quests from the point of view of Gilgamesh or Enkidu... but events of those journeys are far from "realistic," which may be one reason the author chose to leave them out. I wonder how this story would do if written with more of a flavor of magical realism. But those criticisms are minor. I think this story really is worth having a look at.(less)
This novel is ostensibly a series of letters written by a young man to the incarcerated Ted Kaczynski, although to me, the "letters" seemed more journ...moreThis novel is ostensibly a series of letters written by a young man to the incarcerated Ted Kaczynski, although to me, the "letters" seemed more journal than correspondence- like a device the narrator is using to explain and retell stories to himself. The narrator recounts the events of his life while in college, examining such topics as academia, television programming, and social networking sites, attempting to see them through Kaczynski's eyes. The footnotes, explaining pop culture references that the reclusive/incarcerated Unabomber may have missed, were a nice touch.
In any case, the narrator is cheerfully venal- a cuddly sociopath- a caricature of an unremarkable late-adolescent male who is trying to figure out what's next. His slightly warped persective and clever turns of phrase help keep it interesting, but by the end, the narrator's total unlikability made it a little difficult to continue reading.
It is true that this book is an exploration of the effects that modern technology- particularly cyberculture- has on human society and personal identity, but since I read fiction for enjoyment rather than enrichment, I'll leave the scholarly analysis to others and simply conclude with the fact that I found this small novel enjoyable and worth my time.(less)
Above all else, the poetry in this book was written with a genuine voice. And for the most part it was noticeably different from the usual mid-to-late...moreAbove all else, the poetry in this book was written with a genuine voice. And for the most part it was noticeably different from the usual mid-to-late-adolescent angst-ridden verses, which was surprising and kind of refreshing. I wrote countless angsty pieces at that age, and it was a little shocking that the writing in this collection was mostly upbeat and a lot of the events in the journal entries seemed anathema to my image of what an ~18-year-old self-professed writer would be doing.
However, aside from a few really original and powerful turns of phrase, it just wasn't my cup of tea. When I read poetry, I often wince a little and wish that there was some sort of rhyming license for poets... and the bulk of this little tome proved to be no exception. The journal entries also seemed to have too much exposition- some of them felt as if they had undergone extensive editing for the sake of the reader. I understand that editing may be unavoidable to make the content comprehensible to a reader that is not oneself, but the entries didn't seem as deeply understood and personal as I would expect a journal to be.
I expect that with time, Clements's voice and style will mature and improve... she appears to have potential for excellence(less)
This was a fairly easy read that discussed differences in the ways that various cultures perceive time. This topic may sound dry, but the author manag...moreThis was a fairly easy read that discussed differences in the ways that various cultures perceive time. This topic may sound dry, but the author manages to make it interesting. It is completely approachable for the masses. Any traveler should be aware of these differences and this book certainly would prepare a person to expect the unexpected.
However, I was somewhat disappointed that the book did not go into more depth, consisting in large part of anecdotes from the author's own experience as a tourist/researcher. Even his experiments seemed a little fluffy (but from my own background in the hard [not social:] sciences, I suppose that's not surprising). I'm not sure how he would have made the work more scholarly without losing its broader appeal, but that is what I had hoped for in this book.(less)