The nice thing about The World Without Us is that while it deals with the concepts of humanity's extinction, it does not get preachy about it one way...moreThe nice thing about The World Without Us is that while it deals with the concepts of humanity's extinction, it does not get preachy about it one way or the other. I'm generally all for cutting back on our consuming nature as humans, but there are times when even my fervor for saving our planet needs to take a break.
Instead of being a dystopian, gloom-and-doom expose of mankind's crimes against nature, TWWU takes a theoretical look at what would happen if we, as a race, were to wholesale disappear from the earth. The chapters on the decay of man-made waterways and sluices and dams is worth the price of the book alone, IMO (though I will say I can never watch movies like I Am Legend again because of some of the information on how New York would near-instantaneously crumble like a house of dust and sand should mankind disappear). The book provides an interesting and occasionally tender, occasionally frightening look at the damage we have done by being who we are, and at the damage that would be done (and, in some cases, undone) if we simply vanished.
Sometimes sobering, sometimes poignant, sometimes disturbing, this book is high on my recommendations of must-reads for those individuals who are broad-minded enough to be concerned with more than their selfish needs, and who are willing to do something in return for this world that has given of herself to us so often.(less)
Tucker Max declares himself an asshole right from the beginning, and well, yes he is. With a name like "Tucker Max" however, there can only be one of...moreTucker Max declares himself an asshole right from the beginning, and well, yes he is. With a name like "Tucker Max" however, there can only be one of two conclusions: yes, he is an asshole of the highest order, or he is destined to become a genius in some field, whether it be writing, artistry, or acting. People like Garrison Keillor or Caspar Weinberger are perfect examples of the "Unique Name Destiny" effect, for instance.
It seems our boy Tucker has decided that life is good enough in the former capacity. And why not? Daddy has assured this so-called law school "graduate's" financial security. Not only that, but with the MTV generation's lust for "reality tv" and the results of a failing educational system in full swing, douchebaggery the likes of which is Tucker's forte is the creme de la creme for this country's ghoulish fetishes. Tucker Max is the pinnacle of every thuggish wannabe's goals in life, and a shining example of why America is considered an arrogant, wasteful abomination by the rest of the world.
In the meantime, he nails every stereotype there is about frat-boys in what appears to be a gleeful attempt at raising the bar of stereotypes about frat-boys. Evidently, writing well or with any sense of how to tell a good story isn't one of those bars - and the literary world is all the better for it. If this idiot ever became a measuring stick by which other authors measured their success, then we might as well pack it in as a country and start having Road Warrior-esque deathmatches, because the brain capacity of the average Joe Street will be less than that of your typical field mouse.
But back to our boy Tucker. He drinks too much, uses women as masturbatory devices, and engages in activities that, by all rights, should have his genitals rotting off in about five years, and does it all without a single ounce of remorse - despite the fact that he occasionally throws in the toss-away line about how some day he will have kids, and those kids will be daughters, and those daughters will proceed to screw even more frat-boy knuckle-draggers than he did women. His attempts at sincerity and remorse feel as feigned and hollow as his ability at spinning a good yarn.
I don't know what's sadder - the fact that a book like this got published (and that a MOVIE is being made about the non-stories that line the pages of this non-book), or that troglodytes like this one still exist in our society. People like Tucker Max are the reason the terrorists hate America, and with total justificiation.(less)
It's hard to decide what rating to give this book, and the main reason for this is because it's hard to decide what this book really is. Is it a send-...moreIt's hard to decide what rating to give this book, and the main reason for this is because it's hard to decide what this book really is. Is it a send-up and overexaggeration of the average american male mind? Is it a character study of a complete reprobate? Is it a mockery of the viewpoint of diehard Andrea Dworkin-esque feminists everywhere? It's hard to say.
Personally, I found little to really recommend the book: lots of vulgarity, the shock of which wears off in about three chapters, and devolves into tedious repitition of the word 'fuck'; absolutely no character development; a completely bleak outlook for a completely bleak and unlikeable protagonist. Overall, this was an interesting experiment that could maybe have used a little more polish and a little more direction to make it truly worthwhile, but in its present form, not worth the asking price...and not even really worth the used price from Half Price Books.(less)
My family took me to see a one-act play made from David Sedaris' The Santaland Diaries, and while the play was somewhat lacking (there being a differe...moreMy family took me to see a one-act play made from David Sedaris' The Santaland Diaries, and while the play was somewhat lacking (there being a difference between an author performing his own one-act with every intended nuance well in mind and hand, and an actor attempting to capture those nuances), it intrigued me enough to have a go with this Sedaris book.
Or rather, to someday have a go with this Sedaris book. I've got a lot of books in my 'to-read' list, and some day I hope to catch up on all of them. It's good to have dreams, though.(less)
This is a truly fascinating read about the American spy-plane projects of the middle-to-late 20th century, and the amazing technological breakthroughs...moreThis is a truly fascinating read about the American spy-plane projects of the middle-to-late 20th century, and the amazing technological breakthroughs that were achieved during that time. I've always found the SR-71 Blackbird to be a true testament to the heights that can be reached when creativity and engineering are combined and given free reign to do whatever they like.
But more than this, more than just the 'boys and their toys' side of the book Skunk Works also contains an interesting business and political statement about the way things are, and the way things could be. For more than forty years, the original Skunk Works made some of the greatest aerospace industry innovations without interference from bureaucracy, oversight committees, or meddling politicians. The engineers and designers of the Skunk Works plant were allowed to act on their own behalf, without governmental meddling. While this kind of independence would most likely be strangled in today's world, I think it is a perfect example of that phrase that is bandied about by corporate consultants who have no real idea of its true meaning - "thinking outside the box" - and for American ingenuity to survive the coming days, it is entirely possible that this is the kind of thing that is needed once again: a company without consultants, headhunters, bureaucrats, or political oversight muddling things up. A company that truly believes in and loves what it does, and can produce something truly astounding without having to kowtow or bend to the pressures of individuals who have no real part in what the company is producing. (less)
I'm not a grammarian, nor am I completely proficient in this awkward and hodgepodge language that we call English, even though it is my native tongue....moreI'm not a grammarian, nor am I completely proficient in this awkward and hodgepodge language that we call English, even though it is my native tongue.
In lieu of a review of this venerable, long-used book, I shall simply provide a link with arguments as to why this book should be retired from common usage.