Elizabeth and Mary are fascinating subjects, but I do no like Dunn's "semi-chronological" style. If she had stopped repeating th...morePage 311 and I'm done.
Elizabeth and Mary are fascinating subjects, but I do no like Dunn's "semi-chronological" style. If she had stopped repeating things (sometimes in borderline cut and paste phrases), she could have knocked 50 pages off the book and I would have pushed through. But the back and forth, mentioning and then retuning to later, and even flat out not elaborating (an offhand mention to the "casket letters" Mary allegedly wrote to her second-husband's-murderer/third husband were mentioned and then we moved right past them) made this book not worth the frustration of finishing.
I will now make sure to read the bio of Elizabeth I that I know I have lying around somewhere, and there's a Mary bio by Antonia Fraser that has been highly recommended. They lived sub fascinating lives, it's a shame to skip out before the end because of unfocused plotting. (less)
It pains me to say this, it really does: this book was awful.
Now, some context: I grew up in (around, next to, effectively in, all of the above) Bath,...moreIt pains me to say this, it really does: this book was awful.
Now, some context: I grew up in (around, next to, effectively in, all of the above) Bath, Maine. I graduated from Morse High School, which, surprise! was named after Charlie Morse after he donated a lot of money. I know some of Charlie Morse's decendents.
Charlie Morse, the person, was a corrupt jackass who schemed and cheated his way into a lot of money. He also had the amusing habit of sailing off to Europe every time he was in trouble, using a fake name - except when he was called on it, suddenly it was simply that the crew couldn't read his handwriting when he signed in, silly crew.
Charlie Morse, the book, was boring as all get out. If you want to experience being a high school history teacher, this might be a good place to start. Uninspiring prose, full of lists and statistics that can only be seen as representative of the "throw it in to meet the length requirement" school of style.
It's too bad an interesting life story was told in this fashion, because there's some promise in the drama of Charlie Morse, just not in Bath Maine's Charlie Morse.(less)
It kills me to say this, because it had such promise - UGH. There's a lesson to be learned in this book, and it has nothing to do with baseball: somet...moreIt kills me to say this, because it had such promise - UGH. There's a lesson to be learned in this book, and it has nothing to do with baseball: sometimes, family members shouldn't be the ones to write a biography. Sometimes you need that bit of distance, or that... ability to write.
I'm pretty sure that there's a really interesting life story in there somewhere, but I got 40 pages in and had written "GAG ME" and "VOMIT" all over the margins (and other variations thereof, plus many more rude things), because the writing was terrible. Telling instead of showing. Complete and utter schmaltz. An overly idealized subject - Gene - who spoke like he was slightly retarded. (There's another lesson for future memoir/biography writers! We, as readers, understand that you are fudging most, if not all, of the dialogue in your book, for lots of reasons. But, please, give us a little bit of realism - some improper grammar, some slang, maybe even a little bit of profanity! Fewer people will throw your book across the room.)
The scene where Gene and his friend watch Citizen King and then hear about Pearl Harbor was particularly bad, and I wrote "SHUT UP WARD" (Gene's brother) and "I HATE EVERYONE" all over the page... if that tells you anything.(less)
I read this as part of a course (Literature of Baseball, and, man, talk about a course tailored to my interests), and it began my continuing love affa...moreI read this as part of a course (Literature of Baseball, and, man, talk about a course tailored to my interests), and it began my continuing love affair with Halberstam. Great writing, and what a story he chose to tell - the Sox of the 40s were giants, and it will be a long time before a baseball player comes along who can rival Ted Williams. But, most importantly, it's a touching story about old friends at the end of their years.
About 50 pages in, I had already decided it was a five star book. It had already made me laugh, it had made me cry, and it had made me do both in publ...moreAbout 50 pages in, I had already decided it was a five star book. It had already made me laugh, it had made me cry, and it had made me do both in public - that usually indicates a good book. And it was, 50 pages in.
Then, at 200 pages in, I sat back thinking "another story about the woman who kept up the tradition of using an old fashioned printer?" Oh, but this one was different - she published a newspaper instead of her own little newsletter, like the woman earlier in the book. Sure.
That was followed by the fourth or so story about the citizen of the dying Midwest town who became the unofficial historian, able to point out where the old gas station and former post office used to be. That was followed by the third story of the guy who loved his farm, by gum.
The juvenile delinquent who went on to become a hero in Iraq, and the subsequent posthumous presentation of medals? I cried. The brilliant teenage boy who was developing his own personal philosophy? Cried there too, but that happy, satisfied cry, knowing that there are kids like that out there. The couple who spent all their time together (the second one in the book, to be exact), to the point where he couldn't bear to survive her? Heartbreaking. Plus all the happier ones that have kind of slipped my mind. They're good stories!
But why are so many of them the same story?
Check it out if you like the everyone has a story to tell/real people as heroes/finding the beauty in daily life. But jump around, and skip over the stories that don't catch you.(less)
An interesting study of a terrible crime and a look at the complex girl who was responsible - and the woman she has become.
True crime isn't a genre I...moreAn interesting study of a terrible crime and a look at the complex girl who was responsible - and the woman she has become.
True crime isn't a genre I read much, but I enjoyed getting the complete picture in this book - Mary's life before the murder, the full time line for the crime itself and the entire investigation and trial, and then an in depth look at what has happened to her since, while incarcerated and after she was released.(less)