Absolutely breathtaking. 10:30 on a Summer Night is worth the price alone. The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas is one of those brilliant stories you will be...moreAbsolutely breathtaking. 10:30 on a Summer Night is worth the price alone. The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas is one of those brilliant stories you will be thinking about long after you've finished reading. Moderato Cantabile is beautiful and, very simply, heartbreaking.(less)
Practicalities is a book of conversational essays focusing on various subjects: men and women, houses versus homes, gender roles, sexuality, alcoholis...morePracticalities is a book of conversational essays focusing on various subjects: men and women, houses versus homes, gender roles, sexuality, alcoholism, lovers, desire, and writing. Within the pages there are some great insights into Duras' previous works, as well as into her creative process. Many of the pieces are excellent, both poignant and analytical, ringing with a truth and intensity that is common to Duras' writing. Others, however, seem random and strangely pointless, perhaps inspired by an experience or person or thought Duras hasn't thought to share with the reader. Definitely worth the read, but probably only for someone who's already a fan.(less)
I always forget how much I enjoy Bukowski's writing, and then I'll pick up another of his works, start reading, and am flabbergasted by how long I let...moreI always forget how much I enjoy Bukowski's writing, and then I'll pick up another of his works, start reading, and am flabbergasted by how long I let it sit untouched on the shelf. Women was no exception, and despite my disbelief at having ignored the novel for so long, I loved it.
Then again, I'm not easily offended nor do I suffer from an overload of ultra-sensitive feminist bullshit. Literature is a product of the world we live in, and that world is not always pretty.
Perhaps as a woman I should have been offended to the point I got the vapors and was forced to toss the book aside. But as a reader who appreciates authenticity, acknowledgement of reality, and unyielding grit in a book, I was engaged and ultimately satisfied. It's true, Bukowski's presentation of women is (a lot) less than politically correct, but the portrait is a genuine representation of an equally less than stellar segment of the male population. He doesn't hold anything back, the writing is all in, balls out, totally unapologetic. No flinching.
Yes, the author was likely a jerk-off. So was Hemingway. Get over it.
The reader isn't expected to view any of this as glamorous. Women portrays life as a never-ending cycle of dirt, shit, fuck-ups, and the occasional piece of good luck. Alcoholism is presented as the living hell it is, and more than one passage nails the down and out desperation of gambling. Some sections of the novel are disgusting while others are profound. None of the relationships are illustrated as anything other than dysfunctional, destructive messes, a fact that Bukowski repeatedly states in these same pages. (I find this point of view a far better alternative to a certain series aimed at impressionable teenage girls that presents obsession, stalking, and submission to the point of zombie-hood as a "healthy" relationship. The fact that the male "love" interest is a sparkly vampire simply adds insult to freakin' injury.)
And let's be honest here: there's no shortage of real life women who act exactly like the women in Bukowski's writing. The delusions, the irrational behavior, the freak outs and mind games, their own jacked up double standard, the sheer insanity...I've dealt with a Lydia before. It isn't pretty, not in books and certainly not in real life. Preach it, Bukowski.
Bukowski's writing is deceptively simple; it's also effective. The situations are repetitive but the character's emotional response is not, just pay attention to the gradual changes over time. His behavior doesn't change, but at least there's self-awareness at play. (Yet another element sorely lacking in the aforementioned series.) At the end of the day, love it or hate it you're still thinking about it, and that's a sign the author did his job and did it well.
Like I said earlier, I loved this. If you dislike generous use of the f-bomb, the c-word, and explicit sex, it would be best to pass on this one. If you fall into the militant feminist category, you're going to hate it with a passion.
But if you're open-minded, pick this up and give it a shot. Women isn't a hard or time-consuming read, so you've got nothing to lose and a lot to gain.(less)
Though definitely an invaluable literary artifact and of interest to Beat junkies, this is little more than that. Good literature? No, not even approa...moreThough definitely an invaluable literary artifact and of interest to Beat junkies, this is little more than that. Good literature? No, not even approaching the skill and depth of the authors' later works. Interesting, though, and a good story--how could it not be, based on facts? Just severely lacking on the technical side. There's a reason this wasn't published, there's a reason this wasn't the book that made either Kerouac or Burroughs famous, and honestly? It's better that way.
Still, a must-read for any enthusiasts to add to their collection.(less)
A nice blend of travelogue, cultural study, history, humor, and drinking--lots of drinking. The best Guinness is (obviously) the one you have in your...moreA nice blend of travelogue, cultural study, history, humor, and drinking--lots of drinking. The best Guinness is (obviously) the one you have in your hand, but it never hurts to circle around Ireland doing 'research.' I giggled quite a bit, laughed out loud more than once, and by the time I finished, I found myself really wanting a pint. Nicely done.(less)
Last Call is exactly what it says on the tin: a history of Prohibition, starting with the burgeoning movement in the 19th century and following it thr...moreLast Call is exactly what it says on the tin: a history of Prohibition, starting with the burgeoning movement in the 19th century and following it through its peak and then inevitable decline. There's a lot of material here, well-researched and skillfully presented so its concise and easily followed by the reader. Okrent does a great job handling all of the personalities, laws, parties, movements, social aspects, cultural views, and commercial (both legal and otherwise) inspired by the 18th Amendment. He covers a lot of ground and does so quickly, laying out the necessary information without getting bogged down by the more fantastic, giving a true history of the movement as opposed to getting side-tracked by the off-shoot of organized crime it inadvertently made possible. For instance, there's no avoiding the types like Al Capone, who made a name and a fortune from a start in bootlegging, and Okrent doesn't ignore this aspect. He does, however, keep his eye on the point and doesn't let himself veer off from Prohibition himself. This is certainly not a history of gangsters; it's a history of the ideals, wrong or right, and the politics surrounding them. Women's suffrage, civil rights, state's rights, cultural views, political divisions, etc. are all touched on here, but only insofar as they apply to the subject matter. Okrent doesn't get bogged down by excess information, and that, combined with the occasional tongue-in-cheek writing style, made for an excellent and educational read. Highly recommended for history buffs, but I also suggest having a pint nearby. Just reading this made me want a drink.(less)
The subject of this book read like a regular Friday or Saturday for me. Start out with a glass of good red wine or a pint of English hard cider (not m...moreThe subject of this book read like a regular Friday or Saturday for me. Start out with a glass of good red wine or a pint of English hard cider (not much of a beer drinker, so that's my substitute), before moving on to the rum/vodka/whiskey, whatever the drink of choice is for the rest of the evening. In the morning, recover via cups of coffee and tea, then finish the process with a soda as my brain kicks back into gear and I wander back home.
Who knew my friends and I were simply mirroring the progression of history?
A significant portion of my social life revolves around the pub, so Standage's choice of topic appealed to me on both the intellectual and "Ooo! Booze!" levels. Good thing, too, because if I was going into this with only my intellectual brain turned on, I likely would have been disappointed. A History of the World in 6 Glasses is pretty light, occasionally flimsy on the historical connections and utilizing a few glaring leaps of logic.
On the other hand, ...6 Glasses is fun and easy, interesting enough to be engrossing. A lot of effort isn't required to get to the end, and the presentation of how these beverages traveled around the world is interesting enough to support reading, this is where the true historical study comes into play. The premise is intriguing, even if the influence of these drinks is overstated.
In short, it's fun but not particularly deep, Standage glosses over a lot but the book is enjoyable nonetheless. Recommended, especially if you kick back with your drink of choice while reading.(less)
Solid and informative, Howard Sounes' biography of Bukowski gets the job done. You'll learn about the man, his experiences, his women, and his writing...moreSolid and informative, Howard Sounes' biography of Bukowski gets the job done. You'll learn about the man, his experiences, his women, and his writing, but when the title utilizes the word "crazy," there's an expectation the book will live up to its name. This one did not.
With such a dynamic man as the focus, this biography should've been intriguing. The fault is not with the subject but with his biographer: Bukowski's life and controversial writing give plenty of material, but the author wastes it in rote play-by-plays that feed the reader a flat laundry list. I've read other work by Sounes that proved far better than this, so I'm not sure what happened while he was working on this project. Maybe he was as bored as I was at times.
If you've read Bukowski's works, especially Ham on Rye and Women, large chunks of this biography will already be familiar. Not just in the "oh, that sounds familiar" sort of way but in the "Sounes quotes entire passages from the novels and then regurgitates them for the next four pages" kind of way. Repetitive and rote, this biography doesn't do justice to the man on the cover.
But like I said, this is a solid read and does exactly what it's supposed to: give a lifelong account of the man behind the poetry. You'll learn everything you expect to learn from a biography, from birth to death, loves and losses, and Sounes leaves nothing out. I just wish the final product proved more engaging.(less)
The book that made Bukowski famous, this is a succinct version of all the work that came after: drink, women, sucky jobs, gritty life. It's quite good...moreThe book that made Bukowski famous, this is a succinct version of all the work that came after: drink, women, sucky jobs, gritty life. It's quite good, and as an added benefit for the slightly faint of heart, there's less emphasis on the sex and the overwhelming misogynistic viewpoints (although they're definitely still present) that get people so riled up about his other books.
I quite enjoyed this, but I'm already a Bukowski fan. Those with delicate sensibilities should probably skip this one.(less)