Oh man, that was a slog. I could have skipped the middle 80% of this book and not missed much plot. The beginning was fairly interesting, when the narOh man, that was a slog. I could have skipped the middle 80% of this book and not missed much plot. The beginning was fairly interesting, when the narrator was getting to know Queequeg in the hotel, but once they get on the boat, around page 100, it's just drivel. Half the chapters are encyclopedic descriptions of whales, whaling, and sailing. Detailed descriptions of various species of whales, measurements of their body parts, the history and current state of whaling and sailing, uuuuuuggghhhh. After I was about halfway through the book, I started skipping those chapters altogether - I should have been doing that sooner. Then it gets interesting again around page 500 (out of 540). Should have been a 150 page book. ...more
This book was absolutely incredible. I literally lost sleep because of it - I was staying up way too late at night because I didn't want to put it dowThis book was absolutely incredible. I literally lost sleep because of it - I was staying up way too late at night because I didn't want to put it down. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Better than I ever thought it would be.
He paints a picture of South Africa, both broadly and with such detail, that I really felt immersed. There are certainly moments of humor throughout, but most of it is quite serious in tone - it's a good balance ("I had a choice. I could champion racial justice in our home, or I could enjoy granny’s cookies. I went with the cookies.").
Growing up half black, half white (which is called "colored" in South Africa, and is very different from just black), and living there during the end of apartheid - it's a world I've never been exposed to, and he made it so compelling.
I love the point he keeps coming back to - the power and value of language.
"They were ready to do me violent harm, until they felt we were part of the same tribe [because I spoke their language], and then we were cool. That, and so many other smaller incidents in my life, made me realize that language, even more than color, defines who you are to people."
"Nelson Mandela once said, 'If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.' He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else’s language, even if it’s just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, 'I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being.' "
I just wish there was a sequel to this book!! It only covers his childhood, and doesn't touch on his career except very briefly in passing. I'd love to know how he made the transition from the South Africa ghetto to host of The Daily Show. ...more
I'm 200 pages into this 900 page book and I'm done. The female characters are super hot young things that are constantly described as such and have hoI'm 200 pages into this 900 page book and I'm done. The female characters are super hot young things that are constantly described as such and have hot lesbian sex even though they're not lesbians. She has a thing for middle aged balding dudes? Really? Wish fulfillment much? Ugh. You don't need to describe how her sweater frames her breasts as she's meeting someone in a cafe, especially when she's 17. It sounds like a cool premise, but reading some other reviews on here, he doesn't do much with it, so at least I don't feel like I'm missing much.
On the other hand, I like the premise, and I really like the Japanese setting. ...more