It seems to me that a hallmark of 20th and 21st century literature is that not much gets explained. That is, the sort of talking to the reader to explIt seems to me that a hallmark of 20th and 21st century literature is that not much gets explained. That is, the sort of talking to the reader to explain things (except as genuine interior monologue) such as is seen in SF, is generally absent. I'm not sure if I'm explaining what I mean very well, but this book had the same sort of feel, especially near the beginning.
It also has what I think you might call a bumbling hero. Dandy (short for Dandelion) has hardly any clue what she is doing, and she wanders around awkwardly asking questions. She eventually gets to the bottom of things, but not without a lot of help and having things explained to her. This is not the sort of book where the detecting character solves the problem through sheer brilliance.
I liked this book; I have a soft spot for clueless bumbling central characters, apparently. Not everyone does, though. I felt that this captured the life of the period pretty well. There were very few slips into modern diction, which is always nice. And I smiled when one of the rural Scottish characters said "redd up" — the region where I live was heavily settled by people of Scottish ancestry, and this is something that is classic Pittsburghese. (Though apparently "red up" is also Pennsylvania Dutch English. Curious.)...more
I thought this was a nifty dystopia, very evocative of Yevgeny Zamyatin's We. There was a thing that was supposed to be a surprising reveal, though, aI thought this was a nifty dystopia, very evocative of Yevgeny Zamyatin's We. There was a thing that was supposed to be a surprising reveal, though, and I totally saw it coming. Sometimes the main character was a little annoying. He got the ending he deserved, though. (view spoiler)[You know how you have to earn your happy ending? He didn't, and he didn't get one. I think this was handled well. (hide spoiler)] There was a little too much use of "body politic" as a metaphor, but it wasn't too bad. Another thing it reminded me of was The Inverted World — it was kind of like that but with more sex, gore, and jadedness....more
Really gorgeous art and production values. I'm not sure what to think of the adaptations, though. I mean, they're well done, and the language is simplReally gorgeous art and production values. I'm not sure what to think of the adaptations, though. I mean, they're well done, and the language is simple enough for children. (Not very young ones, but maybe 7-10 and up? I don't have a good sense of these things, and the book provides no guidelines.) But like most myths, they are sometimes violent and weird.
I think that the main issue with this is that its window of usefulness is a little narrow. A bit violent for very young children, and a bit juvenile for teenagers. But feel free to tell me I'm wrong. :)...more
On the border between 2.5 and 3. Parts of this book annoyed me. Parts of it were upsetting. Parts of it were cool. I think the YA target audience mighOn the border between 2.5 and 3. Parts of this book annoyed me. Parts of it were upsetting. Parts of it were cool. I think the YA target audience might enjoy this more than I did. Cynicism got in the way a bit, and also having read the much better Cryptonomicon. Neal Stephenson is a badass when it comes to writing info-dumpy informative sections about, say, how cryptography works. Doctorow is not as good.
The upsetting part ... a few months ago one of the local-to-me universities received a rash of fake bomb threats. When I say rash I mean over 100. Class buildings, office buildings, libraries, dorms ... and they saved the ones to the dorms for the wee hours of the morning. None of this affected me directly but it made me really, really mad. A lot of dorm-resident students moved off campus and crashed with friends so they could actually sleep, and the university set up sleeping accommodations in the basketball stadium (pic here). No one knows why the threats started, or who was making them. The culprit(s) used enough anonymizing tech to make themselves effectively unfindable.
No, I'm not about to start ranting about how terrible anonymizing tech is. I think the tradeoffs are worth it. But a certain percentage of people are sociopaths who are happy to take advantage of tech that was designed to thwart repressive regimes to try to make a point in a way that inconveniences, disrupts, or frightens ordinary people more than it does the powerful. I was part of an occupation of an administration building once. We brought our sleeping bags into the lobby in front of the president's office and camped out for several weeks. I saw plenty of secretaries making faces and picking their way around us in the mornings, but the president (presumably) shrugged and worked from home. This was a bit over 10 years ago; the campus union went on strike and there was a small fragment of the student body that wanted to support them. I'm glad to have had that experience but in retrospect ... some of the things that we did were at least somewhat jerkish.
Anyway, the protagonist and some of his buddies come up with a way to scramble the public transit passes of people just by using a device and being within a small distance of them. The original goal of this is to mess up the plans of security agencies who want to track and profile people according to where they travel. But eventually the protagonist realizes that doing this is just making life difficult for ordinary people who just want to use public transit to get where they need to go. That realization, and the protagonist feeling like a jerk about it, was what made it possible for me to continue reading this book and not throw it at the wall.
Anyway, I think the basic message — that America has got some issues with security theater and that potentially, it has an existing mechanism to change its course (voting) — is not lacking in worth. but at the same time, it is a bit simplistic. (Having decent candidates to vote for is essential.) But I think the YA audience would probably be more responsive to this concept than I was....more
Someone left this by the self-checkout machine at the library and I thought "Why not" and checked it out for a re-read. I owned at least the first booSomeone left this by the self-checkout machine at the library and I thought "Why not" and checked it out for a re-read. I owned at least the first book when I was a kid. (As a redhead and descendant of redheads ... yeah. It was probably inevitable.)
On the one hand, I'm kind of blown away by Pippi's girl-hero qualities. I kept thinking she was very Peter Pan-ish (except that she wants to be a pirate instead of fighting them), and that was before I got to the end and read that the thing she wanted the most was to not grow up. On the other, I don't know if making Pippi a cannibal princess was the best choice. Sure, it's picturesque as hell and all that, but ... I mean, cannibals! A little voice in the back of my head was wondering if Lindgren knew what a cannibal was, or if it was a strange translation, or what. There also seemed to be some subtextual flirting with the idea of "These people are primitive, we're better than them" in places. if you are practicing politically correct parenting the first book is probably fine, but I don't know about the next ones. Speaking of translations, the third book had a different translator than the first two, and it seemed like in some places he added American idioms where they wouldn't have been.
I remember liking the illustrations in the edition(s) that I had better than I liked these. But the little afterword which is a mini-biography of the author was kind of neat. (It had some cool related pictures, too.)
In conclusion, if, like me, you wondered if "villekulla" meant anything, the answer seems to be "maybe." For more details, see this page. (Villa Villekulla is the name of the house where Pippi lived. You can see the one that was used for the movie and TV series here.)...more
3.5. A nice, useful, and basic cookbook for someone who just wants to make something that's reasonably healthy and easy to cook. The average person is3.5. A nice, useful, and basic cookbook for someone who just wants to make something that's reasonably healthy and easy to cook. The average person is pretty likely to have most of these ingredients in their kitchen, or to be able to quickly grab whatever's missing from the grocery store. In some cases it fudges a little by assuming that you have stock already, but for the most part it's exactly what it says on the tin....more
Definitely a cookbook full of sometimes foods. There aren't many recipes in here that you could make without at least some planning ahead. (More thanDefinitely a cookbook full of sometimes foods. There aren't many recipes in here that you could make without at least some planning ahead. (More than a quick trip to the grocery store to get the things you were missing.) In addition, many of the recipes seem to assume you are growing your own herbs, or buying them in sufficient quantities that you are using fresh ones daily, or able to buy them in very small quantities.
I like the fresh sauce recipes, but a lot of them are somewhat labor intensive. (Or maybe I'm the only one who thinks that de-seeding fresh tomatoes is kind of tedious?) Also, many of the recipes in this book call for pancetta to add flavor, so it's not exactly the most vegetarian friendly cookbook I've ever seen....more
I snagged this at a HPB some time ago because it contains the Ysabeau S. Wilce short story "The Lineaments of Gratified Desire." It's the youthful advI snagged this at a HPB some time ago because it contains the Ysabeau S. Wilce short story "The Lineaments of Gratified Desire." It's the youthful adventures of Hardhands and Tiny Doom. (That will only make sense if you've read her Califa trilogy.)...more