I would probably have given this book just four stars but for the addition of "Appendix: Compson." That section would be an amazing short story all on...moreI would probably have given this book just four stars but for the addition of "Appendix: Compson." That section would be an amazing short story all on its own, and shows how smart and intentional Faulkner was, particularly in the structuring this novel. I find the confusing, opaque nature of the Benjy and Quentin sections fascinating, and I love how the book gets more and more concrete and linear as it progresses from the timeless sensory saturation of Benjy's consciousness to the encyclopedia-like appendix. This book makes me think so deeply about perspective and hermeneutics as well as race, gender and morality (and America!). And it's tender, moving and beautiful to boot. I'll be thinking, researching and writing about it for a long time to come. (less)
I can't truthfully say I've "read" this, because I didn't realize exactly how abridged the audiobook was. How or why you would abridge an incredibly w...moreI can't truthfully say I've "read" this, because I didn't realize exactly how abridged the audiobook was. How or why you would abridge an incredibly well-written, Pulitzer Prize-winning 1000-page book into six CDs, I don't know (especially considering a lot of the tripe that gets the ua treatment). Especially since Joe Morton and CCH Pounder do a killer job with the reading, and Taylor Branch's prose is some of the most ludic, poetic historiography ever, covering some of the most important events of the 20th century in America. I would have listened to this for many week s more, and will definitely make time to read the full text and the whole series. Because I can fill in the gaps, but I don't really want to hear "Kennedy went to Texas for a meeting. Kennedy's funeral..." and I'm pretty sure I missed out on a lot of amazing character descriptions, since the section about Vernon Johns was fabulous. (less)
The first book was good, the second book was EPIC. Anderson really hit his stride here. It's a fabulous bildungsroman, a sobering history lesson, a ro...moreThe first book was good, the second book was EPIC. Anderson really hit his stride here. It's a fabulous bildungsroman, a sobering history lesson, a rollicking military adventure, a philosophical treatise, all written in gorgeously lyrical, historically evocative prose, full of fleshy characters I came to love. I laughed, I cried, I learned about the betrayal of black people in the colonies by both the rebels and the Loyalists, I thought about liberty and violence and the meaning of life. What a great read. (less)
I will need to reread it to know what to say about it. at this point Morrison has burned away all trappings to leave a Biblical bareness. I feel as if...moreI will need to reread it to know what to say about it. at this point Morrison has burned away all trappings to leave a Biblical bareness. I feel as if A Mercy is carved from stone. I found it a lot harder to get to know & feel for the characters than I have in her other books—I definitely see how A Mercy links up w/Beloved but for all that book's Biblicality, Denver & Paul D. especially were such real characters. but then Morrison has always reached for—& usually grasped, the archetypal. & she's always been a great novelist of ideas, though she's at her heaviest-handed here. Yet she's still graceful w/her philosophy, presenting the issues of freedom & bondage & the gray areas in between as both psychological & political chestnuts. delicious, complicated chestnuts. the final chapter, from Florens's mother's perspective, is a tour de force echoing another tour de force, the chapter embedded in As I Lay Dying where the deceased mother has her say. doubtless Morrison has her literary forefather's contentious mother in her mind somewhere. (less)
In Positively 4th Street, David Hajdu examined how four individuals (Bob Dylan, Richard Farina and Joan and Mimi Baez), or at least their images, embo...moreIn Positively 4th Street, David Hajdu examined how four individuals (Bob Dylan, Richard Farina and Joan and Mimi Baez), or at least their images, embodied the contradictions of 1960s America. The Ten-Cent Plague focuses on an earlier, more forgotten battle in twentieth-century American culture wars: the mass hysteria over and subsequent banning of comics. He traces comics from their inception in the Sunday funnies to the explosion of crime, horror and romance comics in the early '50s.
Hajdu is not the liveliest prose stylist, but the story itself is as engaging as a pre-Code comic book, full of twists and turns, highs and lows. Hajdu is at his best when he describes the individual personalities at play, fascinating characters like Estes Kefauver, Fredric Wertham and Bill Gaines. I found myself near tears when EC head and Mad publisher Gaines tore up his own horror comics on national television. Without too much editorializing, Hajdu shows the creative, anarchic atmosphere of early comics, a haven for artists and readers marginalized by mainstream media (for writers, often because of color, gender or ethnicity; for readers, age) and subsequently how tragic the eventual adoption of the Comics Code was for these individuals as well as the country at large.
He briefly examines the fascinating contrast between Kefauver and Hendrickson's juvenile delinquency hearings with those of the contemporary, Joseph McCarthy, on the subject of Communism. Hajdu's analysis is so clear and insightful that I wish he did more of it: McCarthyism was fundamentally anti-elitism, while the anti-comics movement vilified the vernacular and common in favor of "High" Culture. What a fascinating encapsulation of the warring drives present everywhere in American culture: I need only point to the past several presidential elections... and the ones before those... Another reviewer complained that a discussion of the comics scare should include some comparison to current debates about video games or music, but this isn't really Hajdu's style, and I think most readers can make these connections on their own. (less)