Juxtaposed against shiny day Americana, McCarthy’s last two books seemed too maudlin, too desperate. So, he literally leveled the playing field and cr...moreJuxtaposed against shiny day Americana, McCarthy’s last two books seemed too maudlin, too desperate. So, he literally leveled the playing field and created the perfect setting for his dark talents. In “The Road” he set the glimmer of light and promise very, very low – right where he likes it. The nameless “Man” and “”the boy” are traversing South through a blackened and burned out America, the last few human survivors. We are instantly engaged and are emotionally vested in the survival of our own humanity through the lives of these two people. His prose is exquisite and sparse, his characters are clever and caring and his story telling is at a master’s level. Lord, I’ll miss this book. 4/27/07(less)
Bryson and his tag along friend “Cat’s” unsuccessful attempt hiking two-thirds of the Apalachen trail from early Spring to late Fall. They cover groun...moreBryson and his tag along friend “Cat’s” unsuccessful attempt hiking two-thirds of the Apalachen trail from early Spring to late Fall. They cover ground by foot from Kentucky to Maine. Full of wisdom, humor and a little mix of light historical geology and ecology. The two find new respect for the woods and a shared disgust for urban sprawl. Travel writing at it's best. (99)
Since this first book, I have read the larger body of Bryson's work. Many are stunning successes and a few are simply phoned in.(less)
An American hardship epic personified. We’ve all heard the story of the migrating families that lost their farm during the great climactic dust bowl o...moreAn American hardship epic personified. We’ve all heard the story of the migrating families that lost their farm during the great climactic dust bowl of the southwest and the double punch of a national depression without a fail safe switch. But what about those sod-busters that stubbornly never left their newly turned land and just watched it blow away with their family futures and fortunes? Egan tells a desperate but necessary story about those that stayed behind. Their personal stories of death and survival read like a bitter war story. Egan also dives deep into the first national man made environmental crisis. An unheeded early warning sign of how man radically and irreparably changed the landscape and national weather conditions — sadly, at his own peril. The seeds of so many government problems and solutions were first dreamed up by Roosevelt and planted to help stem this early tide of misery. The hot button list goes on and on; land grants, farmer subsides, Indian reservations, government work programs, water conservation and the labor migration from farm to industry, etc. A lengthy and depressing story that strongly foreshadows our current ecological crisis. Alas, we did not learn from it (so, as the story goes) we are destined to repeat a version of the same grave error. This time it is called Global Warning caused by the same reckless greed and stupidity as the first... "worst hard time." And as the new crisis term indicates, we have mushroomed the mistake from a national to a global level.
Update: As I reread my old review with fresh eyes, it appears that I have depicted Egan's epic as a sad, dank affair. His writing is far from desperate. His character sketches elevate the noble, proud and ingenious characteristics of the men and women in his book. Egan's writing style is clever and crisp. For all the hardship presented, this book moves at a very fast clip. Throughout Egan has a modest flair for sarcasm and dry wit and an eye for the quirky nature of humans and towns. Trust me, he will charm you with his story. (less)
A very strong mix of travel and adventure writing - apparently if you live in Alaska, you can not do one without the other. Jenkins has a contemporary...moreA very strong mix of travel and adventure writing - apparently if you live in Alaska, you can not do one without the other. Jenkins has a contemporary, lighthearted journalistic approach that is certainly intimate, almost conversational. You might swear that you spent an afternoon fishing with the man. His interviews, character sketches and descriptive details mainline the fresh smells of the ocean or the clarity of a frigid arctic night. As you might imagine, most Alaskan’s march to a very different drummer, so does Jenkin's quirky book. What a nice side trip, thank Jenks! I'll now have to go back and find your (reported classic) travel log documenting your walk across America.(less)
Another big book I’m going to miss all summer long (thank God there are 3 in the series!!). Stacked up against two of my favorites on Johnson ("Taking...moreAnother big book I’m going to miss all summer long (thank God there are 3 in the series!!). Stacked up against two of my favorites on Johnson ("Taking Charge" and "Reaching For Glory” by Michael Beshloss) Caro’s "Master" is the clear winner. Perhaps it was Caro's writing style, somehow he just got to the heart of the man. It could also have been the life events of Johnson. LBJ was at his strutting-cock prime in the Senate and this book captured the sweet spot of his career. Caro brings it all back to life, three decades bridged by a book! "Master of the Senate" was a flat out thriller. 4 Stars for Lyndon. 4 Stars for Caro.(less)
Zusak is a suburb study of human relations and dark transgressions. A fair amount of wisdom is packed into the authentic dialog and deep description o...moreZusak is a suburb study of human relations and dark transgressions. A fair amount of wisdom is packed into the authentic dialog and deep description of this excellent German World War II story. You know the book is going to be a little sinister (and unique) when it is narrated by “Death” in the first person! I enjoyed the tragic ride and the prevailing bright shimmer of human decency. One of the best fiction books I’ve read in a while.
I give books as gifts. In 2008 I gave this one to just about every book lover on my list. Without exception, it was beloved.(less)
An intimate journey of a midlife reawakening. As a ex-patriot living in Paris, Carhart rediscovers his love of pianos, music, and ultimately — some tr...moreAn intimate journey of a midlife reawakening. As a ex-patriot living in Paris, Carhart rediscovers his love of pianos, music, and ultimately — some truth about himself. Told with a deceptively casual “man-on-the-street” style that is highly descriptive and incredibly well written. Carhart sets a rich, slow, layered pace that is complimented by his historical appreciation for music and his “American in Paris” sentimentality. The second half of Piano winds down with less self discovery then the first. I gave it 4 stars because of the caliber of descriptive prose, the quality of dialog and the author's extreme sense of place. He paints with his pen a travel book worth visiting. I read "Piano" eight years ago and this quirky book is still fondly remembered. In life I run a million miles an hour, this book forced me to slow down.(less)