I listened to the audio version, read with excellence by the author. Would absolutely recommend listening rather than reading.
The book focuses on theI listened to the audio version, read with excellence by the author. Would absolutely recommend listening rather than reading.
The book focuses on the childhood and adolescence of the author. He seems to have been an interesting kid doing interesting things, and he also describes the family circumstances and the culture of apartheid in which he grew up. As a "mixed" kid he was neither black, white nor colored, and observed them all with the closeness that was particularly available to him. The book describes the events of apartheid particularly well. He also describes the structure of domestic violence very well. And of course, the author being a very successful comedian, the book is very funny. Though more funny read by the author.
The book has continuity issues which are not bad enough to harm the reading experience, but the editors sure let the author down. I would not expect these kind of continuity issues to exist in a book put out by a professional publishing house....more
I listened to this book on tape. I doubt I would have made it through the trivia if I were trying to wade through the book, but as a yarn for a long cI listened to this book on tape. I doubt I would have made it through the trivia if I were trying to wade through the book, but as a yarn for a long car trip (several long car trips!) it worked.
A lot of people think they're going to learn to *be* Warren Buffett, which is horse manure. You're not that rich. And Warren Buffett the person has his own flaws and challenges which thank God you don't have- deal with the ones you actually have.
The most one can "learn" from Buffett is when he discusses what normal people should do with their money, generally when he is criticizing the mistakes of his less wealthy (oh, more like the reader!) relatives and acquaintances. I actually changed my portfolio based on consideration of those comments....more
I read this book right on the heels of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, a book which I think every American shouI read this book right on the heels of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, a book which I think every American should read but which is probably not very likely as high school curriculum due to it's length. This book is case history that is probably much more suitable as an anchor for teaching about The Great Migration. Some have felt that the rape scene is too much for the high school level. Confronting the reality that a good segment of any given American high school class room has already been sexually assaulted, I'm pretty sure that allowing them to see their experience reflected in literature and in the past of a woman who achieved the highest acclaim is beyond just neutral, but useful.
The book itself was not as good as I expected it to be. Others have said that it was the right book at the right time, why the book received such high acclaim, more than it is the best book. That sounds right to me. That at one point it broke the barrier of describing what African Americans were experiencing, and that it is still pushing the barrier of describing what American girls (and boys) are experiencing, shows that it has enormous significance socially. But of the things I would expect to find in a great book, and things she developed later in her writing, like a particularly golden sentence or description - these things are not present. What it does the best is stay faithful to the experience of a growing child, without imposing adult understanding onto the events. I am too much a fan of adult understanding to be bowled over by that skill, which is perhaps a skill that should be celebrated...
ETA: Just after this I read Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History and while I wouldn't recommend that book in particular, it did remind me how difficult it is to describe a traumatic event as it actually occurred, since trauma is almost by definition the thinking and being after the event. So I guess I do have to give some credit for the skill in completing this task demonstrated in the book....more
The book is extremely well-written by a man who is a well-rounded person made only more well-rounded by the addition of a heart from another person. IThe book is extremely well-written by a man who is a well-rounded person made only more well-rounded by the addition of a heart from another person. It unfortunately did not get the benefit of good editing and has a couple of continuity problems, but nothing the reader can't quickly figure out.
I am lucky in that I have forced my way through to treatment for cardiac Lyme far earlier than the author of this book. At the same time, the book is terrifying for anyone with this condition. And the frustrations are enough to make any Lyme patient wish they could tie their physicians down and read this book, but of course we would also like to tie them down and get them to listen to us to start with.
Because of the skill of the author, this isn't *just* a book about Lyme, but also about the relationship one has with one's body and the impact of chronic stress and chronic illness on a person and their family....more
While I can understand the complaint of the book as self-absorbed, as someone who also married out of my Anglo-American culture and for whom the movieWhile I can understand the complaint of the book as self-absorbed, as someone who also married out of my Anglo-American culture and for whom the movie East is East was tooth gritting reality and not a comedy, I appreciated every word of it. When she speaks of the isolation of the experience, she is correct. And when she speaks of being on the other side of "diversity," which only makes you even more isolated because your life becomes a sort of shop-window display, she is also correct. If one wanted to listen, one might learn something about lives lived differently in one's own community and neighborhood....more
I can hardly address the subject matter, about which I know little - though that itself is a reason to read the book, the subtleties of the thinkers oI can hardly address the subject matter, about which I know little - though that itself is a reason to read the book, the subtleties of the thinkers of the era that for better or worse did remake the world are a mystery to many of us today, despite having been well documented.
But aside from that it is an absorbing good read from a woman who did indeed live life....more
Extraordinarily well-written in terms of hanging philosophical exposition on autobiography. If you had to say everything you wanted to say about whatExtraordinarily well-written in terms of hanging philosophical exposition on autobiography. If you had to say everything you wanted to say about what your life means in the context of the entire universe, can you say it in a way that a person would read, and could read and could understand? This is the question that faces every memoir writer, and this book is a tippy-top example of how to respond to that question. And most particularly this book has an excellent narrative on Responsibility, in the existential sense, in only a few pages. That is a difficult concept to explain in long books, so hopefully this narrative will help- how I came across the book was a recommendation on Twitter framing it in terms of responsibility (this person was using responsibility in the framework of "anarchy," same difference).
Though of course it is disappointing to read other reviewers respond to the rapes and the harsh statement against homosexuality as if the book's answer is an approval of rape or an approval of boxing off heterosexuality (reading the book in itself- I have not researched what other comments Cleaver made). Perhaps a lesson to the memoir writer that it doesn't matter if you one whole, most important point is love (and that is the context of the universe, yes? So for any good memoir, it is always the point) you can still fail to make your point (and will fail- this is something that always fails).
Personalized note: I have recently gotten into "Sketchnote" as a sort of Maker Movement of personal art. One reads a lot about the educational attainment of blacks as a way to resolve the American racial divide, but Cleaver speaks a lot about the bodily and physical awareness of whites as the flip side of that same divide, and it does seem that the Maker Movement is very much an answer to that....more
I did not enjoy this book at all. I don't think there is anything wrong with it, but I'm not really into descriptive narrative (I rarely read fiction,I did not enjoy this book at all. I don't think there is anything wrong with it, but I'm not really into descriptive narrative (I rarely read fiction, for example) and this book is unbroken descriptive narrative, AND written in the present tense. It's what people would call autobiography rather than memoir - it's descriptive, not reflective.
I see that other commentators in similar situations as the author have found it useful, and I can see how that could be the case. And, as I said, I have no argument with it (thus the three stars of "average" instead of dropping it into my "do not read" categories of one or two stars), I just didn't like reading it and, absent the reflection, didn't find it terribly useful to read myself....more
Fascinating, and pleasant little chapters to read.
I once knew someone who had a time-lock safe for his internet router. And when I was in college someFascinating, and pleasant little chapters to read.
I once knew someone who had a time-lock safe for his internet router. And when I was in college someone used to mail his game disks to himself to get a couple of days without distractions. In that vein, one of my favorite stories in the book was of Victor Hugo locking up all his clothes so that he was forced to stay in the house and write, wearing a knit shawl....more
In the book he says that what he is describing is like something from the page of a book. The book is particular in its testimony but also timeless inIn the book he says that what he is describing is like something from the page of a book. The book is particular in its testimony but also timeless in its observation. If we are still here in 2,000 years it will still be read, and be relevant....more
One the one hand it was terribly brave to to tell this story almost purely as narrative, on the other hand that is clearly the authors forte. One mustOne the one hand it was terribly brave to to tell this story almost purely as narrative, on the other hand that is clearly the authors forte. One must write the book one can write and no other, yes?
The psychology brings up women set free from the framework of fairytales, as the rather heavy-handed afterword by Jane Smiley points out (we are apparently too dumb to read the book on our own). But it also brings up the chains that bind us all, men and women, when it comes to free will and causes me to remember the book Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by existential psychiatrist Irvin Yalmon....more
I don't happen to have time for this right now and checked the book out by accident thinking it would be different from what it is. That said, the booI don't happen to have time for this right now and checked the book out by accident thinking it would be different from what it is. That said, the book looks like a very pleasant read, not because of any huge overarching points which it may or may not make, but just because page by page picking the most interesting things to discuss about various biographies and how they came to be is interesting. It is written in a very breezy and fun style. I almost said not academic, but since I read very academic books I should perhaps put that on a curve- fun, even if a bit academic....more
I think the author does a really great job of crafting the narrative of her experience with information about the topic until near the end. She seemsI think the author does a really great job of crafting the narrative of her experience with information about the topic until near the end. She seems to try three different "now for the hopeful if not happy ending" endings, none of which really work. I can see the difficulty in finding an end that suits, but still, that could have been done better. If I could have voted for one, I would have voted for putting all the eggs in basket #3....more
Extremely well written and fascinating on so many levels. First, the description of North Carolina politics which seem to have really modernized veryExtremely well written and fascinating on so many levels. First, the description of North Carolina politics which seem to have really modernized very little now, even with the development of a viable two-party system in the state. Second, the realities of the time - North Carolina greats now held up as extraordinary liberals (be that praise or condemnation, depending on who is calling them such), were invested in maintaining segregation, in Sharp's case not just for politics but because of the racism in her heart.
While it is very interesting that Sharp managed to maintain such a reputation of untouched virtue despite her several overlapping affairs, it is also interesting that so many varieties of family are represented as the wives of her lovers surely knew of her relationship with their husbands. The lifetime overview prompting Sharp to state and the writer to re-state the comment that live is lived forwards and understood backwards, is fascinating from a biographical level, and prompts one (me at least) to imagine how my relationships might appear to myself when I am 80.
Note: This is a shoebox size book, about a quarter of which is endnotes. Recommend getting the electronic version!...more