Whoa this book is good! If you need to know how to write a biography, this should be your template. It's not just about Henry Ward Beecher and his imm...moreWhoa this book is good! If you need to know how to write a biography, this should be your template. It's not just about Henry Ward Beecher and his immediate surroundings, but rather a wonderfully researched and informative historical timepiece on America during the 19th century (mostly pre-civil war). I don't think I have ever learned more from a book and immediately after returning it to the library I went out and bought a copy.
I really could not recommend this more; it feels more akin to a wonderful & engaging history class, than to book about a clergyman in the 1800s.
I'm assuming this project was exhausting for the author, but I hope she writes more... about anything!(less)
What a fun little read this book is. The setup is simple, the story easy, the love twist was cute; it certainly had me grinning most of the way throug...moreWhat a fun little read this book is. The setup is simple, the story easy, the love twist was cute; it certainly had me grinning most of the way through. The author did a great job of blending the right amount of humor into the story without overdoing or forcing it. The humor was mostly derived by the adorable nature of the characters and observations they have, which just seemed to work perfectly for the way this was written.
The book is not categorized as such, but it definitely could be filed under the Young Adult genre. In fact, I think if it was that might alleviate some of the expectations of some of the other negative reviews on this one. If you're looking for a masterpiece that will be studied in literary classes for centuries to come, keep walking.
On the other hand, if you're just looking for a fun simple read, something to pick up right before bed or while waiting in an airport terminal, then this is your book. I looked forward to the lightness of it and it helped balance out some of the other political and biographical books I was reading at the same time as this one. Even if I wasn't dragging through some other drier stuff this would still have been an enjoyable read, but it certainly added to the appeal for me. I highly recommend this book.(less)
What a cool book! I was going to give it 4 stars since the stories are very good, but certainly not amazing. Then I thought about how the author was a...moreWhat a cool book! I was going to give it 4 stars since the stories are very good, but certainly not amazing. Then I thought about how the author was able to keep the stories so interesting in such a concise manner and how that should hold some value.
Add in the construction of the book itself and two points of view, and I thought that yes, I would definitely read this extremely original book again-so I'm giving it 5 stars. I would recommend a physical copy and not an electronic edition; that format would take something away from these stories.(less)
Dubus has tapped into something with this memoir that can only be described with one word: brilliant. Through his reflection you are taken into a life...moreDubus has tapped into something with this memoir that can only be described with one word: brilliant. Through his reflection you are taken into a life of poverty filled with an absent father, a trying mother, and a weak body; a family who would like to be wholesome, but does not have the right tools. The father lacks the discipline needed to properly parent, and his distance, his selfishness, makes him feel like a shadow, and it's this caricature, among many other failures, that haunt Dubus for years.
The neighborhood they are left in, which should really be called a hell hole, is fit only as a breeding ground for hate and malice. This neighborhood, not unique to Boston, is the type where the predators lead, the strong kill, and where everyone else gets called a cunt. Where violence, through fists, knives, and the occasional gun, is paramount for survival. Lofty notions like reason and law, peace and compassion, are so distant that the very idea of them is laughable.
The poignancy of Dubus's words and his journey are beautiful though. As the reader, you feel the violence and the rage down to your marrow, where the blood is made. And it's this blood-or membrane, as he likes to reference-that shapes his life.
When you see Dubus transform himself from prey to predator, from weak to tough, when he tastes blood and realizes that he likes it, it scares him. His writing is so good, that it will probably scare you too.
It is not until his 20s that he finds a more fitting outlet in his life, a tool that is more intrinsic with his DNA: the pen. Writing becomes his meditation, his relaxation, his therapy; and it is through this therapeutic motion that you become a witness to his growth-from boy, to monster, to man.
Dubus leaves nothing out, and is able to capture the alpha male violent dominance that plagues the world. He writes it better than anyone else because this book is not from an ethnographer's voyeuristic observation of a culture, this book, this hell, was his life.
It starts off callously, with a soulless cataloging of events that were not engaging, and as a reader, you may want to abandon; but if you tread on, you understand the hardness, the lack of emotion; that it doesn't exist in those pages initially not because Dubus lacks the ability to capture feeling, but because for large parts of his childhood he had none, he couldn't, he needed to survive.
This book is a deep look into the human condition, when that condition is given some of the worst life can offer. It is perhaps the best portrait of violence that has ever been captured in words. A concept, that even if you have no interest in, is done so well that you can't help but be in awe, and can't help but feel disturbed.
Side note: Near the end Dubus references one of the last conversations he had with his father, and in this conversation there is a boxing match that evening that their discussion revolves around. Except in reality, the night of this boxing match, which gets interjected into their conversation several times, does not happen until 7 months after his father has passed away. Perhaps Dubus was just capturing the essence of the conversation and used a different setting, but regardless, I think the impossibility of the time line, and the easy manner in which it is to check, is worth mentioning.(less)
The worst thing about this book is that it ends-I really wish the pages would have gone on infinitely. It's just an absolutely amazing story from begi...moreThe worst thing about this book is that it ends-I really wish the pages would have gone on infinitely. It's just an absolutely amazing story from beginning to end that I never wanted to put down, and pretty much never did.
The originality of the design of the book added to the story immensely; the constant scribbling of notes and diagrams in the margins puts you right into T.S.'s mind; a mind that is constantly chasing rabbits that needs to show just one more thing, one more way.
I love everything about this book: the characters, the observations, the margins, the drawings, the story-within-the-story, basically the beginning, the middle, and the end.(less)
I loved this book. It's a memoir of sorts, but also always has a lingering feeling that this project is really more of a verbal scrap book for his chi...moreI loved this book. It's a memoir of sorts, but also always has a lingering feeling that this project is really more of a verbal scrap book for his children.
The prose is simple and enjoyable, the humour is not forced and has authenticity (so you will actually laugh at times), and overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to just about anyone.
Randy is not without his flaws, but his large ego and a lack of altruism did not ruin his character for me, rather it felt like a well constructed book, covering an unfinished life.(less)
This book is so freaking good, I can't believe I barely remember it from high school-shocking that my mind was not as appreciative of fine literature...moreThis book is so freaking good, I can't believe I barely remember it from high school-shocking that my mind was not as appreciative of fine literature then.
Favourite line (of course): All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Following closely: It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.
I'm using that line next time I order, and eat all of, the dessert.
This book is not long, and definitely worth the re-read if the last time you opened it was when you had a locker combination.(less)
This is one of those rare books that works for people who are new to learning about food and nutrition, yet still provides plenty of fodder for those...moreThis is one of those rare books that works for people who are new to learning about food and nutrition, yet still provides plenty of fodder for those who consider themselves well versed on the subject. Often when you're into a topic, you start to notice the same information regurgitated again and again; the only difference being the title of the book and the author; and even then, sometimes the same author repeats the same information in their own books (I'll just use a hypothetical made up name like Michael Pollan to give that sentence a better feel).
Ms. Warner, a journalist by trade, has taken on the assignment of learning just about processed food, and although it seems like a tiny window, she has instead opened up a door that leads to a constantly evolving labyrinth-style game that oddly no one seems to know much about (participants and regulators included), and where few rules exist.
The author is not from the field of academia, so what is lost in the absence of dry scientific data and evaluations is more than made up for by an extremely pleasant writing style that still stands on plenty of good research. Ms. Warner is a journalist by trade, so her homework resembles that of one, and along the way she has kindly thrown in some of her own anecdotal observations; this sometimes puts people off, but I did not feel that it detracted from the quality of information, rather that it just made her writing more human, more digestible (think Malcolm Gladwell style prose).
Regardless of her style, I was consistently surprised by how many nuggets Ms. Warner has was able to uncover. With each chapter she hits you with a new angle that leaves you hungry for more of her writing, but not of what's in your cupboard. This is not a biased account though: if you're looking for a bash-fest on how companies monopolize the food industry on the heels of greed, look somewhere else; but if you enjoy a book that provides an open honest approach to a topic that will lead to more question marks than periods, then this is your book.
Some history is included, but mostly it's just a fair & balanced approach to processed food: what's going on, what (little) we know, and how we got there. (There is even a short anecdotal part about some organic chicken tenders that turned to a gelatinous mass after being left out-yikes.) In the world of food, the word processed is generally dealt with in broad strokes (i.e. it's bad), so it's extremely refreshing to find a piece the breaks down many of the individual components that comprise it and show that it's not all bad: sliced carrots are even technically processed food-albeit minimally-since they have been altered from their original state, but Ms. Warner does clearly state that this is not the type of processing she's talking about.
This book is well worth the time no matter where you are in the chain of food knowledge (all right, no more puns). I loved this book, and can't imagine a person I wouldn't recommend it to-thank you Ms. Warner!(less)