Haven't decided if I want to read this. I am taking it page by page. Usually I won't give up on a book, but due to what I've read about this book I amHaven't decided if I want to read this. I am taking it page by page. Usually I won't give up on a book, but due to what I've read about this book I am keeping my mental options open to quit. I probably picked it up at a library sale because it is a "classic".
I never want to read a book like this ever again: too long, too allegorical, too demented. Did it mean something very deep? I don't know and I don't care. There were some interesting ideas like The Onion Cellar .... but, not worth it, not for me anyway. I leave it to the, oh I don't know, cultural studies people maybe. He was an evil little midget, or he was insane, or he didn't exist but simply stood for something. Whatever. I wasted a week of my life on this book....more
The best! I have read all of these stories, but a re-read was a delight. I hadn't read these since I was in my teens. I was kind of surprised to see mThe best! I have read all of these stories, but a re-read was a delight. I hadn't read these since I was in my teens. I was kind of surprised to see more depth in the stories, reading James Herriot as a man not just as a vet, reading about the vet and not just the animals. I was pretty focused on animals when I was younger and I think I missed a lot about the author himself. This time I enjoyed the stories even more. To feel happy, to laugh, to cry, to feel all the joy and absurdity of life, read James Herriot. ...more
So many different American experiences. At this time, the 1850's, slavery was flourishing in the United States and it was such an ugly practice. AboliSo many different American experiences. At this time, the 1850's, slavery was flourishing in the United States and it was such an ugly practice. Abolitionist movements were also flourishing. This book is a fictional, but based at least in part on true stories, account of slavery and the viewpoints of people of the time. It is so well-written; interesting, heart-breaking and very amusing in some of the very accurate portrayals of personality types. Sometimes she would get overly zealous, in my opinion, in the philosophy of Christianity, but in the main I was in love with her writing style. What I am having trouble understanding is why the term "Uncle Tom" has become an insult that means a person who betrays his own people and African heritage. The Tom that I read about in this book was a saint as they would say in Christianity, or a Tzaddik as we would say in Judaism. Not to say he didn't struggle, but the man was good, honest, moral, upright, true to what he believed, and took every opportunity to help his fellow slaves despite the punishment he received for it. The man was deeply connected to his belief in God and in doing good for his fellow human beings and not fearing what a tyrant could do to his body but trusting in the ultimate goodness of God. Where, oh where, is the betrayal of the black people? I will have to google this for understanding because there is nothing in this book that I can relate to the current meaning of "Uncle Tom". Who were we in the 1850's? Slavery, slaughtering the Indian tribes. Who are we now?
"Liberty!--Electric word! What is it? Is there anything more in it than a name--a rhetorical flourish? Why, men and women of America, does your heart's blood thrill at that word, for which your fathers bled, and your braver mothers were willing that their noblest and best should die? Is there anything in it glorious and dear for a nation, that is not also glorious and dear for a man? What is freedom to a nation, but freedom to the individuals in it? What is freedom to that young man, who sits there, with his arms folded over his broad chest, the tint of African blood in his cheek, its dark fires in his eyes,--what is freedom to George Harris? To your fathers, freedom was the right of a nation to be a nation. To him, it is the right of a man to be a man, and not a brute; the right to call the wife of his bosom his wife, and to protect her from lawless violence; the right to protect and educate his child, the right to have a home of his own, a religion of his own, a character of his own, unsubject to the will of another."...more
I never expected to hate this beloved book, but hate it I did. I believe I have read a different, more childish and cleaner edition. This "definitiveI never expected to hate this beloved book, but hate it I did. I believe I have read a different, more childish and cleaner edition. This "definitive edition" was making me sick. #1 I was having a great deal of trouble believing this book was written by a young teenage girl. It very much reads as if it was written by an adult male. Perhaps she was brilliant and very well educated which explains her exceptional erudition and perception. Does it explain the coy sexuality, or if this book is in fact by Anne, is it perhaps explained by her father's sexual confidences given to his precocious thirteen year old daughter?
Some thoughts of mine I shared with friends who had also read the definitive edition:
I'd bet her father was uncomfortable releasing it uncensored as the main weirdness is him. I am extremely uncomfortable with some of the stuff he tells her. And they put the new guy, 54 years old, in her room?! Where she uses her chamber pot a few feet away from him?! Why didn't they put him in with Peter (16 year old boy with his own room in attic)? Or the father for that matter as he wasn't having sex with his wife anyways (and why should Anne know that and about her father's past and his "girl" from before that he will never get over and his passions which he tells Anne she is too young to feel yet) and Margot was already sharing the room with them (her parents). This book reminds me of Flowers in the Attic. And I have a very hard time believing it was written by a 13 year old. I never thought for a moment I would doubt this book which is as loved and revered as the Bible. But I doubt it and find it very weird and inappropriate.
I suppose, maybe, maybe....They were living in a terrible situation, but still, the family dynamics give me the willies. Mom is aligned with Margot, Dad with Anne. A father who would make sexual confidences to his 13 year old daughter is a very suspect father imo. And I can't reconcile parents who have no problem with their 13 year old using her chamber pot next to a sleeping (we hope) 54 year old man, that is just too weird. Would you be comfortable if your father wrote you a poem containing the words, "I've got no more panties, my clothes are too tight, my shirt is a loincloth, I'm really a sight!" And her conversations with her father, "When we first went into hiding, Father often told me about things I'd rather have heard from Mother, and I learned the rest from books or things I picked up in conversations." "Once when father and I were talking about sex, he said I was too young to understand that kind of desire." I believe Anne that her mother didn't like her much and I would bet the reason why is jealousy. Father pays a lot of attention to Anne, she sleeps in his bed when she is frightened, in her white nightgown "(the one that causes Margot to exclaim every evening, "Oh, that indecent nighty!")"
Something is wrong with the family dynamics, at the least. And I find it hard to believe this book was written by a 13 year old. Granted, I am not nearly as clever as the author of this book, but I remember my diary at 13. It went something like, Dear Diary, nothing happened today. And when I did write anything, probably not til I was 14 or 15, it was incredibly immature, nothing like the perception and coy and repressed sexuality of this book.
Oh, I agree with you that the whole uncensored book is better than the sanitized version. I've been a bit wide eyed and shocked at what I've been reading rather than bored with the much more normal 13 year old Anne of the first version of this that I read..... I know this book has been verified as true but I am not convinced, and if true, well...I won't be recommending that (my daughter) reads (this version). I think there are many better books she can read. I almost feel like this makes a mockery of the horror of the Holocaust and what the Jews suffered.
Otto Frank is certainly the person I would have suspected of being the author. But maybe it (the diary) is true and he is just the author of the author.
OK, that said, I've now finished the book and haven't changed my mind about the book's creepiness nor my doubts about who wrote this book. I mean when she is working on her conquest, mentally not physically according to the diary, of 17 year old Peter, snuggling with him and trying to figure out how to describe female genitals to him, telling him the parts and their appearance, and Peter is shocked, he had no idea that female genitals were located between a female's legs. What?! This just strikes me as so wrong and untrue as both a conversation between a 14 year old girl and a 17 year old boy and as something said girl would write in her diary. I do not believe this conversation took place. But there it is, written as the truth in this diary purportedly by Anne Frank.
Now on to the subject and of Anne's relationship to her mother. I felt bad for her that she didn't go to cheder and learn the concept of what a mitzvah is and the specific mitzvoth including honoring one's mother and father. She goes on and on throughout the book about how much she hates her mother and how she doesn't need a mother anymore and how much better she is than her mother. Here is a quote from late in the book, April 1944, "Young as I am, I face life with more courage and have a better and truer sense of justice than Mother......If God lets me live, I'll achieve more than Mother ever did...." How incredibly sad is that?! Everyone needs their mother, how much rejection and betrayal would a person have to feel to hate like this? Something terribly wrong here.
I've said about all I can about this book, except this: the basic facts are not in question: the war, the situation for Jews, the existence of these people, the hiding, the arrest and the deaths of the women, the girls and Peter. It was heartbreaking, they were so close to the end of the war. I may not have liked Anne or her father, but I mourn them nonetheless. And I've only read a book; I don't know the truth of any of them and can't judge them. I can only judge what the book says, and even that I should probably take a chill pill and relax. When I looked at sites that claim the diary is a fake, they were very anti-Jewish. I would rather be aligned with all the good-hearted people who think the diary is true than with people who claim it is a fraud and hate Jews.
I've thought about this book almost continually since I finished this review. I've decided to keep the original version as I would like my daughter to read that one. The Definitive Edition I am going to get rid of. I retain my feeling of falseness and wrongness with that edition. I have thought a lot about what it must have been like to be in hiding like that; the enormous stresses and the constant fear. I know of a couple of people from the Jewish community, parents and grand parents of people I know, who did survive the war by being hidden in attics and secret places in buildings. They did not come out unaffected. Emotionally I am on my knees in respect to those people who suffered; both those that died and those that survived. I am not judging that experience. ...more
This is perfection. I know I have read it before as as soon as I read the name Lennie I was overcome with sorrow and dread. Although I had forgotten tThis is perfection. I know I have read it before as as soon as I read the name Lennie I was overcome with sorrow and dread. Although I had forgotten the details, I knew the gist, viscerally recalled the tragedy. And in some ways it was worse for me this time as I recognized some of the characteristics of my own special needs son in Lennie. That combination of mental retardation and slyness, that love of hearing of the same things said over and over again, the ultra-focus to the exclusion of anything else going on, the potential for violence that is the result of the mental problem rather than something under the control of the person. So it hit me really hard. Now we have a lot more in the way of social services for our special needs people than we used to. Still we see mentally unbalanced people shot by the police pretty regularly. It was heartbreaking but George was Lennie's true friend through the end. ...more
Depressing and somewhat twisted. No son should love his mother to the extent that this son does. The mother is not happy in her marriage and so sublimDepressing and somewhat twisted. No son should love his mother to the extent that this son does. The mother is not happy in her marriage and so sublimates her love in the love of her sons, particularly the son Paul. It is not a physically incestuous relationship, although more physically affectionate than I would be comfortable with. But it is emotionally incestuous and this son is crippled by it. You can't blame her all the way for her son's lack of moral compass and his tortured relationships with women, but he is fairly unable to truly love a woman besides his mother and he is unable to live without his mother. His reaction to her death strikes me as way over the top, just not normal.
Paul was the third child born to an illiterate coal miner and his better educated and higher class wife. She was happy for about six months and then found he had lied about his financial security and that he was drinking. Things go downhill from there as he drinks and gets mean and feels her contempt. She is good at contempt and pours it on. She pours her love on to her oldest son and then on to the second son, Paul, as she feels he needs her. So begins their strange symbiotic relationship, very inter-dependent in an unhealthy way. When the oldest son dies, then only the nurturing of Paul keeps the mother in this world. What sort of a strange relationship is it when the son calls his mother "my pigeon" and "my Little" and "my love". The father is at best disregarded and often hated. The mother closes the family off to him, making a tight circle of herself and the children.
I can't go on talking about this novel, it was disturbing, and even more so as it was largely autobiographical. The novel drops us off in an extremely low place in Paul's life but we know that D.H. Lawrence overcomes his melancholy to some degree (I think), stays with the married woman he "eloped" with, and writes texturally beautiful novels. The writing here is gorgeous, if a little long in the descriptions of flowers, fields and trees. I admired the writing while at the same time thinking shut up and stop agonizing and self-analyzing everything. ...more
I HATED the ending. But I am getting ahead of myself, review-wise. Archer Newland is betrothed to a beautiful young woman with impeccable credentials iI HATED the ending. But I am getting ahead of myself, review-wise. Archer Newland is betrothed to a beautiful young woman with impeccable credentials in the high-society of New York to which they both belong. But, always a but as happiness doesn't usually rate a story, he is in love with a young woman he used to play with as a child. She is also of the right birth but she was raised by an eccentric aunt in Europe and is married to a despicable Count. Oh dear, what now? Does she seek divorce? The scandal would be unbearable! Does he break his engagement? Too late. Soon he is married and miserable although his wife is a fine woman. But you know how it is, love overpowers all. So do they have a tawdry affair? Does she go back to her husband? Does he stay married to his lovely, boring wife? You will have to read it to find out. But that ending, total crap in my opinion. I wanted to throttle a certain character. Idiot, idiot, idiot!!...more
While I rate the book a three, I rate Jane Addams herself a five. She was born privileged and after graduating from college and spending time in EuropWhile I rate the book a three, I rate Jane Addams herself a five. She was born privileged and after graduating from college and spending time in Europe she felt herself to be useless; all this book knowledge but not doing anything actually of use in the world. She always did want to live among and help the poor and this is what she eventually does. She buys a big house in one of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago and sets out to be of use. This book chronicles the first twenty years of the settlement house she founds, Hull-House. They start out with a kindergarten and tackle problems from there. She explains "It is natural to feed the hungry and care for the sick, it is certainly natural to give pleasure to the young, comfort to the aged, and to minister to the deep-seated craving for social intercourse that all men feel." In this way Jane Addams and her staff at the settlement house set out to see that a social infrastructure is put into place to accomplish these things. Sometimes she is taken for a radical because she is calling for reformation in labor law, business practice, education, and enforcement of existing laws. She is viewed with distrust by some businessmen and men in political power. She says this, "There is a certain common-sense foundation for this distrust, for too often the reformer is the rebel who defies things as they are, because of the restraints which they impose upon his individual desires rather than because of the general defects of the system. When such a rebel poses for a reformer, his short-comings are heralded to the world, and his downfall is cherished as an awful warning to those who refuse to worship "the god of things as they are". ... "In discussion of these themes, Hull-House was of course quite as much under the suspicion of one side as the other. I remember one night when I addressed a club of secularists,... a rough-looking man called out, "You are all right now, but mark my words, when you are subsidized by the millionaires, you will be afraid to talk like this." The defense of free speech was s sensitive point with me, and I quickly replied that while I did not intend to be subsidized by millionaires, neither did I propose to be bullied by workingmen, and that I should state my honest opinion without consulting either of them. To my surprise, the audience of radicals broke into applause, and the discussion turned upon the need of resisting tyranny wherever found, if democratic institutions were to endure." The most amusing part of the book in my opinion was her visit to Tolstoy at his farm in Russia. He was gruff and unfriendly, commented on the extravagance of her dress, called her an absentee landlord, ate black bread and gruel for dinner while his guests ate European food. He asks her "Do you think you will help the people more by adding yourself to the crowded city than you would be tilling your own soil?" Jane is somewhat distraught and determines to spend two hours every morning at Hull House baking bread into order to do 'bread labor'. It is only when she returns to Hull-House and sees all that needs her attention does she come out of her Tolstoy induced bread-labor fixation and get on with all the social reforms and cultural programs etc. that Hull-House is involved in. The existence of Hull-House and its good works are her job, the baker at Hull-House bakes the bread, and all is as it should be. Jane Addams deserves more study and acknowledgement than she receives. I don't recall learning about Settlement Houses nor about Jane Addams in school. So many social changes were brought about because of her tireless efforts. The last quarter of this book is hard to read as it reads more like a dry list of accomplishments rather than a living story which is why I rated the book a three. ...more
This is a cautionary tale for young women who follow their hearts and their bodies, throwing common sense out the window in the pursuit of love. We miThis is a cautionary tale for young women who follow their hearts and their bodies, throwing common sense out the window in the pursuit of love. We might all have been there at one time or another. The setting is a small town where most people have never traveled farther than a train ride to the next town which is bigger than their own. Charity is in her late teens, a girl rescued from up the mountain and brought to live with her protector Mr. Royall. Charity is bored, impatient, longing for something to happen. She works at the library where almost no one goes and one day in walks a young man. Her future is pretty much writ from that point on; romance is inevitable, marriage is not. What does a girl do? What she does seems inevitable as well; respectability is necessary and the other options are even grimmer....more
This book chronicles the battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863. The writing is pretty near perfect, the descriptions are so powerful that the book becoThis book chronicles the battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863. The writing is pretty near perfect, the descriptions are so powerful that the book becomes an agony to read. He switches back and forth between voices of the North and South, using most often the voices of Lieutenant General James Longstreet in the South, and Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in the North. Reading this was like watching my brothers fight each other to death, which is exactly what it was. We were only enemies in the military sense as we were all American; often family members fighting in opposite armies. The fighting was so brave, on both sides, but one is particularly struck by that characteristic in the Southern boys, at least in this battle, with the southern boys running uphill with no cover straight into the guns and cannons of the North. I didn't want the South to win as I want us to be one country, but I didn't want the South to lose either. All those deaths of the men and boys, on both sides, was brutally painful. These armies loved and respected each other, even as they worked as hard as they could to destroy each other. It is a curious thing to me that we have Civil War Re-enactments. So many young lives were lost. Further thought, I think it is done to honor all those fallen in battle, and I can see how the re-enactments do that. I also find the idea of the war being about freeing the slaves a suspect idea. Although some people must have felt a genuine compassion for and empathy with the slaves I doubt that between the political leaders that compassion was the motivating factor. Economics and power are the usual motivating factors. At the same time that the North was fighting to end slavery, our army was also killing the Indians massacre fashion. For those motivated by ideals in freeing the slaves I can only think that it had to do with the American penchant for loving and saving the underdog. The slaves, being captives, were certainly underdogs. The Indians, being free and potentially dangerous and often in fact dangerous to the white people stealing their land, were not underdogs and did not get our sympathy and empathy until we defeated them and made them underdogs. This is just a side thought, the book does not deal with this at all except to touch on the slavery issue as the motivating factor for the war....more
The United States of America is built on the blood and bones of the native American tribes who were here first. The Europeans who came and methodicallThe United States of America is built on the blood and bones of the native American tribes who were here first. The Europeans who came and methodically stole the land and murdered or imprisoned the Native Americans committed a planned, ceaseless and merciless genocide. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee takes us on a tour of the tribes, the actions of the Indians, the actions of the U.S. Army, the politicians, the preachers, miners, ranchers and other settlers. Manifest Destiny my friends, we were meant to have the land, and if that meant exterminating the tribes who did not want to be imprisoned on the worst land in the country (such as malarial swamps) and living on starvation handouts of food and blankets, well Indians that is just too bad for you. Boom! The land of the free and the home of the brave might as well be called the land of the thieves and the home of the murderers. We stole the whole country; we lied, we made treaties and broke them as soon as we wanted more land or discovered a reason we needed the land (need to put a railroad through or gold was discovered or it was getting crowded on the east coast), we threatened, cajoled, pretended to be friends of and if all else failed massacred and imprisoned the defeated remnants of the Indian tribes. We never treated a people worse. While we were fighting to free the slaves (it made economic sense for the Union and not for the southerners so don't get all sentimental about motivations) we were murdering the Indians. Incredible how many soldiers and weapons were leveled against the Indians. If we had had "weapons of mass destruction" we probably would have used them. We used the best firepower we had at the time to kill straggling, starving bands of Indians who had survived through the massacres of people and animals up to that point. The Indians had no recourse as they were "not persons within the meaning of the law".
General Sanborn to the Secretary of the Interior: "For a mighty nation like us to be carrying on a war with a few straggling nomads, under such circumstances, is a spectacle most humiliating, an injustice unparalleled, a national crime most revolting, that must, sooner or later, bring down upon us or our posterity the judgment of Heaven."
Said by Ouray the Arrow, Chief of the Utes: "The agreement an Indian makes to a United States treaty is like the agreement a buffalo makes with his hunters when pierced with arrows. All he can do is lie down and give in."
Saddest book I have ever read. At what cost do I live as a free citizen in this beautiful country? The cost is documented in this book. ...more
A tragic drama when one very immature but extremely beautiful young wife seeks romance outside of her marriage. The husband is a gem; I mean maybe heA tragic drama when one very immature but extremely beautiful young wife seeks romance outside of her marriage. The husband is a gem; I mean maybe he wasn't the most handsome or exciting or brilliant, but he totally loved his wife and did everything for her. The only thing wrong with him was his love-blindness. He never saw his wife's faults and so never understood her mind. This young woman had nonsense romantic ideas in her head, she wanted the grand passion along with tons of money and beautiful things and lots of exciting social life. So instead of working on loving the man she married and loving the daughter she bore to that husband; she flirts and generally makes it known that she is available for the fulfillment of the grand passion that she seeks. In my opinion: Don't cheat on your spouse; if you have a good spouse cherish that person. I am making it sound simple but staying married is a decision to honor the vows and give the other person all the love that you can. Poor Madame Bovary, such a child! She didn't understand that she was being used and she turned a blind eye to the financial ruin she was bringing down on her family. All so she could satiate her lust and her childish ideas of romance. She should have made an effort to love her husband. But instead she destroyed herself and those who loved her. That doesn't include her lovers; they were not destroyed as they never loved her. Being beautiful did not work in Madame Bovary's favor. ...more
What does one say? I missed this when it came out, I was past childhood reading and was busy working and getting ready to get married. So this horridWhat does one say? I missed this when it came out, I was past childhood reading and was busy working and getting ready to get married. So this horrid little gothic incestuous gem passed me right by. All of those adjectives really do apply here. Oh, it is also written for young adults, I am sure they probably gobbled it right up, pity their malleable minds. It has every element that makes the vampire novels so popular to teens. It has a creepy gothic house, cruel sadistic adults with whips who accuse innocent children of immorality and demand they kneel and pray, a trusted and loved adult who cannot be trusted, imprisonment in an attic where there is nothing much to do except grow up and consider the sexuality of your sibling. What happens to four siblings imprisoned for three and a half years in a small bedroom and attic, promised that any day they will be set free and be rich, just trust Momma. I recognize the genius of this book and understand why it is probably as popular and well known as the movie Carrie. It is full of inconsistencies, like why does Cathy, on her solo foray sneaking into her mother's room, wear a "transparent blue nightie that was very short, though little matching panties were underneath",and where did she get it considering her mother buys all her clothes and doesn't recognize that her daughter is growing up. For example the mother never remembers to buy her a bra, well isn't that convenient. The horror/sex genre, logic is not the point. What do I rate this book? One for disgusting, five for genius? One wins; I have a twelve year old who loves to read, this book needs to be disappeared....more
Mostly I really enjoyed this book which is a combination of autobiography, history and tall tales. I love reading about the early steamboat days on thMostly I really enjoyed this book which is a combination of autobiography, history and tall tales. I love reading about the early steamboat days on the Mississippi. What an amazing and challenging job it must have been to pilot one of these boats before all the "improvements" to the river such as making cuts to make it shorter and electric lights to see where one is going. Well I suppose they were improvements in the sense of bringing the river and boating into the modern age and making it a whole lot safer. But I loved the old days on the river when the pilot had to have the river memorized in his head. Well Mark Twain makes it sounds really cool. Except for that boilers exploding part of steamboating. Not such an uncommon event evidently. Mark Twain's brother Henry died from injuries suffered in a steamboat boiler explosion. That explosion and his brother's death is written about in this book. Actually quite a lot is covered in this book, not just steamboating; there is a lot social and political commentary, and as usual for Mark Twain, much of it is funny. I learned that mark twain means 2 fathoms which is 12 feet, deep enough to be safe for the steamboat. Read the weirdest supposedly Indian story called "The Undying Head" in appendix. Read that Mark Twain holds Sir Walter Scott responsible for bad writing, bad architecture and at one point, perhaps the Civil War. Is he joking? Yes and no, I think. I just think this man had a fascinating mind and I love reading him. The only places this book dragged was in all the descriptions of the cities on the Mississippi 20 years after the time Mark Twain was a riverboat pilot and he travels down the river as a writer and tells us about it. There are exceptions to this boringness such as when he goes to his old home town and asks about all the kids he knew at that time. It is interesting and entertaining when he is giving us history or making jokes, but when he starts giving population and industry statistics, I found that boring. Although the contrast between his optimism at America's future and our current national pessimism was marked....more
British farce about 3 young men who decide they need a holiday, too much stress you know, and decide on a boat trip down the Thames. This book was p British farce about 3 young men who decide they need a holiday, too much stress you know, and decide on a boat trip down the Thames. This book was published in 1889 but is still funny today. It is a clever satire about all sorts of things as our narrator is a poetic rambler (watch out he isn't steering the boat when he goes off on one of his poetic thought jaunts) and philosopher of sorts and historian. Don't worry, he isn't boring, the jokes are everywhere. In fact, what I didn't understand to be funny was probably funny if I understood more of the time and culture I was reading about. I mean really, the whole thing is so tongue in cheek. So British. Sweet little piece of satire. Chapter 3 and the story of Uncle Podger hanging a picture was my favorite bit of the book. Love it! ...more
The only Paul Theroux I had read before was a non-fiction travel diary called The Happy Isles of Oceania. I was surprised to open this and find it wasThe only Paul Theroux I had read before was a non-fiction travel diary called The Happy Isles of Oceania. I was surprised to open this and find it was fiction. And very strange fiction.
This is a story of a brilliant but mentally ill man. He has a genius for mechanics and invention, but he is sure that the United States has become a destroyed society destined for war. He states a lot of current political truths and feelings but magnified into a paranoia that results in him taking his family (wife, 12 year old Charlie, younger brother Jerry - 8 or 10 years old?, and 5 year old twin girls) to Honduras to live, to escape the catastrophe that he believes the U.S. is headed for. He has them walk away from their home bringing nothing except camping equipment and gear that he has purchased for this trip. They get on a cargo ship that contains a missionary family and a Honduran family and off they go.
It is rather amazing to see what this man is capable of organizing and building, he builds this compound in the Honduran jungle that he calls Jeronimo and it is comfortable and self-sustaining for the most part. He is manic and brilliant, but he has this obsession with ice, making ice. He has invented a huge ice maker that is fueled by fire and it really works but contains the dangerous elements of hydrogen and enriched ammonia.
When a situation develops that threatens the family, disaster ensues and Jeronimo is destroyed. The remaining sanity of "Father" is also destroyed. He and his family stagger away from this disaster with Father, still following him as he has always been their leader. The life they lead then is untenable as he makes a series of mad decisions and drags his family with him as he makes these decisions.
Reading this story I was always tense and feeling dread. I thought this is what it must be like to follow a cult leader; someone brilliant and charismatic but absolutely insane and getting worse. He also has a strange relationship with his sons, a magnification of a type that I have seen before, where the father challenges the son to do dangerous and difficult things in order to teach him and make him a man. The oldest son responds with loyalty although he knows something is wrong with his father. The younger son, without the maturity to make allowances, just sees that his father is a madman and going to destroy them all. One of the twins is fiercely loyal to her father, the other is more of a non-entity in the story, more babyish than her sister. All of these kids have been homeschooled and have both the advantages of that type of education and the isolation that comes with it. Each of these children respond differently to their bizarre life, the wife is loyal to the end. She truly loves her husband and works hard to realize his dreams. The story is tragic, the man needed medication although it certainly would have dulled his brilliance and energy. After the destruction of Jeronimo there was no more hope for him. It was a very tragic and nerve-wracking story....more
Sea Adventure/Romance with a stream of philosophy about the nature of men, life and the struggle between good and evil, between pleasure and sacrificeSea Adventure/Romance with a stream of philosophy about the nature of men, life and the struggle between good and evil, between pleasure and sacrifice, the materialistic and the spiritualistic, the immortal soul or not, and the value of a human life. Captain Wolf Larson is running a seal hunting ship, a schooner. Humphrey Van Weyden, gentleman, is stranded at sea in a life preserver after the ferry he is on, in San Francisco Bay, goes down. He gets picked up by Captain Larson's ship and kept on board against his will, the boat continues on to the seal hunting grounds off of Japan. "Hump" as he is called by the Captain, has never done a bit of physical work in his life. He is puny and weak, but he is well read. The Captain is interested in talking books and philosophy with Hump but he also makes Hump work on the ship, first as a cook's assistant, then as a cabin boy, then as 1st mate. The Captain is a brutal, untrustworthy man, still somehow being mostly charming when he isn't shocking people with his brutality and inhumanity. Enter a woman, she has been stranded at sea for 4 days with some other people and they have been picked up by Captain Larson. It turns out that Hump and the Maid actually know of each other through their writing which has been published. She and the others she is with are also held against their will. Wolf wants the woman, Hump wants the woman, the woman is scared of Wolf and allied with Hump. But no worries, through all travails including Hump and the Maid surviving on a deserted and inhospitable island, nothing happens that a protective parent on the watch for inappropriate material could fault. In a way this book is very silly, well maybe just childish like Peter Pan. I think it may have been written for young adults, boys longing for adventure at sea, and girls longing for romance. First published in 1904. ...more
A hard book to read because of all the poetry, feminism, scholarly references and just how long the book is. But it has a sense of humor about the po A hard book to read because of all the poetry, feminism, scholarly references and just how long the book is. But it has a sense of humor about the poetry, feminism, and scholarly works. It also shows a sense of humor regarding academic life, scholarly papers, and the collectors of the works and properties of famous people. But ultimately it is the love stories that are the strength and beauty of this book, and the love stories are very moving. Because, bottom line, I wanted the couples to love each other and happiness to be found. I was kind of angry at Mr. Ash for awhile and with Christabel for a long while, but that was sorted out later, you see. Everything was. The ending was one of the finest endings I have ever read. I cried and cried. It is worth reading if you can stick with it. Try reading the poetry out loud, it helps to keep you awake and the words at least have rhythm if not sense. ...more
I admit, I wanted to quit reading it. #1 It was painful; I felt trapped in the Soviet penal system and political machinery. I wanted out. #2 It is diffiI admit, I wanted to quit reading it. #1 It was painful; I felt trapped in the Soviet penal system and political machinery. I wanted out. #2 It is difficult reading. The book seems endless at 674 pages of small print; dense, emotional, often depressing, very intense, sometimes boring, always heart-breaking.
But having stuck with it, having absorbed this book, I would never give it back. It felt important to me to understand what had been going on in Russia at this time and the experiences the prisoners went through. Solzhenitsyn takes us through the terrible choices that prisoners sometimes have to make in order to survive; in fact the story starts with a Soviet official who tries to warn an old friend of the family that a trap is being set for him. It is the moral choice versus the choice that allows survival. It is also heart breaking to see the betrayal of the true believers in Communism and who work so hard for the ideals only to have it all twisted and before you know it they are accused of something, perhaps thinking against the regime, and arrest follows. It was terrible to see how Russian soldiers who fought so hard during the war were often arrested on their return to Russia. A prisoner was not allowed to see his wife except once a year, supervised. And a wife could not allow anyone to know her husband was a prisoner as she would lose her job, housing and community support. It was awful, and kept more awful by the majority of people choosing survival over helping other people and risking their own life. But the choice would be understandable because the consequences of acting like a human being were disastrous on a personal level. The miracle was that so many prisoners, and even those who were not prisoners, would make a moral choice rather than a practical choice. Often in this book, when I would put myself in a character's shoes I would think, well that is it, there is no reason to go on. But the characters do go on, not like my wimpy self who wanted to give up and kept seeing death as the only way out. So I cried a lot and wanted to leave the book but I didn't and here I am on the other side. This is an emotionally battering book, but it is meant to be, it has to be as it was an emotionally battering time and place. I highly recommend this book and think everyone should read it....more
This book follows the lives of 6 people who survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. It tells about their actual experience of the bomb and its aftermat
This book follows the lives of 6 people who survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. It tells about their actual experience of the bomb and its aftermath, then their later lives 40 years after the bomb. It is terribly sad and horrifying but what got to me the most were all the inserts of further atomic bomb testings by different countries. It feels like we have learned nothing and the world continues in war, hatred and the threat of further "weapons of mass destruction". ...more
Mmmm, in discussing this book and my feelings about it I was called a conservative racist, a deluded liberal, and a mixed up mix of both. And I was asMmmm, in discussing this book and my feelings about it I was called a conservative racist, a deluded liberal, and a mixed up mix of both. And I was asked why I was reading a book that upset me so much because reading is for enjoyment. Is it?? I thought it was about learning and experiencing points of view outside of one's own experience; also for enjoyment if the book happens to be the enjoyable kind. Well this book certainly took me outside of my comfort zone. I mean, yeah I thought it was funny, but it was also very painful because it was astute. The writing was absolutely masterful. This was writing you could eat, it was so delicious. But it was also kicking me in the head. Sherman McCoy has it all, sort of. He is a Wall Street Bond trader at the top of his game. He makes a ton of money, although his wife spends a major part of the money on interior decorating. He has a sweet six year old daughter. But he and his wife aren't really connecting well, mostly because Sherman (Shuhmun) is having a hot affair with a younger woman, wife of some old really rich guy. So basically Sherman tries to have more than he should, could or is capable of having. He ruins his family life, his career, his finances and his reputation. His lies catch up with him so badly that even the truth can't save him. He becomes the rallying cry of the black community against oppression even though the truth is that he was the intended victim of a crime by a black man in the Bronx. But he is accused of running down a poor black honor student with his Mercedes and leaving the scene without a word to anyone to help this kid. A very twisted version of the truth, but with enough validity to get him in serious legal trouble. The saving grace, for me, was that I liked who he had become by the end of the book. So many great characters; the accents, the descriptions - it was so well done!! And that is an understatement....more
I have read this book before, I loved it then and I love it now. I didn't grow up around hunting or around wolves so this book had a profound impact oI have read this book before, I loved it then and I love it now. I didn't grow up around hunting or around wolves so this book had a profound impact on the way I viewed both. I've always had a love of animals and nature so I was a natural to find this book inspiring, wonderful and incredibly sad. For a book I haven't read in about 30 years I had remarkable recall of most of the scenes. That is probably because of the sense of humor and the pathos with which Farley Mowat writes, it is a beautiful book. There are wolf packs in the U.S. and in Canada today but the numbers are sadly low. At least they are not all gone. The fight continues to save animals and nature from greed. Also, it has been said that this story is not true. OK, if it is not I love it anyway. ...more
This is my favorite of the Agatha Christie novels I have read so far. I like Hercule Poirot; his personality, thinking process and detection methods.This is my favorite of the Agatha Christie novels I have read so far. I like Hercule Poirot; his personality, thinking process and detection methods. The characters in this novel are believable creations, the story is interesting and well told. It is a love story, a murder mystery and a courtroom drama. ...more
If I could give this book a higher rating than 5 I would. Of course I have read it before, I think it was required reading in high school, but what anIf I could give this book a higher rating than 5 I would. Of course I have read it before, I think it was required reading in high school, but what an amazing book, truly worth multiple readings. Atticus is a small town Alabama lawyer in the late 1930's raising his 2 children, Scout Finch and Jem Finch, by himself. Atticus is the person and the parent I would like to be, a great human being, someone who can love and understand and bring about change in the world. The book is written from the point of view of Scout, a lovely lively 5 to 8 year old over the course of the story. She refuses to wear dresses and fights with the best of them. Jem is her big brother and he is a great kid too. Well no wonder when they are being raised by Atticus. The kids learn to understand the world they have been born into with all of its hypocrisies, oddities and entanglements. When a 19 year old white girl who lives with her father and younger siblings in horrible poverty and no kindness, when this girl accuses a young negro man of rape, Atticus is assigned to defend the young man. This is Alabama in the 1930's, you can guess how it turns out, but everything Atticus says and does is so necessary for the people and his children to hear and understand. Terribly sad but change comes slowly. Then there is the strange unseen neighbor, Boo Radley. He is a source of much speculation and fear for the children. We see who has a kind heart and who does not, who might be capable of change and who is not. I loved this book and cried over it quite a bit. It is a treasure and deserves every accolade that it has ever received. Recommended. ...more
Very dense and long (645 pages) crime fiction written in 1860. It is written in a style of witness statements to a crime of stolen identity. Each persVery dense and long (645 pages) crime fiction written in 1860. It is written in a style of witness statements to a crime of stolen identity. Each person contributes his statement of the parts of the story he personally witnessed or was involved in. Although the language is old-fashioned, formal and lengthy, the crime and the plotting of the story might be found in any worthy crime novel today. This book has the advantage over most modern crime thrillers in that it has no gore, no sex but is still very creepy, authentic and fascinating. What I didn't like is that the character Laura is so colorless and uninteresting and seemingly as mentally challenged as the character Anne Catherick. Birds of a feather, those two. Yet Laura is the main love interest! Her sister Marion, who along with Walter, is the brains of the crime fighting characters, is a much better love interest. But she just lets her sis Laura have the man because she loves Laura. Walter and Marion are a couple in every partnership except the bedroom. Laura gets the bedroom. OK, I guess, whatever works. But Laura had to suffer Percival, one forgives her for her lack of anything except looks and money. Then Fosco, well he is a great character, larger than life and twice as creepy. Smart, but he has his weakness. Her name is Marion. Fosco becomes a fallen giant. I loved his witness statement. He justifies everything with such panache, with such a flourish. His wife belonged in a horror film, and Blackwater mansion fills the role of creepy, horrible location very well. I wonder if they ever made this into a movie. Definitely a book worth reading. A long read but totally worth it. Recommended!...more
The first third of the book took me 2 days to read as I found it boring and slightly distasteful. Distasteful because Lute was an unscrupulous and untThe first third of the book took me 2 days to read as I found it boring and slightly distasteful. Distasteful because Lute was an unscrupulous and untrustworthy character, and marriage was a matter of survival, convenience, family ties, status and meddling; sex enjoyed with mistresses or sublimated in work - not that all that is not true today but one hopes for more. The rest of the book took me about 2 hours as the story became more interesting; background and history given, questions about race, color, status and love brought to the fore. I was afraid it was going to end badly, and in one sense it did end very badly. But in another sense it ended well. *******************"Color was a false distinction, love was not."********...more
Such a tragedy, all the way through. I dreaded each page, as each page is threaded with pain. It reminded me of a book called "Shot Through the Heart"Such a tragedy, all the way through. I dreaded each page, as each page is threaded with pain. It reminded me of a book called "Shot Through the Heart" although I thought Bo Mason was a much better man than the father in the "Shot Through the Heart" book. I actually liked Bo Mason for much of the book, and felt sorry for him too. Oh, this book is a tragedy. A young girl named Else goes to live in town out west in the Dakotas. She is 18 and pretty. Bo Mason is handsome, young, shoots very well, plays baseball well and runs an illegal bar. They fall in love and get married and have 2 boys. Bo, true to his nature, is constantly chasing the next "Big Rock Candy Mountain", looking for that big break that is going to make him lots of money. He pulls his family all over the country chasing dreams. He is an impatient man and pretty rough on the kids when they are little. Much of his life he smuggles illegal booze. Sometimes they have money, sometimes they don't. He tries homesteading in Saskatchewan but when the crop fails he gives it up and starts running booze again. His wife is steady and faithful, she loves him and is never is demeaned by the petty criminal class they necessarily run with. The boys are, well I thought Chet was weak compared to his father, a good boy but so weak. My goodness, one raid and he gives up everything. So bizarre to my way of thinking. Then there is Bruce, the weakling little brother, prissy mama's boy. He makes it fine, but I never did like him, there was something cold about him. The father, of course, loves them both the way only a parent can love. Don't ask me why I keep defending Bo Mason. He had lots of bad characteristics and his wife had the patience and understanding of a saint. But something about Bo Mason just makes me want to jump to his defense. He works so hard for one thing, the man works so hard. OK, well if you want to know more you will have to read it yourself. ...more
This is a much darker and more complex book than I expected it to be. Not by any means a typical romance. Heathcliff is a character to hate, he is jus This is a much darker and more complex book than I expected it to be. Not by any means a typical romance. Heathcliff is a character to hate, he is just awful, no matter how much you may sympathize with his character as a child. This is not a handsome rogue, this is a bad man. Because I heard this song on Pandora recently I kept thinking Heathcliff is "bad to the bone". His revenge was happily taken out on innocents, he didn't care about anything except his love for Catherine and the revenge he would have on everyone who had mistreated him or gotten in the way of his ambitions. Catherine herself was a selfish woman, both cruel and childishly immature. She loved Heathcliff and has this idea she can marry someone else for money and prestige yet still retain her relationship with Heathcliff. Uh, no. It ends well though, depending on your idea of the afterlife; and a true potential for happiness for the younger generation. The story is a well plotted one but the strength is in the writing itself which, except for Joseph and his broad accent which I could not understand most of the time, moves along flawlessly. ...more
This was not only the case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this book contained several other of Robert Louis Stevenson's stories. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde This was not only the case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this book contained several other of Robert Louis Stevenson's stories. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an interesting story and one that epitomizes a frequent theme of this author, that of the struggle between the inclination to do good and that to do evil, the struggle between one's higher nature and the animal nature. In this case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Dr. Jekyll is a good man who likes to do bad sometimes. He manages to compound a formula that will change him into only his bad inclination, a disguise physically as no one recognizes the repulsive little Mr. Hyde as the big kind-hearted Dr. Jekyll. So he thinks he has this thing mastered. He can be the good Dr. Jekyll or the bad Mr. Hyde and no one the wiser. Unfortunately for Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde starts becoming dominant and Dr. Jekyll cannot control him. The rest of the stories in the book have a similarity in nature, although some are more ghostly than others. ...more
I think the author really put his heart, mind and soul into this book. I feel sorry for him that it was banned for obscenity 6 weeks after it was publ
I think the author really put his heart, mind and soul into this book. I feel sorry for him that it was banned for obscenity 6 weeks after it was published. I think the people who ban books could have safely left this on the shelf as #1 all the obscenity (if one could call it that) is so obfuscated with the emotions and thoughts of the characters that if there is anything obscene I missed it and I think most people would have. #2 How many people would have slogged through this book? Well evidently some people who ban books did, but the average reader? 418 pages of very dense, chaotic, sometimes confusing reading. It takes will to finish this book. Or even to skim it for the supposed obscene parts. There was much more social commentary in this book than allusions to physical intimacy. Anyway, kudos to those of you who made it through. I am personally patting myself on the back for reading it. We follow 3 generations of the Brangwen family through their lives; their marriages in particular, or romantic relationships as the case may be. But reading it was like trying to hold on to a rope in a heaving sea, the rope being the story and the sea being all the descriptions of the character's tortured minds. ...more