I always hate to pan a book. As a wannabe writer myself, I have some sense of the effort an author puts in to get a book ready for publication. In thiI always hate to pan a book. As a wannabe writer myself, I have some sense of the effort an author puts in to get a book ready for publication. In this case, it just never grabbed me. I got through it, at least in part because there are some good parts that made me think it might turn out good after all. It just never did. Most of the time I felt there was no plot, just like the wag said of history being "just one damn thing after another." In the end it turned out there was a plot all along, but it was too late by then to make this a good read. ...more
Vintage James Lee Burke. If you've already read any of the Dave Robicheaux series, you know what to expect. The Glass Rainbow is a morality play. TheVintage James Lee Burke. If you've already read any of the Dave Robicheaux series, you know what to expect. The Glass Rainbow is a morality play. The good guys are flawed but morally impeccable while the bad guys are evil. If that sounds boring be advised that it isn't. Burke parades a bevy of bayou characters for us reminiscent of Damon Runyon with violence replacing petty scams. It is not great literature. But it is great genre. Read it. You'll have a blast. ...more
Very good fictionalized account of Genghis Kahn's early years. Not for the squeamish, then again FOR those with a taste for violence, either way it'sVery good fictionalized account of Genghis Kahn's early years. Not for the squeamish, then again FOR those with a taste for violence, either way it's way you would expect from a young Genghis. I especially liked the epilogue where the author owns up to liberties taken with the real story, identifies his main sources, and even gives a quick lesson in Mongolian pronunciation. I enjoyed this and think anyone who like historical fiction will too. ...more
First an alert: this review is of the audio version, which wouldn't be important except for an extra layer of condescension the narrators graft onto aFirst an alert: this review is of the audio version, which wouldn't be important except for an extra layer of condescension the narrators graft onto an already condescending text.
Second, the title is misleading. One suspects the publisher here since the publishing industry these days value a title's sales' power over its relevance to subject. Sex at Dawn (all you can see a few steps away from the B&N shelf) is not about sex at a non-traditional hour. On close approach (very close, the printing is quite small) the subtitle can be made out as The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality which of course suggests a serious study. Cavaet emptor. Neither is truly forthcoming since the book is really an extended peroration for what is euphemistically called "open marriage" and slightly less euphemistically as "sleeping around." There are several other words along a downward slope of acceptability I will leave to the reader.
To be sure, the authors review the literature on the subject, delving at length on the sexual mores of everything from bonobos, baboons, and gibbons; to Amazonian hunter-gathers; Asian sex markets; and Victorian boudoirs. They stop along the way to examine male vs female sexuality and discover that women get a kick out of sex too (eureka,). Targeting the "standard model" of monogamous marriage adapted from sperm-spraying males and nesting females, the actual content of their defense comes down to summary dismissal or ridicule. Citing Stephen Pinker study of 6 different tribes who have survived to modern times but which draws a non-supporting conclusion, they dismiss his choice as not "representative" (of what? hunter-gathers?). They ignore another counter example with, "but who cares." What? ...more
Neal Stephenson can always be counted on for a good, long, and exciting read. Slowly, I'm working my way through his oeuvre, breaking the task with neNeal Stephenson can always be counted on for a good, long, and exciting read. Slowly, I'm working my way through his oeuvre, breaking the task with new releases as they appear. When his latest, Reamde, came out I had just finished Snow Crash and was primed for the mystery/thriller cum internet that drives Reamde.
I confess to some disappointment in the expectation that led to. There are no sic-fi/fantastical elements in Reamde as he himself says in a promotional blurb, but the plot twists--and there are a lot of them--didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. Very un-Stephensonesque. Too soon after their introduction, it became pretty obvious where each plot-line was headed. Not in detail, but where they would end.
Stephenson narratives are very descriptive and inventive and provide much of the pleasure in reading them. But his language doesn't soar. Perhaps it doesn't need to, or even shouldn't in a modern novel, so I may be aging myself when I admit to missing that. Still, the description I started with applies, "a good, long, and exciting read." It just that he's done better.