I didn't realize how much this book promised until I started reading it. It had won a Pulitzer prize, it was said to be among my friend's and family mI didn't realize how much this book promised until I started reading it. It had won a Pulitzer prize, it was said to be among my friend's and family member's favorites, and just about everywhere I turned, it seemed to be displayed on "recommendation" lists and coffee tables and Oprah. I'm not certain that all of the disappointments can be chronicled here, so I'll just stick to the non-spoiler approach.
My first disappointment was the weak voice coupled with far-reaching metaphors coupled with an attempt of going back and forth through time, but only executed in a sloppy, hap-hazard way. The subject matter (revealed on the back of the book) of incest was dealt with in a totally in-sensitive, romanticized way with absolutely no respect. It was just damn creepy. The subject matter of the main character, a hermaphrodite, was done in a sort of "it's hip to be different" way that mimicked the "yeah mans" you hear around college campuses when the kids get together after an engaging lecture in philosophy 101. How this book was edited, I don't know, but a line in the first one-hundred pages succeeded at not only being a sentence fragment, but also a run-on sentence as well. If that is the signature for a Pulitzer, I don't know what is...
... But to the most casual of readers, there's a lack and an inappropriate attitude and feel to the book. Jokes are poorly timed, unhealthy behavior glorified, characters are so flat that their distracting names (Chapter Eleven) hold more interest than their stories.
It is to be noted that to this reader the biggest disappointment wasn't that the book became more "readable" at around 350 - 400 pages. The biggest disappointment at all was simply that this story only served to encourage a poor understanding of its subject matter. It only accomplished the task of pushing into the mindset of the reader more stereotypes and ideas about how it's cool to be a freak, somewhat borrowed from the 60's free love movement and somewhat borrowed from that bipolar person you know who you wish would just take their medicine already instead of seeking a "natural cure" for psychosis.
If a reader desires a mature-minded book about the subject matter of Middlesex, it would be better to look in the non-fiction section of a library rather than modern fiction. And that punctuates the experience of this book for me: I read it hoping to gain an understanding, if not psychologically, at least medically of the character - a risk any author would take to write, but a risk that Eugenides didn't pull off - and it totally failed to teach me a single thing about what I was hoping it would pull off....more
The premise of this book is absolutely compelling. I have to admit that I didn't understand the full scope of the premise until I had started reading.The premise of this book is absolutely compelling. I have to admit that I didn't understand the full scope of the premise until I had started reading. A story told in multiple perspectives, the perspectives were down very well for each character. However, the "inner voice" of each of the characters ... some were less defined than others. One thing is for certain: every single character had the same sense of humor, and that's a bit of a peeve for me. I also found some of the wording confusing or sloppy. Still, upon re-reading the sentences that confused my mind, I couldn't find anything technically wrong with them - they just didn't flow as naturally as the rest of the text. There were times when it was very difficult to believe that these people existed.
So why did I give it four stars rather than a lower rating? Because, as is her trademark, this served a greater purpose of the novel. As the reader, we were supposed to think that there was something wrong with the characters, we were supposed to feel as though something was a little off. And whether you do or not, unless you've heard the ending somewhere else, the ending shouldn't disappoint.
I had been complaining about the book to my husband during the time that I read it that it just wasn't as good as Nineteen Minutes, but that the premise was good. When I finally got to those last few pages, my husband was in the room doing something boring and when I started crying he was in shock seriously. So I can't say that the book didn't move me or shake me up at all.
I have great respect for a writer who can totally convince me that things are or might be going one way and then startle me with a truth so clear and precise that I can't help but nod because that's more the way life really is....more
Scott Adams' introduction promises a lot and I was really looking forward to reading a book that lived up to the expectations that the introduction suScott Adams' introduction promises a lot and I was really looking forward to reading a book that lived up to the expectations that the introduction suggested. Unfortunately I found myself really let down with another book that reads a lot like any religious-type philosophy based on quantum physics. It's just a tired subject and it doesn't matter to this reader what came first, but with The Secret, What the Bleep do we know?, Waking life and any other "yeah, mans" movies and publications, I'm all burnt out. What this book will give you is a conversation between two people (which really is a conversation that reads as if it is really just one person's diatribe) that might make you think a bit. The logic that this book presents does not follow even the basic formulas of logic and thus has way too many holes. In fact, there are rare facts stated in the book. Instead, the author presents various opinions citing scientific explanations that are weak enough to see through but strong enough to miss if the reader isn't looking for it.
What this book did offer is some unique ideas and creative ideas based on logical (though faulty) ideas. And for the creativity and risk it took to even attempt to write a book like this one, that's why I give it a 2 rather than a 1.
I think many people will find meaning is this book. And many people will recognize it among a series of media available that presents things in this way and will pass it up just based on the fact that they've heard it many times before and have found for themselves what works and what doesn't in their own authentic lives. I think that questioning one's reality, looking for the truth, analyzing and such are very important parts of being human and I think these activities should be encouraged. But I would like to see a new way of looking at the world rather than this idea that seems to be on repeat for the past decade (and more, possibly starting with The Celestine Prophecy).
The typical college aged pseudo-intellectual preaching at me with half-truths to present "logical" explanations for things that don't exist on a logic plane isn't the kind of person that I want to hang out with anymore because I've grown out of the questioning stage in my life - on that level. And believe me, it's not that I don't get what is being said nor that I don't accept some of it as true; I do. I just no longer think that any of this "wisdom" is special or known only by the truly enlightened. I just, you know, know, you know?...more
Paulo Coelho has a distinct ability to write a book that one can't put down once one opens and to take magic and spirituality and apply it to the realPaulo Coelho has a distinct ability to write a book that one can't put down once one opens and to take magic and spirituality and apply it to the real world. One can't close a book by him without finding themselves just a little bit more inclined to be more authentic and reach for what once seemed like distant dreams. ...more
This is a brilliant piece of work. What I find most compelling about it is that it's one of those books that is such a simple read that one might thinThis is a brilliant piece of work. What I find most compelling about it is that it's one of those books that is such a simple read that one might think that there's not much to it, but upon completion, the author has brought the reader through a series of gripping plot devices with rich characters and an even richer existential-esque conclusion. However, unlike some books that have existential endings, this one feels complete upon turning the last page.
Characterization was perfect - I believed all of the characters existed. Book was written in a way where it didn't matter if you liked or disliked one character or another; it didn't try to make the reader form any opinions and remained neutral which is another reason why I thought it was such an excellent work of fiction; the detachment of this crime book made the read feel as though it was a documentation of events, except it had brilliant dialogue, vivid characters, and accurate psychological reactions.
Highly recommended. One of the best books I've read in 6 months....more
This book seizes the reader with an exquisite voice and plunges them into the mind of a 19-20 year old soldier during World War 1, exploring his thougThis book seizes the reader with an exquisite voice and plunges them into the mind of a 19-20 year old soldier during World War 1, exploring his thoughts and experiences without romanticizing or conveying the typical angst that can be hard to avoid while talking about that age group. It is nearly impossible not to feel an intimacy with the main character and the events that surround him. While this might not help anyone understand the vastness that is World War 1, it will help anyone to understand better what it means to be human, the psychology involved in war, and those indescribable enormous forces that we face in our humanity; the things that are overwhelming to be described in mere words, both beautiful and ugly.
This book will leave the reader both haunted and stunned....more
A 24 year old nomadic self-described "non conformist" with the ideals of self-preservation as modeled by Thoreau and the fiction of Jack London has diA 24 year old nomadic self-described "non conformist" with the ideals of self-preservation as modeled by Thoreau and the fiction of Jack London has died on a trip to live resolutely in Alaska. The book is borne from Jon Krakauer's fascination with and determination to retrace the tracks of this wanderer and tell as accurately as clues allow how he lived and more importantly, explain how he died. The Introduction warns that his [Krakauer's:] opinion on matters will not be hidden, it still is left to the reader to gauge the character and sanity (among other things) of the subject: Chris McCandless.
However, Jon Krakauer holds such a tremendous bias and identification with his subject, that rather than remaining objective, the truth and hard-facts of what happened is distracted by Krakauer's own rememberings of his past. His telling of the McCandless death is skewed and facts blend with what sometimes seems like fiction. Krakauer fails to remain objective to his subject, which makes this telling of the story romanticized. His opinion of the circumstances is so smothering that the reader is not left to figure things out for themselves, but instead backed into a corner where they either agree with everything he has stated, or become a hateful person ignorant to the beauty of passion and finding meaning in one's experiences. A reader who chooses to remain objective thus is also left feeling a bit bullied. Krakouer remains so urgent in his message to think of the event in a specific way that he insults the reader's intelligence by making it clear that in his opinion there is only one "right" way of perceiving what happened.
I must say, though, that Jon Krakauer does not suffer as a writer with pointed intimacy and expressiveness. He is certainly a wonderful writer, and did exactly what he set out to do: he told the facts, as best to his understanding of what happened. However, as a journalist, he failed at the delicate task of objectivity. And, for me, when reading non fiction, the emotional side of the story is most gracefully told with restraint and respect for the subject discussed. I don't doubt that he is respectful of the event, nor do I doubt that he is respectful of the idea of the event. However, in his telling, his own opinions betray this respect, and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
As a documentation of an event that has greatly moved a man who identifies, this is a splendid masterpiece. As a documentation of an event by someone who has enough history and knowledge and craftmanship to tell the story objectively, this is a literary failing.
That said, I greatly enjoyed the language, the story was more than compelling, and I am definitely glad that I read this. It certainly won't be among any of my "trade for credit at the used book store" books....more
I picked up what I thought would be a playful fairy tale and got just that; for I had forgotten about the cannibalistic witch in Hansel and Gretel, abI picked up what I thought would be a playful fairy tale and got just that; for I had forgotten about the cannibalistic witch in Hansel and Gretel, about the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid, and about the Wolf in the original telling of Little Red Riding Hood. This is a haunting and horrific tale of abuse and neglect masked with the innocent ideals of childhood. It came to a chilling conclusion and will stay with me for quite a while.
I am quite impressed that the themes in this book were so elegantly masked as to double as a children's story as well as an adult story with very disturbing themes. I will keep my copy of this book, but it certainly won't be the first thing that I read to my daughter out-loud.
I must add that the metaphors the author used, and the sensitivity to language should be celebrated and I do not think it wrong to call this a classic. It is timeless and very real and applicable....more
Quick read, entertaining stories, most of which had me laughing out loud. While reading, though, I thought that my husband would probably appreciate iQuick read, entertaining stories, most of which had me laughing out loud. While reading, though, I thought that my husband would probably appreciate it a bit more than I did.
Even though I did like this book, I did see some likeness to the whole "chicken soup for the soul" stories which sorta put me off. Every story seemed to have some sort of moral or whimsical observance of humanity. And the structure for each essay took away from the reading in my case. I also don't love baseball enough to be able to identify with the author's sentiments about the sport. I understand the parallels to life and the extended metaphor that baseball was for he and his son, though, and I appreciate that.
In all, though, I'm glad that I read it. It's nice to read a collection of essays from the same person so that I can get a feel for it as a writer - and a reader - as to what makes collections like that "good" or "bad". In this case, I just know that I enjoyed it. : )...more
**spoiler alert** Of all of the "Left Behind" books, this has been the one that disappointed me the most - and also the one which had me grasping for**spoiler alert** Of all of the "Left Behind" books, this has been the one that disappointed me the most - and also the one which had me grasping for the next book the most, thus earning a 3/5 rather than a 2/5 which I had been planning on giving it up until the last 50 pages or so.
Where it failed: Some of the newer characters were so flat that they were hard to tell apart. I started losing memory for who was what and it seemed as though the same person answered to many different names and genders even. By the end of the book, though, each person's role was a bit more clear to me and thus, their characters (hopefully) will become more developed by the end.
Also, I thought that Chloe was acting out of character a lot. All the rest of the main characters thus far were very vivid, though and that's what kept me reading (besides the whole mystery attached with this book).
And that's where it "got" me, making its rating go up to 3 stars rather than 2. The whole book was a massive build up, padded tightly with so much flat filler and such that it was almost hard to get through, yet by the end of the book? You STILL don't know who did it! Wow. I think that was an amazing risk - and one that worked in this case. Mediocre at best as a work of "literary acclaim", but near-perfect as a device to keep the reader reaching for the next book in the series.
I am anxious to start and finish the next one for sure. This book also beautifully depicted the author's ideas of one way that the prophecies in Revelations would come to fruition. This series is a very entertaining read and it's nice to have "light reading" that also remembers to me my Christianity....more
I was not expecting the subject matter to be as compelling as it was. The prose, sometimes bordering on stream of consciousness, flowed rhythmically aI was not expecting the subject matter to be as compelling as it was. The prose, sometimes bordering on stream of consciousness, flowed rhythmically and with purpose; it was written with creative metaphors that anchored the story in a vivid depiction of its message (which there were a few; all worth while and wholesome). This book is more than a book about boxing, but more a story of a man's struggle to balance past with present and instinct with ration. The main character, plot, and backdrop of boxing is real which makes this book so gripping. Very impressive and I'm thankful that I got the opportunity to read this book.
I must say that I was most amazed and touched by the last few pages, a masterful ending that left me quite satisfied.
I must admit that I did find myself blushing a bit too frequently at some of the language and such. It really is more a "guy" book than a "girl" book, but that certainly didn't take away from the story for me - just distracted me a bit from time to time since I'm not used to that sort of language. : )...more