Neat book, has lots of short anectodes that challenge conventional wisdom and apply the tools of economics to decidedly un-economic things. However it...moreNeat book, has lots of short anectodes that challenge conventional wisdom and apply the tools of economics to decidedly un-economic things. However it lacks a unifying theme, has a tendency to repeat itself and its conclusions, and the obsessive praise of Levitt is irritating (made even worse in the tacked on bio in the Revised Edition). A good one for the book rack in the bathroom.(less)
Ah PKD. Such grand ideas, and then such lackluster execution at the plot / story level. It's almost painful at times to read a book like Deus Irae: th...moreAh PKD. Such grand ideas, and then such lackluster execution at the plot / story level. It's almost painful at times to read a book like Deus Irae: though it smartly wrangles with the big question of "what would happen to religion after a man-made apocalypse?", it's too often bogged down by a meandering, sloppy plot. If only he had paired up with a detail-oriented writer, someone with a head for hard SF and solid (if boring) story construction, it would have been one hell of a winning combination.
The beginning and ending were very good: smart premise, good resolve, interesting discussion of theological concepts. The whole idea of one of the main religions - that the "god of evil" revealed his true self by detonating a massive nuclear weapon - that was brilliance. Parallels with Christian / biblical text in the plot are nice asides.
But the middle was a slog, reading like some combination of fable, drug trip and dream. Weird characters came out of nowhere, delivered bit parts and disappeared. Nothing really made much sense here ("you touched the worm slime with your robot arm, now you can understand birds" ???), and instead of aiming to make sense of it, the author(s) went for puns and jokes instead. (The mutant bugs worship a broken down VW beetle. Get it? GET IT?) There's deliberately leaving some things unrevealed, and then there's unfocused writing, which is what ultimately drags down the rating of an otherwise good book.(less)
People love to hate on Hemingway's writing style and look down on it as being too simplistic, or too boring, or repetitive. Maybe for his longer novel...morePeople love to hate on Hemingway's writing style and look down on it as being too simplistic, or too boring, or repetitive. Maybe for his longer novels that's meaningful criticism. But Hemingway really nailed it with The Old Man and the Sea, which is a perfectly tuned story about a man and his plight against nature. The style is a great benefit to the short novel, continually reinforcing the mood with clipped language about the main character's current and pressing problems. It's so bluntly delivered that readers are simply dragged in without a second thought.
The story is simple. Santiago, a fisherman in Cuba, has gone 87 days without catching a single fish. He's old and broke and well past his prime... even his younger help has deserted him. On the 88th day, he hooks a huge fish that carries him out to sea. The bulk of the story is his attempt to bring the fish home so he can get food and (more importantly) prove his worth. I can't say much more without spoiling things.
It's so short, if you haven't read it, I'd recommend it. Takes some getting used to but the ending was something else. The book is proof enough that strong characterization and message don't need pages and pages of description heaped over everything. Hemingway saw to the core of his characters and showed us only what really mattered.(less)