I....huh. I don't know how to review this book. I mean, I understand putting together words and phrases that describe events and characters in the novI....huh. I don't know how to review this book. I mean, I understand putting together words and phrases that describe events and characters in the novel, but I can't quite wrap my head around doing that in a way that will make sense to anyone else.
I guess, first off, if you don't listen to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, this book isn't going to make any sense at all. So go back and listen to those first (they come out twice a month, and this behavior has been going on for more than a year now. You are way behind.), then come back to this. I'm not fully caught up myself, but I've been told that the episode entitled "Epilogue" won't make sense unless you've read the book. So stop before you get there.
Otherwise, this is a peek into the broader world of Night Vale. Characters we've only heard about briefly are given the stage, with the main players such as Cecil and Carlos and Old Woman Josie and the Faceless Old Woman who Lives In Your House make cameo appearances. Mayor Dana makes an appearance, and nobody talks about the dog park. The City Council is also horrifying and bleak. Erika, the angels, would appear if angels existed and we could talk about them.
But we can't.
If that last paragraph left you with a frustrated WTF feeling, this book is not for you....more
Totally a sucker for Manhattan Project books. I discovered this from an email from MTSU. The author and I share an alma mater. I'll keep you posted.
RiTotally a sucker for Manhattan Project books. I discovered this from an email from MTSU. The author and I share an alma mater. I'll keep you posted.
Right now, though, it's time for the Muppets.
Okay, I'm back. This is going to be a tough book to review.
First, I live in Tennessee, and Oak Ridge is still a fairly well-kept secret. But the kids win the regional science fair every year. (Except the year I was in it, but that's another story.) I've visited the museum which, like Los Alamos, does a great job of distracting you from what happens up there now. The museum, while interesting, doesn't tell anywhere near the whole story either.
This book tells more of the whole story than I've ever heard, but here's the thing: it could tell the story better. There was lots of information that could have been left out or included as back material. The discussion on different isotopes of uranium, for example, could have been cut entirely. There was a lot of repetition and redundancy. The story, overall, could have been tighter.
Another reviewer mentioned how irritating it was that some players were referred to by their titles, such as The Scientist and The General. I agree that this was annoying, and the annoyance was compounded by the fact that the person was called out by name pretty much every time their title appeared. I said at the outset I was a sucker for Manhattan Project novels; I bloody well know who General Groves and Robert Oppenheimer are. I'm not sure if this was an attempt to be cute or what, but I would definitely suggest it be edited out of future editions. There's a list of characters in the front, readers can refer back to that in the unlikely event they lose track.
The girls could have actually used this sort of honorific treatment, but they didn't get it. I had trouble remembering who was who, especially for women who disappeared for multiple chapters. And at least one woman was included, and the cast list teased she would have a major part and implied great mystery about her. Literally, I don't know how she got a speaking part in the story at all, much less the big reveal treatment.
And finally, the book glossed over or completely ignored things that actually happened. I couldn't tell if this was because the girls themselves didn't know (or weren't affected), or because...I don't have a second guess. But I know from Feynman's book that Richard Feynman visited Oak Ridge because the quality product they received in Los Alamos was not meeting their specifications. No mention of that visit, or the fact that the uranium was being stored wrong and had reached critical mass in several places around the facility.
I've read other interviews where scientists and their families claimed they were basically prisoners. Life in this Oak Ridge is portrayed as uncomfortable and exceedingly strange, but all these characters are apparently free to come and go as they pleased.
And then there was the patent issue. FDR, bless his heart...
So I give this book 3.5 stars: a good effort.
Be advised: the last about 20% of the ebook is a study guide, which throws the percentages off.
The thing I really and truly loved was the pictures at the end of the women followed by the story. Those almost made me cry, right in the middle of Panera.
I wouldn't not recommend this book, but I wouldn't suggest reading this at the beginning of your odyssey through the Manhattan Project either. The women are interesting and their stories worthwhile, but it will be a frustrating place to start....more
79s/80s/90s Buckley. I suspect many of these essays would be laugh-out-loud funny to my parents, to pick a random example. Like so many things, I unde79s/80s/90s Buckley. I suspect many of these essays would be laugh-out-loud funny to my parents, to pick a random example. Like so many things, I understand that it's funny, I'm just not sure why. (I have the same experience with Monkey Business jokes and Sandinista jokes.) Still, some hilarious pieces, some really good pieces, some pieces that were obviously inspiration or research for his books. Some outright mentions of his books. And I found his essay on the Vietnam War, his draft review, college years and reflections to be surprisingly touching. Really surprisingly touching. And his follow up column was even better. I like how he consistently breaks what I was told was the one rock-solid, immutable law of journalism: Thou Shalt Not Use Thy Column for Revenge. All the time. It's hilarious. Two thumbs way up. If you enjoyed The White House Mess and Thank You for Smoking, you'll like this....more
Actually, it isn't. The locals, such as they are, tend to be distrustful of new people. As well they should be, becaMidnight is a nice place to visit.
Actually, it isn't. The locals, such as they are, tend to be distrustful of new people. As well they should be, because so often those new people tend to be law enforcement, up to no good, or both. And, honestly, for a town so small, there's a lot to hide.
Pretty good book, and it's nice to spend time in Midnight again. We find out a little more about some recurring characters from the last book, and we get a couple of new ones, plus a little mystery that I feel will be hanging out for a while.
(WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. I'll KEEP IT VAGUE)
For fans of the Sookie Stackhouse series, there's a visit from an old friend. He has a secret too.
Edited: That's too vague, and also inaccurate. There are two visitors from the Southern Vampire series. Both are interesting. One will probably cause much rejoicing among fans.
In any case, if you read and liked the first Midnight Crossing book, and liked the Southern Vampire series, you'll probably like this one too....more
I was a pilot, and did a thesis on early female pilots when I was a senior. Like many other early pilots, Beryl Markham leaves a lot to be desired asI was a pilot, and did a thesis on early female pilots when I was a senior. Like many other early pilots, Beryl Markham leaves a lot to be desired as a role model. "Questionable Choices" should have been the name of their first organization. I didn't hesitate to preorder this book. I'll keep you posted.
Okay, now I'm back. I finished the book over the weekend, and have been pondering what I wanted to say ever since then.
First off, I should say the book is very well written. If you enjoyed "The Paris Wife", you'll probably enjoy this one too. If you're like me and don't see the direct connection between the two subjects, you'll probably go (as I did) to wikipedia, only to discover that Ernest Hemingway loved West With the Night, even if he didn't care for Markham herself. (There's just no other way I can interpret the phrase "high-grade bitch", except to note that I'm not a fan of Hemingway and that this doesn't seem to be out of character for him. But, that's called confirmation bias, and that's the subject of another review on another day.)
Now: Having only been exposed to Beryl Markham as a pioneering female pilot, I was surprised that the book opened with her crossing the Atlantic, and then that storyline dropped for maybe 90% of the book. We covered a lot of territory: marriages, divorces, affairs, family, horse racing, clubs, LOTS of drinking, tons of parties, England, Nairobi, and most of the cast of Out of Africa. Flying is almost an afterthought. Indeed, flying seems to have been an afterthought in her life, as she took it up after embarking on a successful career as a horse trainer.
The impression I came away from this book with was that of a woman who could not make a good decision to save her life. I mean, not even one. She married a man she barely knew when she was far too young (and then, inexplicably, did not drag him out into the bush and leave him to die), got involved with Denys Finch Hatton (although, apparently, she was one in an extremely long line), went to England, married someone else she barely knew (and who barely knew her). The book glosses over, skims, or outright ignores a number of alleged affairs, but that may be so the author could stay on the side of believability. Maybe she had an affair with Prince Henry, but the text of this book maintains that she did not.
The book ends (spoiler alert) with her historic crossing of the Atlantic (additional spoiler: she lives), and therefore does not cover her third marriage, her meeting of Hemingway on safari, or the series of events that lead her to write West With the Night. It doesn't address whether she or a veritable host of others wrote her memoir, although there is a surprising amount of compelling information that she wrote that one herself, after flaking on a contract to write a book about a jockey.
And now I have to add "Out of Africa" and "West With the Night" to my TBR pile. (I understand she was renamed in the movie, but we're not here to discuss the movie, are we? Which is a good thing, because Denys Finch Hatton is described as being "very tall". I've met Robert Redford. He cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, fit that description.)
tl;dr: I recommend this one if you liked The Paris Wife. It's a worthwhile novel, even if it did not cover the parts about which I was most curious. I look forward to Ms. McLain's next work....more