The premise of the book is simple: Jeff, a young, naïve, closeted little gay boy from Kansas goes to a big college in California and is sucked into aThe premise of the book is simple: Jeff, a young, naïve, closeted little gay boy from Kansas goes to a big college in California and is sucked into a world of sex and drugs. Since most of the story revolves around his crush on Blair, who draws him into rushing a fraternity, I expected all sorts of power dynamics: quasi-consensual encounters with the frat members as Jeff tries to get in to the frat, out-of-control bacchanals, complicated interplay between Jeff and Blair as neither acknowledge their attraction, instead expressing it in more and more fucked up ways… The possibilities are endless.
That is not what I got.
Complexity? No. This book has no complexity at all. Jeff's interaction with Blair, which goes something along the lines of: "Hi, I'm Jeff." "Hi, I'm Blair. OMG I luv you 4evar." This presents kind of a problem for the book as a romance, since the romance is resolved in the first twenty pages. But right, this isn't a romance. It's porn. But if your two main characters declare their eternal love for each other as soon as they meet, how do you fit in all teh hot sex?
Easy. Jeff's a horndog. He says yes to everything. Every drug he's offered he takes; every time he's offered sex, he takes it. And this is not done in a dark, twisted, self-destructive kind of way. It's just sort of straightforward, and then I did pot and didn't go to class. No self-examination, no consequences. This leads to sequences like this: Jeff: "OMG I did coke and then fucked Mike and now Blair's pissed at me cause I cheated on him." Other dude: "Man, that really sucks." Jeff: "Yeah. I really miss him. I wish I hadn't fucked things up by sleeping with Mike." OD: "You know, Blair really loves you. I'm sure he'll take you back." Jeff: "Really?" OD: "Yeah, sure." … OD: "Wanna fuck?" Jeff: "Absolutely!"
The resolution of this potential complication, Jeff cheating on Blair repeatedly, is that Jeff and Blair talk and agree that since Jeff can't keep it in his pants, it's totally okay for him to fuck other people when he's horny if Blair's not around. Even if Blair's just gone out to the deli—when the mood strikes, Jeff can't be held responsible for his actions, and Blair's totally okay with that. (Sockpuppet!)
Which brings us to the sex scenes. Oh, the sex scenes. Let's just say the author's only way of describing anything is by saying "sexy as hell." As in, "Blair was sexy as hell. He took off his shirt. It was sexy as hell."
All of that would be bad enough, but the majority of the book isn't even about that. The majority of the book is about initiations, told with all the nuance of a frat boy's diary. The descriptions read like: "And then I drank four beers and smoked a joint and drank another beer then threw up." Greeeeat. There are also passages like when Jeff says he rushed with eleven other guys, then describes each of the other guys: names, hometowns, hobbies, and of course appearance. This takes pages. Do we ever even hear about most of these guys again? No we do not.
There is, of course, a villain of the piece. The bad guy is immediately identified, before he's done anything at all, because he can't hold his liquor, doesn't smoke pot, isn't gay, and—horrors!—isn't ridiculously attractive. I mean—he has zits and isn't tanned. Yeah, what a douche. He totally deserves to be ostracized and hazed for that.
In conclusion—don't read this book. Really. The only thing Every Frat Boy Wants It has going for it is a bitchin' cover....more
**spoiler alert** What utter utter crap. New age tripe that doesn't even try to address the issues of a woman's role in life or trying to live a life**spoiler alert** What utter utter crap. New age tripe that doesn't even try to address the issues of a woman's role in life or trying to live a life of meaning but papers over them instead incoherent ramblings about the reincarnation of dogs.
Don't even get me started on the fact that a baby lands on the woman's stoop in the last chapter, making her life complete and solving all her problems, and then the love of her life drives up for no reason. Did I mention she exchanged a one-page conversation with this guy on page 20 and he was sir not-appearing-in-this-book after that? Yeah. Skip this one if you like your brain cells....more
Anna Norton is possibly the most hateful character I've ever encountered in fiction--certainly the most hateful I've been expected to identify with asAnna Norton is possibly the most hateful character I've ever encountered in fiction--certainly the most hateful I've been expected to identify with as the heroine. So loathsome is this character that I can't help but feel shocked and offended that the nerds, the "fatties", the social outcasts of the world, are supposed to see her as a champion of their cause. Quoth the promotional material of this book: "every woman can relate to her insecurities and body image issues." Sure. Of course they can. If every woman is a spiteful, deluded, undermining bitch determined to make everyone else feel as shitty about themselves as she does. Seriously, this character is CRAZY.
This book is pure, unredeeming bile. I don't know why anyone would enjoy reading it. I certainly didn't....more
This is a fine book. Which is a huge disappointment, because it could have been excellent. It has one of the best premises--and best titles--of any boThis is a fine book. Which is a huge disappointment, because it could have been excellent. It has one of the best premises--and best titles--of any book to come out recently. It got a lot of press, because the interest in the topic is immediate and obvious.
With all that, I wanted a story of the Loebner Prize and the author's quest for the Most Human Human award, along with some computer science and philosophy. I didn't get a story of the Loebner Prize--at all. He talks about leading up to it, makes a few references to the actual event randomly throughout, and then skips to the award ceremony, which was profoundly disappointing.
As for the computer science and philosophy, well... There's a lot of it.
Christian talks about human speech patterns, which, in spoken conversation, are overlapping, interrupting, digressing--everything but linear. Maybe it was his intent to write the book that way, but if it was, it's an impressive failure. There are some chapters that have a coherent direction. But most of them randomly wander off and never get to the point. You might find yourself suddenly reading about Aristophanes in Plato's Symposium and never quite figure out how that has anything at all to do with the Turing test. Sometimes he'll give a bit of a precis at the start of the chapter, but then he won't follow it.
And there are all these headers throughout, which contain no structural value at all. It seems like he wrote the thing and then just stuck a header in whenever a pun occured to him. Or whenever he realized that this page-long bit has nothing to do with anything in the text surrounding it. And they're all A-heads, so they don't help create a sense of hierarchy. There are also random epigraphs, sometimes in the middle of a section. I get it, dude, you studied philosophy and poetry. You know stuff. But you need to work all of this material together into a coherent whole, instead of leaving all the lumps in the gravy.
So as you read, you find yourself in a forty-page long digression about data entropy and compression algorithms. Or not even a digression, really, because "digression" implies some sort of starting off point, and the only relation this seems to have to the purported topic of the book is that he read about it while researching the book. And there are some interesting things about how video compression works in there, but somewhere in the hour or so of reading this chapter, you start to wonder what the hell happened to the narrative.
The chapters that I liked best were the ones I read all in one sitting--it seems like you need to take this book in hundred-page chunks in order for him to wander back to his topic often enough to figure out what's going on.
There are interesting things in this book. But--honestly--the interesting things have already been mined. I've heard several radio stories based on this book, and a few more brushing the same topics (on This American Life and Radiolab). Those stories were a lot better than this book is. Which shows what a really talented journalist can do with the material. Christian, on the other hand, mostly squanders it. ...more
I feel like this was a really great book for someone who is not me. I had a difficult time following a lot of the action--he switches POVs frequently-I feel like this was a really great book for someone who is not me. I had a difficult time following a lot of the action--he switches POVs frequently--and the dialogue, much of which is in a pigeon dialect that has a fantastic effect but I found almost impossible to understand. The story itself is gripping, but distant. The book is more concerned with making a philosophical point than in telling a yarn.
This was a barb thrown at the heart of post-colonial Africa. Unfortunately, I was not familiar enough with the subject of his examination to be able to get much traction....more
This is a self-help book for people having affairs. Not the spouses, not another pop psychology book about why people cheat, no, it essentially asks tThis is a self-help book for people having affairs. Not the spouses, not another pop psychology book about why people cheat, no, it essentially asks the question, so you're having an affair. Now what? I picked this book up because I, like many people, saw the subtitle and said what, really? Really?
The book opens with an explanation of why you help these people--true, they're the ones who essentially punched their primary relationship in the face, they're the ones inflicting huge emotional damage on everyone close to them. But, as Kirshenbaum points out, most people having an affair feel absolutely awful about it. And since they feel they should be punished for what they've done, they make the worst possible decisions--decisions that don't just hurt them, but hurt everyone else as much as possible. They tend to be wracked by indecision, and drag out the process of ending one of the relationships for agonizing months (or years), even after everyone knows what's going on. So yes, you need to help these people, if only to lessen the emotional toll on everyone around them.
By far the most interesting section of the book is on the seventeen types of affairs. Having an affair is a terrible way to figure out what's wrong with your primary relationship (like amateur heart surgery, she says), but now that you've done it, you might as well learn what you can about yourself and your relationship. And no, most affairs are not about sex, whatever Hollywood tells you.
The rest is a mix of more general advice on evaluating your relationships, how to break up with someone, how to talk kids about divorce (with the added wrinkle that you will be cast as the villain in this piece if you choose to leave your spouse for your lover, even if the marriage was doomed long before the affair), how to heal and rebuild trust (and no, apologizing a lot isn't enough--all that does is says your remorse is more important than their feelings), all tailored to the particular situation of someone in two relationships.
The writing is clear, and it reads fast, though Kirshenbaum often retreads the same ground--one gets the impression she's used to beating these points into the thick skulls of her patients. Nonetheless, it's a really interesting look at the reality of affairs, and is full of practical advice that could just as easily be applied to a faithful person who has hit a rough patch in their long term relationship....more
I hated this book. HATED IT. Getting all the way through was grueling.
I understand why other people love Philip K. Dick, and I totally get why his worI hated this book. HATED IT. Getting all the way through was grueling.
I understand why other people love Philip K. Dick, and I totally get why his work has inspired so many films. But to me, I didn't give a s*** about any of the characters, and the lovingly described extended set pieces of weird, unexplained things just felt like the author jerking me around....more
This is the sort of book where the villains say things like, "I'm going to rape you now. I think I'll rape you against the tree because the ground's tThis is the sort of book where the villains say things like, "I'm going to rape you now. I think I'll rape you against the tree because the ground's too hard," and then conveniently accidentally kill themselves. The two main characters (both completely virginal!) accidentally climb into bed together stark naked (whoops!) and so have to marry. Fortunately the guy is duke of something-or-other and the girl is madly in love with him. Ludicrously implausible, relatively inoffensive fluff....more