So...this is the story of a middle-aged advertising executive who has a mid-life crisis, and leaves his life in Chicago and heads to the Hebrides, offSo...this is the story of a middle-aged advertising executive who has a mid-life crisis, and leaves his life in Chicago and heads to the Hebrides, off the coast of Scotland. Along the way, the hero (or anti-hero? he's kind of a jerk) drinks a LOT of whiskey, thinks about the consequences of his profession, gets divorced, walks around the Scottish island of Jura in unsuitable boots, and thinks about the novel 1984 while living in the house that George Orwell lived in. There's a teenaged artist, a possible werewolf, and a bunch of other quirky characters.
I liked a lot of the story, but the ending was abrupt and left me very unsatisfied. ...more
Awesome poetry about being Indian (aka Native American), being a woman, a mother, horses, nature, alcoholism, and more. Don't know how I never heard oAwesome poetry about being Indian (aka Native American), being a woman, a mother, horses, nature, alcoholism, and more. Don't know how I never heard of her before this, I liked her work almost as much as Billy Collins....more
A YA novel that I really, really liked - despite the cover and the title, which made it seem like a rather trite teen romance.
Instead, it's a story abA YA novel that I really, really liked - despite the cover and the title, which made it seem like a rather trite teen romance.
Instead, it's a story about some rather damaged characters, and a fairly realistic look at high school bullying, cliques, foster-care, and good and bad parenting. And yeah, some romance with sex. That's not the focus of the story, though. ...more
Delightful essays on farm dinners, fish boils, rhubarb pies and kuchen, Italian beef, pork tenderloins, sweet corn, working in a Greek diner, workingDelightful essays on farm dinners, fish boils, rhubarb pies and kuchen, Italian beef, pork tenderloins, sweet corn, working in a Greek diner, working the line in a cornflake factory, foie gras (banned in Chicago), peach cobbler and the Indy 500, pies of all kinds, Thanksgiving dinners, state fair food, church and funeral food, tamales, 5-way chili, fudge and much more. Nice selection of authors, some wonderful writing that is already prompting me to search out the authors' longer works. ...more
I was disappointed in this book after being excited by the cover, a glance at the illustrations, and the subject. A comparison of prehistoric cities iI was disappointed in this book after being excited by the cover, a glance at the illustrations, and the subject. A comparison of prehistoric cities in the New World - Cahokia (near St. Louis), and Mayan, Aztec, and Incan cities, with some explanation of what makes a city and how it comes to be is a wonderful and long overdue topic for a kid's book.
Unfortunately, "Buried Beneath Us" is rather confusing (as other reviewers note, the text jumps from one city & ancient culture to another very quickly), and I think that the blocks of text are too long for the target audience. The vocabulary is difficult for younger kids and a bit dry, too (e.g. "The foundations of religious worship probably go back to Paleolithic times. Humans have always depended on the proliferation of other species..." (pg. 49).
Religion is given priority both for origins and its role in the day-to-day life of these civilizations, but the other elements that contributed to the emergence, function, and growth of prehistoric cities (hereditary political power, warfare, agriculture, population growth, specialization, etc.) are given short shrift.
I was willing to go along with this perspective and style (if not overlook it entirely) for the sake of the narrative, but a couple of basic errors about Cahokia stopped me in my tracks.
First of all, Cahokia was not "built on bluff overlooking the Mississippi River" (p. 14). As any visit or a look at a description of the site shows, Cahokia was constructed on the floodplain, in an area known as the American Bottom (a geographic name that rivals Lake Titicaca in its snicker-potential for kids).
Futhermore, we do not know that "Cahokia's biggest holiday of the year happened in mid-July", nor that this was called "the Busk Festival" (p. 28). Aveni is careful to separate speculation about prehistoric religion from established archaeological fact elsewhere (as in the evidence for human sacrifice at Cahokia), so this statement attributing Cahokian ceremony to the historic Cherokee was surprising.
One sentence mentioning "smallpox and other diseases to which the natives were not immune" (p. 75) is overshadowed by lengthy descriptions of political unrest and Spanish alliances with Aztec and Incan neighbors, which may lead kids to believe that Tenochtitlan and Cuzco fell (like Cahokia and the Mayan cities) as part of a natural process or as a result of the Spanish invasion, instead of a result of deadly epidemics that may have killed 9 out of 10 people in these areas.
So yeah. Disappointing. But maybe some snippets of text or illustration will inspire some kids to examine what's "Buried Beneath Us" further.