A tangled web of multi-dimensional males come to life while weakly-developed, flat female characters are relegated to the corner (but if she happens tA tangled web of multi-dimensional males come to life while weakly-developed, flat female characters are relegated to the corner (but if she happens to be flat-chested, too, you will surely hear about it!)
Nonetheless a very well crafted and gripping mystery with lots of plot twists that run much deeper than the story at first leads on. Often requires a little suspension of disbelief, but it's a real page turner....more
Four star but with a lot of qualifying. Totally agree with the points made by those giving it two stars, but there is undeniably solid merit among allFour star but with a lot of qualifying. Totally agree with the points made by those giving it two stars, but there is undeniably solid merit among all the trash.
Depravity and wit à la Brett Easton Ellis. Misogyny à la 50 Cent and his cronies....more
Picked this up at the library on a whim. I think it'll be a nice watching companion and leafing through may help me happily endure tonight's repetitivPicked this up at the library on a whim. I think it'll be a nice watching companion and leafing through may help me happily endure tonight's repetitive shitshow....more
Oh my, here we go, p.10: "For example, one dad would say, "The love of money is the root of all evil." The other, "The lack of money is the root of alOh my, here we go, p.10: "For example, one dad would say, "The love of money is the root of all evil." The other, "The lack of money is the root of all evil." SAD trite slogan windfall commenceth. I can't even shelve this as nonfiction. It just sounds like an adolescent lamenting homework and rebelling against his [real] dad.
Now really, WHY work for the man when you can make the man work for you?
Just turn yourself into a corporation, which seems totally legit and not to mention totally ethical. Keep selling up in your real estate ventures because the housing market has proved itself totally reliable, of late o_O, and the government affords a crucial tax loophole for anyone who doesn't liquidate. Take advantage of anyone you can but keep telling yourself that you're actually doing them a favor by educating them.
Impractical advice, on the whole, completely lacking in specifics, with shameless display of his morally defunct (*questionable at best) character. Pumps a few of his cronies' books in the process without divulging any substantive information contained therein either. Quite mysterious. And smarmy.
Taxes are the worst, so fancy yourself a corporation and let all those poor slogs pick up your tab! Besides, the socialist government wants to let you die in favor of someone with fewer years under the belt. Thank goodness for our free markets combating all these government ills that will afford you the hard earned medical attention in your Golden Years that you are entitled to more than anyone else simply because you have the money to pay for it.
I have to give him credit for anticipating the Death Panel myth at least 10 years before it hit the mainstream....more
An odd retelling of the old Dr. Moreau story, though this is from the perspective of his daughter (had he been written to have one - ? - I never readAn odd retelling of the old Dr. Moreau story, though this is from the perspective of his daughter (had he been written to have one - ? - I never read HG Wells' original so I don't know if that's consistent or not).
On the whole, an amusing read, but I won't be pursuing the sequel(s) for which this was so clearly written to accommodate. Some plot holes, a few of which even border on nonsensical and/or absurd. A generous helping of idle banter. In the end, not really much to take away, but a lot of entertainment bang for the meager time investment.
Though lines like "if Darwin is to be trusted..." left a bitter taste in my mouth.
And this is just sad: "His hand worked the buckle straps like it was me he wanted to be holding and the saddle leathers were a poor substitute." /!!!
In sum, if you find witless 19th century teen love triangles and repressing temptation for the sake of "propriety" amusing then you MIGHT [really]like this....more
"She looked most like the gemstone she was named for when she was cold--her fingertips turned violet, her hands turned white, heMade me cry, cry, cry.
"She looked most like the gemstone she was named for when she was cold--her fingertips turned violet, her hands turned white, her cheeks went yellow and her lips turned blue. As with an opal, Flash could see the fire in her at that moment."
"Because she had been too young to form a real memory of it, she had either dreamed or she had been told that when her mother died she had clung to her hand. Years later, when she entered school and the teacher went around the classroom asking every child to Give us an example of something cold Opal didn't hesitate to mention Death. "
Danforth has a beautiful grasp of adolescent self-discovery and weaves that with ostracizing and frightening influences. She's got such perspective onDanforth has a beautiful grasp of adolescent self-discovery and weaves that with ostracizing and frightening influences. She's got such perspective on the myriad human vulnerabilities. She doesn't deal in absolutes and leaves much room for interpretation. So impressed. So teary eyed. I've learned so much. Reading this was quite a humbling experience.
Something about young Cameron Post's experience at a camp designed to help her "pray away the gay" really struck a chord with me--- that the methods centered on establishing an addiction to the discipline of degrading the self and fabricating the delusion that doing so means one is living more righteously than others. Despicable. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that many actual camps and "counselors" rely on the same tactics with their victims. I guess that's something we could ask Michelle Bachmann's husband... another time.
Truly a profound novel. And a closing dedication such as what is recreated below simply couldn't follow a mediocre story. This speaks volumes of this newly-minted author. I'll be reading anything she ever publishes.
In memory of Catherine Havilland Anne Elizabeth Mary Victoria Baily Woods, who not only had the best and longest name of any friend I've ever had, but who was also the truest friend, the most honest friend, and the one with the greatest imagination. ...more
My pettest of pets: "Whenever I saw her, I felt like I had been living in another country, doing moderately well in another language, and then she shoMy pettest of pets: "Whenever I saw her, I felt like I had been living in another country, doing moderately well in another language, and then she showed up speaking English and suddenly I could speak with all the complexity and nuance that I hadn't even realized was gone. With Lucy I was a native speaker."
Solidly 4.5 and rounded up. Reflections on the past through three different perspectives - two students and a literature teacher at an international hSolidly 4.5 and rounded up. Reflections on the past through three different perspectives - two students and a literature teacher at an international high school in Paris. I gather that it's about five years after the fact. I'm amazed that I was kept up until about 3am the three nights I spent reading it considering that it nearly always reiterates the plot points through at least two of these three different characters. Obviously there is immense power in perspective, especially when characters are crafted so finely and have been honed by their experiences to see diversely different truths.
It is impossible to understand reality divorced of who we are as we face it. Perception contains inherent bias. This is actually a theme explored in the high school classroom with students interpreting the texts of both Faulkner and Camus, and it is eminently true for those students when confronting the world and their place in it.
Yes, there's scandal, but the scandal seems to be a vehicle to deliver profound ideas. Realizing in a moment the fallibility of an idol and the naivety in idol worship. Doubting self, doubting others, doubting your surroundings.
While the praise on the cover is substantial and by and large from legitimate lit review publications, I'm surprised there isn't more buzz among readers. I feel I'd never have heard of it if I hadn't traveled to the end of the webbernets ....so now that you know about it, you should read it ;-]...more
Someone already said this, but this is totally a Mom-oir. The only thing I really come away with is that she was an insufferable person and that thereSomeone already said this, but this is totally a Mom-oir. The only thing I really come away with is that she was an insufferable person and that there was some severe parent-child role reversal throughout much of Russo's childhood.
It seems between the lines HIS story would have been interesting enough (or, I should say, would have actually been a story at all), but he's chosen to focus all attention on his mother, perhaps in homage because it appears he has some latent guilt stemming from his child-self's inability to continually act as her savior.
And now I feel kind of guilty rating such a well-written author a meager two stars....more
Set in post-WWII Long Island, Shanghai and London, Nayman tells a deeply personal story that, as acutely harrowing as many aspects of it are, seems auSet in post-WWII Long Island, Shanghai and London, Nayman tells a deeply personal story that, as acutely harrowing as many aspects of it are, seems authentic and well-researched. Nayman has a great ability to decompose human experience and emotion in ways that are entirely foreign to me and yet somehow relatable. The plot is gripping of its own accord but the many-faceted characters and the intense inner-life struggle of each is what sets her work apart from others.
The story is told though the perspectives of three joint protagonists inextricably bound by their pasts. The nature of these relationships is slowly revealed as the life of each character is examined in a series of first-person narratives. The serial narration style makes for a slightly disjointed telling of the story, but the experience of multiple perspectives is satisfying overall, and each main character is so complex and finely crafted. It's important here to linger on seemingly minute details as their importance may eventually be revealed. Oftentimes the connection among characters relies on a particular that may be easily overlooked or forgotten, so the cohesiveness may be lost for some. That said, Nayman does a fine job of referencing past details in a way that makes them recognizable, but I did find that I had to return to earlier sections of the book to complete the memory or idea. However, this did not detract from the experience of reading, for me. ...more
I had such high expectations; put it on hold at the library and waited about 6 months to finally get my hands on it. I'd heard Kingsolver speak aboutI had such high expectations; put it on hold at the library and waited about 6 months to finally get my hands on it. I'd heard Kingsolver speak about it on Science Friday near the time it was released and was aching to read it, but for some reason it's been really difficult for me to get through.
I read Prodigal Summer within the last year or so. I enjoyed it very much as it explored characters very deeply and they all felt remarkably 'fresh' to me - strong yet flawed, full of unique contradiction in the particulars. These characters felt very much apart from others I'd seen explored in literature.
Now reading Flight Behavior, I feel like many of the characters are rehashed. From Prodigal Summer. Not only does this kind of squash my feelings that the characters of PS were very unique, it makes getting through this quite laborious. PS had more variety of characters because it explored three very different (ultimately interrelated) story lines. Here we have a copy of the intelligent, strong female lead who marries into a family of dysfunctional rubes. Same story: female in-laws and/or friends-of-the-in-laws making hell for our poor, outsider protagonist.
One of the characters was (very oddly!) a country hippie ('hick' ?) possessing many British-isms (Australia-isms - ?) in her manner of speaking. This cannot have been intended by the author! Not very convincing. "Brilliant!" "my mum" "now it's gone a bit parky, has it not?" "we've got loads" & "Cheers [mate?]" - all inside of 4 pages.
Aside from the character issues and the (obviously!) dated references to the "World Wide Web" (referred to conversationally and in earnest by the more intelligent of her characters) and the ridiculous references to facebook and recreation of full text message banter complete with 'txt-speak' and abbreviations, in silly modified font, the exploration of environmental impact on animal behaviors and ecosystems is fantastic - and for that we can credit Kingsolver's vast knowledge of biology. It's really refreshing to read fiction written by a scientist. She also does a great job of addressing the divide between academic scientists and average citizens; the vernacular/ jargon disconnect, the mentality differences, the inherent biases, the lack of understanding by many a layperson on things as basic as what the intention of science even is, the unwillingness to interact by the science community or to even bother speaking to the level of the non-scientist, etc.
Some of the novel feels very shallow but it's sprinkled with a few nuggets that are downright inspiring:
Regarding mother-daughter relationships, solid faith, and the main character's want for more: "She felt a pang of longing, as she often did in church. Everybody had a mother and a God; those were standard issue." (p. 340)
Commenting on a woman's extensive knowledge of very obscure and somewhat trivial things without any definite practicality, she thoughtfully relays this: "That must be lonely, to have answers whose questions had all died of natural causes." (p. 347)
Examining the reasons for why the natural disasters posed by clime changes have resulted in the species flock to Southern Appalachia, the potential causes are said to point to why not here rather than why here , leaving the main character thoughtfully exploring and yet at a loss for definitive answers.
and subtly exploring dogma: "Beyond half-answers and evasions, one question had persisted, since forever, and it was why. In Dellarobia's childhood it plagued and compelled her, one word, like one silver dollar on the floor of a wishing well, begging to be plucked up but strategically untouchable. Unsatisfactory answers crowded the waters around it, she could measure her life in those: because you are too young, because it was his time, because it isn't done, because I didn't raise you to behave that way, because it's too late, because the baby came early, because life is like that, just because. Because God moves, it goes without saying, in mysterious ways." (p. 348)
"...you couldn't stand up and rail against the weather. That was exactly the point of so many stories. Jack London and Ernest Hemingway, confidence swaggering into the storm: Man against Nature. Of all the possible conflicts, that was the one that was hopeless. Even a slim education had taught her this much: Man loses." (p. 245)
Post-review note: It has recently been brought to my attention that what I thought were USA country gals with exaggerated British-isms were actually British (see comments). Admitting my mistake, they were absurdly silly caricatures which is still not excusable in my book....more
I picked this up sort of half-heartedly-- I am a lover of Pittsburgh but wasn't too excited about the premise of this series. However, the remarkableI picked this up sort of half-heartedly-- I am a lover of Pittsburgh but wasn't too excited about the premise of this series. However, the remarkable talent from this collection of authors kept me reading well past my bedtime on at least a few exhausted nights. Using a dark and often disturbing platform, this collection paradoxically captures the positively fascinating character of a town with a generous exmination of its diverse populations.
While I am not a seasoned mystery reader, these stories didn't strike me as formulaic fluff. At least a few of the stories were without any crime at all but relied on another source of intensity, such as the psychological damage of a first-line soldier returning home. These are solid and well-constructed works and, as a whole, it is the most riveting collection of shorts that I've read in a long while. The editor carefully ordered and grouped this collection according to themes that are uniquely and decidedly Pittsburgh. I'll certainly be seeking out more in the Noir series and probably more work by at least authors Paul Lee and K.C. Constantine. Quite pleasantly surprised!...more