This is a fascinating and incredibly readable novel. First, the narrative perspective is interesting, in that it's a story of two characters and toldThis is a fascinating and incredibly readable novel. First, the narrative perspective is interesting, in that it's a story of two characters and told from one character's perspective. Second, it's a story that tackles big, moral issues around abortion and motherhood. These two aspects combine to give this novel the feeling of being very old, even though it was published in the last year.
I felt it did a great job of both offering a perspective and an opinion on abortion while still telling a tremendously gripping story. I read this book in days and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a great novel that isn't afraid of weighty subject matter....more
When I was 22, 23, I lived in East Hollywood in a horrible apartment with mold on the ceiling and a ratty carpet. It was an embarrassment, but lookingWhen I was 22, 23, I lived in East Hollywood in a horrible apartment with mold on the ceiling and a ratty carpet. It was an embarrassment, but looking back on it, it was where I needed to be at the time. I worked at a bookstore and I would get home from work at 1am. But that was never the end of my night. I was too keyed up to sleep right away, so I'd get a case of domestic beer (Budweiser was my brand back then...what?), and stay up until 4, 5am, drinking, reading, and most of all, listening to albums.
The records that were important to me then were The Stooges' Fun House, Tom Waits' Closing Time, and above all else, Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. I consider the release of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to mark a kind of turning point for me, when I started to emerge from this weird self-imposed exile and start actually living my life. I met the woman I'd eventually marry, started taking my work more seriously, just generally got my shit together. But for awhile there, all I really had was Fun House and Astral Weeks and a lot of bad beer.
Jessica Hopper's collection of criticism took me back to that period in my life (from a safe distance, mind you), and reminded me of when music was vitally important for me. But while there's plenty of Van Morrison referenced here, this is a more modern collection. Reviews of everything from Tyler the Creator to Coughs to Animal Collective. I even enjoyed reading about acts I'd never heard before.
My favorite section was probably the "Bad Reviews" section. Who doesn't love a good teardown every once and awhile.
Side note: reading a book like this in the era of streaming music is great. Haven't heard of a band referenced? Just pull them up online. Twenty years ago, it would have been a completely different experience. ...more
About 12 years ago, I wrote an essay about how I lived in a near-constant state of panic that Pedro Martinez would get injured. You can't read this esAbout 12 years ago, I wrote an essay about how I lived in a near-constant state of panic that Pedro Martinez would get injured. You can't read this essay, because it exists solely in the literary journal about baseball pitching that I published exactly once. It's not online, and it never will be. I wrote it during a time when I was feeling especially fragile. I was trying to figure out where I was going and what kind of person I was going to be. I had just started dating the person who I'd eventually marry. I'd just settled into my first serious job which would eventually turn into a career, against all odds.
And all the sports teams I loved were star-crossed. The only two teams I really follow anymore -- the Syracuse Orange basketball team and the Boston Red Sox -- both had been mediocre for awhile. They'd both had tragic failures in the mid 80s. I didn't have a whole lot of hope. But Pedro gave me something to get excited about. Pedro started to turn it all around.
The Red Sox traded for Pedro Martinez when I was still in college. By the time I'd moved to Los Angeles and started my official adulthood (ha!), he had established himself as the greatest right-handed pitcher of his generation--historically dominant and a superstar personality, to boot. But by the time I wrote my essay in late 02 early 03, he'd injured his shoulder, and it looked like he was bound to be one of those near misses that Sox fans had come to dread.
I remember going over to my friend's house to work on the literary journal. She was publishing it with me (and really doing most of the work on it, laying it out, etc.). We'd agreed that we'd work through the night to meet some deadline that we'd decided was very important. While we were working, I watched Carmelo Anthony lead my beloved Cuse to their first and only National Championship. I credit Pedro with just a little bit of that magic.
Later that year, he pitched what should have been the winning game in game 7 of the ALCS. It wasn't, and I had to wait another year before the Sox would redeem themselves. And even though Curt Schilling and David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez probably played bigger roles in that '04 season, it was Pedro that really started it all.
So what did I think of this book? Well, first, it didn't make me love Pedro Martinez any less. He came across more or less as I expected him to -- fiery, funny as hell, a little melodramatic, sensitive, super smart. Pedro didn't pull any punches with this. Guys he didn't get along with -- from Tommy Lasorda to Joe Kerrigan to Jeff Wilpon -- get called out. And there are more than a few hints that guys he competed with or against were on steroids.
But what was best about this book were the little behind-the-scenes details. Finally, we get a real accounting of what was going on between Pedro and Grady Little during that game in '03. And we get Pedro talking to Manny Ramirez, which is, in and of itself, worth any price ("Hey Pedro, did you know that I have three midgets in my brain that are constantly talking to me?", "Hey Pedro, did you know there are guys on their way up to the moon right now?"). And the chapter on how Pedro pitched and prepared is a master class. Anybody interested in pitching will absolutely love that.
I do agree with what others have written -- that the book feels a little too polished, that it sometimes doesn't feel like Pedro's specific voice -- but for me, it was Pedro enough. I recommend it to baseball fans, fans of the Red Sox, the Expos, Dodger haters everywhere, and anyone interested in pitching.
Of course, what do I know? I probably would have paid $24.99 for a list of the various hair products Pedro used on his Jheri curl. So, you know, I might be biased....more
"He likes the warm feeling but he's tired of all the dehydration..."
A very fun book for anybody interested in booze beyond "I like how it tastes." I f"He likes the warm feeling but he's tired of all the dehydration..."
A very fun book for anybody interested in booze beyond "I like how it tastes." I found the first half of the book to be more engaging and more thorough than the second half (which is more about alcohol's effects on the body) but that's just me. My big takeaway from this book is something that came from the introduction, something that's probably already obvious to everyone else but me: being passionate about something necessarily leads to wanting to take it apart, to figure out how it does what it does. I'd never really thought about it before, but when I look at the things I'm really into -- baseball, food, books -- that rings true....more