Fascinating, if spotty insight into Lennon's life, marred by sketchy commentary and innumerable transcription errors (for which I've sent in several c...moreFascinating, if spotty insight into Lennon's life, marred by sketchy commentary and innumerable transcription errors (for which I've sent in several corrections to the editor). Only some two dozen of the 285 "letters" included in this collection are worth the time to read (fewer than half are even letters, most being quickly jotted notes), as shining any light on Lennon's thoughts or mental state (questionable at most times for entirely understandable reasons). Most are laundry lists and postcards containing nothing more than a quick hello. More than half are indecipherable, due not as much to poor penmanship (and worse typing) than their unintelligible content, which consists in the main of personal inside jokes and a litany of bad literary puns (often in pseudo dialect with phonetic spelling).
To make matters worse, while each entry is given a more or less useful introduction by the compiler for the sake of context, only a very few merit a follow-up comment as to what resulted from the correspondence, rendering that context incomplete - even those who know John's story well will need to refer to outside sources. Of those meriting post-comment content, John Sinclair's release from prison (on possession of two joints) after Lennon's impromptu concert benefit is already well documented, although the outcome of a press release sent to world leaders asking clemency for Michael X (accused of murder) is less well known, as it was not successful. The majority, however, are simply a snapshot in time with no outcome.
All in all the general impression this collection gives is of a great creative mind in turmoil, ranting incoherently on random subjects from political/spiritual causes to personal family matters, lashing out in reactionary attacks on perceived accusers (sometimes rightly, sometimes not), expecting to be heard, but usually unable to express himself clearly enough that it might make an impact on the intended audience. John's music was his voice, focused into concentrated thoughts and vivid images, but on paper he was just as often a jabbering maniac. Half a dozen only of these nearly 300 missives are enlightening, informative, or argued rationally enough even to make sense. Of these a few are deeply philosophical, a few honestly emotional, a couple riotously funny (though not as many as their author must have thought) - the rest are little more than trash bin remnants.(less)
The more I read Le Guin the less I like her writing. She has no sense of pacing or plotting whatsoever, leaving the single "event" of each book or sto...moreThe more I read Le Guin the less I like her writing. She has no sense of pacing or plotting whatsoever, leaving the single "event" of each book or story until the last few pages, reached only after a slow and tedious preamble in which the characters sit around doing nothing (as if that's a plot point or an action of its own), and somehow we're supposed to identify with them in their non-quest for nothing. Some of her characters show promise, but we never see it come to true fruition.
I appreciate her Taoist outlook, but the Tao is not an anti-action philosophy, it is not one of sitting immobile waiting for something to happen to you, but one of movement and motion with the flow of the world around one, of graceful action in concert with the natural order. Reading itself is an action, an event, the turning of each page a change from what has been into a realm of what is possible to become. Le Guin is satisfied with simply leaving what is as it is and describing it. What happens at the end is thrown in almost as an afterthought, as a way of saying that she's finished writing for now.
This collection of five short stories also exemplifies perfectly the reason I so dislike short fiction. There is no time to develop characters (not that she really ever does that in her longer works), or get to know them or their motivations. There is only a hint of promise, left unfulfilled.(less)
Tough going. Some astonishingly beautiful poetry and intensely powerful passages intermixed with interminably long sections of unbearable tedium and m...moreTough going. Some astonishingly beautiful poetry and intensely powerful passages intermixed with interminably long sections of unbearable tedium and mind-boggling perplexity. Words and phrases which were intentional archaisms in the mid-18th century are now virtually immersed in a sea of archaic diction. The story content adheres very closely to the text of the Volsunga Saga, while bringing a great deal more depth and emotional force to the characters. Not a light read by any measure.(less)