Wesjackson07 has an excellent review on this book. Here is the commentary I posted on his review:
Your commentary reflects how I felt after finishing,Wesjackson07 has an excellent review on this book. Here is the commentary I posted on his review:
Your commentary reflects how I felt after finishing, “The Good Earth.” As an interesting side note; I have been reading a lot of Daniel Goleman's books regarding the phenomena of “Emotional Competence.” In his book, "Destructive Emotions" - he co-authors and documents a symposium he attended and facilitated for The Dalai Lama on the topic. There is a section in the book which speaks about the dangers of not being centered and more specifically how afflictions such as selfishness (far more subcategories than we consider in western thought), avarice and spiritual laziness, as described by Buddhist spiritualism negatively affect people's lives. Armed with Goleman, the Dalai Lama and the symposiums other contributors’ insights, my retrospective thoughts about "The Good Earth" are changing.
I now suspect that PSB was trying to 'westernize' some basic Buddhist philosophies and that is why our take - as westerners - is that her story seems somewhat contrived. While I m in no way as great a writer as PSB, my thought coming away from the book is that she probably ought to have devoted more time to elaborating on the topics rather than spelling out the consequences and not letting her readers flesh out the moral of the story. You accurately point out that Hemingway articulated such nuances far more subtly and therefore more effectively than PSB when he wrote “East of Eden.”
Thanks for the review. When I come upon one such as this, it makes me appreciate why I am on Goodreads; there is no monetary payoff for the writer and yet, outstanding reviews like keep coming in greater and greater numbers. It is an interesting phenomenon that I have been reading quite a bit about lately (“Made to Stick” – by Chip and Dan Heath). You are a great writer and I look forward to reading more of you review. ...more
Overall, I enjoyed the book. However the writing style, which was more akin to a long magazine article, struck me of the author's attempt to establishOverall, I enjoyed the book. However the writing style, which was more akin to a long magazine article, struck me of the author's attempt to establish a sense of familiarity with his audience. I appreciate his need to entertain, but McDougall overextended his reach in my opinion. Because of him, I have been introduced to a whole new philosophy on running, and more than that, its impact on Human evolution. His back story seems almost to stretch the truth if not simply exaggerate it as far as a few of the characters he introduced (Jenn, Caballo Blanco, and Barefoot Ted, for example). Thanks to the internet, I was able to access photos and articles that described these characters less sensationally, and their stories seemed to be no less for the objectivity.
I really do admire Michael Randall, "El Caballo Blanco" Hickman, who - true to McDougall's final quote from him - died the way he lived; his body was found in the New Mexico Gila Wilderness - lying on a stone with his feet in a stream. Caballo said, "...When I get too old to work, I'll do what Geronimo would've if they'd left him alone, I'll walk off into the deep canyons and find a quite place to lie down." He died a few years after Born to Run was published.
I have no regrets on my purchase of the book, and will keep it simply because there is some decent information about running - something equally as compelling for me as the back story that details Hickman's efforts to create a run that honored the Tarahumara Indians whose reputation stood when they ran against world class ultramarathoners.
The definition of "Magical thinking is a clinical term used to describe a wide variety of nonscientific and sometimes irrational beliefs. These beliefThe definition of "Magical thinking is a clinical term used to describe a wide variety of nonscientific and sometimes irrational beliefs. These beliefs are generally centered on correlations between events."
Joan Didion's choice for this book's title is appropriate in that it reflects her mindset as she recounts her experience of year following her husband's death. The book is filled with numerous details surrounding the event itself and so many associations arising from it. Her chronicle is delivered in a dream-like stream of consciousness style of writing that convincingly evokes her sense of loss, her state of loss and her need to maintain some semblance of connection to the man with whom she spent four decades of her life.
It is a heart rending story that is equally melancholy as it is effective in conveying the lonely, meandering state Didion drudged through attempting to make sense of it all. It is a sad, honest depiction of how she coped with the loss.
Relying on her journalistic skills, she researched the many aspects surrounding death. The insights offered from literature to medical sources provide a unique learning experience while the story progresses.
If there is anything I find objectionable or perhaps unnecessary, it is the references to her elevated social status. Some details like name dropping or describing physical possessions almost sounded like advertising for certain clothing items or restaurants. I suppose however, such references to the 'good life' serve to illustrate that death is unfazed by our social position or net worth and - more importantly - we all suffer the same.
The materialistic references seemed to act as anchor points for the author. Perhaps this is more a demonstration of her attempt to use total recall as a means of not letting John's memory die. Nevertheless, it just seemed gratuitous and irrelevant in the overall scheme of her story. That is what caused me to rate the book 3 stars rather than 4.
Because of her thoroughness of exploration, I was able to cull out many references which I intend to follow up on (eg "How We Die" by Sherwin Nuland).
This is my first experience reading Joan Didion and I like her craftsmanship."The Year of Magical Thinking," is informative and not at all contrived. It is a touching account. Joan Didion's style is relaxed, straight-forward and easy to read. I look forward to reading more of her novels in the future. ...more