**spoiler alert** I really liked that Kick is nothing like you'd expect her to be based on the book jacket and first chapter descriptions. She's no Li**spoiler alert** I really liked that Kick is nothing like you'd expect her to be based on the book jacket and first chapter descriptions. She's no Lisbeth Salender. She's trying to be, but she has too much going on in her mind, that she's always trying to multi-task between dealing with her emotions and dealing with the situation at hand. She's a more real character because of this.
There were a few big holes in the plot that I find distracting (how did Bishop know where the house was?). But I suspect those are set ups for a sequel. ...more
I suppose by definition, when you write a memoir you’re assuming that people will be interested in your life. And when I read a memoir, I’m concedingI suppose by definition, when you write a memoir you’re assuming that people will be interested in your life. And when I read a memoir, I’m conceding that I am interested in the writer’s life. But this memoir says that in such an egotistical way that I was left wondering who the hell Ira Wagner thinks he is that anyone would read this.
First off, the prose is so melodramatic and overreaching that it makes me cringe. It’s so obviously an English 101 writing assignment (or if not literally an assignment, the work of someone still learning how to write), complete with clichés, repetitiveness and trying way too hard to sound lyrical. It felt obvious too that he tried way too hard be fair and not to criticize, at the expense of owning his own story and experiences. How many times can you say “I’m not criticizing, just stating the fact. That is just the way it was.” The editor could have cut pages from the book by deleting that useless phrase every time it appeared, along with any and all paragraphs that contain with “I don’t remember…”
Secondly, there is something missing. He talks about the stress and struggles of living an Amish life, but doesn’t ever say what is stressful about it. He is quite upset that his neighbors are proudly ignorant; it’s a huge gulf between them and one of the big reasons he doesn’t want to stay Amish, but he never says what topics they’re proudly ignorant on. He goes on and on and on about his fears about all the bad things he’s done, without ever mentioning what those things might be. He left and returned like many of his peer group. He drank and bought a car at a time when he wasn’t a member of the community, like many in his peer group. He disappointed his parents and dumped his girlfriend, like so many teenagers and young adults do in every culture. Yes, these are bad, but they don’t seem as unforgivable as he makes them out, especially because he was forgiven for them. I felt like he must have done bigger stuff he just didn’t bother to describe. Or maybe he just lacks the perspective to see that those things are not that exceptional.
Thirdly and I suppose this is a petty criticism, this book has the misfortune of being misnamed. It’s not about Growing Up Amish, it’s about Wagner’s back-and-forth relationship to the Amish culture and eventual apostasy, all of which took place in his teenage and adult life. It doesn’t get at those little curiosities of daily life that entice someone to read a book about growing up in a culture different from our own. Do they have hot water? How do they cook? If electric service is not allowed in the home, is it allowed in other Amish structures, like the schools and businesses? What about natural gas service? How do they do laundry? Do women work outside the home or schools? What are typical meals? I don’t fault the author for not pandering to curiosities; they’re not what his book is about. But they are what the title of his book indicates the book is about and honestly they’d probably have been more interesting.
Fourth, there was one passage about his relationship with Sarah that majorly hit a nerve. I won’t begrudge him having a failed relationship. That’s a fact of life. I won’t even begrudge him for getting engaged to a woman he didn’t love. That too seemed part of the culture. But there was one passage where he says something like “We were very compatible. She loved me intensely and would have been a loyal wife. But I didn’t feel anything for her”. Is that you’re idea of compatible? What kind of sexist egomaniac do you have to be to think that that is what “compatible” means? At least he had the sense to leave before he could drag the poor girl into a one-sided marriage, but even then he seems to feel more guilty about the break up than about than about stringing her along for so long.
Fifth, what did the Mennonite church offer that the Amish didn't? A little extra undefined "freedom"? ...more
**spoiler alert** The "moral" of The Life of Pi pissed me off so much that it detracted significantly from my overall impression.
I enjoy a good story.**spoiler alert** The "moral" of The Life of Pi pissed me off so much that it detracted significantly from my overall impression.
I enjoy a good story. I am capable of doing so without PRETENDING that I believe that it is true. The very idea that anyone would believe in God simply because it's a better story blows my mind.
First and foremost, that idea presupposes that we can choose to believe something we know to be false. In the first part of the book, Pi becomes devoted to three religions. I'm not familiar with Hinduism, but I know the other two each have a central tenant stating that they are the one true religion. So right for the start we have Pi saying that he believes in three things that by definition cannot all be true. To actually hold three religions is to admit that you don't really believe they are true. I kept wondering, with the same fascination that I, as an atheist, always hold toward religious stories, about how he was going to resolve that conflict. And it turns out that the resolution was completely half-assed and insincere. Believing is fun.
And second it assumes that God is a better story, which shows a complete lack of fascination and/or appreciation for the natural world. Even on the very surface, this one story, that idea proves questionable at best. I did enjoy the story with animals. It was a fascinating story. And given the telling and by comparison, the alternative story did sound awfully plain and possibly too terrible for a person to live with. But certainly it was not uninteresting, and given a better telling, it probably would have been a superior story as human interactions, particularly in extreme circumstances are more relateable than tigers and zebras. I recently read Unbroken and was captivated by the lost-at-sea portion of that book, despite a lack of tigers, which proves that you don't need tigers to tell a lost-at-sea story that people want to read.
There is a statement in the introduction about how this is a story to make atheists into believers, (with the subtle hint that the author doesn't believe that atheists are sincere) which can be totally reversed. What this story demonstrated is that some believers only believe because they prefer a magical story (or can't deal with reality), which is to say that they don't really believe at all. ...more
**spoiler alert** I was really loving Never Let Me Go, until the end. What a terrible ending to a book full of thoughtfulness and well rounded charact**spoiler alert** I was really loving Never Let Me Go, until the end. What a terrible ending to a book full of thoughtfulness and well rounded characters.
I get that the Students, while they were still in their schools, could be sheltered from politics. But, we're really expected to believe that as they entered the world as carers and donors they all completely missed the news that their very existence and treatment was a matter of major public debate. Not one donor or carer over the decades got involved in the politics of their situation or even became aware enough of those politics for word or rumor to get back to the rest of them. Also, I don't buy that Cathy and the others never heard about the living conditions for students from other schools despite living and working with them and caring for them for years.
Also, the plot device of some knowing person just finally sitting down and spilling the beans is totally anti-climactic....more