A fascinating thing about this which I hadn't been aware of from my previous exposure to it is that is was one of Steinbecks's format/genre experiment...moreA fascinating thing about this which I hadn't been aware of from my previous exposure to it is that is was one of Steinbecks's format/genre experiments. In this work, Steinbeck created a new genre: the play/novelette. '"The work I am doing now," he wrote to his agents in April 1936, "is neither a novel nor a play but it is a kind of playable novel. Written in novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands. It wouldn't be like other plays since it does not follow the formal acts but uses the chapters for curtains. Descriptions can be used for stage directions... Plays are hard to read so this will make both a novel and play as it stands." Anticipating postmodernists, Steinbeck was to declare wtih greater and greater frequency in the late 1930s and '40s that the novel was dead, whereas theater was "waking up," was fresh and challenging.' And in fact, he sent it to his publishers in late summer of 1936; it was published on February 25, 1937 (for $2 per copy); was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection in March; was performed as written by Theater Union of San Francisco with an opening on May 21, 1937; then performed as a modified version at Music Box Theater in New York opening November 23, 1937; and released as a film in 1939. It was very controversial, banned in Australia in 1940; one of the most frequently banned books by school board over the years. '"The first few pages so nauseated me," wrote the reviewer for 'The Catholic World,' "That I couldn't bear to keep it in my room over night."' "Morbid and degenerate" content was why another showing of it was condemned. And the reason for all the hoo-ha? The truth of it. The hopelessness and loneliness of the group of people Steinbeck gives life to - the landless white male agricultural workers of the 1930's. Also, he used actual dialect which was still new back then. Included in the dialect is racist language in use back then, as his characters would not have been honest without it. Probably some bannings were due simply to the use of the 'n' word, although most programs that use it now include context for that which is a response to it that contains the intended respect while also containing discussion that can be so useful to unlearning racism. Another interesting content item about race is a momentary scene in which a white woman brings to the attention of a black man her ability to get him lynched. It's brutal, and then it's over and the action continues and it fades into unimportance - all of which serves as a reminder of our shared history festering with racism; and how far we as a country have come. (i'm adding that scene to quotes for this book). It's a very quick read for all that, and very enjoyable actually just for the intensity of description. This felt to me like one of those quick-action films, only the super-short scenes are ones you create in your own mind, as written by Steinbeck. Somehow he packs in vivid visual content and well-drawn characters in an almost poetically pithy writing style. Highly recommend.(less)
Very harsh point of view, but understandable. I had recommended this to a German relative of mine, then I re-read it, and then retracted my recommenda...moreVery harsh point of view, but understandable. I had recommended this to a German relative of mine, then I re-read it, and then retracted my recommendation to him because I felt like the German-bashing parts were something that - for him - would offset the utility of it. I mean, we all know now, and those parts feel excessive potentially. At the time it was written though, the mainstream US population had not yet known (is one story, anyway.) Is crucial in-and-of itself, and for Vonnegut's trajectory as a great writer (IMHO).(less)
I liked this book, found a lot of what it said interesting. At some points, the author's world views deviated from mine to the extent that the content...moreI liked this book, found a lot of what it said interesting. At some points, the author's world views deviated from mine to the extent that the content was less compelling, but definitely a great read and an author I want to read more of!(less)
Part way through: I really love the part where her friend tells her to petition God for what she wants, and then list all who would sign the petition,...morePart way through: I really love the part where her friend tells her to petition God for what she wants, and then list all who would sign the petition, and she ends up listing this huge group of people.. delightful idea.
A little farther: Now in Italy, I'm just so weirded out by the tone. Because, we know she's a grown woman, that's been established. But her tone - to me - is more like a 12-15 year old girl. The resolute silliness, the resolute studiousness, the resolute traveler; that overly, consciously, 'I'm going to be this because I've decided to be' - seems a way younger point-of-view that what is supposed to be the case.
So I hold the book - figuratively - way farther away than arm's length, because I have no idea what to expect. If it's not real, then the door is open for just about anything.
Ok, now I like it again, the part about where she writes in her most-personal notebook and a self (of some sort) answers, perhaps " 'locutions' - words from the supernatural that enter the mind subconsciously, offering heavenly consolation," .. "But the very fact that this world is so challenging is exactly why you sometimes must reach out of its jurisdiction for help..". p. 53.
Very tedious going, at the end of Italy, for me. The problem with being excessively self-indulgent is that there's a large risk of being *too* excessively self-indulgent, and for me, she's there. Her paradigm seems to be that the reader will be unquestionably interested in every foible of her and her journey, writ across the landscape of this or that foreign locale. For me, I'm not interested sufficiently and the locale-as-backdrop doesn't delight. Her life - especially around the central issues (for her) of whether to 'have kids' or not and how to best deal with her relatively substantial mental/emotional health challenges - is different enough from mine as to make it irrelevant on the personal level she's writing at. She could have translated it into more universal applicability, which she does from time to time and I get something from it then, but otherwise the repelling forces are great.
Maybe it'll turn another corner for me soon though, I would really like to finish it.
Oh, and one more big difference - she's totally male-focused, as in she has been in one relationship or another since she was a teenager. Me - I'm a solitaire. So another repelling force. And now, in the Ashram, she's latching on to a guy who makes all her struggles there easier. Great.
Ok, then I also really like the part on p. 184-185, the ritual to let things go. Shit like that, you know, always useful to have in mind. Cause seems like the times we need ideas like this is the time when we forget all such ideas, and so having them nearby is good.
Her tone towards various things including aspects of India is how I'd imagined it would be - unselfconsciously flippant. As Americans, I still hope for better of us, one of these eons. Like one part, she's talking to a young girl about what makes a woman harder to marry off, and light skin is a positive. She compares herself to the checklist later, and concludes, 'Well, atleast my skin is light. I have that going for me.' Yeah, unawareness of all the situations and realities around light-skin privilege sure does make things happy and nice...
Once I'm done I'll turn this into some actual review-type thing, but right now snarky works for me.
On the other hand, I really like the part about her process with tehe Gurugita.
I also like her idea about fate vs. free will, and the two horses (just added it as a quote), and that the trick is to tell the two apart. Which is similar to the Serenity prayer, the strength to tell the difference between what we can change and what we must accept.
I got it - this is a gemini book! Two disparate selves, polar in various ways. Atleast for me.
So I'm pretty comfortable with most of the spirituality stuff, and still on a spectrum of dislike with much of the personal content the author shares.
There's content that makes me cringe as an American white woman; kind of a 'more things change, more they stay the same' feeling - the condescending tone, the feel that the world is her playground.
But the optimist in me likes to see it as imperfect, strenuously slow progress. In that: she's written it, thinking it was great and all ok. I and others read it, seeing progress to be made. The next book will be written by an author who things it's great; others will read it and see further progress to be made.
Being aware of the deficiencies may feel like it puts the goal further away, but it's actually a necessary part of goal-attainment: re-calculating the goal in reference to one's position from time to time makes it much more likely that it will be eventually attained than if one starts off and ignores the goal altogether, all happy and self-satisfied. And if the goal keeps getting extended/re-defined; one's journey may surpass earlier goals as it continues, bringing one to new, previously-unimagined heights.
Woo-hoo! Finished it! Yeah for me.. Will finish this review shortly..(less)
This one is a bit off-putting, everything is described so very vividly and usually negatively. Or, let's say, flippantly. And superficially. Sometimes...moreThis one is a bit off-putting, everything is described so very vividly and usually negatively. Or, let's say, flippantly. And superficially. Sometimes talking superficially about something can yield insight, like sifting through sand on a beach can yield bits of organic matter.. But that sifting process wasn't worth the jarring unpleasantness of writing style. Which was to my preferred writing style as a childish flipbook is to a well produced gorgeous coffee-table book rich with fascinating content and evocative photographs.
I know I'll probably already have been exposed to most of what's in this book from other sources, but if it's complete and well-written, will be good...moreI know I'll probably already have been exposed to most of what's in this book from other sources, but if it's complete and well-written, will be good reference for future etc.. Another GR review just mentioned it, so.. probably haven't already been exposed to *all* of it.(less)
This is a magnificent work of enormous importance, laying bare the multitudes and layers of errors made by all involved in the last 9 years in Afghanistan in particular, and delivering prescriptions for positive change.
‘If we can better understand what has happened before, what has gone wrong, and what needs to go right, as this book attempts to do, then we can better face up to our collective future.’ p. 404 (final sentence).
Rashid does focus throughout on the ‘what went wrong,’ within each period, within each country, within each layer of strategy. This enormous data set should be extremely useful as we here in the US all hopefully move towards a more nuanced, principled, integrity-rich practice of foreign policy.
The more you already know about Afghanistan and Pakistan and the last decade, the more easily you’ll be able to layer in all of the wealth of information contained here. Myself, I was relatively ignorant, and so felt uncomfortably overwhelmed for some periods. But it eased, and I would strongly encourage everyone to read this book. The writing is lively, engaging, fascinating (even breath-taking in parts) and flows into every nook and cranny related to the subject. So the content is wide-ranging and always rewarding of attention.
Highly recommend to everyone but especially all US citizens as - actively or passively - we played a huge role in the birthing and nurturance of the global threat of terrorism facing us today. And simply detaching is - I don’t believe - a valid option, atleast not until the significant accumulation of damage done from our last several decades of involvement is healed. (less)
With the width, depth and breadth of the crisis/opportunity we're facing, probably multiple voices and mutliple sets of solutions will need to be empl...moreWith the width, depth and breadth of the crisis/opportunity we're facing, probably multiple voices and mutliple sets of solutions will need to be employed. The ideas in this book are likely a part of them.(less)
the pain.. the pain.. I have yet to read this because I've always been afraid that the frothing at the mouth and tearing of the hair that would ensue...morethe pain.. the pain.. I have yet to read this because I've always been afraid that the frothing at the mouth and tearing of the hair that would ensue would upset my offspring and make me temporarily unemployable. Once sufficient time passes (or something), will make a stab at it.(less)
I have just been having my daughter and I watch the tv mini-series based on this book; both because of Obama's historic inauguration coming up, and be...moreI have just been having my daughter and I watch the tv mini-series based on this book; both because of Obama's historic inauguration coming up, and because she is studying American History this year.
And it's been just as jolting and uncomfortable for me as I thought it would be, but for additional reasons than what I expected.
Of course all the humiliation and degradation and viciousness of the white population is horrifying.
But there were significant things that had escaped my attention when I watched it decades ago.
One, I missed the fact that Kunta Kinte was raised in a Muslim family, a Muslim community. Given the statements of the characters that atleast they were bringing God to a God-less people, that is huge.
The other is the rank insanity and surrealness of the paradigm of slavery created by the slave-owning community. For instance, in the scene just after it was discovered that Kizzy wrote the fake traveling pass for her lover, the slave owner's comments range from 'we're all a family, how could you betray me' to 'as a slave, you must obey'.. and those two paradigms are completely contradictory!
And through and through, if you look at it clearly, it was completely insane. As I've thought about it, it seems to me to an extent the insanity has never ceased.
I mean, first the slaves were freed and promised land - and not given it. So for many the relations remained similar to how it had been. Voting was not allowed. Texas didn't even tell the slaves they were free till forced to by Federal troops two and a half years later!
Physical intimidation has been constant, psychological brutality has been the norm. White expectations about what black people were supposed to be and to do continued to be maelstroms of ignorance and hatred. The civil rights movement came into being to redress wrongs, and was fought by many. Still today, many define themselves by their loyalty to the confederate cause. And racism still exists today in many forms. I'm not explaining that very well, will re-write after viewing again and/or reading this. I just have a kind of horrified sense that not nearly enough has changed.
So, long story short (or is it too late for that?) I'm really interested in reading the book now, to gather more such data and continue my own personal development toward being a white person who's *not* part of the problem, accordingly.(less)
Sounds fascinating in terms of learning the history of the major parties to most of today's conflicts. Depending on how military-ish it is, vs. big pi...moreSounds fascinating in terms of learning the history of the major parties to most of today's conflicts. Depending on how military-ish it is, vs. big picture-synthesis etc.. (less)
It seems very similar to 'People of the Book', only each segment is less. and the focus is different of course, being on 'art' and art's effect on peo...moreIt seems very similar to 'People of the Book', only each segment is less. and the focus is different of course, being on 'art' and art's effect on people, rather than the characters and their contexts. I liked 'People of the Book' a lot because it gave a distinct flavor of each time and place. I didn't like 'Accordion Crimes' because it didn't. This also so far mostly doesn't. And the characters aren't very compelling to me, there's something a bit gender-y that grates. Which could be a true part, but still, it grates.As it goes back farther in time, I have to work more -- to the extent that the terminology becomes less familiar without any offsetting increase in character/plot interest, anyway. Blah. Might end up liking it a lot though - that potential seems to still be there.
But so far the treatment of these horrible Shoah-related realities has to do with suffering mutely. Just not in to that.
Oh, and then the chapter I'm in now - switches to first person. And no info about where or when we are, just some huge emotional tangle. .. blah.(less)