One of the biggest revelations I had in my 20s was that there was (is) this whole Cult of Boy obsession with wrestling I was almost entirely unaware o...moreOne of the biggest revelations I had in my 20s was that there was (is) this whole Cult of Boy obsession with wrestling I was almost entirely unaware of throughout the '80s and '90s. I mean, sure, I knew the big names and would look on as my great-grandfather watched wrestling on Sundays, but I was mostly familiar with the dudes from their hawking food items in commercials and occasional movie stints. Andre the Giant, however, was ever-present for whatever reason--I don't recall watching The Princess Bride until later into my tweens or teens, so I'm guessing it was merely the spectacle--and this bio is FABULOUS in its portrayal of Andre the Human Being. It also provided a gratifying brief glimpse into that Cult of Boy I was never a part of but can enjoy now as a 31-year-old GIRL (cooties, ewwwwwww!).(less)
Actually, I only got a little over halfway through the book before I realized I had lost the momentum. It was really entertaining at first, but a lot...moreActually, I only got a little over halfway through the book before I realized I had lost the momentum. It was really entertaining at first, but a lot reminded me of Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential without the cred. I couldn't help but start getting frustrated that Buford did not deserve the privilege and luxury of jumping from station to station in the Babbo kitchen just because he felt like it--especially when his colleagues had been busting their balls for years (and were largely getting it right where he failed). The bits on Batali's life were interesting for a while, but those began to peter out, and I did like the food history well enough, but not enough to keep going. Also, why only Italian food? The only reason Buford cites as his concept for this book/experience, as I recall, was his being an avid amateur cook and wanted to see what it was like to work in a professional kitchen. Is it just because of his in with Batali? It seems that if he knew Batali, he must have known other chefs. Was it because Babbo was so prestigious? Was it because Batali was getting his ego stroked on the premise that Buford would be writing a piece on him for The New Yorker? Was Batali the only chef willing to let this guy in? And all this led to further fascination with the particulars of Italian food? Perhaps it's all revealed in the chapters I won't be reading.(less)
I feel kind of horrible saying this because Beah's experiences were truly horrific and it is brave and heroic of him to tell his story, but the storyt...moreI feel kind of horrible saying this because Beah's experiences were truly horrific and it is brave and heroic of him to tell his story, but the storytelling itself wasn't the strongest here. Very little of the story was spent describing his time in the army, which is understandable considering how traumatizing it was, but the subtitle of this book leads the reader to think there will be more of a discussion on this. Way too much time was spent on his roaming the countryside before his induction (abduction?) into the army, and it almost lost me completely. Beah's rehabilitation was touching, and I wouldn't have minded more reflection on his time in NYC (or when he moved there after his escape). Just overall, the story read unevenly.(less)
It was really going strong until about 2/3 of the way through, about when they took an interlude to discuss how to address Tianamen Square (which they...moreIt was really going strong until about 2/3 of the way through, about when they took an interlude to discuss how to address Tianamen Square (which they didn't), and then the plot seemed to drop off...or just ran out of steam for me. Nevertheless, reading this definitely expanded my understanding of the Cultural Revolution and China's race to catch up with the rest of the world after Mao died. The artwork is frantic and a bit muddy, but in that it does a terrific job at conveying the frenzy of every stage along the way.(less)
I am now on the hunt for a non-whiny graphic travelogue (I'm looking at you, Carnet de Voyage), though with Knisley, she was 21-going-on-22--I remembe...moreI am now on the hunt for a non-whiny graphic travelogue (I'm looking at you, Carnet de Voyage), though with Knisley, she was 21-going-on-22--I remember that rollercoaster and thus had a little more sympathy for her. Plus there are some genuinely funny scenes, the splendid little details, and I just love her style. She reminds me that I'm a closet Francophile.(less)
Quite possibly the best book I could have picked for sitting around for two days on jury duty. It is so easy to get lost in Heller's adventures--I lau...moreQuite possibly the best book I could have picked for sitting around for two days on jury duty. It is so easy to get lost in Heller's adventures--I laughed and cried (AWKWARD WHEN IT HAPPENS IN THE JURY WAITING ROOM) throughout the whole thing. There were times I found him quite a bit of a jerkface towards his girlfriend/wife, even more so than the moments he actually acknowledged it, but she was also clearly fine putting up with it. Despite that, I loved all the heroes and asswipes they met along their journey down Mexico's Pacific coast and how he slowly began to pick up on surfing tips. I loved his environmental vignettes, no matter how horrifying they were, and it has certainly piqued my curiosity to learn even more about sea life and what I can do to help (I may have to put my craving for fish on hiatus for a while). It's hard not to find poetry in the ocean, and Heller takes it with gusto. Excuse me while I lose myself in youtube videos of the Mexican Pipeline....(less)
This was good for the information, but you have to work for it. What the hell was up with the editing? Or the lack of it? It reads like an exact trans...moreThis was good for the information, but you have to work for it. What the hell was up with the editing? Or the lack of it? It reads like an exact transcription of Cale talking about his life--so much of it is him talking in circles, and there are typos like crazy. The layout of the text made it difficult to read at times, though after reading a recent interview with Cale, I found that was intentional and meant to resemble TV (which makes sense as I can't bear to watch most TV anymore...and anyway, it seems it would have been more apropos had it been published a decade prior). Ah well. I'm a big fan of Cale's solo work as well as his time with the VU, so I'm glad I picked this up. I was amused to find this was co-written by the same guy who wrote Lou Reed's bio--which my dad read while he waited for me to finish music lessons in 9th grade and regaled me with juicy stories when I returned--so I am both curious to read Reed's side but reluctant if the ridiculousness of the text is Bockris' doing.(less)
I would have enjoyed this book more if it were simply a memoir, but I bristled often when Moran started to generalize between the sexes and spoke AT t...moreI would have enjoyed this book more if it were simply a memoir, but I bristled often when Moran started to generalize between the sexes and spoke AT the reader, especially on feminist "issues" that seemed rather insignificant. I did agree with her on several topics, but she seemed rather unforgiving of the notion that not all women have to be like her to be a feminist. I like how she details how her youth informed her identity as a feminist, but by large, they were nothing like my experiences, and it alienated me that she enforced her conclusions as the reader's conclusions. There were times, too, that her facts needed a little checking, which made her assertions lose steam. It got to a point where I started skipping to just read the chapters on topics I care about...which turned out to be the ones on why to have kids, not have kids, and abortion (I found her reflections on motherhood more interesting than her childhood)...and reading reviews here on Goodreads of what I missed doesn't make me regret my decision to do so. I'm relieved she acknowledged that it doesn't make one any less of a woman for not having kids, and I really commend her for acknowledging that deciding to have an abortion isn't always a difficult decision. I doubt that her message will get through to anyone who doesn't already agree with her, but still, it was so EFFING gratifying to read.(less)
Wondering just how to qualify this collection--my rating isn't representative of this book as a whole. Since I only really know Van Morrison's work up...moreWondering just how to qualify this collection--my rating isn't representative of this book as a whole. Since I only really know Van Morrison's work up through 1974, I pretty much skimmed or skipped entirely the essays on music with which I wasn't familiar. However, I have thoroughly immersed myself in Them's repertoire and Morrison's solo work through Veedon Fleece since the first few days of my 17th year, and I found Marcus' writing in these essays to be solid and rightfully swept up in the spirit of romanticism that Morrison's music evokes, in no uncertain terms.
Primarily, though, this book gets my recommendation for its "Astral Weeks. 1968" essay. The album was my first real introduction to Van Morrison as an artist, and I quite vividly remember the first time I ever listened to the album. It is a living, breathing being to me that has offered solace and contemplation through the years and has adapted in its truthfulness as I've grown older. It has meant everything the lyrics and musicianship offer, but has also long since ventured further than maybe even its own intention. This is why, for a while, I avoided Marcus' essay on it, for fear of ruining its place in my soul, but I am happy to say that was not the case. Marcus' essay was fully its own--clearly identifiable as Greil Marcus, put into the context of his own particular dissection. I was a little doubtful at first of where he was going with John Carlos, Tommie Smith, and Bob Beamon, but he tied it to the album quite nicely. I like the essay itself because ultimately it is simply a paean to any particular art that has the power to move an individual to his or her core. Sure, Marcus gives us specifics on the album's musicians and makings and contours, he puts it into historical context, he puts it into the context of Morrison's body of work, and that's fascinating in its own right. The persistent note though is that it occurred because all the elements came together in such a way that made its beauty exactly what it was. Which is what you can say about any great, terrible, or mundane event really. But it gives the individual a sense of meaning. It highlights my own experience, when and where this album came into my life, how it has influenced my self and how my self informs what I take from the album. Like Marcus, who spends around 17 pages detailing this album only to end with "I've played Astral Weeks more than I've played any other record I own; I wouldn't tell you why even if I knew," I can understand the entirety of the album's structure, but in the end it's just about the personal connection, the right place at the right time that sticks. I think we can say lots of things about what we love deeply, but there is always the unspoken element that can never be put into words.
On the rare occasion I come across a member of the tribe that fully reveres this album with no exceptions; we hardly ever exchange any meaningful dialogue over it, but there's an unmistakable gesture that usually accompanies our shared reverence. Likewise, Marcus acknowledges that it "has led so many people to take the album as a kind of talisman, to recognize others by their affection for it, to say 'I'm going to my grave with this record, I will never forget it.'" This essay affirms the private fulfillment that is at once so singular but that is also shared by so many.
A former friend of mine would use the phrase "take books like medicine." It has been such a long time since I've found a book that contains so much he...moreA former friend of mine would use the phrase "take books like medicine." It has been such a long time since I've found a book that contains so much healing as this collection does. Thank you so much, Cheryl Strayed.(less)
A pretty solid and unique collection of young people's voices, but I found it a little redundant after a while, especially since I'm already relativel...moreA pretty solid and unique collection of young people's voices, but I found it a little redundant after a while, especially since I'm already relatively aware of the injustices addressed. In many cases, too, the essays seemed somewhat generic, which was surprising since they were supposed to address the specific problems in the essayist's community. I really enjoyed the few paragraphs of context at the beginning of each essay, though, and I think overall it would be great for students (or anyone else unfamiliar with Arab/Iranian policies and mores) to get personal accounts of the Middle East and North Africa while learning about the region.(less)
This wasn't quite what I expected. This is basically a compilation of Murphy's letters she sent home from her travels, so there wasn't much back story...moreThis wasn't quite what I expected. This is basically a compilation of Murphy's letters she sent home from her travels, so there wasn't much back story into her personal life and her motivations to do such a daring feat for a woman of this time period. I loved the descriptions of each place she visited, but it kept me wanting more than it was offering. I have to abandon it for now for greener pastures.(less)
I liked the potential for this story--growing up Argentinian in 1960s Alabama--but it didn't prove as striking of a perspective as I expected it to be...moreI liked the potential for this story--growing up Argentinian in 1960s Alabama--but it didn't prove as striking of a perspective as I expected it to be.(less)