The characters are constantly trying to tell each other about the "truth" that they know. I think McCullers gets that sentiment just right. We often fThe characters are constantly trying to tell each other about the "truth" that they know. I think McCullers gets that sentiment just right. We often feel strongly and communicate poorly. There is a lot of Sherwood Anderson in this book, but it was still an experience in itself. ...more
Dr. Gonzo and Rauol Duke drive from LA to LV to escape, cover a newspaper story, do drugs and test conventional society's tolerance of personal freedoDr. Gonzo and Rauol Duke drive from LA to LV to escape, cover a newspaper story, do drugs and test conventional society's tolerance of personal freedom. They come for an adventure and handily create one of their own. Being based on a real trip by Thompson and his lawyer, the book's fictionalized form and illustrations are the capstones to the journey.
The main reflective effort is Thompson's literary funeral for the cultural renaissance of the 1960s. He mentions that the drug fueled rip through Las Vegas was only possible then, at the very end of a closing window. The famous "wave speech" tells of the crest and fall of sixties ideals as Thompson seems to have seen them failing to spread fully through society. They did elect Nixon after all. In the aftermath, the main characters are contrasted with their tacky, commercialized Las Vegas surroundings, which stand as a microcosm of America itself. They do not hold up very well and both flee back to Los Angeles.
There are two main struggles in this book. Firstly, man against society. They cope by taking drugs and pursuing hedonism. Man against himself. In many episodes throughout this book, the effort is to "maintain" a level of functionality despite being baked, stoned, fried, tripping out of their fuckin' minds.
This seriously well written book is a raucous good time as well as a great meditation by someone trying to enjoy the luxury of American society while attempting to deal with the shitty parts....more
The story of a lower middle class rural southern family around the turn of the 20th century as they prepare for and carry out the mother's burial. UniThe story of a lower middle class rural southern family around the turn of the 20th century as they prepare for and carry out the mother's burial. Uniquely written in short segments from the viewpoints of all the individuals involved. I only read it once, so I don't have much to say except that I always end up identifying my family experience with Faulkner's creations. ...more
This book is about Kingsolver and her family going "back to the land." Disgusted with buying poor quality, wastefully produced food at the grocery stoThis book is about Kingsolver and her family going "back to the land." Disgusted with buying poor quality, wastefully produced food at the grocery store, they decided to live on a farm in the Appalachians and try to eat as local as they could for a year. This entailed a lot of gardening in what was basically a memoir of a growing season.
The author gets a little preachy near the end as she rails against the corporate food industry, but it's unnecessary. Her defense of the joys of cooking somewhere in the middle were valuable, since the whole book is prefaced on the idea that the good life involves home-cooking. Simply telling about all the great food she was able to make and of growing the ingredients herself or getting it from her neighbors who had done the same was persuasive. Fresh food tastes better and fresh means local. As a gardener, I can agree, saying that it is a definite joy to eat something you've grown yourself....more
The story of upper middle class Julian English during the Great Depression. He self-destructs as he alienates his closest connections in the small PenThe story of upper middle class Julian English during the Great Depression. He self-destructs as he alienates his closest connections in the small Pennsylvania town where he grew up and lives. I liked the description of Julian's inner dialog and that between him and the rest of the characters. I liked the flashbacks too. The portrayal of romantic relationships was great. I've seen other books critiqued using English as a model for self-defeating behavior. Good book. I read it a while ago and can't describe it any better at the moment....more
I liked this book for the setting and because it was a very well told story. The insight on a little discussed period of the Civil War and the point tI liked this book for the setting and because it was a very well told story. The insight on a little discussed period of the Civil War and the point that living rurally at that time was not a fairy tale were valuable to me. I wonder if Ada's situation represents a warning against our society's comfort, insulation, and extravagance. To me, a lot of the characters in the book were interesting slices of human nature. It reminds me that people felt the same emotions then as they do now. The resolution pushes the reader toward an element of cynicism, but reflects the feelings of a lot of people at that time, probably....more
On the whole Dubliners seems like James Joyce's attempt to portray life in Dublin in the early 20th century via a series of case studies. The characteOn the whole Dubliners seems like James Joyce's attempt to portray life in Dublin in the early 20th century via a series of case studies. The characters face concerns of life - some universal, some, more particular to Ireland - such as poverty, overwork, chauvanism, British domination, how to deal with the changes of growing up and then old age, isolation, disappointment, insecurity, regret, ambition, how to go about courtship, how to define and enjoy success. The characters in each story are thrown up against personal variations of those problems and react. They use a number of mechanisms in the struggle to cope with it all. Drinking, religious devotion, comparing themselves to others, work ethic, simple cruelty and manipulation toward others, vicarious living, recklessness, careful thought.
Sometimes the results say something about human beings, sometimes about Irish human beings or Irish society. The results bring up another round of considerations and it begins again.
Dublin was a place of rich and poor though with a feeling of being leached by the British. Most people had to work very hard and live plainly with the vague idea of being a subjugated people.
The religious system, culture of alcohol use, and economic ambition used to cope with those facts had mixed results in giving moments of reassurance, opportunity and happiness in an insecure, harsh environment.
Those mechanisms had their bad points too as they caused people to miss chances for fulfillment. The zealotry, drunkenness, and ambition sometimes got in the way of achieving the things being mourned. Individual ambition hinders a beneficial political movement. A man drinks because his life is hard and a drudgery, therefore alienating his only sources of support. The quest for purity and goodness according to the Church stymies two people's sole chances of knowing a meaningful relationship and resultswith both dying in heartbreaking isolation. Several adults and children try to improve their lives through material success and have varying results. Several of the characters have epiphonies and the reader has plenty of opportunities to experience their own, given the breadth of themes taken on by Joyce. I particularly likedThe Sisters, Araby, After the Race, A Little cloud, A Painful Case, and The Dead. Joyce's exploration of repression, isolation, insecurity, embarrassment, bitterness and in the best cases, epiphany (sometimes too late, sometimes not) encouraged a lot of reflection on my part. ...more
The story of the downfall of the Compson family in the pre-depression South. Get through the first section narrated by mentally retarded Benjy and youThe story of the downfall of the Compson family in the pre-depression South. Get through the first section narrated by mentally retarded Benjy and you can definitely tackle this one. The book is beautiful and begs re-reading. Especially the difficult first section, which apparently represents some of the most innovative writing in literary history. Themes of innocence lost, reconciling change, helplessness, bitterness, resignation and optimism are pretty powerful in Faulkner's masterpiece. My guess is that those forced to read this in high-school didn't have enough experience to appreciate it fully. Whether that is the case or not, this is one I recommend reading and one that I will probably come back to several times in my life....more
Makes a whole hell of a lot of sense. Read the introduction and conclusion if you want to get to the point. The middle is interesting, but a bit fluffMakes a whole hell of a lot of sense. Read the introduction and conclusion if you want to get to the point. The middle is interesting, but a bit fluffy. This is an important book though. The amount of waste generated in America, especially electronic, is astounding and the repercussions, like heavy metals polluting the water supply, scary. The message, reuse, recycle, buy less disposable products. Hard advice to follow as I write this on my flat screen monitor that replaced a perfectly functional CRT. ...more
This was a hard book to read because of Faulkner's stream of consciousness style and frequent unannounced shifts in narration. My effort was rewardedThis was a hard book to read because of Faulkner's stream of consciousness style and frequent unannounced shifts in narration. My effort was rewarded by a good story and some deep themes. It's basically about how we deal with the past. The sense of mystery in the murky tale of the Sutpen family reminded me of stories and skeletons in my own family history that I gradually learned more about, similar to Quentin, the narrator in this work. Don't be intimidated by this author like I was; just be patient.
If you like the book and haven't read The Sound and the Fury, know that Quentin's story is more fully fleshed out there....more
I didn't get much out of this book until the end, when it was really moving. I'm not sure what all the banter between the soldiers was supposed to beI didn't get much out of this book until the end, when it was really moving. I'm not sure what all the banter between the soldiers was supposed to be about. The exception was their interaction with the priest who seemed to lose some of his innocence or at least became less naive. The love story wasn't as good as I expected, probably because I couldn't get past their Victorian attitudes and mannerisms. Catherine was ridiculously submissive, insecure and weak. Henry was more worldly, but was interestingly still influenced by Victorian mores. For example, he seemed to think that the baby was a punishment for their passion and that they did something wrong. He viewed it as further evidence for his larger fatalistic view of the world, which had been shaped by the war. As in For Whom the Bell Tolls, the male character is nuanced and garners sympathy, where the female is almost entirely a foil and if representative of the women of the day, mainly demonstrates only the weaknesses in their demeanors, while ignoring other complexity. Did the women back then coo endlessly and self-deprecatingly about how they could serve their men? If not, then I'd appreciate it if Hem would cut that shit out. Real men appreciate women with minds, opinions and ambitions of their own. I'd imagine the submissive archetype would get boring quickly. Hem is capable of a strong woman character, though, just look at Brett Ashley in SAR. The difference between Robert Jordan and Frederic Henry is that Henry in Farewell that his language of masculinity breaks down occasionally. It gets pretty saccarine in places where you can't even tell who's speaking, but only see something on the order of "you're sweet", "no, you're sweet." It's fine that they are riding a tidal wave of true love and trying to express it, but I just never expected that kind of dialogue out of tough, bare-knuckled Ernest. The ending is where Henry's philosophy really solidifies. After his incident at the river with the retreating army and then at the end with Catharine. I gave this the fourth star only because the last chapter sunk me into an pit of despair for the entire evening after finishing it. Probably needs a re-read to fully appreciate the entire book....more
This book took a long time to read. It was stimulating, but cryptic at the beginning, with great descriptions of the main character's personality andThis book took a long time to read. It was stimulating, but cryptic at the beginning, with great descriptions of the main character's personality and relations with Rosemary alongside the mystery of his wife Nicole's guarded dysfunction. Then it devolved into a non-chronological, barely coherent mess that, as far as I can guess, was added to get the point of Nicole's utter collapse accross. He might have summed that up in a few paragraphs instead of pulling that dirty trick on me, the reader. The end was good with Dick having problems of his own.
I liked this book because I enjoyed looking up to Dick at the beginning and then seeing what could go wrong with a person like that. His helpfulness eventually went too far and he ended up being somewhat condescending and controlling. The historical setting after World War I in Europe and the examination of money and class were right up my alley too....more
This is one of my favorite books. It is about how individuals deal with their own social mobility in the United States. I wondered why I felt so uneasThis is one of my favorite books. It is about how individuals deal with their own social mobility in the United States. I wondered why I felt so uneasy after moving to the city and getting a good job after putting myself through college and grad school. Lubrano gives case studies and analyzes the experiences of those people like me who came from modest roots, but got a good education, a little bit of money, and some broader cultural exposure. He writes and I agree that people like this still feel ties to both worlds - where they came from and where they went - never fully belonging to one at the exclusion of the other.
All in all the book didn't give me any easy answers about how I should proceed, but did awaken me to the fact that the conflicted feelings i had were being experienced in nearly the same way by a tide of people in similar situations. I never realized that the things I stumbled, fought, and struggled to learn about how to get a good education, job, professional contacts, sophisticated interests were not such a struggle for people who had affluent, educated families and communities behind them all along. I just figured that the only difference between myself and the Yale kids was money. It's a totally different set of experiences, mentality and environment. There is a huge group of people from places like my rural Pennsylvania that never got that, so when they achieve success, bring a different perspective to the table. I think it's productive, even if it's hard for both sides to adjust to one another.
I could identify with something on almost every page. So many stories and statements mirrored my own experience that I had to remind myself that I didn't get them from reading the book and our collective experiences were just that similar. I recommend this for anyone who was the first in their working-class family to go to college and to those trying to understand why they act that way....more
I liked this book because it has something to say about life and people. I'd agree with any interpretation that compares the marlin to our ambitions aI liked this book because it has something to say about life and people. I'd agree with any interpretation that compares the marlin to our ambitions and accomplishments in life. They might be big, but in the end they are a skeleton of memories and then not even that. For me the character of the boy meant most that we help give each other's lives meaning. I agree with the Sparknotes analysis that pride will make us drive ourselves mercilessly to make what we want of our lives. The old man's battle against his own weaknesses at the climax of the book reminded me of the way I felt in the comparatively minor ways I've challenged myself in life. Foot racing and trying to write papers through sleep deprivation (thank you college) are the two experiences i've had where I was totally strained, but didn't quit because I wanted the reward. The feeling of regret at starting in the first place, the uncertainty, spurts of confidence and doubt, trying to reason with yourself, and hope for the payoff are all expressed in the book. To really understand the climax, I'd say that experiencing combat might get a person the closest with the sense of identifying with the opponent and a taxing struggle for simple existence. I'm glad that will probably never happen to me. To be able to identify with the whole story I think all you have to be is human. After many years of hearing about this book it was still really worth reading....more
This book was jumbled and random. That helped set the mood for both the comic and tragic elements present. In the end, I was more greatly affected byThis book was jumbled and random. That helped set the mood for both the comic and tragic elements present. In the end, I was more greatly affected by the story because of the surreal way it was presented than if it had been organized and stated more clearly....more
This was more mean spirited than I expected considering that the author was actually raised in the culture he was talking about. He seemed to sympathiThis was more mean spirited than I expected considering that the author was actually raised in the culture he was talking about. He seemed to sympathize tremendously, but also berated the people as ignorant buffoons. Positive aspects of rural culture were ignored in favor of cracks about fashion. Often strikingly funny, Bageant's humor comes at the same guilty cost as laughing at a racist joke.
The author raised some serious concerns with our systems of non-profit based healthcare, social security, mass media, the mortgage racket, our military and the prison industry. He skewers them, but refuses to make any kind of citation to lend weight to his admittedly controversial claims. He offers his most supported argument in favor of gun ownership and chides the Democratic Party for alienating rural voters. I see a lot of people who would go Democrat if it weren't for that issue.
This book is good for a cruel laugh that you will hate yourself for, a little bit of understanding of the rural red state mindset (be careful making assumptions if you haven't lived this culture though, there's more to it) and a cursory exam of some of the injustices of the age. ...more