This was a charming book about experiencing New York from its waterways - specifically, from a small catboat sailing those waterways. It interweaves oThis was a charming book about experiencing New York from its waterways - specifically, from a small catboat sailing those waterways. It interweaves one family's love of sailing, discovery, and New York with great nuggets of history and ecology. This book was most definitely a product of its times - the early '90s and early '00s. It reflects a New York beginning to wrestle with its waterfront environment in a decidedly post industrial era, yet before Bloombergian development. As such, it has a sense of optimism about preserving working and middle class spaces - from Greenpoint's waterfront to the Canarsie Pier - which didn't really pan out 10 to 15 years later. I wasn't expecting the book to be such a personal story, and I found that to be a pleasant, refreshing surprise. And I learned a lot - especially about Jamaica bay....more
Surprisingly readable for a book made up of hundreds of interviews, with no narrative intervention - a real testament out Greenfield's abilities as anSurprisingly readable for a book made up of hundreds of interviews, with no narrative intervention - a real testament out Greenfield's abilities as an editor and interviewer.
This book was great, actually, but must be understood for what it is - an extremely subjective approach to biography, with almost no input from the subject himself, Jerry Garcia. That's a huge grain of salt that you must hold in your hand the entire time that you are reading this book. Also missing are many other voices - people who have passed away, people who refused to be interviewed, etc. if you have little knowledge of the Dead, Garcia's life, or the political and cultural context of the time, you could walk away with a very skewed understanding of Garcia.
That said, you get such a rich sense of Garcia's personality, ambitions, and approach to life and music from this roster of friends and loved ones. What a collection of reminiscences. I have to say, despite the fact that Greenfield and virtually all of the interviewees loved him and respected him, I put the book down really disliking Garcia as a person. Man, he was a supremely bad father and husband. ...more
In Empire of Necessity, Greg Grandin weaves together the story of one 1804 slave rebellion and the Melville story it inspired, contextualizing the eveIn Empire of Necessity, Greg Grandin weaves together the story of one 1804 slave rebellion and the Melville story it inspired, contextualizing the event in the global history of slavery and the slave trade and the broader cultural environment of the early 19th century. The result was a rich and readable book that I couldn't put down.
This book was a model for me as a historian and a writer. Grandin demonstrates that popular history can be engrossing and intellectually rigorous. As an Americanist, I learned an enormous amount of new information about slavery in South America. Through the stories of people, customs, and goods, this book shows (not tells) what a truly global economic and cultural system chattel slavery was. Amazingly, Grandin's story jumps across continents and time periods, yet loses none of its narrative punch. From detailed descriptions of the truly horrific middle passage, to the blow by blow (pun intended) of killing seals, the book is pretty brutal - but that should not deter you from this terrific read....more
What an interesting, spare, and at times beautiful memoir by a young woman who essentially lived one life, and abandoned it for an opposite life. TheWhat an interesting, spare, and at times beautiful memoir by a young woman who essentially lived one life, and abandoned it for an opposite life. The young-person memoir is incredibly difficult to pull off. Feldman's book is successful because it could not have been written at any other time. It captures her experiences, her fears, her giddiness, her identity recreation at a moment of rebirth that comes out of sheer personal will and strength.
Much has been debated about the veracity of her memoir, and not surprisingly she's been virulently attacked and branded a liar by the Satmar community she chose to leave. But Feldman is very honest about the fact that this is HER story, HER experience to tell. It is remarkable to witness someone so isolated from intellectual dialogue to burst forth as a budding feminist writer and thinker, and for that alone, this book is worth a read....more
This was a lovely, sad, austere novel. The book is almost 400 pages, yet it felt spare and elegant - always a sign of a talented author and good editoThis was a lovely, sad, austere novel. The book is almost 400 pages, yet it felt spare and elegant - always a sign of a talented author and good editor. White writes with a sort of sexual realism, and the parallels between his style and Roth's jumped out at me throughout the novel. That said, there was something pleasantly straightforward and old fashioned about White's prose that is so much pleasing to me than Roth's. As a woman, I enjoyed the sense of voyeurism I got from reading a book that is very much about men and men's complicated relationships. The addition of GRID (gay related immune deficiency, the earliest given medical name for the malady we now know as HIV/AIDS) as nothing but a boogeyman spurring two men towards simple monogamy felt a bit of a throwaway at first; but after I mulled it over I decided it worked in the structure of the novel. Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book. ...more
Obviously a must read if you are deeply invested in the literary Sookie (not Anna Paquin). But I fear for the fate of Sookie and Eric's relationship,Obviously a must read if you are deeply invested in the literary Sookie (not Anna Paquin). But I fear for the fate of Sookie and Eric's relationship, and for the quality of the final books of this series....more
Despite occasional forays into cliche and maudlin, I found The Help to be a quick and engaging read. That said, I found the book to be troubling in soDespite occasional forays into cliche and maudlin, I found The Help to be a quick and engaging read. That said, I found the book to be troubling in so many ways that far outweighed a peppy narrative. So many of these have already been chronicled ... the fact that all of the black characters were written in hokey dialect, while the white characters' dialogue reflected nary a southern twang, for example. Or the fact that it is a deep shame that it takes a white protagonist to bring everyday stories of civil rights into the twenty-first century American consciousness.
From almost the first chapter, I got the overarching sense that this book was less about chronicling the experiences of African American women coming into their own as writers and activists, and more about the author working out her own guilt and struggles with her personal experiences with her black maid. In this sense, the book felt like the Eat Pray Love of 1960s Mississippi. Ick. As another goodreads reviewer suggested, if as many people read Anne Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi as read The Help, Americans would certainly have a better grasp of the historical scope of the Civil Rights Movement, and the personal anguish and activism of black southerners during an era that was at once terrifying and revolutionary....more