Once again we have a tired Patrick, an annoying, nosy Erika, couples with broken dreams of grandchildren, devIf you've read one, you've read them all.
Once again we have a tired Patrick, an annoying, nosy Erika, couples with broken dreams of grandchildren, devastated people making coffee or cleaning the house with mechanical movements, a victim from Fjällbacka who moved to Göteborg and returned, not willing to talk about his past, Melberg who thinks the simplest answers are the right ones (and contrary to reason he is wrong as usual), and so on. Some passages actually seem like they were outright copy-pasted from the previous books.
Now, this is not necessarily bad. Fans of the series would know what to expect and probably would not be disappointed by the repetition. The real problem was that this time even the crime investigation, which didn't really lead anywhere, wasn't particularly interesting. The dénouement, which was revealed in a couple of pages and without much connection to the investigation, was reminiscent of a previous one and not fulfilling at all. ...more
This book is one third father and son with issues travelling through the country, one third introduction to Pirsig's metaphysics of Quality and one thThis book is one third father and son with issues travelling through the country, one third introduction to Pirsig's metaphysics of Quality and one third general crash course in philosophy.
The country descriptions, the father-son relationship and the effects of electroshock therapy are interesting, though I didn't feel really engaged, perhaps because both the narrator and his son are kind of assholes at times (which, I admit, is understandable, given their mental health issues).
The Philosophy 101 part of the book is maybe not the most accurate and unbiased, but Pirsig's reading of it is still interesting even if you are already familiar with the subject matter. (Note: If you are not, don't take his thoughts about Plato, Aristotle, etc. for granted.) It serves as the necessary background for the introduction of the metaphysics of Quality, which is the central theme and also the one that I found disappointing.
At the beginning, while Phaedrus hasn't fully developed his theory yet, he confuses basic concepts, without realizing the criteria for the basic quality he is talking about (not his later idea of Quality) depend entirely on human taste or on the particular purpose which humans have instilled in objects, and are not something inherent and universal.
Phaedrus might have had 170 IQ as a child, but it still takes him 50 pages and countless hours of pondering to begin asking basic questions about Quality which he should have asked himself at the very beginning (and other questions remain unasked). It is then that he starts talking imagining some lag between vision and intellectual realization, which is really the field of neuroscience, not rhetoric, and says that the initial awareness of Quality is somehow dependant on our a priory analogues without being part of the intellectual process.
Further on more discrepancies appear. The author talks about Quality as something universal, independent of the subject-object duality, but at the same time his own examples show that this Quality is wholly dependent on the situation and the individual's point of view.
And if Quality makes reality, as Pirsig claims, then it should be everywhere, which would make the whole thing pointless, because everything would have equal quality. Instead he goes for the other option, saying that Quality somehow makes reality, but appears only in some arbitrary parts of reality. For example, it exists in the country, but is nowhere to be found in the big city (despite the narrator saying earlier that Buddha resides equally well everywhere, and that to say otherwise is to demean Buddha and oneself).
So which is it? Is there Quality without humans? Pirsig doesn't bother to ask that question, even though earlier he makes a pointless argument about the law of gravity not existing before humans (and Newton in particular), again failing to distinguish between the basic ideas. He says that the law of gravity did not exist before Newton, because that would mean it has existed before the universe itself, just hanging out there in the void, and that would be stupid. But there is a really simple resolution to this. The "law of gravity" is merely a description of the way gravity works. There was a way gravity worked before there was Newton, but not before there was a universe. With the birth of the universe gravity and the way it works were born too. Pirsig's argument is just sophistry, as is much of this book.
The author sometimes sounds like a smartass, only failing at the smart part. He claims his theory is revolutionary, but at the same time he himself admits it is not really anything new. And he has no reason to sound so zealous and arrogant about a metaphysical concept, besides his own conviction, which he does not defend with much arguments, and dismisses counter-arguments as Aristotelian and irrelevant.
On the bright side, the rest of the story is enjoyable, there are some nicely formulated thoughts here and there, and, undeniably, the book is very influential (not among philosophers, though), thus the three stars....more
This (experimental) novel is short, but it took me longer than expected to read it, not least because it often gave me headaches with its repetitive gThis (experimental) novel is short, but it took me longer than expected to read it, not least because it often gave me headaches with its repetitive gibberish about car crashes, sex, death, thighs, junctions, pudenda, celebrities, helicopters, billboards, magnified body images, surrealistic paintings and transcendental geometry.
There are also some unconvincing conclusions and observations about sexuality, cars and society, as well as passages like Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan, which are intentionally obscene and attack, well, Ronald Reagan, which I am fine with, as long as the text weren't plain ridiculous.
I give the book two stars and not one, because I like the narrative form and there are some interesting commentaries and clever expressions among the drivel....more
The narrator, an occasionally published poet, talks about poetry, trying to be smart and original about it, but only managing 'annoying and unconvinciThe narrator, an occasionally published poet, talks about poetry, trying to be smart and original about it, but only managing 'annoying and unconvincing'.
The rest of the book is comprised of alternating passages with the narrator talking about four-beat rhythm (it is his mania to find four beats in everything), whining about his ex-girlfriend, debunking the iambic pentameter and throwing names of poets at the reader. Oh, and some of those sequences would have been worthy of the hipster hall of fame, if that was not a bit of a paradoxical concept.
Here's a glimpse: He goes on a blueberry-picking date (but they do not pick the mainstream blueberries on the top, only those deep within the bushes, which the common pickers have not noticed), they casually recite poetry and talk about Walt Whitman, and there are some tiny windmills made of Pabst (!) beer cans.
If you have not puked in your mouth by now, you might actually like the book....more
"The Shadow of the Wind" is an intriguing tale, blending Gothic, historical and noir elements.
It took me a few pages to get used to Zafón's (too) orna"The Shadow of the Wind" is an intriguing tale, blending Gothic, historical and noir elements.
It took me a few pages to get used to Zafón's (too) ornate style and all of its details and analogies (some of them effective, some redundant), but I was soon engulfed in the story. Or stories, because there is a tale within the tale. This secondary story, which mirrors the story of the protagonist is exciting, at least the first few times it is repeated over and over again, but from different points of view. By the time we get the definitive version, though, I was growing a bit tired of it and the lengthy, unnecessarily detailed and soap-operish fashion in which it was presented did not help much.
It is, nevertheless, an enchanting and intricate story, with classic Gothic/noir motifs, some good twists (and some unnecessary and/or predictatble ones), a satisfactory ending and a promise for more....more