I liked this a lot. Of course the characters all have issues and problems. Some people claim they are unlikeable but for me it was quite easy to likeI liked this a lot. Of course the characters all have issues and problems. Some people claim they are unlikeable but for me it was quite easy to like them. That's one of the nice things about the novel is that they are a bit complicated as people. I liked the story too. I read it quickly though there were one or two tough spots if i remember. (Emotionally rough not intellectually.) plenty of interesting things to think about. I liked the way the narrative bounced around but still seemed easy to follow. I liked that small things would come up and connect back through the novel simetimes just in small ways sometimes in bigger ways.
What didn't I like. This was a bit tough for me to put my finger on. I guess what I would say is that there is a bit of cartoonishness about the characters. To a large extent I thought they were realistic complicated characters, and that they did hang together as a family. There is just some quality about them that was a bit silly. I think this was intentional on his part. It kind of relates to Chip's realization while walking to Poland. Farce not tragedy. So i am not saying he should have changed it. I see why it was like that I think. Maybe I just have a preference for the tragic
I felt I noticed some similarities with Foster Wallace's stuff, particularly in some of the topics and themes, but I seem to have a preference for Franzen
I think this book will bear some thinking about. I kind of imagine though if I revise my opinion it will be up rather than down....more
Erdrich "Fleur": I think this is the third story by Erdrich I've read and I've liked them all, although I thought this one wasn't quite as good as theErdrich "Fleur": I think this is the third story by Erdrich I've read and I've liked them all, although I thought this one wasn't quite as good as the story in the 2002 volume of this series.
Johnson "The Children's Wing": A nice enough story and decently written. I didn't really like the last few lines of the story.
Boswell "The Darkness of Love": Interesting story. Well written. One interesting point though was that the story was about a black family, and the main character is a black cop. Something I can't really put my finger on made me question whether the author was black or white. (He's white. So am I for the record.) I liked the story and would definitely like to read more by this author, but I wonder if that feeling I had doesn't say something about some point of feel. It's interesting to me to wonder whether a white author could get away with writing about black characters in the current intellectual and political climate or whether they would be rejected out of hand as not having the necessary experience for it or even worse accused of somehow trying to "appropriate" or "colonize" black culture or lives. Those aren't arguments I would make, but it's something to think about the changing climate around these issues.
Adams "Tide Pools": I liked this story. It was simple but presented what I thought was an interesting situation. It has a kind of happy ending. It will never be a contestant in any heavy weight competition but it was a nice read and the writing was fine. On the other hand, I don't really see myself seeking out any more of this author's work.
Dybek "Blight": I liked this story. The characters are pretty much the whole thing. The city itself does play a part. I felt the ending was a little limp, due probably to the fact that there's no plot really. I'm would definitely consider reading more of this author's work, particularly because I lived in Chicago for a short while and am interested in the city.
Lott "The Janeites": I really thought this story was horrible dreck. The emotional content was cheap and poorly done. And the "intellectual content" of the story was ridiculous. Basically this dude gets to feel superior because some evil academic defends a nasty character in a Jane Austen novel for all the wrong reasons. My God what is the world coming to! There was also a stereotyped and questionable scene with black boys and a boom box on the bus. Tellingly, I have looked up a number of the authors in this book on the internet and I can find no traces of Mr. James Lott, though admittedly I didn't search very hard.
Barthelme "Basil from Her Garden": I saw the name Barthelme on the table of contents. It rang a bell but I didn't know anything about him so I looked him up and found a website that has several of his stories on it. Usually this kind of thing is not really my taste, I usually prefer realistic stories. (That being said I do like Borges.) Whether because I've gotten more open minded lately, or whether there was just some connection I did like some of the Barthelme stories I read. On the other hand,I didn't like this one in the collection that much. It didn't have the zap that some of the shorter ones of his did. I definitely see myself trying to get a hold of some more of this guy.
Parts of this reminded me of "Goodfellas". In goodfellas particularly right near the climax of the movie Henry is running around doing increasing amouParts of this reminded me of "Goodfellas". In goodfellas particularly right near the climax of the movie Henry is running around doing increasing amounts of coke and dealing with everything from cooking a nice dinner to getting a lucky hat to having sex with his mistress. Similarly here, with booze instead of coke, this man's world is falling apart and ghosts are appearing but just in the thick of it he will jump back to plotting about how to arrange a threesome with his wife and mistress.
Lot's of things to enjoy here. Another reviewer mentioned how the people around him suspect his visions are the result of dt's but the lucidity of the voice never leaves you in any doubt as to the reality of what he's experiencing even amid the total chaos. I quite enjoyed the humor and the story. The voice of the narrator is also a real pleasure....more
This was a decent book. My kids liked it. The story was entertaining and I appreciated the attempt to introduce some more interesting ideas into a kidThis was a decent book. My kids liked it. The story was entertaining and I appreciated the attempt to introduce some more interesting ideas into a kids book than "Be yourself!".
I felt mixed about this. There were pieces I like a lot and pieces I didn't like at all. I also wonder if part of the reason this book gets rated so hI felt mixed about this. There were pieces I like a lot and pieces I didn't like at all. I also wonder if part of the reason this book gets rated so highly is because of it's subject matter.
I liked the "Sweetheart..." story because it seemed like the kind of story that might get told there by soldiers sitting around. I think this was one side of the book that was interesting. There are different types of stories, that work in different ways but that still function to give a reader like me, who wasn't there, a feel for the experience.
I liked "On the Rainy River". I felt I could connect with what he was going through and the idea of running away to some random roadside hotel to work through it.
I liked some of the images of the soldiers talking, the sketches of their personalities. I thought that stuff rang true.
On the other hand, I felt some of it was preachy, for instance "How to tell a true war story". I also felt that the book was hypocritical in that some of the pieces did seem to be emotionally manipulative rather than "true". For instance, "the man I killed". I really felt uncomfortable about his imagined story for the dead man. The whole notion of telling that kind of story and the sort of pity he seems to take on the dead guy was stomach turning. It's a cliche and it's wasn't well done. I think some times he does want to come out with some kind of moral in his stories.
On the whole I didn't think he was that great a writer. I didn't like the way he put in notes like "Start here:" for instance. I can understand he was trying to mess with notions of art and the story but it didn't feel interesting, it just made it seem messy. There's a lot of "telling" rather than "showing" in this book. I feel like there are a lot of short cuts in places. Places where the fact that he's just not a very good writer shows through in an inability to use language to create an effect or to carry an idea. He just kind of hacks at the problems sometimes.
I also think there are just some cliches that really permeate this book. The whole notion that danger can be exhilirating and make you feel more alive. I don't object to this being part of what you are doing, but he states it like it's something that so uniquely true of his experience that it justifies him just bald face saying it repeatedly. That stuff doesn't help me appreciate the experience any more.
As far as the unpleasant or uncomfortable stuff in there. That stuff I can appreciate. That did make me feel more like I was there. It made me feel uncomfortable. I think that was the intended effect. I liked that he presented this stuff with a feeling of understanding for the people who did those things, without trying to justify them. The purpose of these parts did seem "true" to me. That's just what it was like. He isn't engaged in trying to make those things seem more humane, but he's also not presenting them in the spirit of holding them up for us to feel outraged by. I think these are some of the places he can express more subtle effects. He communicates both the humanness of the soldiers doing these things, as well as horror of the actual actions....more
Not sure what to say about it. It is an interesting book in that it is very different from most of what I read and it was reasonably entertaining. I kNot sure what to say about it. It is an interesting book in that it is very different from most of what I read and it was reasonably entertaining. I know it has some literary historical significance which was one of the reasons I read it. So on the whole it was worth my while I felt. On the other hand it is not something that effected me much....more