I laughed throughout, and found its loose plotting interesting. I am knocking one point off because I, with my limited literary breadth, had thought “I laughed throughout, and found its loose plotting interesting. I am knocking one point off because I, with my limited literary breadth, had thought “The Victorian Chaise-Longue” was a book-within-a-book conceit, and was somewhat disappointed to find out that it actually exists and was not the invention of Norman. This may be unreasonable, and I only find solace in how meaningless my Goodreads ratings are....more
There were passages that I could keep re-reading and each time get enchanted by the beautiful writing. And then there was the second half of the book.There were passages that I could keep re-reading and each time get enchanted by the beautiful writing. And then there was the second half of the book. By the end, I was barely tolerating the thing....more
I know that I should just turn off my Kindle's ability to show what other people highlighted in a book. But I cannot. I'm sickly fascinated with it. LI know that I should just turn off my Kindle's ability to show what other people highlighted in a book. But I cannot. I'm sickly fascinated with it. Like why did 1,093 feel the need to highlight the following in Ready Player One? "Douglas Adams. Kurt Vonnegut. Neal Stephenson. Richard K. Morgan. Stephen King. Orson Scott Card. Terry Pratchett. Terry Brooks. Bester. Bradbury, Haldeman, Heinlein, Tolkien, Vance, Gibson, Gaiman, Sterling, Moorcock, Scalzi, Zelazny." That a literal list of pop culture references is the passage that reader most responded to probably goes a long way to explaining why I didn't enjoy this book nearly as much as other people did. I like nerdy-ass stuff, but it can only take me so far.
I found the book at it's best fun. It has a central idea that allows for a world filled with a pastiche of sci-fi and fantasy settings, tropes and characters. It's like watching the craziest, overstuffed video game ever play out in front of me. However, most of the time the book is mired in the author's extreme writerly limitations. The characters are too flat to even be considered thinly-veiled versions of the author, they are just animated version of his "top five" movie/album/video game lists. The book is littered with deus ex machina twists, plot holes and implausible settings. I could get past that, but I couldn't ignore two incompatible stylistic choices, mainly because I wouldn't have enjoyed them even if they weren't logically inconsistent.
The book's first chapter establishes that this is the sort of book where the main character is supposed to be the author, that he's going "to set the record straight, once and for all". So presumably the readers of the book are also from 2045, familiar with the general world around them. Weirdly, Cline then writes with the most exposition-laden prose I think I have ever read. Most of the first half of the book consists of passages like "The one-size-fits all OASIS visor was slightly larger than a pair of sunglasses. It used harmless low-powered lasers to draw the stunningly real environment of the OASIS right onto the wearer's retina, completely immersing their entire field of vision in the online world. The visor was light-years ahead of the clunky virtual-reality goggles available prior to the that time, and it represented a paradigm shift in virtual-reality technology…" And so it goes. OASIS is the cornerstone of this entire world. There is no reason the character would feel the need to explain it in this boring level of detail.
I really enjoyed the central conceit, and I felt this book wasted its potential. If Cline wrote with a prose similar to A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, where the nerdy obsessions are synthesized and integrated into the prose, I would have loved it. Instead it felt like a chore. And if a book where dudes are flinging fireballs at giant robots isn't fun, then it fails....more
Questlove is the sort of musician who could easily write his entire memoir about the tricks, influences and aesthetic choices made for every song he hQuestlove is the sort of musician who could easily write his entire memoir about the tricks, influences and aesthetic choices made for every song he has worked on, and I'm glad he resisted this impulse, as I would have been completely lost in that sort of discussion. I loved almost every authorial decision about this book, with my main complaint there is a moderate amount of repetition between chapters. Questlove mentions at the beginning that his inclination when reading music memoirs is to hop around, so he clearly wanted to enable people to read each section as an independent section. However, as someone who reads from cover-to-cover, I found it something that knocked me out of my flow.
Overall, his voice was funny and engaging, and made a story that could have been slightly boring in a more straight-forward telling an engaging work....more
As "world building" becomes more of a codified element of writing, I'm worrying that authors feel this is sufficient to make a book engaging. It isn'tAs "world building" becomes more of a codified element of writing, I'm worrying that authors feel this is sufficient to make a book engaging. It isn't sufficient for me. Howey makes the sort of authorial choices that drive me batty: hundreds of years in the future everyone speaks contemporary English except that "dollars" have become "chits"; phrases repeat over and over (how many times do his characters run or dip their chins? Are chins the true windows to the soul?), Shakespeare is including for no purpose other than to give some sort of literary cred.
What's particularly frustrating about that last one is it seems so clear that Romeo and Juliet isn't the source material for the book -- it's the video game Fallout. And he doesn't even do right to this source, as I loved that game, and I found this book a dud....more
This was a short, perfect for the road trip I was on when I read it. Even though it was brief, it hasn't been as ephemeral a read as I would have guesThis was a short, perfect for the road trip I was on when I read it. Even though it was brief, it hasn't been as ephemeral a read as I would have guessed it would be....more
The basic idea of the book is intriguing: New York's recent history as told from the perspective of big-picture statistics and up-close personal storiThe basic idea of the book is intriguing: New York's recent history as told from the perspective of big-picture statistics and up-close personal stories. As it plays out, these two different view points don't elucidate each other. At its worst, it reads like someone trying to make gossipy hook-ups sound deep. Similarly, I enjoyed the concept of writing about a New York social circle in tones other than breathless excitement, but after a few pages I was wishing Sicha would write in something closer to his normal online voice rather than this Tao Lin drag performance.
What was most interesting about this book was how it never tried to make its case through easy empathy. Sicha proposes a New York of economics fiefdoms filled with kings and plebs. Even though Sicha clearly finds the behavior of the rich deplorable, he never feels the need to make the people he shows them abusing noble or even likeable. Whatever a Very Recent History is, it does not read like simple agitprop.
This book's strength is also a weakness: Levy clearly is close enough to this culture to bring an excitement and respect to the material, but he alsoThis book's strength is also a weakness: Levy clearly is close enough to this culture to bring an excitement and respect to the material, but he also shares the casual sexism/classicism/racism of the "meritocratic" hacker culture. If the entire discussion as to why there were no female hackers is going to be one paragraph that concludes it's a "hardware" issue, don't bother having it....more
The parts motivated by the Alexander Technique are pretty good, especially the emphasis on keeping the neck relaxed. I hear advice about keeping the sThe parts motivated by the Alexander Technique are pretty good, especially the emphasis on keeping the neck relaxed. I hear advice about keeping the shoulders relaxed a lot, but those two areas work together. Where this book really falters is when it advances the hot nonsense of Pose technique. Pose, for those unfamiliar, is a school of running created by some dude from Russia and brought to America because too many Eastern Europeans are really good at physics, and when they are instructed to run on a flat surface by "using gravity rather than muscles to go forward" they scrunch up their faces at how a downward force vector magically becomes a horizontal one.
Thankfully, many Americans don't know physics, and apparently never suffered childhood disappointments at the limitations of slinkies and skateboards, and think this is a good idea. The inclusion of Pose was particularly disappointing because Alexander Technique, from what I understand, is about not overthinking things and letting the body do what it naturally wants to do, which would complement a Steve Magness/Tom Tellez understanding of biomechanics. ...more
Choosing to organize the recipes with the "mother" elements at first struck me as gimmicky, but that coupled with how she writes about her recipes werChoosing to organize the recipes with the "mother" elements at first struck me as gimmicky, but that coupled with how she writes about her recipes were inspiring in how I can be creative in baking, which I tend to think of as much more reserved than cooking. The ratios for a given element might not change, but the way those elements are combined can get wild....more