I loved this book so much in galleys that it's the only book I agreed to blurb this year. I guess I'll post that here, since it forced me to be succinI loved this book so much in galleys that it's the only book I agreed to blurb this year. I guess I'll post that here, since it forced me to be succinct:
The Brain Defense is a stirring ride into a fascinating new field. Can a tumor or traumatic brain injury explain rape or murder? Can they diminish culpability? If your instinct screams no, read page one. The first staggering case will challenge your assumptions; the book that follows may alter them permanently. The vividness and urgency of Kevin Davis’s storytelling, along with his artful touch, draw you in from the first line, and never let you go....more
My early read on this book is enthralled. I'm just on p. 37 (plus the epilogue that I started with, and half the intro that I dispensed with), and I'mMy early read on this book is enthralled. I'm just on p. 37 (plus the epilogue that I started with, and half the intro that I dispensed with), and I'm totally sucked in.
I've already learned a great deal about how the peculiar Russian aristocracy works, and when I plunge back into Anna Karenina soon, it will be with much clearer vision.
The pace feels just right for now, giving me the clarity I hoped for on the origin of the line, starting just far back enough to set the stage, and a clear picture of the machinations that went on to establish things.
We'll see if I tire of that after 600 pages. (A book on the whole Plantagenet line started similarly for me, but I eventually grew weary of the minutiae. These seems to be avoiding some of those traps, though: detail yes, but not drowning in it: details that illuminate the patterns, so far.)
I've got a long way, but I read slowly, and expect to go back and forth between this and Anna. So that's my early take. I'll update. ...more
Here's an excerpt from my review of the first chapter in Vanity Fair:
The first thing that leapt out was the lyric poetry of Lee's language. Tin roofs,Here's an excerpt from my review of the first chapter in Vanity Fair:
The first thing that leapt out was the lyric poetry of Lee's language. Tin roofs, whitewashed tires, and the inevitable verbena bring the red clay earth and Jean Louise's past alive in the ambling second sentence, and then: “She grinned when she saw her first TV antenna atop an unpainted Negro house; as they multiplied, her joy rose.”
Mine, too. Relief washed over me. Three sentences, first mission accomplished: this young Harper Lee can write!
Based on what I learned shortly afterward, once the full book was available and reviewed, I lost interest. I doubt I'll bother to read the whole book. Far too many more promising books out there. ...more
Brilliant. This is a new classic of the narrative nonfiction genre.
The prose is vivid and intoxicating, and he weaves together 2+ threads, seamlessly-Brilliant. This is a new classic of the narrative nonfiction genre.
The prose is vivid and intoxicating, and he weaves together 2+ threads, seamlessly--with the Fawcett thread dominant, as it should be, yet given fresh life with the mingling of the contemporary thread.
I was drawn in from the start, but oddly enough, I REALLY got fascinated when he got to the developing field of cultural anthropology, and the fights over whether the people in the Amazon were "noble savages" or just "savages," or stupid subhumans, or . . . and what the apparent tiny population really meant. Throughout the book, there was an adventure story going on, but a much wider, deeper consideration of how the discoveries there fundamentally altered our conceptions of how and why we all are the way we are. And it crept into those ideas artfully, interestingly and never pedantically. It never bogged down into a university course: felt more like an exciting speaker spurring our curiosity and helping us run with it.
So well done. I'll use this as one of my models for all my future books.
(And as a writer, I can't resist saying: Great verbs! I mean, stupendously great, every page, every paragraph. Never too much, consistently just right.)...more
I love this play, and this edition. It's captivating and insightful, and I'm reading right after finishing "The Plantagenets," which I also recommend,I love this play, and this edition. It's captivating and insightful, and I'm reading right after finishing "The Plantagenets," which I also recommend, and which teed it up nicely. (That book ends with Henry IV deposing Richard II, leading directly to the situation this play depicts.)
One problem with reading the history of the English kings is their stories tend to blur together after while. I've always been able to keep Henry II straight, because I watched "The Lion in Winter" 20 years ago, and still picture Peter O'Toole as Henry, Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine, etc. I think I have this set of Henry's etched in my brain for another 20, too.
I tried two other editions of Henry IV, before settling on this one (Arden):
- The Applause edition: I loved the thorough explanations and insights into how actors have played scenes over time FOR OTHER PLAYS (several of the well-known tragedies), so I was expecting the same. Nope. Nothing but lots of footnotes indicating technical decisions on which folio/quarto was used on a particular line.
- Oxford School Series. The explanatory notes were very helpful, and I would have been very happy with this edition. But I compared this with Arden (reviewed here) line by and Arden had far more historical information and insightful notes on the wordplay (eg, biblical sources he was playing off). Also, the Oxford actually overdid it explaining some phrases I found obvious.
I went to B&N and worked through more than a dozen versions of this play, and found this most superior, by far. (Also, get historical info on all the major characters.) This appears to be the best out there. It costs a bit more: about $8 more than the others, but I'll be spending 40-60 hours with it, so that's less than 20 cents per hour of my time for something much more effective. A bargain.
(If money is really tight, I highly recommend the "Oxford School Series," (and note that's different than just "Oxford," which is also out there.
UPDATE: I started act 5 today, and still loving it. Racing through it, on my scale. I could do without Falstaff, but loving Hal and Hotspur and the other rebels and even the king sometimes.
UPDATE 2: Wrapped up in a frenzy. Sooooo good. ...more