There was a moment in this book where I actually shouted "Yes!" out loud.
The year I turned 13, I became the owner of a scruffy paperback copy of TheThere was a moment in this book where I actually shouted "Yes!" out loud.
The year I turned 13, I became the owner of a scruffy paperback copy of The Great Gatsby. I fell in love the first time I read through it, then proceeded to read it another thirty times. Read every Fitzgerald novel I could find, every biography, every short story. I carried Gatsby around with me all that year, balanced on top of my pile of school books as I went from class to class. Though we studied it for Honors English, it was obvious that I knew more about the story and its meaning than the teacher did.
Decades went by. And then, one summer a few years ago, the New York Times printed the book, in its entirety, one perfect chapter at a time, over the course of a week.
And oh, my friends. It is quite a thing to read Gatsby as an adult.
Thank you, Maureen Corrigan, for writing this magnificent book. You explained to me all the reasons I loved it as a kid, and continue to love it today.
Chatty, entertaining, intelligent, and compassionate, So We Read On discusses the meaning of Gatsby, the writing of Gatsby, the history of Gatsby, the significance of Gatsby, and why the book still speaks to us today when many other classics have lost their shine. She also writes about F. Scott Fitzgerald as if she knew him, describing his painful childhood, his personality, his gifts, his meteoric rise, and the tragedy of his fall, with anecdotes that read as if she was present for all of it.
Her first, all-important point is this; that high-school students may be too young to appreciate the book. With its themes of aspiration, class differences, disappointment, loss and regret, it may not be the best fit for kids. But in your forties, you know what it feels like to have your dreams dashed. You know what it feels like to be an outsider, striving desperately to fit in. You've learned all about the differences between people who have lots of money and people who don't. You know what it's like to be scoured out by loss. If you have lived through these experiences, Gatsby breaks your heart.
Like a detective, Corrigan investigates the way a failed, out-of-print novel became a classroom staple; she collects F. Scott Fitzgerald family stories; she takes Gatsby-themed trips to New York; she does Gatsby-themed research in the National Archives; she tours through F. Scott Fitzgerald memorabilia collections like a fangirl.
Go ahead. Reread The Great Gatsby. Then read this book.
The city of Breslau. Don't look for it on a map. It doesn't exist anymore. Once upon a time, it was a German city sharing a border with Poland. AfterThe city of Breslau. Don't look for it on a map. It doesn't exist anymore. Once upon a time, it was a German city sharing a border with Poland. After the atrocities of World War 2, the Soviets drove out the German populace and gave it to Poland. It is now Wroclaw.
Back to the book. Breslau, 1933. A teenage girl and her nanny are murdered and ritually disemboweled on a train car in Breslau. Inspector Mock knew the girl and her father, a local aristocrat. To assist Mock in solving the crime, the Berlin police send Herbert Anwaldt to Breslau. Outwardly, Mock is a world-weary cynic, but secretly he pines for a son. Anwaldt grew up in an orphanage. He yearns for a father.
I really did love most of this book. Mr. Krajewski has a dark gift for creating noir atmosphere. His hero is Eberhard Mock, a cheerfully amoral, rules-bending German police inspector trying to solve a hideous crime--as well as hold on to his job--and his head--at the precise moment in history when the Nazis came to power. Mix in a little history, mythology, gastronomy, class warfare, hookers, murder, and the occult, and you begin to have an idea of what this book is about.
You don't really appreciate the achievement of this novel until you realize, as I suddenly did, that none of the places he is describing exist anymore. The people and culture of Breslau are gone, even the street names, different. How did he find all this stuff out?
A couple of caveats. The translation is kind of stiff--it feels like a translation from a book in the 1930s, not a Polish best-seller that was published a few years ago. And the characters' attitudes towards Jews and homosexuals are pretty primitive.
But still, a terrific read, full of gritty, riveting detail. I couldn't put it down.
A longer, more descriptive review to come later, but let me tell you this right now, this is a magnificent novel. IWhat makes a man? What makes a hero?
A longer, more descriptive review to come later, but let me tell you this right now, this is a magnificent novel. Imagine some crazy combination of the movies X-Men First Class and Hellboy with the following books-- Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, John LeCarre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate --and you begin to get an idea of what this book is like. For lovers of mutants, superheroes, moral ambiguity and World War 2, this is an incredible read, with beautifully written, cinematic passages and nuanced, deeply affecting characters....more
Two remarkable tales of rags to riches, Just Kids tells the intertwined biographies of singer Patti Smith and her lover, best friend and soul mate, phTwo remarkable tales of rags to riches, Just Kids tells the intertwined biographies of singer Patti Smith and her lover, best friend and soul mate, photographer Robert Mapplethorp. The book is a magical candy-colored Polaroid snapshot of the New York scene from the druggy, tie-dyed, Summer-of-Love-infused 1960s through the plague-scourged 1980s. Patti Smith arrived from South Jersey in 1967 and hung out with everyone you've ever heard of; legendary writers, poets, artists, Andy Warhol drag queens, rock stars. If you are a lover of New York, or if you are fascinated by the process by which talented, driven kids transform themselves into artists, this book is for you....more
Read this in two days. I think this is the best one of the series. It is scarily realistic and timely. It feels like he writes these books just beforeRead this in two days. I think this is the best one of the series. It is scarily realistic and timely. It feels like he writes these books just before the events happen in real life. One caveat--these books are blunt and bloody. Do not read this series looking for lovely shadings of ambiguity....more
I guess I'm kind of a snob when it comes to thrillers. Graham Greene, John LeCarre, Alan Furst, Martin Cruz Smith, Tom Rob Smith, (He wrote Child 44.I guess I'm kind of a snob when it comes to thrillers. Graham Greene, John LeCarre, Alan Furst, Martin Cruz Smith, Tom Rob Smith, (He wrote Child 44. Go read it.) they're some of my favorite authors. They write literature that just happens to be about spies. When it comes to this genre, I'm a hard sell.
I Am Pilgrim is a beautifully constructed thriller, an unstoppable juggernaut, keeping me awake until three in the morning one night this week.
The flaws? The writing itself is occasionally amateurish, the pacing sometimes stops the plot dead in its tracks, the characters are pretty eye-rollingly unbelievable, the story hinges on some ridiculous coincidences, there's an almost completely unnecessary subplot, but you know what? It doesn't matter. The terrorist plot at the heart of this book is truly frightening, wholly believable, and it made me want to stand up and applaud. I recommend this book to fellow thriller-lovers with all my heart.
Style-wise, think Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy or Olen Steinhauer, and you'll be very happy....more
So, the characters are pretty thin, the relationships between them are practically arbitrary by the third book, and I was kind of impatient with the wSo, the characters are pretty thin, the relationships between them are practically arbitrary by the third book, and I was kind of impatient with the whole "Is this true? Or more lies from WICKED?" device that drives the narrative.
What I loved about this book--to be exact, what I found riveting, un-put-downable, and what drove me to read all three books in this series--was Dashner's remarkable take on the apocalypse. In the world he creates, vast swathes of the earth have become uninhabitable, a desert, scorched and ruined by solar flares. During the destruction, a deadly virus, The Flare, was set free from some secret government laboratory. It's airborne, incredibly contagious, and 90% fatal. The remaining world governments band together in the face of this disaster. A kind of Center for Disease Control, WICKED, has total control over all resources as it focuses on a cure for the disease.
So, okay, The Hunger Games-esque plot involves bright, personable, physically fit teenagers passing various tests and manufactured situations. Myriads of them die in very awful and creative ways. And the virus turns people into...sigh...zombies, before it kills them.
The impact on the environment was done so well, felt so real, it had me truly frightened. And the way Dashner imagines the government's reaction to the catastrophes feel all too believably possible. Healthy people locked into walled cities. Sick people brutally removed and isolated in sad, neglected and dangerous ghettos that were originally planned to be humane. A single agency with a purpose considered so vital that it grows all-powerful and above the law. Civilization breaks down as all available funds are funneled towards the cure. Exploration of other, simpler methods that might have prevented further infection are ignored and abandoned.
My 14-year-old son loved the action, the relationships, the challenges, the wonderfully imagined teenage slang Dashner invents. I loved everything else. ...more