**spoiler alert** I finished this book a couple days ago and have been thinking about it ever since. First of all, I really enjoyed it - I love long-f...more**spoiler alert** I finished this book a couple days ago and have been thinking about it ever since. First of all, I really enjoyed it - I love long-form, extended "soap operas" where the stories of multiple characters wind together. At the end of the day, this is really Marie Melmotte's story. I wish I could keep following her, the American she ends up marrying (Mr. Fisker) and Mrs. Hurtle.
I especially would be interested to know how Mrs. Hurtle's story comes out, as Trollope reveals quite late in the game that her husband is still alive and looking for her. I would also be interested to see how Sir Felix suffers under the stern hand of the Protestant pastor in Germany, but only because I want to see Sir Felix suffer some more.
I can't say I was completely thrilled with the outcome of the Hetta/Paul/Roger love triangle. I guess Trollope was trying to show that Hetta was demonstrating as much integrity as Roger did, and if we'd rooted for Hetta to marry Roger, we, as the reader, would have been as guilty of hypocrisy as someone rooting for Sir Felix to marry Marie Melmotte for her money. Or something like that. There's a parallel there but I haven't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's that, in his own way, Roger was trying to "get" something out of Hetta that she wasn't prepared to give, just like Sir Felix was trying to "get" something out of Marie. (less)
A horrible, brutal, violent book, and yet one of my favorites. Its not-terribly-subtle commentary on the evils of rampant materialism is pretty powerf...moreA horrible, brutal, violent book, and yet one of my favorites. Its not-terribly-subtle commentary on the evils of rampant materialism is pretty powerful.(less)
Theodore Dreiser is rapidly overtaking Sinclair Lewis as my favorite early- to mid-century writer. Yes, his writing can be clunky, but it's adorably c...moreTheodore Dreiser is rapidly overtaking Sinclair Lewis as my favorite early- to mid-century writer. Yes, his writing can be clunky, but it's adorably clunky ... I don't know how else to describe it. His writing is chewy like good multigrain bread, clutzy like a newborn foal ... oh heck, I can't describe it, but it hits me just right.
I decided to reread "Sister Carrie" after reading (and loving) his Trilogy of Desire. I hadn't read it since college, and my recollection was that I didn't find it all that interesting back then. Clearly, my tastes have evolved. I should probably go back and try to reread "An American Tragedy," which I read just a few years ago, but which elicited a similar "meh" response from me.
Probably driving my "meh" response (back in college, and maybe just a few years ago too) was how poorly Dreiser depicts his female characters. But once you've read more widely in the period and you start grading on a curve, you realize the guy really deserves higher marks on that score than he gets when judged in a vacuum. His "Carrie" may be frustratingly passive and drifting at times, but eventually she gets fed up and strikes out to take care of herself ... which was absolutely SHOCKING at the time. I guess when I first read this I didn't quite understand just how shocking her actions were.
Loved the book. But I do think it's even more remarkable when read within the context of similar writers (Lewis, Dos Passos, Fitzgerald, Cather, etc.) who were writing around the same time.(less)
This is a very important book. Taubes meticulously examines research conducted over the past three decades, and is able to come to one conclusion: die...moreThis is a very important book. Taubes meticulously examines research conducted over the past three decades, and is able to come to one conclusion: dietary fat is not the culprit in the obesity epidemic (and related health problems) that has gripped the US; rather it is sugar and refined carbohydrates, the consumption of which has risen exponentially. Implementing the principles described in this book has resulted in significant improvements in my overall health.
Taubes has also written a "primer" version of this called "Why We Get Fat" which I haven't read, but which may prove a more accessable entree to the research than this massive & scholarly tome.(less)
I bought this book on my recent trip to Florida so I'd have something to read on the plane home. Like all of Malcolm Gladwell's books, it was a fun, s...moreI bought this book on my recent trip to Florida so I'd have something to read on the plane home. Like all of Malcolm Gladwell's books, it was a fun, swift, engaging read. I've been finding myself quoting parts of the book to my family, especially the part about how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something. I generally quote that to my daughter when it's time to practice her flute. She does not appreciate Mr. Gladwell's insights on the matter, I'm afraid.
I learned a lot from this book. I was fascinated at how he detailed some elements that we don't normally think of as elements of potential success, including the month you are born, or even the positives or negatives of the specific era in which you happen to live. Of course, a lot of the research he presented about class and socioeconomic status was pretty much just confirming the common wisdom.
An incredibly interesting, fun, and informative book. I would recommend it (along with all of Gladwell's books, honestly) to anyone.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, as I generally do with all E.L. Doctorow books. The language was beautiful, the pacing was lyrical, and the historica...moreI enjoyed this book quite a bit, as I generally do with all E.L. Doctorow books. The language was beautiful, the pacing was lyrical, and the historical details immersive. All that being said, I'm a bit puzzled as to why Doctorow chose to deviate from the true story of Homer and Langley Collyer as much as he did. He switched their birth order, made Homer the piano player instead of Langley, and (most egregiously) kept them alive well into the 1970s, when in point of fact they died in the mid-1940s.
I guess the story that Doctorow wanted to tell couldn't be made to fit the actual facts of the brothers' lives. But if that was the case, why use them at all ... why not use a couple of fictionalized brothers *based* on the Collyers? It seems like Doctorow was trying to have his cake and eat it too, and it just didn't work for me.
What did work for me was the depiction of Langley's hoarding behavior and (to a somewhat lesser extent) Homer's reaction to it. I thought Langley was by far the most interesting character in the book, but I never felt like we got to spend enough time with him. I am in awe of the challenge Doctorow set himself with a blind protagonist (who eventually goes deaf as well!) but it left me feeling quite distant from the rest of the world Doctorow built, when I really wished I could have gone deeper into it. Definitely not as weighty as some of Doctorow's other works like Ragtime or The Waterworks. But an enjoyable read nonetheless. (less)
An absolute delight. A frothy confection of sexy werewolves, social-butterfly vampires, and other supernatural critters, set within the bewildering ma...moreAn absolute delight. A frothy confection of sexy werewolves, social-butterfly vampires, and other supernatural critters, set within the bewildering maze of Victorian England manners and mores, and seen through the eyes of an intrepid, parasol-wielding spinster named Alexia. I'd call this Wodehousean, but I don't believe Wodehouse could have written sex scenes without having some kind of apoplectic attack. Carriger, on the other hand, writes her sex scenes with obvious relish and abundant good humor. A spanking good read.(less)
I think what I liked best about this book is that it's the first work of what I'd call "high fantasy" that I've enjoyed in a very, very long time. I gave up on high fantasy untold aeons ago—after trying, and miserably failing to get into the Robert Jordan "Wheel of Time" series, if you really want to know, which you probably don't. But after that debacle, I refused to read just about anything that featured castles, kings, keeps, swordplay, etc. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms has all of these, but it also has a really clean fresh modernity to it -- dare I call it "New Weird"? -- that makes it work. Hell, Jemisin could probably have put unicorns in here, and I would have been right there with her.