**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed the first book (must be schadenfreude) and so when I got my hands on the sequel after reading a different D.E....more**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed the first book (must be schadenfreude) and so when I got my hands on the sequel after reading a different D.E. Stevenson book (The Young Clementina) I thought we were back into lighter fare.
But this book was a letdown and the ending was a cop-out (the solution to not writing books that get you in trouble is to (view spoiler)[ get pregnant (hide spoiler)] ???), and I have to keep in mind when this story was written, that's something appropriate for women of the time. But what a disappointment in the main character.
Kind of categorizable under the "why not to get married" kind of books, although Barbara in the story is very happy. Because the writer makes it so.
Suddenly the Young Clementina's narrator seems more aspirationally interesting. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Heartbreakingly desolate photographs of ruined interiors of once vibrant, thriving spaces in Detroit.
The photographs are now outdated (some of the pic...moreHeartbreakingly desolate photographs of ruined interiors of once vibrant, thriving spaces in Detroit.
The photographs are now outdated (some of the pictured places do not exist now- the buildings have been razed completely), but they capture in time the pathos of how bad Detroit has gotten. (Even see the graffiti tag artist in a couple photos, and a scrapper just looks straight at the camera as he's doing his thing).
For more information on a lot of the places depicted, go see Detroit Urbex (Urban Explorers) website, which gives some more detail about what buildings have been demolished.
The photographs are good, but I wish the author had provided more detail about the history of the place (why had it fallen into ruin) and some maps of where these buildings are located (or WERE located) in the city. Perhaps he did not to not encourage people to try to go there (and collect scrap and trash the place even more). Also I wish he had put photos of the BEFORE (what they looked like, in all their opulence at their peak).
Why do people have to vandalize empty places?? Even 18th century world travellers had to scratch graffiti on the pyramids in Egypt.
Would like to see more cities (Pittsburgh maybe?) with this kind of photographic narrative.
Charlie LeDuff is an interesting personality on the news (with a wry sense of humor when it comes to exposing illogicity/inconsistency/downright wrong...moreCharlie LeDuff is an interesting personality on the news (with a wry sense of humor when it comes to exposing illogicity/inconsistency/downright wrong issues in Detroit). He's a real person, with less-than-perfect past, and his writing comes across more like a person who is telling stories that you met in some public place, not an academic who has reams of research from the university library system.
What's amazing is that after discussing this book with my family, my father went to read it. (This is very rare, because he tends not to have time to sit and read, but he finds entertainment in Mr. LeDuff's reporting style.)
Detroit was once the Paris of the Midwest, and to my generation that's almost fantastical to believe. Several books are now in distribution (for "ruin porn" as photographers and urban explorers go examine all the grand buildings from the early 20th century that are now disasters of condemned structures) about how Detroit has declined so much. This book tries to look at some of the history where it went wrong.
Despite the ugliness of the place now, it's apparent the author still has hope (and native love) for his hometown. (less)
The main message could have been boiled down into a much shorter chapter. Most of the book is just support for the argument that we need to slow down p...moreThe main message could have been boiled down into a much shorter chapter. Most of the book is just support for the argument that we need to slow down population growth.
Except I live in a place where that's obvious, so I felt a bit jaded after discovering that this was the point of the book. Was hoping for something more like the author's The World Without Us (which oddly has lower ratings than this book).(less)
This book is advertised as a YA novel, but I felt like it wasn't for children.
It might have just been bad timing, but it's chilling reading a story ab...moreThis book is advertised as a YA novel, but I felt like it wasn't for children.
It might have just been bad timing, but it's chilling reading a story about child abduction and torture in someone's basement when you just had that person in Ohio with the three young women who escaped from his basement in the news not that long ago.
Wished I could have the hours back I spent reading this book. Felt really sad, thinking about those women trapped for 10 years in that awful man's basement in Ohio.
I did like Jakob the ghost, though. He deserves better.(less)
(Purchased from Persephone Books, in person, at the London shop.)
This is a short (almost novella) but compactly well written story by Julia Strachey....more(Purchased from Persephone Books, in person, at the London shop.)
This is a short (almost novella) but compactly well written story by Julia Strachey. (Read the intro written by a friend of the author- I have to agree the author put effort into making her writing "tight").
I haven't seen the movie, but in my own mind I know who I'd cast for the role of Joseph (Tom Hughes, known for Silk and minor appearance in the Henriad cycle for Henry the IV part 1, has all the expressions and physical movement of this character, even though he doesn't play the role in the film.)
The amazing thing is how quickly the events move- the sense of rush of the situation goes with how fast the events unfold in this story. Dolly is being rushed to get to her wedding (next door), Joseph, the guy who is in love with her (and supposedly she with him) is downstairs waiting to talk to her to stop the wedding, and all the family members and guests are unhappy but everyone is in a Hurry Up and Wait mode to get through with the happy day. The irony is that nobody is happy.
I didn't laugh or find it funny, but I can understand how the story is supposed to be funny. If you're a romantic and want happy endings, and want to feel happier and lighter, this isn't the story for you. This is a story that is more of a slice of reality- with a tragicomic bent- where people make choices or there are pivotal moments in life and not necessarily the best path is chosen but they are swept up by the situation it's kind of inevitable.
It would have been nice if the author had written an Afterward about what happened to Dolly and Owen's marriage, but instead I thought about how Julia Strachey's (first) marriage turned out and reflected maybe she wrote it based on her own experiences. Acute observations of people: must have been based on people she had known! (less)
There are plenty of comprehensive reviews on this book that another one doesn't really add to the pile right now. I found it interesting, funny, but no...moreThere are plenty of comprehensive reviews on this book that another one doesn't really add to the pile right now. I found it interesting, funny, but not serious literature. Although I thought this story had a Jane Austen comedy of manners quality, the main guy is not Mr. Darcy; he's Mr. Tilney (Northanger Abbey). The perfect boyfriend who knows how to fly in the face of family opinion. He knows how to eloquently talk about topics in common with the heroine. (Sorry to burst your bubble ladies, but such a guy does not exist, outside of asian movies and a lot of books.)
Sadly, I agree with another poster: in real life, if the matriarch of the family says You Shalt Not Marry the Girl, well he's not going to marry her. I'm projecting from my own family experience that in cases of marriages that the family does not approve of, they are going to face a lot of pressure from the family. You'll need more than Good Luck. You'll need cunning and strategy and you better know who you're up against and how you're going to deal with it.
I loved the beginning prologue of the story, but by the end of the novel I found the writing to slack off, as if the editorial staff got tired and the author just wanted to be done with it and move on.
On the writing quality: the author needs to find more adjectives for any outfits related to the main character (Rachel) other than the word "cute". Seems to have become a word with a negative connotation in this context, to refer to her outfit choices as such.
The positive: I enjoy Chris Ware's artwork style. I also appreciate his typography talents, and his use of some very beautiful cursive style lettering...moreThe positive: I enjoy Chris Ware's artwork style. I also appreciate his typography talents, and his use of some very beautiful cursive style lettering (I like the cursive capitals he uses in some of the text passages). I liked the architectural style of the exploded view of the apartment building- it reminded me of lego assembly instructions, and you could see sort of the mapping of the rooms of each floor. Also the fruit (in tidy rows and very uniform) pictures are great. More of that, please!
The negative: I can't stand his storylines. He's known for depressive characters, and the main one running through most of the storylines in this collection is a self-absorbed, frequently depressed, and aimless person. I couldn't stand her. She has 1.5 legs, and you see her progressing through several stages of her life, and the apartment building she lives in. You also have some narrative about other residents' histories (the landlady, the neighbors downstairs, a bee nearby), which are nice diversions from the woman on the third floor.
The main character's history felt so "vanilla" (maybe "prosaic" is the appropriate word) that I wasn't very interested.
I enjoyed the bit where she gave flowers to the neighbor in the building, free of charge. (she did something for someone OTHER than herself!) And the interesting way he shows the couple on the second floor arguing about lack of money.
Back to the book review: The extremely negative: despite being known for graphic novel and comic-book style artwork, these are not storylines or dialogues for children. I was reading this out loud to a person and heavily edited the dialogue. The fonts are frequently too small, that the person I was reading to couldn't see the pictures since I had my face up close trying to read the text out loud.
The R-rated (or X-rated) content is a waste of art talent to focus so much ink on. I know from Ware's previous work (Jimmy Corrigan and his Acme Novelty Library) that he tends to draw a lot of this stuff, so I wasn't surprised. Can we please focus on something else than the "down there" of the body? News flash: many humans in the rest of the world are NOT always fixated on sex. We have interests beyond the self.
Many of the characters seem to be constantly worried about being ALONE. There are a lot of people in this world who are OK with singledom; these people manage to have self-confidence, friends, and do not necessarily need to have sexual fulfillment, and yet are much better adjusted and contented than the depicted characters. (And no, they're not monks or nuns. Can you imagine!? I'm thinking of Edward Gorey, another well recognized illustrator.)
More fruit please. Less Depressive, loneliness and TMI. Am glad I didn't spend the money on this collection. (less)
Right before I read this book I was reading Nevil Shute's Pied Piper and thought I'd give this a go because I was curious about the characters. Reflec...moreRight before I read this book I was reading Nevil Shute's Pied Piper and thought I'd give this a go because I was curious about the characters. Reflecting back on the opening of this book, I thought of Shakespeare's Hamlet, where you see a some narrative about a character we don't hear much about for the rest of the book. (Therefore: if you started reading it and didn't like it, keep going until you get into the meat of the story.)
Even though we don't live in the time period this story takes place in, I thought about what it would be like to emigrate in our current world.
NHS was decidedly painted in a bad light, but I would have liked it if Nevil Shute would explain more WHY it was not a good thing. Right now we have Call the Midwife sort of trumpeting how nice NHS is and it rubs us that we Yanks don't have it, but then The Far Country makes it seem like the post-war UK was a horrible place to be although they have NHS and food rationing and a miserable economy.
I rather liked the main character and didn't think her too weak but -1 star because there are some elements of the story that were just too convenient to make the story play out as it did. It's fiction, so I guess that is how it works.
There is a movie of this novel that I have not seen but based on what I read about the film adaptation I think the book is far better, as it doesn't sound like the movie follows this book. (I suppose if you're writing any book reports or participating in book discussions about this novel, that's a warning to you to not use the movie as a substitute or you're going to look ridiculous.)(less)
I think the first time I had heard of this book, I was at the author's booksigning (so this was a couple years ago). But I wasn't expecting to see him...moreI think the first time I had heard of this book, I was at the author's booksigning (so this was a couple years ago). But I wasn't expecting to see him there (I stumbled upon the event on a random evening I was at the store) and at that point I had read Pattern Recognition and some of his earlier sci-fi (futuristic?) work.
I didn't know he had kept writing about Blu Ant. Thought Pattern Recognition was ok as a standalone.
So my thought was recently, I will try this book, thinking it had not much to do with Pattern Recognition (I did not read book 2, Spook Country) and give it a go.
Like at least one character in both stories, I am chasing after non-mainstream (but in demand, so not exactly esoteric) products, but while reading the book I am looking for something that isn't in the pages.
I found the action kind of anti-climatic. The mysterious person the characters are trying not to hunt for, is a character from the first book. (Is that a spoiler? maybe not really.) Yes, we see characters from Pattern Recognition flit through. I didn't feel like I cared too much about the characters by the end but I stuck with the book mainly because I remembered that Mr Gibson was nice and courteous to me, and he stuck with the long line of fans to the end, and even though I was a walk-in he stayed to see me.
He signed my notebook with a special note per my request, and he scrutinized my jacket (it was not a Hounds, but it wasn't very typical either), but that was a memorable encounter: the meeting really reminded me of one of his descriptions in his books when he talks about characters meeting each other. I know readers and authors live outside the stories they read and write, but I could not help wonder otherwise.
BTW he wears converse sneakers. (as does one of his characters). And I knew of Hackett before I read this story. But that doesn't make me a coolhunter.(less)