This book started out really well, and I liked it for about 85% of the way. But by the end, the plot was unraveling for me and by the really really enThis book started out really well, and I liked it for about 85% of the way. But by the end, the plot was unraveling for me and by the really really end I had the feeling I was going to be disappointed. At one point I thought the book might make an interesting film, but as the plot went further and further down its rabbit hole I came to the conclusion that the only way this book would be film-able would require a lot of changes to the story.
Be prepared to possibly be disappointed at the end; this isn't your typical neat denouement....more
This is a novel I would say you don't read for the plot, but for the atmosphere. Like those books they make you read in high school or college for litThis is a novel I would say you don't read for the plot, but for the atmosphere. Like those books they make you read in high school or college for literature coursework: if I were discussing what actually happened or who the characters in the story were, there wouldn't be much to go over after awhile.
However, what you're really reading this for is the language and the ability of the author to convey an environment without spelling everything out. I can see people who appreciate language and books like "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" or Ernest Hemingway novels to appreciate this kind of work.
The main early three characters (Talmudge, Della, and Jane) have sad story arcs (even if that's not what was intended). Angelene is the only one who gets a happier life. But after I finished the novel I wonder if the people aren't really the focus, and it's the environment (the orchard) and the characters are just used as support (note the title is the "orchardist"- kind of abstract, rather than calling it "Talmudge", his name).
If I were having a book club meet up about this book, I'd be the one with apricot tart and apple cakes and focused on that (fruit like that in the orchard) rather than gushing about the book itself. I admit it....more
Tearing through (as in reading quickly, not physically damaging) several books this week, I probably didn't give as much justice to this book but I trTearing through (as in reading quickly, not physically damaging) several books this week, I probably didn't give as much justice to this book but I tried it because I thought it would be similar to Girl with a Pearl Earring or The Miniaturist (both about golden age of dutch trade like this book).
Well, it's about an interesting painting (the Anatomy Lesson of Nicholaes Tulp), and told from different points of view (the corpse, or before he was one, his significant other, sort of, the titular doctor of the painting, and a young 26 year old painter van Rijn which the world now knows as Rembrandt).
But I didn't feel entirely convinced about these characters: the story revolves around the events leading up to the actual dissection that Dr Tulp (which is not his name by the way) is going to publicly perform (twice a year), and the various people involved (there's the guy who actually gets paid to bring the body over after he's hung till he's dead). Corpse's XGF is in the family way, and although uneducated and bewildered (and persecuted by her neighbors), I somehow didn't find her believable. Like I knew I was reading fiction, and she was a character the author made up.
**spoiler alert** In the past month, having actually been on the Rue de grenelle and having heard someone talk about the Elegance of the Hedgehog (by**spoiler alert** In the past month, having actually been on the Rue de grenelle and having heard someone talk about the Elegance of the Hedgehog (by the same author), I found this title and thought I'd try it.
The main character is looking for that special taste before he dies. Well it was in chouquettes, which was special to me because that was something I was eating while I was in Paris right before I left. And I loved them so much that we bought the special pearl sugar for them and brought them home.
Felt sorry for the family and the children, but the main character was not a nice person while he was alive. Must be that tradeoff of genius for empathy....more
At the start of this book, I was reminded of Barbara Erhenreich's book "Nickel and Dimed" where a contemporary researcher looks at what it's like to lAt the start of this book, I was reminded of Barbara Erhenreich's book "Nickel and Dimed" where a contemporary researcher looks at what it's like to live as part of the minimum wage workforce. But this is a situation where the narrator isn't just in minimum wage workforce living (despite having had a high education for that time), he's actually seeing what it's like to live like the homeless/poor. In Paris. When he's english.
The timing of when I read this book worked out because he mentions some areas of Paris (cough, the Marais) where one of these rooming houses were (cough, rue de Franc Bourgeois) and I was thinking about how when I was touring that area and seeing these old buildings that look top heavy (it has to do with historical tax rates), I could imagine this awful place the narrator is staying in, looking like an actual building I saw. (It's not the same one, but the one I had in mind is now a hostel). Paper walls thin, papered with layers that hide bugs transferring from wall to wall depending on which lodger tries to sulfur them out.
But as Orwell is known for his writing (he actually has some famous writing tips if you like to write), the prose is very readable, the adventure of being without a sou or a ha'penny is believable, and the dirt is everywhere.
What I didn't understand is that while Mr. Orwell was in dire financial need in Paris, he didn't go see his relative in town who could have helped. True, that would defeat the point of his chosen topic, but he didn't ever discuss why he did not go visit her to get a few francs or at least a hot meal when he hadn't eaten for 3 days. Maybe the editor took that part out to give him more credibility.
**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.**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"]>...more
Heartbreakingly desolate photographs of ruined interiors of once vibrant, thriving spaces in Detroit.
The photographs are now outdated (some of the picHeartbreakingly 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 wrongCharlie 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. ...more
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 pThe 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)....more