Might have benefited from coming to this book with no preconceived ideas, something that's fitting for reading about a person's life. A person doesn'tMight have benefited from coming to this book with no preconceived ideas, something that's fitting for reading about a person's life. A person doesn't know what's around the corner and from the first pages we're there looking over Knight's shoulder, seeing what he sees and just as destabilized. Even when things seem to be going well, we never know if the next scene will be his first or last. As the industry changes around him, as his body's tolerance grows and his medications double, it's not guaranteed that there will be another call, and that tension persists throughout this *fast* 300 page book. To me reading this book you can begin to understand what a precarious existence he lived, and yet one way or another he manages to thread the needle (pun intended).
A writer having lived these exploits could easily have filled this work with a surface-level retelling focused on the most lurid details, and yes this book has that and yes that's why many fans might choose to pick it from the shelf to buy, but Knight has much more of a story to tell than that. His passion for reflection and literature is clear on each page. You can tell a great deal of effort went into finding the mot juste and that he is drawing on a big reservoir of language and grey matter. This is a work that wasn't written in a hurry, but you can tell these experiences--alternating between joyful, harrowing, revolting, suspenseful, and sometimes all four at once(!), showing how his need for survival took precedence over his ambivalence time and again--have been continuously relitigated in his mind ever since they first happened. In the memoir you're there with him, thinking through all these things with him, weighing different options and then anxiously waiting with him to see what might be the consequences.
The book is very honest, whether channeling his rage and despair or showing the big successes and weaknesses. In a way, it's as much us the leering reader ogling through the window as it is him inviting one to see, and he uses that power dynamic to tell us what he really thinks, like it or not. For the first hundred pages it's difficult for us to know how much he enjoyed any of this. The focus seems to be the paycheck and the girls secondary. Then he'd have these superlatively blissful encounters, rare enough, when he and the person with him are able to break through the clouds and have an ecstatic moment of connection. At those points you're happy and jealous, but then another few pages and this uneasy peace is rent again by turmoil.
While reading this, I was in the midst of preparing for the Army PT test and weigh-in. In such moments you're most aware of how Big Army owns your body and you better do what you must, if only to keep them off your back. As a military musician, however, I was also aware that I was in this position from having made a devil's bargain: I do what I love for a living, all the while knowing there'd always be a fly in the ointment. It'll never be a perfect gig but it's a gig, and many times will come where you hate the parts of the bargain that are so far removed from playing music. Carrying a plastic container to the men's room while a Sergeant watches you pee, all the while knowing that there's no avoiding this. But then you get the moments where the crowd is singing along with you, you and the drummer are locked in and a handful of people are moved to tears. Before accepting the job, I had the thought : you say you'll do anything to be able to play guitar for a living. Well, are you willing to go to war? If you say yes to the first but not to the second, then you were never serious and were only kidding yourself. All of these concerns and themes appeared again in the book as I was living them in my own way in my life, and so that made the book doubly satisfying.
By the end of the book you realize that the book was only nominally about the porn industry, and instead it's a story of being alive....more
**spoiler alert** I've not done much literary reviews lately, but seeing the strong reactions that this book elicited, I felt I had to offer my input.**spoiler alert** I've not done much literary reviews lately, but seeing the strong reactions that this book elicited, I felt I had to offer my input. In my personal opinion, this is the most intellectually honest book of the 3. I feel this maybe got such varied reactions because it's a beast of many genres spliced together (yes, i just made that analogy), and so this leads to uncertainty as to whether this is a thriller pushing through to an exciting conclusion, or something else. Expectations thwarted and people are left unsatisfied. In my view in this book more than the other three Margaret Atwood has dethroned humanity. By the end of the book, there are three humanoid species left, the Crakers, the Pigoons and us. We've become anachronistic and in my eyes there seems to be the sense that not longer after the book ends, all humans are gone.
I feel also that a good deal of book 3 is that of the characters losing their naivete. They are confronting the reality of people that they have idolized, learning to share their stories and the stories of other people and see each other for who they really are, rather than continuing to live--and suffer--under the delusions they held. This happens even with Blackbeard seeing the bodies of Crake and Oryx.
I regret a great deal that there's not a great deal of agency in the characters, but nearly everyone shows themselves to be sturdy and capable when they need to be. Now, that said, sure it is improbable how many people knew each other, but I feel that the 3rd volume makes this all the more clear. In volumes 1 and especially 2, this seemed like lazy writing, but then reading in #3 about all the greater machinations going on behind the scenes, and nothing seemed accidental or improbable. It felt like volume 3 was less about creatively trying to build on top of an existing plot structure, and rather more like excavating below one.
This is kind of a 'middle-age' novel, where you're past your infancy and you're seeing the world more clearly. Ren meets Jimmy and he's not this great person that she had idealized, a lot of the book is Toby hearing Zeb undercut the idealized version of himself. I think this is an interesting theme and it ties into the greater plot, where we are made to see humanity as not so great and wonderful. It is a severe judgement when considering how, with most of humanity gone, and a purer, idealistic version of ourselves living on without us, that life feels clean and fresh and open. I suppose this is the major Fall-and-Decline criticism that you see, where one's habits, when taken to an extreme scale, make us become sclerotic, stiff, unable to adapt and change, where life has become a prison and there's nowhere to go but down. We see some of the good people are capable of, but on the whole there's very little of it when compared to the amount of suffering these people cause each other in the pre-Flood days. Going back to the seeming improbability of all these people knowing each other before the Flood, it doesn't seem quite so improbable when the book forces you to question: would I know how to get by if any of this happens? And for the vast majority the answer is no, I'd be toast almost immediately. Then you consider the small percentage that knows how to get by, and it doesn't seem so unlikely that they happen to know each other, especially given the majority are connected to a cult that rejected all technology and had learned to live that way for years before the Flood.
Once I got over not thinking there'd be a rousing conclusion, it was a little startling that there was a mini-one in the last 50 pages with the Battle. I suppose my 5 star rating comes less from execution and more from the power and originality of thought. Definitely beats Orwell out of the water in many ways (leading me to think that this book is a bit 1984 and Animal Farm mashed together). ...more
These show Camus' extraordinary range and his ability to defamiliarize. One gets the sense that he is the cook from Growing Stone, now laughing at theThese show Camus' extraordinary range and his ability to defamiliarize. One gets the sense that he is the cook from Growing Stone, now laughing at the Westerner for feeling out of his element. What especially caught me was even in English translation you could sense he wrote the French in the way of a Brazilian trying to speak French, using their syntax. Woah.
Each story impressed me more and more, and at times I felt a foreshadowing of Bolano. They were all so different, written so differently as well, and yet that shows the universality of his themes all the more....more
Having read David Foster Wallace's critiques of Athlete Autobio's ("I wanted to do it, I tried hard, then I did it!" reiterated enough times to fill 3Having read David Foster Wallace's critiques of Athlete Autobio's ("I wanted to do it, I tried hard, then I did it!" reiterated enough times to fill 300 pages), all of his points here ring true. The man seems super friendly and there's plenty of good tips. But another point from DFW and his trouble with pop science books rings true here, too: the people that run a lot and who are the likely audience of the book won't get a lot out of the tips, which are basic in the extreme. In that sense I'd be happy to see a Jurek training guide. My feeling is that the co-author likely told the man to add lots of blood and guts parts to the book, which to me overemphasized the pain aspect of the sport, in the hopes of commercial success.
Inspiring book, I'll be eager to read his blog and try all the recipes as well as his other book recommendations....more
I was close to giving 4, but chose not to for one fact: any other writer given this setting would not come anywhere as close to coming to a result filI was close to giving 4, but chose not to for one fact: any other writer given this setting would not come anywhere as close to coming to a result filled with the significant level of optimism found here. Lots of tender moments, all of this despite the lack of meaning in a persons life. He does a great job of occupying both--seemingly oppositional--points at the same time, and showing they can coexist. I'd even go so far to say that he gave the example that great parts of Europe and significant segments of America adopted as their outlook on life-- even with the Absurd there can be joie de vivre and human dignity....more
Author does a surprisingly good job of avoiding the easy comparison between now and 1963, instead allowing my own brain to make the connections. For eAuthor does a surprisingly good job of avoiding the easy comparison between now and 1963, instead allowing my own brain to make the connections. For each Walker I thought of a Ted Nugent, for each Alger I thought of Palin. Especially large in my mind was the Dealeys and their newspaper, and how that feedback loop/ echo chamber so much resembled the conservatives listening only to Fox News, Drudge Report, Pat Robinson, then being surprised that their polls were way off in the 2012 election (it's a bit like the famous line from the NY socialite who said "Nixon won? But nobody I know voted for him").
Good book, having read the Mao bio I can totally understand how the fearsome situation fighting against communism would lead to total distrust that the elected leaders were doing all they could to protect their people. That came across as the author sympathetic to those fears while being forlorn at the results of those fears. What I was surprised was that Kennedy's generals were pushing for a preemptive attack. That we never had such a thing is a miracle and a golden nugget in his legacy, I feel....more
Somehow, I heard this was a ghost story, then that never materialized. It was a misunderstanding on my part. But what a great gem! Sets out with one pSomehow, I heard this was a ghost story, then that never materialized. It was a misunderstanding on my part. But what a great gem! Sets out with one purpose and fulfills it comprehensively. Great reading, lots of good connections and superb writing. At times overwrought, with me feeling apathetic about trying to figure out what exactly he is saying, but I feel when I reread this in the future it'll be clear.
James clearly thinks ill of the adults' behavior in this book, but does a good job of showing their rationale forcefully enough that you start to sympathize until you begin to remember again the stakes. ...more
Things I learned from Washington : it's sad to arrive at the end of his life in the book, where things seem to just get worse and worse -- outliving mThings I learned from Washington : it's sad to arrive at the end of his life in the book, where things seem to just get worse and worse -- outliving more of his beloved adopted children, reviled and impugned more and more during his 2nd term. Betrayed horribly by his own cabinet, and his best accomplishments turned over by fanatical people who had worked next to him. People mesmerized working under him during the Revolutionary War and then calling him, like Paine, a secret agent for the British.
What a life, nonetheless, though it's sad to think he deserved so much better. None of this makes sense but it is comfort to know that the craziness of our politics today is mirrored in the writing and the different fears and paranoias we've known.
Lessons learned: Washington's demeanor is the biggest thing. Giving time to things always seemed to end in better results. The way he was able to sidestep controversies that didn't have any clear advantage for his involvement. Reading his life story, I felt longing for the amount of letter-writing that he did, and how that seems like such a great thing to my modern ears as someone who is very pro-letter. It'd be nice to look back and see Washington's dream of a nonpartisan world having come true, but simultaneously you can see the Civil War was an event waiting to happen. Thomas Jefferson emerges in this text as a nefarious, duplicitious man. It'll be interesting when I get to him after John Adams (and Benjamin Franklin), who are next on my timeline. The new Jon Meacham one seems good.
Great, though Part 8 goes on too long in the same way as the end of War and Peace. But its interesting because you see Tolstoy's personality come throGreat, though Part 8 goes on too long in the same way as the end of War and Peace. But its interesting because you see Tolstoy's personality come through more forcefully in the final parts of both books than before, since his precise imprint is lost easily in the rest of the text. I love reading Tolstoy because I know he's a master and have perfect confidence in where the story is going and how he chooses to write it, unlike other writers where I constantly second-guess them. That reduces a great deal of latent stress with reading-- is this worth it? goes away-- and you can just let yourself be absorbed in it and you rest awash in it....more
Very lovely, lots of interesting, funny, profound pieces scattered on each page. Listened to the audio version and it was a lovely start and finish toVery lovely, lots of interesting, funny, profound pieces scattered on each page. Listened to the audio version and it was a lovely start and finish to each work day during my commute....more
Listened to this on audio, and enjoyed it enough to listen for 5 hours straight one day on the bus. The voice actor Caroline McCormac had a distinct vListened to this on audio, and enjoyed it enough to listen for 5 hours straight one day on the bus. The voice actor Caroline McCormac had a distinct voice for each character and gave them lots of pathos....more