Quite engaging story of a guy who joins the army at 30 - and gets a special permit as he is four years too old. What comes through is his relative mat...moreQuite engaging story of a guy who joins the army at 30 - and gets a special permit as he is four years too old. What comes through is his relative maturity compared to the guys in their early twenties, and he writes thoughtfully about a tour in Iraq (second gulf war) and a tour in Northern Ireland. Above all, he did not believe in either cause and there is a strong sense of disillusionment with the political side of it. An interesting look into "ordinary" squaddie-ness. The publisher, however, let the author down - way, way too many proofing mistakes. (less)
This is entirely focused on NLP for character creation, applying the NLP principles (aka, "presuppositions") to characters. It's especially useful for...moreThis is entirely focused on NLP for character creation, applying the NLP principles (aka, "presuppositions") to characters. It's especially useful for people aiming to write a solid, more believable "deep third" POV, creating the subjective reality of a character. The material so far is well organised and suitable even for people who know diddly-squat about NLP. (less)
ETA 2: It started as a 1.5 star read and ended up being a 2 star. The writing is weak, but does get better after about the 50% mark. That first half i...moreETA 2: It started as a 1.5 star read and ended up being a 2 star. The writing is weak, but does get better after about the 50% mark. That first half is a study in in awful and badly-used metaphors, however. I get the sense the book was put together from old writing and the author became a much better, less hackneyed writer somewhere in the middle.
Ideally, biographies should enlighten character, but I don't think there were any insights into Haye you wouldn't have got from simply watching him fight or interact with the media. He's a slick operator and a talented boxer, but I don't think he can be counted among the "greats" by any stretch. I got a lot more out of reading the Tyson biography that left me with a strange liking for Tyson - based mostly on "getting" him and his "Iron Mike" persona.
If anything, after reading this I know a lot more about the author than about Haye, and large stretches felt like waffling to me. It didn't help that the book contained a lot of bad writing, pointless navel-gazing, hero worship, jealousy, and hyperbole. I wasn't engaged at any time. Actually, I walked away rooting for Haye's opponents, starting with Thompson, over Valuev (who seems like a genuinely nice human being) and the Klitschkos (same). There's a huge gap between Tyson's ferocious self-belief (and accomplishments) and Haye's "I'm pretending I'm a world champ without actually having earned it yet" and his short career.
It also contains quite a bit of sexism (ironically, Tyson's "bitches and coke" narrative seemed more balanced - he certainly had a more diverse female cast, with female friends and allies).
Sum total: It's very laddish, mostly boring, and I got the sense the biographer uses his subject as a projection - living vicariously through Haye. I've learned a lot more about boxing after reading "Dark Trade", and I think I'll re-read that.
I'm kind of shocked that Quercus didn't do a better job with the editing, though.(less)
Finished. Some very pretty sentences, and really interesting to see London in the Sixties - third omniscient, however, is not something I enjoy readin...moreFinished. Some very pretty sentences, and really interesting to see London in the Sixties - third omniscient, however, is not something I enjoy reading, and slice-of-life, plotless literary novels always feel like they are twenty times their actual size. Which may be the point.(less)
I actually voted for this book in the selection of the bookclub. Reasons being, I knew next to nothing about the Georgian period, it's largely set in...moreI actually voted for this book in the selection of the bookclub. Reasons being, I knew next to nothing about the Georgian period, it's largely set in a place in London I used to work (Haymarket), the book jacket very much promised "scandal" (so can't be dull, right?) and it generally looked good. (Nice design, good blurbs, interesting cover - well done, marketing team.)
I can't say I was very compelled by it, however - the last couple chapters were really interesting, namely Foote's feud with the "Duchess" and his ensuing sodomy trial. This was for my gay & lesbian bookclub, you see.
But it feels as if somebody realised the trial itself didn't offer enough material, so it starts with examining Georgian London and how Foote made his name (claiming that Foote was the first srtand-up comedian in an age that essentially invented the "media-whore celebrity" as we know it, and the unbridled hysterical tabloid press that loves a good hunt-and-kill, one of Britain's darkest traits.) And then the book is too busy re-iterating stuff about the Georgians and Foote and completely swipes past some very interesting things (like the whole Foote/Frank Delaval relationship).
Also, the book can't make up its mind regarding Foote's sexuality. At times, the author seems to really WANT to add Foote to the "gay canon", then he has an illegimate child, then Frank Delaval is asserted to have been Foote's "great love", but we see very little proof on the page, as it were, then he "might have been" bisexual, tyhen it might have been all due to brain damage, then "we'll never know". In my opinion, there's simply not enough GLBTQ stuff in there to make it a good fit for a queer bookclub.
It's attempting to be a biography, but for that it offers very little insight into its protagonist; it's not a book on Georgian London - for that it's too tightly focused on a couple (g)literati. It's too repetitive to be riveting, but its subject is too interesting to make it a failure.
What I resented was the "baiting" throughout the book. The author keeps teasing about big revelations, and when they are revealed, like 50-100 pages later, they are anti-climactic. The actual trial is dealt with fairly quickly, after about 300-350 pages of build-up, and that part was quite interesting.
In my humble opinion, it's not a very balanced book - cut some repetitions and maybe about 100-150 pages of text, then use that space to add more meat to some of the really interesting stuff and it could have been really, really good.
Lastly, I will now disregard any blurb that suggests a book it "hilarious" or "uproariously funny" - there were 2-3 chuckles in the book, but it's not funny by any stretch of the imagination.
Hats off for the amputation chapter though. That was interesting stuff. (But then, I have a weird fascination with historical medicine.)(less)