Apparently I am one of the dozen people in the world who didn't have to read Lord of the Flies in high school. It's one of those books that everybody...moreApparently I am one of the dozen people in the world who didn't have to read Lord of the Flies in high school. It's one of those books that everybody has read, and everybody has an opinion about, so I don't really have anything to add in terms of a substantive review. I liked the book, but wasn't blown away. The ending felt like a bit of a cop out. However, there were a couple points I thought was interesting to think about.
In particular, I think the novel is hurt by several things that were frankly out of Golding's control. Even before I read Lord of the Flies I was familiar with the broad outlines of the plot. Kids crash on an island, form a primitive government, pass the conch, hunt pigs, then things their rudimentary society begins to fall apart. Something bad happens to the fat kid. I don't ever recall someone telling me the plot outline of the book, the story has just seeped into my awareness through different pop culture references. Therefore, there was no way for the story to have the affect on me that it did on readers when it was first published.
As an example, as I was reading I kept thinking, "wow, this really reminds me of the first season Lost. There's more than just the people stranded on a tropical island setting. Survivors begin to organize, gravitate to an obvious leader, hunt pigs, fear a mysterious monster, and begin to gravitate to an alternative leader who's good at hunting boars. Other than Lost, there have been other works that deal with the breakdown of social order in difficult conditions. These have all been influenced by Lord of the Flies. While they aren't always necessarily better, they've added a lot to the genre. I'm not a big fan of considering a work's influence in assessing my reaction to it. I realize The African Queen was a forerunner of many adventure movies, and its got Bogart in it, and Bogart always kicks ass. However, Raiders of the Lost Ark is unequivocally in my mind the better film. Battleship Potemkin was interesting to watch on a historical level but I'm not going to be rushing out to buy the DVD any time soon. While I was reading Lord of the Flies I kept feeling Golding could have done more with certain situations.
Now, this is hardly Golding's fault, but it raises kind of a weird conundrum: a novel has such a profound impact on pop culture that, a generation or two later, the actual experience of reading the novel is significantly weakened. Success can be a double edged sword.
This can be seen as a weakness of the "modern day fable" genre of literature. Once you learn the moral of the fable and the broad outline of the plot the actual reading experience is in danger of turning, well boring. The one exception I can think of is Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, whose philosophical musings in the final passages were so beautifully thought out and written that it awarded the slow pace of the plot. (I'm not saying other exceptions don't exist, I just can't think of them off the top of my head.)
Lord of the Flies, is a quick read, and it's probably worth reading, even for the sole purpose of avoiding having to admit you never read it. If you've been able to remain ignorant of the plot points I've picked up over the years you may be enthralled. If not, there is enough to keep you interested. (less)
My quick reaction to the inevitable comparison with 1984 is that, while Brave New World is the more interesting, challenging (in a good way), and perh...moreMy quick reaction to the inevitable comparison with 1984 is that, while Brave New World is the more interesting, challenging (in a good way), and perhaps relevant book, Orwell's is the much better novel. (less)
The first time I read this book it was for a class called the Novel that I took when I was a Junior in high school. It blew my mind, I had never read...moreThe first time I read this book it was for a class called the Novel that I took when I was a Junior in high school. It blew my mind, I had never read a novel that was so consistently funny and Heller's commentary on the incompetence of authority fit into my burgeoning political awakening and my experience with authority, meaning public school administrators, up to that point. I flew through the first couple hundred pages. I remember getting a little tired of the tone toward the end, but it immediately became one of my favorite novels of all time. There were others in the class, people whose opinions I respected, people who signed up for a class called the Novel, who hated it and couldn't get past 100 pages. This befuddled me, I could not see how people could dislike the book.
My overall opinion hasn't changed much but some details did. I can now understand why some people hate the book. The first 200 pages of the book is much more a series of interconnected short stories than the latter 250 pages. Some of these kind of tested my limits. Maybe it was my state of mind, but I especially hated the Major Major chapter and the first chapter dealing with the chaplain's assistant. The whole Washington Irving / Irving Washington subplot didn't do a ton for me. Also some of the dialogue sections started to resemble another too close for my liking. However, there was still parts that I loved. I don't have the book in front of me right now, but off the top of my head, the Clevinger interrogation was a particular highlight. After the first 200 pages, things start coming together. Heller's main themes start to coalesce, and you start actually feeling for the minor characters. The sense of the absurd is never lost, but Heller crafts some set pieces that are heartbreaking and beautiful. The narrative jumps around in time at the beginning, and there are references to things that are not explained. However, this structure pays off.
When I think back to my first read, the main things I remembered was the tone and the themes of the novel. This reading gave me a new appreciation for the structure of the story. Yossarian remains is a cynic at the beginning of the novel, but there is character development. And the ending, I completely forgot about the ending which might be one of my favorite endings in literature.
Catch-22 has earned its place in the American cannon, and deserves a read just for its profound influence, not only on American lit, but on American humor. Yeah, sometimes it's monotonous or exacerbating, but it rewards the reader. Heller puts the reader into his character's mind where you begin to think like Yossarian thinks. Although the novels are very different, the reading experience reminded me of Crime and Punishment.
After the reread, Catch-22 remains in my pantheon. This book blew my mind when I was 17, and I realized how much it influenced me. No matter how many details you forget, this novel sticks in your psyche. Yossarain Lives!(less)
From my fall 2001 to roughly sometime late last summer, this was the best book ever. Then a specific reading experience starting convincing that every...moreFrom my fall 2001 to roughly sometime late last summer, this was the best book ever. Then a specific reading experience starting convincing that everything I knew about reading fiction was wrong.* Aside from the sincerity of the before mentioned belief, the way people interpret things changes with where the persons life is at that particular moment.** I mean, my 25 year old self would undoubtedly have a different reaction than my 16 year old self. And here's the thing, even when I went on my half-decade semi-hiatus from reading fiction, All the Kings Men was one of the ones that I told myself I needed to get around to rereading. I kept it wherever I happened to be living, planning on getting to it sooner or later. So I figured why not give it another go.
After doing so, I gotta say,All the Kings Men is fucking awesome. The plot's engaging, the characters are (for the most part) life-like, and the writing is exceptionally beautiful.*** What surprised me was how little I really remembered. I remembered the broad plot outlines, and a few of the themes, but the reread was remarkably fresh.
I'm trying to remember what initially sucked me into the book as a high-schooler. I read it around the time of my political awakening, so I think it was the plot surrounding Willy Stark. Stark is a very interesting character, one who is unlike the stereotypes found in political novels. It would have been easy for Warren to write of the stereotypical small town idealistic dreamer who slowly gets corrupted by power, but this isn't an accurate description of Stark. Warren's Stark was either never corrupt or never poor. He's a pragmatist who is aware, and comfortable with, the underbelly of governing. The forward of my edition points out the novel's influnece on Primary Colors, which was semi-based on the 1992 Clinton campaign for the Democratic nomination. Upon reflection, one could not be blamed by finding as many similarites between the two Willy's, Stark and Clinton, as between Stark and Warren's actual inspiration, Huey Long. Clinton might be the most effective modern politician since Roosevelt, for the same reasons that made Stark a success.
Anyways, I loved the book in high school for the tragedy of Willie Stark. This was the part that I was most familiar with upon revisiting the novel. I remember being annoyed with the a lot of the sections that left Stark completely, What I was missing is the heart of the novel, the story of the narrator, Jack Burden. This is where the novel is elevated over political pulp, like Primary Colors. This is why the novel still is one of my favorite of all time.
In truth, All the Kings Men is hardly a political novel at all. If the novel was reduced to the bare structure of the tragedy of Willie Stark it would be about half as long. What the novel is, is an exploration of sin, guilt, and the burden of the past. There are chapters of brilliance, page after page of exquisite prose, breathtaking examinations of the human condition. I can't adequately describe how good some parts of this novel are. Over the past couple of days, I've picked the book up and reread highlighted passages, and my heart grows ten sizes.
I find my initial plot-based admiration somewhat misplaced. Toward the end of the novel some elements turn somewhat soap-opera-ish. The climax of the novel is weakened by a gaping plot hole.**** But the novel isn't a political thriller, its a meditation on sin and guilt, its a parable about the past's effect on the present, its a a contemplation of ends vs. means, and it's reaffirmed its place as one of my favorite novels of all time.
* Bleh. I hate the idea of single transformative, quasi-religious, reading experiences. I guess I believe in them, but I'm kinda embarrassed by them. Call me an ashamed disciple of the power of a single work of literature. Strangely, I don't feel the same way about music, even though a) I can't pinpoint a single instant of a song changing the way I thought about music, and b) Natalie Portman almost sorta ruined the concept in Garden State.
** No shit Sherlock.
*** Robert Penn Warren was the first American Poet-Laurette. I mention this because my sister used the book for AP English the year after I did. She was struggling with some of the terms introduced, so she would bracket passages and scrawl "lyrical" or "syntax" in the margins. She could have really bracketed the entire book.
**** MAJOR SPOILER ahead. If you don't want to be spoiled do not read the next paragraph. I would say that this would not ruin the reading experience, because this novel is better than it's basic plot, but if you care consider yourself warned. What follows is a MAJOR SPOILER.
I call bullshit on Adam Stanton's motivations for shooting Stark. I realize the guy's worldview had been recently rocked, and he would have been upset about his sister's affair. And I know these were different times. But look, I have a little sister too, but Stark's discretions called for, at most, a punch in the face. It would be different if Adam was maladjusted, or violent. But throughout the novel he's shone to be an admirable, benevolent character.And even if I can accept that the truth about Anne and Stark sent Adam off the deep end, I can't buy that the people who leaked the information to him knew that it would make him kill Stark. Yet this is how it is portrayed in the novel. The conspirators accept that this information would have the same effect on Adam as Frankie Goes to Hollywood has on Zoolander. Like I said, the book is more than its plot, and Adam's actions and motivations were necessary for Warren's ending, which is satisfying, but this bugged the shit out of me.
This wasn't what I thought it was going to be. When I read the summary of the novel somewhere I thought the novel was going to be a semi-detective st...more This wasn't what I thought it was going to be. When I read the summary of the novel somewhere I thought the novel was going to be a semi-detective story focusing on Brother Juniper. While I still think that would have been interesting what the novel actually is is so much better. I should have expected it, because it left a impact on me similar to the one I felt when I first read Our Town. Like many have said before me The Bridge of San Luis Rey is a perfect modern fable.
Although Wilder had never visited Peru at the time he wrote the novel, I found the narrator's tone to be very appropriate. This may sound, but the voice I heard in my head while reading sounded like the narrator from Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Apparently Wilder's publishers were worried that the book wasn't long enough. In fact, the afterwords mentions that the original edition featured very wealthy margins and several pictures, in order to justify the standard price for a novel. However, the length is very precise. Any more would subtract from the impact of the message.
The closing sentence of the novel is one of the most beautiful closing passages I have ever encountered. You have probably heard it before, but I won't quote it because it works so well in its proper context. Its a passage that is most effective when the effort is put in to reach it. It's a very short read, but one that will stay with you for a long time.(less)
I, Claudius is more of a fictional work of history than a historical work of fiction. What I mean by that is that Robert Graves isn't content with tel...moreI, Claudius is more of a fictional work of history than a historical work of fiction. What I mean by that is that Robert Graves isn't content with telling a story that takes place in a different era using historical events as devices that move along the narrative. Instead, the historical events are the narrative. Claudius, our narrator is a figure in the events, but he is approaching the events and other characters as a historian rather than as a participant. Graves' Claudius is a uniquely appropriate figure for this task. Although he is a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, his physical handicaps make him seem an imbecile and black sheep. Claudius' infirmities camouflage a keen mind, which allows him to give a insiders account of the turbulent consolidation of the Roman imperial system from an outsiders perspective.
The fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of Empire is one of those bits of history that have become a archetype for fictional works.* Needless to say, an account of the original is eventful enough. One of Graves main theme is the effect of absolute power and cult of personalities on both the individual and societal level. The main drama focuses on members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which easily qualify as the most dysfunctional family in literary history. Graves does an admirable job of creating real characters out of figures we tend to think of as marble statues. Claudius early in the book points out that members of the Claudian family tend to be either good or bad, there isn't much room for grey. All the characters in the book, with a few exceptions, are usually completely virtuous or completely despicable. However, the despicable characters still maintain some motive.
Graves was a historian and his knowledge show. I, Claudius isn't supposed to work as a description of everyday Roman life during the time of Christ. However, Graves does impart some cultural information without disrupting the flow of the narrative. He doesn't put in extraneous historical detail to show off his research, unlike some historical-fiction writers.
This is one of the books that makes me wish that you could give half stars or rate on a skill of ten. While I really enjoyed the book, I really didn't find it mind-blowing. I had some issues with the book. At times it got a little melodramatic, dry, and repetitive. This isn't necessarily Graves' fault, he's just repeating history, but the inter-family betrayals and double-crosses wear a little thin after a while. Actually, the whole reign of Tiberius was a little slow. If Augustus was the decent benevolent, yet manipulatable, tyrant and Caligula was the sociopathic culmination of history, the Tiberius was somewhere in between. You need the progression to get to the result (Caligula), but it can be slow going. Also, some of the minor characters can be hard to keep track of.** If I could I would give the book 4 1/2 stars.
I'm look forward to eventually reading Graves' followup, Claudius the God. It seems that Graves reached the culmination of all his themes in the closing pages of this work. It should be interesting to see where Graves goes in the sequel.
*A prime example of this is the Star Wars films. Excuse the digression, but I, Claudius works as one of the prime examples of how much more interesting the prequel trilogy could, and should, have been. Instead we get sloppy storytelling with no real human feeling in it.
**I usually don't have this problem. However, the cast of characters is so large and family ties are so important in this novel it can get confusing. Characters marry each multiple different times, producing children from each marriage, and sometimes from adulterous affairs. Take Caligula for instance: His father was Germanicus who was brother of Claudius. Germanicus and Claudius were the sons of another Germanicus and Antonia. Germanicus the elder was the brother of Tiberius. Tiberius and Germanicus were the sons of Livia another Tiberius. Livia divorced the older Tiberius and married Augustus who later adopted both Germanicus and Tiberius. Claudius and Germanicus' mother was Antonia who was the daughter of Mark Antony and Octavia (Augustus' sister). Caligula's mother was Agrippina who was the daughter of Agrippa (a close ally of Augustus) and Jullia. Jullia was the only natural child of Augustus by his first marriage. Jullia and Agrippa had several different sons who are major characters and she later married Tiberius (Germanicus' brother) and had a son by him, who is also a main character. All these family relationships are important to the narrative, I recommend making a family tree and updating it as you go along. (less)
Every time I picked up Winesberg, Ohio I started thinking of the Tom Waits song "Johnsburg, Illinois" off the album Swordfishtrombones. The two works...moreEvery time I picked up Winesberg, Ohio I started thinking of the Tom Waits song "Johnsburg, Illinois" off the album Swordfishtrombones. The two works really have nothing in common besides the fact that they are relatively short, and their titles are small midwestern towns. I love that song though. There are moments of beauty in this book, but I think Waits is more beautiful in a minute in thirty five seconds. I know its not an unfair comparison, but it's how my mind works.
I find myself liking the book the more I think about it though. Some of the stories were really great, some of them didn't do a lot for me. I know people say that this Winesberg was a huge influence on American literature, which I suppose its true. I'm not really in a position to comment on that though. I haven't read a collection of short stories in ages, so I might be rusty to the form. For me, its one of those things where I enjoyed having finished the book more than the actual reading of the book. It really is quite lovely in retrospect.
Come to think of it, "Frank's Wild Years" would fit in quite well with the rest of the stories. "Never could stand that dog." (less)
Yesterday, I came up with a new concept, at least new to me, the "guilty disappointment." Consider it the antonym of the guilty pleasure. To truly qua...moreYesterday, I came up with a new concept, at least new to me, the "guilty disappointment." Consider it the antonym of the guilty pleasure. To truly qualify as a guilty disappointment, a work can't just disappoint, it has to disappoint in a specific way. Much as a guilty pleasure involves enjoying a song that you feel you shouldn't, a guilty disappointment involves disliking something you feel you should enjoy. When you think about it, there is a sense of obligation and embarrassed involved in both concepts. For some reason, I feel obligated not to enjoy Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" as much as I do. There is a lingering trace of embarrassment when I argue that "you walked into the party like you were walking onto the yacht" is was of the best descriptive lyrical characterizations in pop history. Guilty pleasures and guilty disappointments are not merely reactions to a work, but reactions to reactions to the work. For instance, disliking The Godfather, Pt. III is a disappointment; while disliking The Godfather Pt. II may be a guilty disappointment.
I came up with this idea around page 160 of On the Road, about when I realized that the book wasn't going to turn into an enjoyable reading experience. Now that I finished it, I really can't say I connected with it on any level. I've read books that are considered classics that I didn't enjoy, but I can't recall an example of something that I've actively disliked since high school. I honestly don't get the appeal of On the Road.
The thing is, and this is where the guilt comes in, I would be crazy to deny the appeal. Arguing that On the Road is "overrated" would be like someone saying that Citizen Kane is a shitty film. I mean there are enough people out there (Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Dylan, and Tom Waits can't be wrong) who swear by this book as "The Great American Novel" that it would take quite a bit of gumption to call them out on it, and I'm not so vain. I like my coffee cloudless.
So, I'm strangely willing, even eager, to admit I'm missing something. Maybe I'm too cynical, or too comfortable, or too focused on plot, maybe I would have loved it if I first read it when I was 18. However, Kerouac is not my trip. The book is in the American cannon, and not mine or anybody else's opinion is going to change that. This is one of the books that you feel like you "should" read. For these reasons, I'm glad I read it. However, I'm even more glad that I'm done.
My sense of guilt will allow me to recognize contrary opinions as equally valid, but will not bestow extra stars. I really didn't enjoy any part of On the Road, besides the "boys and girls in America have such a sad time together," bit, and that was mostly because of the Hold Steady song. Thus, one star. (less)
There's something mythical about the way Rushdie writes. His writing is very modern, but there's still a sense of age to it. Throughout the novel I so...moreThere's something mythical about the way Rushdie writes. His writing is very modern, but there's still a sense of age to it. Throughout the novel I somewhat unprecedented sensation. I can't adequately put this sensation into words. There's something in the way he tells his story that reminded me of the stories of Greek mythology, or the tales of King Arthur. Perhaps it's in the way he tells his story. Rushdie simply owns the story he is telling. Rushdie writes Midnight's Children like he is retelling a story that has always existed, which in a way he is. I may be off base, let me just say that the experience of reading this book is viscerally unique.
Novels, as with any kind of art, can generate different methods of appreciation. There are books that you don't fully appreciate until the closing pages where the author brings everything together. There are albums that don't reveal themselves until you listen to it several times. There are films that don't fully crystalize until you spend some time thinking about them. For me, Midnight's Children is one of those rare works where you are engrossed and amazed from the beginning. The reader is conscious that they are encountering something special throughout the course of the novel.
One of the that makes Midnight's Children special is that it doesn't work solely as a work of literature, it could be read as a work of history.*. Rushdie writes history in a way that people haven't written history in quite some time. Midnight's Children works as a history in the way that the Old Testament, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and epic poems work as history. I've read that Biblical era societies had different historical traditions than we do today. They didn't necessarily aim for complete accuracy when writing history. They felt that the overall "moral" that they were trying to impart was more important than sticking to the events exactly as they occurred. The broad course of events usually weren't tampered with, but the details of specific incidents and conversations weren't necessarily preserved untampered.** This was mainly referring to works that were preserved by a storytelling tradition for a while before they were written down. I believe Rushdie created a modern recreation of these storytelling traditions. So, unlike in other works of historical fiction, it really doesn't matter when Saleem Sinai, narrator and protagonist, mixes up dates and events. This is history, but history told in a story telling tradition.
Saleem Sinai, Rushdie's narrator and protagonist, warns us repeatedly, "to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world." I would say this is accomplished. I can't think of another novel that gives a better sense of a place. South Asia isn't just a setting, it's a main character. He accomplishes this intellectually through his prose and descriptions, but also, I repeat myself, viscerally. Again, I may be missing my mark, but it seems where other authors write a novel that is about a country, Rushdie aims to write a novel that is India.***
However bountiful I've been in my praise, Midnight's Children isn't perfect, and it probably isn't for everybody. However, I would say that it's definitely one of those novels you should at least give a shot at if you're interested in literature. There are many things to praise in the novel. Rushdie writes beautifully, he brings locations, especially Bombay, to life, and most readers will learn a great deal about South Asian culture and history. The storytelling is what stays with me most. Rushdie writes a distinctly modern book that feels at the same time harkens back to our earliest storytelling traditions. Midnight's Children is about a specific place in a certain time, but is simultaneously timeless.
*This seems like a good place for my daily benediction to Wikipedia. It was really helpful to read articles on Indian history before the appropriate sections of the novel. It isn't necessarily essential to, Rushdie does a decent job of filling ignorant readers in on the events, but an idea of modern Indian-Pakistani history, however rudimentary, helps you better appreciate the life of Saleem. Also, there are several little jokes and asides throughout the novel that you may not catch if you don't have some understanding of specific events.
** The general rule, according to people who know more than I do argue, is the greater the separation between the time of the actual event and it's reduction to written, the less reliable it is as a record of actual events. This makes sense in a society with a respect for perserving history as it happened, so where there is inclination to embellish you have to be particularly on your toes.
***I am not claiming to be an expert, or even adequately knowledgeable, about South Asia. Rushdie's world might seem utterly alien to those who know more than me. (less)
After reading On the Road last year I created a 'guilty disappointment' shelf. Guilty disappointments, according to me, involve the similar feelings o...moreAfter reading On the Road last year I created a 'guilty disappointment' shelf. Guilty disappointments, according to me, involve the similar feelings of shame involved in indulging a guilty pleasure. It all involves not living up to a arbitrary and self-imposed standard. With a guilty pleasure, at least you get to enjoy the second half of the term. Yeah, you may be infringing on some expectation of personal taste by watching American Ninja Warrior or buying tickets to the new Jerry Bruckheimer explosion-fest, or hesitating to change the dial when that teen-pop song you hate, but secretly like comes on, but at least there is some kind of enjoyment going on. The only things from keeping guilty pleasures from being just plain pleasures are somewhat ridiculous notions of our perceived integrity. I mean, maybe there is a scenario out there where Hall & Oates murdered someone's family but they can't help themselves from singing along whenever they hear "Kiss on My List," but guilty pleasures are in reality somewhat silly and wholly artificial.
A guilty disappointment, while perhaps equally artificial, is more sinister. That's because not only are you feeling guilty, you are actually deriving no o r little enjoyment from the activity that is causing you guilt. Now this is the more familiar and crushing sense of Irish Catholic guilt I'm used to! Guilty disappointments have you constantly thinking "Maybe I'm missing something, maybe I lack the patience, maybe I'm not smart enough, Oh Christ! I'm just a dull speck of oblivion who will never accomplish anything, attain any sort of happiness, and when I die, I'll either vanish into nothingness or burn in hell for the rest of eternity because I masturbated." Uh, sorry, bit of a tangent there.
Under the Volcano might now be my quintessential guilty disappointment. Yet, I still can't give any less than three stars. This isn't out of reverence for one of the sacred cows of 20th century literature.* Reading Under the Volcano was a similar experience to reading On the Road, and I didn't hesitate to slap one star on the latter. What separates Lowry from Keroauc is that, and this is going to sound ridiculously arrogant but bear with me, Under the Volcano is actually quite good. I don't mean to denigrate Keroauc fans by saying that. While I personally didn't get anything out of On the Road**, I wouldn't dare quibble with it's place on whatever hypothetical pantheon you want to put it on. Sure, it's not my cup of tea, but I also don't think Jefferson wasn't that great of a president but that doesn't mean we should take a chisel to Mount Rushmore.*** Now, Under the Volcano was a somewhat tortuous reading experience for me. I moved along this book at a glacial pace. Not once did I feel any sense of anticipation in picking up the book. Not once did I get swept up in the story, or the prose, and knock off 50 pages in a sitting. Even when the going was good, and I was in a sort of flow, I had to continuously fight off urges to play with my iPad.**** This lack of engagement didn't keep me from appreciating the novels brilliance. It bored the tears out of me, but the whole time I was thinking this is really good. The best analogy I can think of is that it's like listening to Terry Riley's In C on loop for several hours; while it's great, and would dismiss it, at some point could really go for a little Watch the Throne.
So, if you're wondering, you absolutely should read Under the Volcano. It's one of the acknowledged great books of the 20th century for a reason, it doesn't read like a relic of past ages, and Lowry's prose can put you in revelries of aesthetic bliss. I feel no hesitation in making any of the previous claims, but I can't really recommend the book, and kinda hated reading it.
* Well, maybe it is, a little.
** Outside of a better understanding of the historical development of the form. Kind of like how listening to Daydream Nation gives you a better understanding of In Utero
*** However, Reagan National Airport is absolute horseshit. It was already named after a perfectly good president.
**** An example of the distractions I faced was an inclination to picture the Consul as the Cookie Monster, beer as gingerbread men, tequila as sugar cookies, mescal as chocolate chips ect.(less)