well...what a strange trip that was. going into this read, i knew a bit about scientology and l.ron hubbard...but not a lot. wright did a good job wit...morewell...what a strange trip that was. going into this read, i knew a bit about scientology and l.ron hubbard...but not a lot. wright did a good job with this book because there are so many facets to it all. he covered hub bard's biography, the creation and ideas behind scientology, sourced interviews and documents attesting to how things work inside the organization and also talked about the celebrities involved with scientology. so there is a lot going on in this book - but the narrative is compelling and utterly fascinating. and not just a little bit freaky. wright managed to secure interviews with current and past members of scientology, and i feel he really did try to portray a balanced look at the group -- but he was stymied often by higher-ups in the organization. i came away feeling like i learned a lot...but i also feel like - WOW! that's some messed up shit going on right there. and i guess i feel slightly confused too. on the one hand, there does seem to be a case to be made for aspects of scientology being helpful an useful to some people. on the other hand -- if reports of confinements, brutalities, violence, and half-assed education of the children are true...charges of slavery and human trafficking (which are discussed in the book) are not unfair. it is clear the hubbard was not a well man. the consensus seems to be he suffered from schizophrenia and delusions of grandeur. david miscavige - the current leader of the 'church of scientology' - seems to be extremely driven by control and power over followers, and may be dealing with some of his own mental health issues. his wife disappeared several years ago - and while some people within scientology claim to know her whereabouts, no one is offering contact information and the police have been unsuccessful in their investigations - as far as what was reported in this book. it should be noted that when people within scientology failing some way - they are sent for re-education. some people have spent years in 'the hole', as they try to earn back their status through gruelling hard labour, and study, subsisting on beans and rice, and living in black jumpsuits.
it's a world that seems so out there, to me. i trip - wondering how seemingly intelligent people can end up so deeply involved in practices and beliefs that don't make sense. wright makes a lovely case for the fact that there is - of course - faith required in all religions, and all religions employ magic or unnatural events that can't be explained...but with scientology, that faith seems mistakenly placed. and wright offers plenty of evidence to support this concern.(less)
liked this one -- thompson is a bright guy - something i already knew about him - and this shows in his writing. he's also a reader, and i really enjo...moreliked this one -- thompson is a bright guy - something i already knew about him - and this shows in his writing. he's also a reader, and i really enjoyed the few literary references he included in the book. this was almost a crash course in the history of hip-hop and rap...so that was very cool. and it was nice to get a bit more information on things going on in that world. also -- i have to say -- huge props to thompson for his vast musical knowledge, and appreciation for all types of music. gordon lightfoot gets a shout-out early on in the book (GORDON LIGHTFOOT <-- one of my favourite songs!!) which i loved a whole freaking lot!
i think the reason i have not rated this higher, though, is because the end wasn't as strong as the first half of the book. and, at moments, i felt uncomfortable reading certain parts -- not that there was anything really gossipy - he indicated he wasn't interested in writing THAT kind of book. but because he had indicated that early on...i did wonder if he was dissing friends at certain parts, so i found my brain wandering. and i got a bit confused, too, concerning thompson's dad. i mean, early on he was portrayed as an okay guy. and then...his parents found religion and things changed a bit. thompson's dad was a strict father, it seems...but every now and then he would compare his dad to michael jackson's dad...and that is not a good thing. there's strict...and there's abusive. i didn't want more 'dirt', so to speak, i just wanted to understand that relationship a bit better, since thompson was putting it out there for readers. though, i guess it is a complicated relationship, and that certainly came through.
i liked the style of writing and the structure of the book - a bit of back and forth with his manager, rich, along with footnotes (!! h/t DFW!!)
overall, i did like this book - i am glad i read it and glad thompson wrote it.
full disclosure: i worked as a transcriptionist for our provincial police for several years, so had a strong connection t...morewhat a fantastic debut novel!
full disclosure: i worked as a transcriptionist for our provincial police for several years, so had a strong connection to this book as it was highly relatable. it was fascinating work, but also all-encompassing and, at times, very dark. but i loved the job a lot.
having said that -- you don't need first-hand experience to appreciate this story. rowland has done a tremendous job giving us a fully realized world - both the inner and outer lives. and rowland also did a really good job creating suspense. i found this new novel to be different - a bit of a new story, well-written and well imagined.
i loved, too, how we got a peek into the newspaper world, and having new york city as the backdrop. FUN!
still processing my thoughts, so may work on a better review and post later.