I'm a big fan of Husker Du, I enjoyed reading Bob's recounting and thoughts of the Husker Du years (and pre-Husker Du years). I (along with many otherI'm a big fan of Husker Du, I enjoyed reading Bob's recounting and thoughts of the Husker Du years (and pre-Husker Du years). I (along with many others) felt like Bob really found a special venting of frustration through rock and roll. Back in the 80s, I screamed along with Bob. He was a voice for me.
I felt the exhilaration that Bob conveyed when he started living life as who he his without hiding his true nature. That was the peak of this book for me. It culminated his 'trail' from darkness to light, from shackles to freedom. I was rooting for Bob from the beginning of this book. I felt him as an underdog and as a thoughtful agent for change - a believer in community and authenticity of feeling in rock and roll and personal expression. I am impressed with how he reached out to others (in the music community) while he was still confused and frustrated within himself. I am impressed by how productive and hard working he was. Bob's a pretty 'kick-ass' person. He could write classic music while efficiently managing the Husker Du business. That is special.
But my engagement in the book started waning after Bob started living the 'gay lifestyle'. I quickly went from the peak to the valley. Bob's musical career stopped for a while in this time. The tales of partying and the hedonistic lifestyle started powering me down. I am disappointed. It seemed like the "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" for Bob is essentially a hedonistic lifestyle. Bob was overdue for living the 'happy life', but it didn't make for good reading for me. As Bob got happier, I got more bored. I had a similar experience with his music. I find his 'late period' music to be generic and flat, without the energy or hooks of his earlier music. I became more interested in the questions that the book sparked within me: "Is sadness/conflict generally more interesting than happiness/peace?", "What makes a person's life story interesting?", "Are all lives interesting?", "Most all of us engage in some hedonistic activities, but at what point (and at what activities) is it too much?", etc.
I found the book to be simply organized (mostly chronological with some thoughtful retreading to fill in holes of stories) and easy to read. Most of the musical bases are covered. Every album and tour is discussed (and at least summarized). But not a lot is said about individual songs. For example, I would have liked at least a little bit of his thinking behind the 'Jesus' songs on the Beaster album The forming and breakup of Husker Du (and Sugar) is given much attention. Interesting 'war stories' abound, many involving other notable music figures (Pete Townshend, Jello Biafra, Nirvana, etc.). But I did think he sometimes revealed things (that he was privy too) that he shouldn't. For example, Bob didn't need to make Michael Stipe of R.E.M. out to be a kook. Bob's childhood is highlighted and summarized. His personal life is more closely highlighted (with much detail in some areas) from the point of Bob's attending of college. I would have liked 'more Husker', 'less 2000s'. But Bob is fond of pointing out that Husker Du was more meaningful to others than himself.
But I am disappointed with Bob's villainizing of Husker Du co-leader Grant Hart. I understand that Bob's honest experience with Grant is that Grant was a 'villain', but I hoped that time would give Bob a wider view of things. I was not there and don't want to excuse any of Grant's 'sins', but I don't trust Bob when he essentially blames Grant for the problems between himself and Grant. Sure, Bob takes some blame for not being a good communicator, but he still lays the 'moral' blame with Grant. My experience in life is that relationship problems are rarely as one-sided as portrayed by Bob. Adding to this bitterness (and perhaps an expression of this bitterness), is the lack of credit given to Grant for the success of Husker Du. Bob tries to be reasonable and does give Grant some credit, but, attempts at reasonableness aside, I think Bob had a much too 'Bob-centered' view of Husker Du. Grant's music (fast-paced and emotional) was compatible with Bob's. It would be tough to listen to Bob's Husker Du songs for very long without the 'levity' (if you will) that Grant's songs provided. And Grant's songs were 'catchy' like Bob's songs. There was magic in Bob and Grant together, and I think it was much greater than sum of the parts.
And for a guy that writes as much as Bob, I was looking for more details when it came to what influenced his writing. And what were the influences behind is ideals of community and authenticity of feeling. Bob never shared a thing about what he read, or even if he read at all. For me, this lack of citing non-musical influences left a big gnawing gap in this book.
Another related 'gap': In his own words, Bob was shooting for something BIG with the writing and music of the album Zen Arcade. I didn't get the sense that he is still searching for this BIG anymore (which may be a good thing for him). But I was looking for some follow up to the search for the BIG. I felt like I was left hanging. It just seems that Bob's music started getting exclusively 'caught up' in the details of his personal life.
I would tell any Husker Du or Bob Mould fan to read this book. And I think many gays and lesbians might find this book (or at least parts of it) to be interesting. But I wouldn't recommend this book to the general reader. ...more
I was enjoying this book, but couldn't finish it. It got to be tough and long reading for me. I used to be better at reading long books. I'll finish sI was enjoying this book, but couldn't finish it. It got to be tough and long reading for me. I used to be better at reading long books. I'll finish sometime.
The moview was classic (I saw the movie first and it is an all-time fave movie). The book was great. The movie was faithful (as far as I read) to the book in a 'condensed way'.
I really loved (in movie and book) the 'three-pronged character attack' of Bud White, Ex Exley, and Jack Vincennes. Their less obvious similarities (that shined through their obvious differences) is the highlight of the book to me. It is kind of like a flower blooming in the wastelands.
This book (and movie also) is not for those that don't want to 'encounter' corruption and violence. ...more
This book didn't (except for a couple of passages in the book including the beginning) catpure (for me) the excitement/drama of climbing. Or (since IThis book didn't (except for a couple of passages in the book including the beginning) catpure (for me) the excitement/drama of climbing. Or (since I am not a climber) I should say it didn't capture what I perceive to be the excitement/drama of climbing. The only other climbing book that I have read is Krakauer's book Into Thin Air, and that true story made climbing so 'full of drama' to me. Whereas I found the climbing (in this book Peak) to be largely hum-drum. I would have enjoyed the book more if the excitement of climbing would have been more consistently described (throughout the climbs in the book) as opposed to being demonstrated just within a couple of passages of the book. Perhaps there was more excitment there and I just didn't feel it.
I didn't find the 'soap opera' (regarding the politics of getting permission to climb Mount Everest) to be interesting. Of course, a 'bad guy' was introduced (that wanted to stop some of the climbers from attempting the climb), but I found all the 'will he or won't he climb melodrama' to be uninteresting.
The book did have a 'sweet ending' that represented 'selflessness' and other 'ideals of character'. I liked the ending and I think the people at website "Values.com" would like it....more
I really like the suspense story(the chase) in this book. I am a sucker for a good drawn-out pursuit. And I find the dark philosophy (woven throughoutI really like the suspense story(the chase) in this book. I am a sucker for a good drawn-out pursuit. And I find the dark philosophy (woven throughout this book) to be compelling.
Judging by this book, the author (McCarthy) is a guy that looks at a field and focuses on the weeds (and not the flowers). Man, the philosophy of this book is dark! "Time or chance are going to overtake us, so life sucks." That is my reduction of the philosophy of this book. I don't agree with this philosophy, but I can say that I often 'feel it'. I am compelled by this dark philosophy.
But one could like this book without compulsion to the philosophy of this book. The writing is (for the most part) surprisingly simple. The beginning was a 'tough read' for me, but then the book 'settled down'. I use the term 'surprisingly' because my only other McCarthy is Blood Meridian, and that is a tough book to read. Much of this book consists of conversations between people, and the conversations consist of a lot of short sentences and are easy to follow. I read this book because my Dad read this book (and he liked it and thought it was an 'easy read'). I think this book is the only book that he has read in his adult life. My Dad is a smart guy, but not a reader. And he is not a dark guy.
I use the term 'easy', but it isn't easy for those that don't want violence. There are many gruesome scenes in this book.
As far as the chase goes, don't many of us sometimes/often feel like we are being chased by a 'compassion-less' powerful Grim Reaper. Combining that with action/violence/weaponry, it is easy to see why this book (and especially the corresponding movie) is popular. And the 'chasee' (by the Grim Reaper of this book) is a really likeable 'Everyman'. He is a war veteran that gets 'caught' in a tough situation and makes a tough wrong choice. This wrong choice just enhances his likeability, because most all of us can relate to him (whether or not we would have made the same 'greedy' choice). Our 'chasee' is friendly but not verbose, thoughtful without being too thoughtful, manly, working class, and overly stubborn. I like him. We like him.
There is a thid main person in this story (i.e. the Sheriff). His main purpose (in this story) is to follow the action and provide commentary. He would like to save the 'chasee', but that just ain't going to happen. I find him to be likeable and interesting. He reminds me of Andy Griffith, but with a touch of darkness. But the book could surely exist without him. I haven't sorted out whether or not he is essential to this book.
P.S. I read this story a while after seeing the movie. The movie is a faithful (and slightly/moderately condensed) rendition of the book. I liked the movie a lot. I liked this book a lot. I would advise (as always) to first read the book. But if you liked the movie, don't hesitate to read this book. If you didn't like the movie, you probably are not going to like this book....more
I have all of these books. I read them in elementary school. A few of the later ones came out while I was in jr high and I read them then. Man, I haveI have all of these books. I read them in elementary school. A few of the later ones came out while I was in jr high and I read them then. Man, I have great memories of reading these books. I have dabbled in collecting these, so I own multiple editions of some of these books. Some of these books were first written in the 30s (or thereabouts), and then rewritten in the 60s (or thereabouts). I read many of these books to my kids as bedtime stories when they were young. More good memories....more
This book subverts the traditional Evangelical Christian book (and there are more of these 'traditional Evangelical Christian books' than there are 'uThis book subverts the traditional Evangelical Christian book (and there are more of these 'traditional Evangelical Christian books' than there are 'unchurched' people in China) by using the same standard technique (strict Biblical exposition) but producing very 'different results'. Whether this subversion is 'inspired' or 'contrarian' (or a mixture of both) is a great question. No doubt, this book is driving many Evangelical Christians 'nuts'. "What is the smart alec contrarian doing in our midst?". Evangelical Christians are well versed in 'fighting the enemy' of 'would-be theologians' that don't accept the Bible as divinely inspired and inerrant. But how do you fight this type of 'friendly fire'? Heck, the author even makes the traditional 'come to Jesus' 'altar call' at the end of this book. Well, I imagine one could Google all manner of detailed debunking of the author's Biblical interpretations. I understand that the dreaded 'H' word (heresy) is being used against the author.
Although I am familiar with just about all Bible passages and stories used by the author(Bell) in this book, I can't claim to be expert enough to debunk or support his Biblical exposition. And I am not going to do an exhaustive personal study on the 'validity' of Bell's interpretation of the Bible. But Bell's exposition (and interpretations) seem pretty valid to me. And I don't recall reading a book where I came away from the book so marvelled at the author's intelligence.
What are the abovementioned 'different results'? Bell is not always easy to pin down. He seems to be a Universalist (all people eventually end up in Heaven), but then he has refuted the idea that he is a Universalist (in interviews after publishing of this book). Also, Bell seems to be saying (but not directly) that one can be an 'unintential Christian' (i.e. not a self proclaimed Christian but a 'sort of honorary Christian' due to their good heart and/or their good works). This 'unintentional Christian' concept has to be disturbing many Evangelical Christians. What is the point of missionary work (a central concept of Evangelical Christianity) if the missionary might be 'less Christian' than the target of the mission work?
Bell is aware of his vagueness and even defends it (after all didn't Jesus very often offer vague answers to questions or, better yet, didn't Jesus sometimes answer a question with another question). And FWIW I am 'cool with it' with regards to Bell's use of vagueness. Do we have to have clear answers to every question?
But there is a thin line between vagueness and coyness. Bell crosses this line with regards to the title of the book. I think that the title implies a decisiveness on "the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived" (as if a human could be decisive about this), but Bell just discusses the subject and is coy about the answer with regards to "the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived". "Bait and switch" seems to be at work with regards to the title.
Correspondingly, I am disappointed that this book did not answer the most relevant spiritual question of our age: Because of his transformation at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, is the Grinch going to go to Heaven?
Disclosure: I am a 'struggling Christian' that can't escape the central message (and reality) of Jesus Christ, but I struggle to find inspiration or bliss within the Christian experience. And it would be correct to call me a 'Contrarian'. So this book is right in my wheelhouse.
Despite this book being right in my wheelhouse, I can't say that I really liked this book that much. I often read books in similar fashion to my watching of sporting events. I am looking for something to root for. I am not really rooting for Bell. He exhibits a 'cocksure strut' that constantly irritates me. As revolutionary as this book might be (in its production of 'different results' from strict Biblical exposition), Bell is not 'revolutionary' in any kind of display of humility. When examining the tough questions that this book examines, a 'humble attitude' seems to be the 'right and true attitude'. Bell is just so certain of all of his conclusions: a regular know-it-all. Bell logically realizes (and acknowledges) that he is 'standing on the shoulders of Giants', but that realization doesn't infuse itself throughout his writing.
I just read Lying Awake by Mark Salzman, which is a fictional account of a nun's search for God. Man, that is such a humble, gentle and warm book and the difference between the tone of that book and the tone of this book is jarring. It is the like difference between the natural sounds one might hear in a remote meadow and the sound of big city traffic.
Another book that I read recently is Head Trip by Jeff Warren. Warren wrote about states of consciousness and, as part of his book, he undertook experiments to go through each state of consciousness. Likewise, I think Bell should have injected more of his life into this book, instead of relying foremost just on his exposition to hand us 'words on tablets', so to speak. I think Bell should have found a way to make this more of a moving book (a book of 'the heart') and less of an intellectual exercise. Granted, this IMO is a pretty kick-a** intellectual exercise.
But here I am being critical of a pretty good book and its author. For all I know, Bell is the most loving and caring person ever. And here I am calling him an egomaniac. Shame on me.
For me, the best argument for Universalism in this book is the simplest. Let me paraphrase it: God wants all to be saved, God's loving is infinite and beyond our comprehension, God is all powerful, so what man could stop God from achieving what God wants. Obviously, the prerequisite to this argument is a basic acceptance of the Christian faith. I understand that Bell says that he is not a universalist, so maybe I am missing something here (as I interpret this book to be advocating Universalism).
Let me offer my layman's prophecy: Bell's more tolerant and accepting interpretation of the Bible will make it 'big-time'. In the future (10 years perhaps), there will many Christian churches (with 'built-in' Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts and stuff) that subscribe to Bell's teaching. This movement (strict Biblical interpretation combined with acceptance and tolerance) is going to be a major movement within the overall Christian Church. I think that many current Evangelical Christians are going to find it irresistible that they can hold their biblical beliefs and still believe that their nice and thoughtful Atheist neighbor is going to Heaven. And the presence of a Dunkin' Donuts in the church will increase the irresistibility (and 'seal the deal') for these same Evangelical Christians. On a side note, I am aware that there is a small movement (within the Evangelical Christian Church) to remove donuts from the church experience. I prophesy that this movement will fail. Our bodies may indeed be temples of the Lord, but there is room in the temple for a delicious donut or two. And, of course, those donuts need to be washed down with coffee....more
Wonderful!! This book is like a warm and thoughtful friend: a real jewel. I'd rather have this book under my bed than a gold brick. If you are in wondWonderful!! This book is like a warm and thoughtful friend: a real jewel. I'd rather have this book under my bed than a gold brick. If you are in wonderment at the big questions of life (i.e. the 'God questions') and don't claim to have the answers or are struggling with these questions, then this book may also be a good friend to you.
I rooted real hard for our 'hero' Sister John. She is a thoughtful, sensitive, struggling, obedient and disciplined person who (among other things) is trying to overcome being shunned by her mother and being an awkward lonely child. There is a vividness and impactfulness (and all that stuff) to the vignette of her (as a child) awkwardly and determinedly running a lap around her school....more