loved this book. like 'the road', this one is a harrowing, ruthless, page-turner. i couldn't put it down. i unfortunately waited to read the book unti...moreloved this book. like 'the road', this one is a harrowing, ruthless, page-turner. i couldn't put it down. i unfortunately waited to read the book until i knew who had been cast to play the characters in the film, so of course, i'm seeing these folks as the characters. i'm not sure this really hurt my reading of the book, however. sometimes it's good to have a concrete image of the character in your mind, even if it is of a movie star.
i have read a lot of comments about this book which point to its brutality and alleged lack of moral center, etc. i found the character of bell (the sheriff) to be a profound and wise character, although bewildered and defeated in many ways. he grounds this book with his meditations of our declining morality, his reflections on regret and faith, and his sisyphean longing to blanket his people with safety and a sense of comfort.
the character of chigurh is seen by many to be devoid of anything. he appears to have no compassion or empathy at all. he sets the tone of this novel and single-handedly spills nearly all the blood (and there's lots). yet his twisted reflections on fate and free will (often discussed with his victims minutes before they expire) pack a considerable wallop. i believe that in many ways chigurh is mccarthy's analogy of present-day attitudes re: violence. our inability to change the course of where society is heading. we made the decisions to get us where we are today, with regards to drug culture, gang-wars, desensitization, etc. and we are being held accountable. chigurh is a symptom of a sick society. his codes are very well-defined and follow their own logic very clearly, even if they seem completely and utterly at odds with good will and common sense.
i'm rambling, and am still pondering what goes on in this book. i believe what i truly like about mccarthy's book, other than the obvious, is what he doesn't tell us. mccarthy can be one of the most economical writers of our time, when he wants to be. he never underestimates the intelligence of his audience, and allows us to draw our own lines and conclusions, while never leaving us without the themes and symbols and clues necessary to draw them.
not his best book, but damn, this is a good one. (less)
chris offutt's stories are some of the most gut-wrenching, unflinching, and honest stories about human nature that i have ever read. he easily belongs...morechris offutt's stories are some of the most gut-wrenching, unflinching, and honest stories about human nature that i have ever read. he easily belongs on the same plateau as larry brown and thom jones. yes, a lot of his stories, like theirs, are steeped in alcohol, grime, transgression, death, and madness, but beneath it all are truths about us all. offutt is truly one of the greatest living southern writers. and this is probably his finest collection, and possibly his finest work.(less)
i've read a lot about evolution, and i think it's arguable that this is the best book about evolution since 'the origin of species.' at least in...moreepic.
i've read a lot about evolution, and i think it's arguable that this is the best book about evolution since 'the origin of species.' at least in terms of those which are not scholarly works aimed at biologists.
i thought i had a pretty good grasp on evolution, but there were several points in this book where i felt completely floored, either by the shattering of some previously held assumption, or by dawkins' ability to crystallize so perfectly something that had previously seemed entirely fuzzy to me.
there are a gazillion of wonderful reviews out there on this book, so i don't feel it's necessary to tell people anything other than to read it if you have any interest in how we got to where we are. you will walk away with a renewed sense of connection to all living things, and a greater appreciation for the diversity of life on earth, for the haphazard, but beautiful messes that are our bodies, for our strange ecosystems, and for the nature of life, suffering, and survival.
thom brown's books will grab you by the fucking throat and throttle you until you put the thing down. i'm constantly amazed at how powerful and viscer...morethom brown's books will grab you by the fucking throat and throttle you until you put the thing down. i'm constantly amazed at how powerful and visceral his stories are. and that's not their only appeal -- powerful scenes do not alone make great stories. these are stories that are not necessarily traditional in their structure, or in how the epiphanies unfold. but the end justifies the means.
i believe this is his greatest collection, but that's not to say that 'cold snap' or 'sonny liston...' are not incredible -- they are. i'm always bummed by the fact that jones' books are few and far between, but if this is the caliber of work that comes from the years of respite, then i'm ok with waiting. (less)
every time i read a book like this, which doesn't happen often enough, i have a hard time getting into fiction again. if you wrote a novel like this,...moreevery time i read a book like this, which doesn't happen often enough, i have a hard time getting into fiction again. if you wrote a novel like this, people would not be able to suspend disbelief, and critics would complain about too many plot implausibilities and an overuse of plot twists. it simply wouldn't work.
if you think you might have trouble getting into a book about lysine price-fixing, you won't. that's just where it starts. it's a fascinating, page-turning look into corporate greed and corruption, but it's also a fascinating look into the lives and minds of the people who pull this stuff off. the central character, marc whitacre, is someone who you'll never forget. i read that the film is being made into a movie, by stephen soderberg, with matt damon in the lead. it's one of those roles that actors would kill for.
this one is a keeper. when i first stumbled upon the earlier installments of persepolis, i was interested, having just read joe sacco's 'palestine'. t...morethis one is a keeper. when i first stumbled upon the earlier installments of persepolis, i was interested, having just read joe sacco's 'palestine'. this seemed a similar read, although more introspective, and with a more minimalist and flat drawing style. for some reason, i never picked it up until i saw an early trailer for the film.
this is one of those books that you wish would be required reading. in our 'you're either with us or against us' post-9/11 bush america, this book is a real eye-opener about growing up during an islamic revolution in iran. sometimes it takes a book like this to simplify what appears to be incredibly complex and foreign to us. just about any kid in america can relate to marjane, her wit, sass, and rebelliousness. she asks all the same questions about religion and society. she puts a face on what is too often dehumanized by the bush administration and the mainstream media.
this is about as fine a novel as you could ask for. it is lean and mean, written like a short story. there are no sentences that do not serve to move...morethis is about as fine a novel as you could ask for. it is lean and mean, written like a short story. there are no sentences that do not serve to move the narrative along. i have read many stories of racial strife in the south, and this stands up there with some of the best. i particularly enjoyed jordan's use of multiple narrators. each character in the story gets a say. the narrative baton is passed from one character to the next, with each taking on the role several times throughout the book. it's a heart wrenching story of racism, betrayal, familial ties, and of the progression of social change from one generation to the next. it blows my mind how far we've come in 60 years. it seems like an eternity, and it seems we still have so far to go, but the novel underscores how we often bury one generation's injustices when we bury the person, and we bury their poisons with them. i was really impressed with jordan's ability to make each and every one of the major characters somewhat sympathetic, no matter how misguided and bigoted they may be. that's a feat in and of itself. (less)
an amzing piece of work. this memoir, like so many of the popular ones these days, deals with the triumph of spirit over adversity. in this case, unli...morean amzing piece of work. this memoir, like so many of the popular ones these days, deals with the triumph of spirit over adversity. in this case, unlike many, the hurdles are multiple -- racism, evangelical christianity gone wild, boot camp, physical and verbal abuse, and the ordinary difficulties of coming of age in middle america. i have rarely been brought to tears by a book, but this one's ending killed me. this is a skillfully done book, as good, if not better than the more successful 'glass castle' and 'liar's club' books of recent years. (less)
highly recommended to anyone who writes. not only incredibly inspirational, but also quite entertaining and insightful. some people may walk away feel...morehighly recommended to anyone who writes. not only incredibly inspirational, but also quite entertaining and insightful. some people may walk away feeling inadequately prepared for the writing life, as i did after reading some of these anecdotes. but many of these essays do beautifully illustrate the compulsion to create art, and the sacrifices that so often must be made. thom jones' essay here is especially compelling -- i find myself returning to it time and time again.(less)
definitely one of the best novels i've read in a while. something of a dickens-meets-cormac mccarthy tragicomic morality tale. i have to admit that it...moredefinitely one of the best novels i've read in a while. something of a dickens-meets-cormac mccarthy tragicomic morality tale. i have to admit that it started out a bit slow -- felt like a series of short stories, or anecdotes, about this group of characters for a good 100-150 pages. but then the inciting incident occurs and it's as if someone just stepped on the gas. the rest of the novel moves along at breakneck speed in a visceral, cinematic style, cutting rapidly back and forth between each characters' simultaneous (and interconnected) dilemmas. not exactly a classic novel in its structure, but certainly classic in its dickensian portrait of a downtrodden community and its denizens. and certainly classic in its grasp and its fully realized characters. after the ball starts rolling, you will have a hard time putting the book down. and you'll have a hard time forgetting these characters. i will be blown away if this isn't a film in the next 5 years -- would be perfect material for the coens. (less)
a beautifully written, economic, loosely tied collection of short stories. i found this book to be deceptive in that, upon first read, i was not so su...morea beautifully written, economic, loosely tied collection of short stories. i found this book to be deceptive in that, upon first read, i was not so sure that these were truly stories, in the literary sense, but rather little slices of narrative. but after you spend some time with them, and let them sink in, you realize the way that johnson has infused the simple-seeming, drug-addled pieces with very clear and heavy epiphanies. the story 'emergency' is probably one of my favorite stories ever.(less)
rarely is there a book that affects me to the point that i want to go out and buy copies of it and give them to people. this is one of those. and unfo...morerarely is there a book that affects me to the point that i want to go out and buy copies of it and give them to people. this is one of those. and unfortunately i really can't afford to do that.
but every cent that eggers makes from this book goes to the zeitoun foundation (http://www.zeitounfoundation.org/), created in 2009 to aid in the rebuilding and ongoing health of the city of new orleans, and to help ensure the human rights of all americans. so you can feel good about not waiting for the paperback.
it's powerful stuff, and really eye-opening, from its depiction of what it is like to live as a middle-eastern family in america post-9/11, what can happen to our rights in the face of catastrophic events (man-made or natural), and the absurd dystopian nature of our country in the aftermath of such an event. ultimately, though, it's a riveting tale of triumph in the face of adversity, and a reminder that we needn't forget who we are and what we stand for when faced with unimaginable challenges.
go get this today. and give eggers the pulitzer already.(less)
i freakin' love dr. seuss. this is a pretty amazing compilation of some of his better known works (and a few lesser read ones). each work is prefaced...morei freakin' love dr. seuss. this is a pretty amazing compilation of some of his better known works (and a few lesser read ones). each work is prefaced by an essay by a well-known writer, entertainer, etc. about the importance of the work to that individual, and to the reading public in general. there's lots of neat ephemera between the stories -- pictures of little-seen seuss sketches, early drafts, other artwork, illustrations, and biographical info.
contains 'the sneetches', 'the lorax', 'cat in the hat', 'to think that i saw it on mulligan street', and an earlier version of 'if i ran the circus', among others.(less)