As an American, English is the only language I speak fluently, but I've heard it often repeated, particularly by people trying to resurrect / save dyiAs an American, English is the only language I speak fluently, but I've heard it often repeated, particularly by people trying to resurrect / save dying languages, that language is culture, that language is world view, that you need to speak a language before you can belong to that particular tribe. This is one of those truths that everyone knows that I can neither confirm nor deny. The author of this book is quite explicit that to tell this story, he had to create an almost English, but not really, imaginary language. And that's going to be the dividing line as to how much you (as a reader) enjoy this book. Do you rise to the challenge and embrace it as a way to embed yourself in this story? Or do you see it as getting in the way, as a gimmick?
I feel like I fell the wrong way across that dividing line. The language kept pulling me out of the book. Which is unfortunate because there are the bones of a great story here. Post-apocalyptic tales are popular in our culture, particularly because it seems slightly more appealing to be struggling for our lives rather than go to work on yet another Monday morning. But our ancestors lived through apocalyptic times -- plague, war, strangers that descended on them like locust and took everything they had, forsaken by their gods. Isn't that a good enough story? Isn't difficult enough to tell a good story well that you have to up the bar and deliberately make the story hard to read?...more
I did love the concept of President Nixon as an accidental dark magic welding, savior of America, the greatest president we never knew. The whole LoveI did love the concept of President Nixon as an accidental dark magic welding, savior of America, the greatest president we never knew. The whole Lovecraftian vibe of the evil arranged against him.
What frustrated me was that I thought the swirling darkness of the old gods could have been described in more detail. You get these off handed hints that this person or that person is not truly human, but not an explanation of what they are instead or even the nature of their inhumaness. You get a list of the creatures that could survive an atomic bomb, but nothing about them beyond them. You're told that the real astronauts of Apollo 11 found something incredible on the moon, but not what it really was.
I give this book an A+++ for the original premise, but only a C for execution. The author didn't have half the fun with this storyline that he could have. It was a good book, it just wasn't great. And it could have been great. ...more
Reality is very messy. It's an uncountable number of independent, seemly random events and coincidences. The job of a historian is to walk the line beReality is very messy. It's an uncountable number of independent, seemly random events and coincidences. The job of a historian is to walk the line between trying to tell a coherent story (that may or may not have any relationship to the story the actual participants would have told) and over-simplifying a story into a morality play. And a military history tends to be more about where the lead soldiers are on the map, so it's not as concerned about nuance. It's the tale of good guys and bad guys and rooting for the good guys to win.
So, this was a fine book for the story it was engaged in telling. A good story with lively characters. A quick read, intelligently undemanding, and the good guys win. ...more
I'm a bit on the fence about this one. The book is well written, the characters well drawn, the scenes carefully crafted. But... (and you know there'sI'm a bit on the fence about this one. The book is well written, the characters well drawn, the scenes carefully crafted. But... (and you know there's a but) it's more of a character study than a story. It doesn't really go anywhere or reveal basic truths or have any grand resolution. It's biggest sin is that it wasn't as funny as I'd hoped.
It's about a woman who dying the death of a thousand paper cuts in middle America. She works too hard and then the lawyers take her business away, the father of children is a loser, the yoga mothers and spandex clad cyclists are getting her down, so she runs away to Alaska. But no one really knows that she's gone and no one is really chasing her. She's just using that as an excuse for all her breaking and entering and other bad behavior. And at the end of the day, she discovers that she didn't need to go looking for the heroes of the frontier because no one was going to rescue her but herself. That is true, that there's a moment in every woman's life where she realizes that no one is coming for her, she's going to have to take care of whatever business needs taking care of.
It wasn't a bad book. It just wasn't great....more
Be afraid of teenaged girls. Be very very afraid of teenaged girls. They are vicious to each other, they are all teeth and nail to anyone who crossesBe afraid of teenaged girls. Be very very afraid of teenaged girls. They are vicious to each other, they are all teeth and nail to anyone who crosses their path.
I really enjoyed this book because it told a very compelling story, mostly based on the Manson family and the murder of Sharon Tate from the girls perspective. It presents a very disturbing image of how a young girl could be sucked into that kind of evil, one harmless bonfire party at a time, and how the situation would slowly sour. One of those novels that pull you along to the next page to see what happens next.
I am perpetually promising myself that I won't read any more teenage wish fulfillment stories. That I am done with the whole teenager against post-apoI am perpetually promising myself that I won't read any more teenage wish fulfillment stories. That I am done with the whole teenager against post-apocalyptic society genre. That I've been Hunger Gamed out. And, yet, *sigh*, I find myself again with one of them in hand.
I will admit for the genre, this one wasn't bad. It's a little light on descriptive text, very tightly focused on the protagonist, but the plot moves along at a brisk pace and the characters are likable enough and there are enough amusement in how she's twisting the original fairy tale. Though you will know most of the "surprises" way before the story gets to them. And it's part of a series, so don't expect everything to be resolved.
It was a fine, summer afternoon book. Something to read by the pool....more
Everyone has gushed over this book and told me, in no uncertain terms, that, as a geek / nerd, I would love this book because it's about nerds and sciEveryone has gushed over this book and told me, in no uncertain terms, that, as a geek / nerd, I would love this book because it's about nerds and science and San Francisco and climate change. And it is well-written. The characters are interesting and the plot moves along briskly. But...
Somehow it didn't make that leap from a good read to wow, you can't miss this. And that's probably my fault. I find stories that combine magic and science -- rocket ships, robots, worm-holes, time-machines, ray guns AND talking animals, healing spells, curses, assassin guilds -- to be too rich a stew. Because every time something needs to happen, the character can say, oh, that's right, I forgot that I know how to fly or let's turn on the anti-gravity machine or let's do both at the same time. And you just know that for the grand reveal, science and magic have to merge into the literary equivalent of baked Alaskan.
It's all very topical and I'm sure a year or two from now it will be a Syfy channel movie where everyone will talk about the special effects. But it never really soared above "alright" for me....more
I believe the struggles of the last few years -- the Occupy movement, the success of Bernie Sanders -- is the beginning of a conversation about how weI believe the struggles of the last few years -- the Occupy movement, the success of Bernie Sanders -- is the beginning of a conversation about how we become a post-money, post-capitalistic society. Projects like this book are the beginning of trying to develop tools for that transition.
The big question for me is how comfortable do we make the lives of people that are unable or unwilling to contribute? The answer we're giving right now is that we make their lives pretty damn uncomfortable. And that feels hard hearted and selfish. But even with the best intentions, how comfortable can we make their lives when every avenue to give them funds involves a large unwieldy bureaucracy? In most of his examples, his case studies, the income, that he cites as 80% of their income is going to rent, is government aid, not wages. As automation increases and manual labor decreases, what do we do with the people without sources of income?
It's a discussion we need to start having, but I don't feel like we haven't quite hit on the solution yet. ...more
I get that this was a meditation on death and our denial of death, our fears about the end of the world and our need to control the end of the world,I get that this was a meditation on death and our denial of death, our fears about the end of the world and our need to control the end of the world, to exist beyond the end of the world. And that the people like that, narrowly focused on death, are speaking a different language from the rest of us that are just living our lives. And the book is beautifully written.
I read a book once, years ago, about suicide notes and how they're frustrating because a person that can get their head in a space to commit suicide is so detached from the what the rest of us are thinking about that suicide notes rarely coherently explain anything. That people who commit suicide are not rational, so neither are the suicide notes. And that seems to sum up this book for me. The people in the story that are preparing for surviving death are unintelligible to the narrator, so it makes for a rather disjointed story of the protagonist reporting events that he doesn't feel or understand. It's not that the protagonist is an unreliable witness, I think he's just doesn't care. So, I wasn't sure why I was supposed to....more