After all the lackluster press about this book and friends who'd read it, dissing it, I was unprepared to enjoy this book. It's well written with memoAfter all the lackluster press about this book and friends who'd read it, dissing it, I was unprepared to enjoy this book. It's well written with memorable characters, very natural dialog. What I heard most was, omg, Atticus is a racist, but it's a lot more nuanced that that, much more a product of its time, the race struggles in the 50's, when Brown vs Board of Education was new. It's more a story of growing up and learning to disagree with the people you love and don't love. As the last paragraph says, our friends don't need us when they're right, they need us when they're wrong. It's a story of the compromises we make as adults and how we live or don't live with that. If she had written the book today, she might have used terrorism or immigration as the turning point, not racism, but we are all creations of our times and abilities....more
Werner Herzog has made a career out of saying things that are unsentimental and rambling off topic, and yet are all the more poignant and memorable beWerner Herzog has made a career out of saying things that are unsentimental and rambling off topic, and yet are all the more poignant and memorable because of the startling connections that they make. This book is about nothing, about walking from Germany to Paris in late autumn, but it's about everything. About how we react to weather and terrain, how we bring ourselves to each moment, about what we carry and what we leave behind.
I would call it a mediation rather than a story....more
I read this book because it's one of those important prototype moments. It's an important influence of the rap, hip hop, straight outta Compton, sceneI read this book because it's one of those important prototype moments. It's an important influence of the rap, hip hop, straight outta Compton, scene. It's an important voice of the civil rights movement in describing authentic black lives. The book doesn't address the woman's perspective at all, why would you want to be a whore for a primp, but that's not who's telling the story. But I believe strongly that the purpose of literature is to preserve the truth of individual's lives, that we all have one good story in us and we're writing it every day. And Iceberg Slim does an excellent job of that. ...more
Remember that guy back in the 60s, Escher, who drew stairways that always went down but wrapped around itself and birds that turned into fish and handRemember that guy back in the 60s, Escher, who drew stairways that always went down but wrapped around itself and birds that turned into fish and hands that drew themselves? This book -- a novel about the experience of reading a novel -- is the written equivalent of an Escher print. And I can't help thinking this novel is best read in a power pop minidress with lots of fringe because the author is trying to blow your mind, man, he's trying to open your third eye, man. But the author is having a lot of fun with the premise and it's a short enjoyable ride that encourages thinking. And we can never have enough thinking....more
Ok, I'll admit it, I was on a 10 hour flight from Europe and read all my other books and this was the only book I had left unread on my iPad. I had doOk, I'll admit it, I was on a 10 hour flight from Europe and read all my other books and this was the only book I had left unread on my iPad. I had downloaded it, I don't know when, because it was free and it was on the Random House list of 100 best modern novels, so I figured I'd eventually get to it. But, wow, it's an incredibly dated, fussy, morality play where an earnest young pig of a man eventually learns about love and life only after f**king up the lives of everyone around him. I know that you're not supposed to find the protagonist appealing through most of the arc of his story, but I didn't even find him appealing after his redemption.
Boring as hell and unpleasant. Only slightly more interesting than staring at the airplane seat back in front of me for a couple hours....more
I have to admit that previously I've tried to read one of Henry Miller's "Tropics of…" and failed because it felt so dated. Yes, I know he was doing lI have to admit that previously I've tried to read one of Henry Miller's "Tropics of…" and failed because it felt so dated. Yes, I know he was doing language experimentation and word jazz before any of the beats. But this travelogue of Greece made his riffs more relevant to me. He's very anti-capitalism, particularly as embodied by the corporation -- you could probably take some of the passages from this book and read them at a rally for the Occupy Movement or Blockage the Google Buses and if you didn't attribute them to Henry Miller, no one would know the words were almost 70 years old. But in this book, he's talking about a topic he really loves, Greece and the Greek people, and that offsets some of his curmudgeon-ness.
I surprised myself by really enjoying this book....more
It's easy to grow up in the West, in California, and not know where your food comes from, where your electricity, where your water comes from. It's eaIt's easy to grow up in the West, in California, and not know where your food comes from, where your electricity, where your water comes from. It's easy to believe that all the huge water projects, the dams, the aqueducts, are for the big desert cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles, that the places in need of power and water and multi-billion dollar federal projects are the urban dwellers, and you would be completely wrong. This book is still as fascinating, hard-hitting, and prone to make you yell and throw things as it was 30 years ago when it written. Because nobody knows this shit. The destruction, the hubris, the greed, the stupidity. The chapter where the dam breaks and Rexburg is lost had me in tears.
And given the NPR story *last week* about how the Bureau of Reclamation wants to add another 10-20 feet to the top of Shasta dam, someone is not listening.
Dated. I have to keep reminding myself that Bond is a very sexist character and that had to come from somewhere. It reminded me of the advice that oneDated. I have to keep reminding myself that Bond is a very sexist character and that had to come from somewhere. It reminded me of the advice that one should never meet authors, because they're seldom as pleasant and intelligent as you would hope....more
Infinite Jest is considered part of the canon of English language literature, so nothing I say about it is going to move the needle one way or anotherInfinite Jest is considered part of the canon of English language literature, so nothing I say about it is going to move the needle one way or another. Bigger brains than mine have championed it as Writing(tm). They'll tell you it's a comedy. (it's not.) They'll tell you it's multi-braided plots that tell you everything about nothing and build meta-meaning. (It's a hot mess of topics I care nothing about -- junior competitive tennis, substance abuse, substance abuse recovery, pretentious art cinema, French Canadian separatist politics.) but it was the ending (that I had every reason to hope would eventually wrap itself back to and explain the first, very unexplained scene) and instead made me wonder if I'd had better luck reading the book from back to front or maybe in Arabic.
I feel it says more about me that I could actual slog through 1079 pages of this than anything about the quality of its story-telling..
And then... I realized that this book was a product of its time, the Seinfeld era, where in the first fire hose rush of the Internet bubble and our first blush with over-information, it was cool and hip to have no pretensions of meaning, that it was better to say a lot about nothing and fade off leaving your audience to argue what the hell was *that*.
Oh, dear gawk, even its dysfunctional future where TV is dead and we're in danger from oversized feral hamsters is so last century. But no worries, I'm sure in six months or a year, this soap bubble of a story will have completely vanished from my mind and I'll have to look it up in Wikipedia to remember what it was about.
So, here's a woman, a jazz age baby, with the bob and dark eyes, who flees Kansas at 15 to study dance with Martha Graham, dances in the Follies, workSo, here's a woman, a jazz age baby, with the bob and dark eyes, who flees Kansas at 15 to study dance with Martha Graham, dances in the Follies, works in silent movies and hangs out with Hearst at San Simeon and Bogart and Chaplin and John Wayne and everyone who was anyone, steals part from Greta Garbo. Surrounded by men who paid her rent and took her dancing and bought her expensive clothes, she ends up throwing it all away when she's 30-ish because, man, she wasn't going to be a slave to the system and it interfered with her drinking and dancing all night, followed by fifty years of very hard luck because, well, it's no longer the jazz age and the men who keep women are looking for younger girls.
All though the essays in the book, she keeps telling me how independent she was, how smart and well-read she was, but how independent and smart can you consider yourself if you're kept by millionaires and never give a thought to the future and living the bulk of your life after the brief party was done, alone in poverty? I know it was a different age and she was a product of that age, but I struggled with the idea of her as a proto-celebrity, self destructive and self absorbed, having successfully convinced herself that she was where she was because she was special, that the celebrity and good times were deserved, rather than just being manufactured by chance and other people.
It is refreshing that she has no excuses for her downfall, that she just found it inconvenient and boring to do the things that could have kept her in the good graces of Hollywood a bit longer. The rest of us make a few compromises to get through the years....more
This book made me feel really old. I have no evidence that anyone enjoys their adolescence, that everyone feels like disconnected loser outsiders. Th
This book made me feel really old. I have no evidence that anyone enjoys their adolescence, that everyone feels like disconnected loser outsiders. That we're all just stumbling through it doing everything wrong. But I survived it and you survived it and we all went on to figure out who we were. So I read the book but I just didn't care, which probably means that I'm 152 years old and don't remember what's its like to be young and bursting with hormones. But seriously someone go and tell the boy that it's all gonna work out and none of this goes on your permanent record.