Imagine, if you will a book version of the SNL skit "Girl You Don't Want to Talk to at a Party" where said girl is a flight attendant...moreARC for review.
Imagine, if you will a book version of the SNL skit "Girl You Don't Want to Talk to at a Party" where said girl is a flight attendant who hates all her passengers and most of her co-workers and she wants to tell you, in great detail, how much they all suck. She then punctuates the conversations with many, many mentions of her own beauty. That is this book.
Normally I love behind the scenes looks at professions (hotel concierge, chef, waitress, etc.) but this was just hundreds of pages of complaints. Essentially any passenger who has the audacity to be in her "workspace) (all areas of the plane other than the cockpit) is an incredible buffoon and bother, especially when said passenger forces her to interrupt her reading or her chatting with co-workers. It's also unrealistic - if she actually said even ten percent of the things she SAYS she said to passengers she would have no job at any airline. So, possibly this is just a parody, and there's no real Sydney Pearl out there? If there is, she needs to update her resume and work on some people skills, stat. And I hope that her next flight begins with her being vomited on by an unruly two year old. (less)
This book is yet another that is an extended version of an article that appeared in Rolling Stone and I feared that there wouldn't be...moreARC for review.
This book is yet another that is an extended version of an article that appeared in Rolling Stone and I feared that there wouldn't be enough here for a whole book, but Lohse is a talented writer and if you are interested in the Greek system and hazing you'll enjoy this (well, you need a fairly strong stomach, too. Don't read this while snacking. Promise me.)
Lohse is a middle-class guy who barely got in to Dartmouth (his grandfather was a graduate and he had a family friend intervene with the admission board). He and his roommates decide to pledge Sigma Alpha Epsilon and, to be fair, it appears that they knew from the start that the pledging process might be a bit tougher at SAE than at some of the other houses they visited, and it is, with copious amounts of alcohol abuse and other general grossness. Lohse has some angst about all this and ultimately turns on his brothers, outing them to the administration and, with no response, publicly.
Full disclosure - I am a Chi Omega alumnae and never suffered any hazing at all. Although I was aware that fraternities hazed a bit more than sororities, I really thought that much of the type of hazing Lohse described ended in the 80s after some highly publicized death, and I was definitely surprised that it was going on at a national fraternity which should, one would think, have a bit more control/knowledge about what is going on at their houses. Anyway, this was a good read for me and many former Greeks will likely enjoy and spend time reminiscing about the good old days, but if you aren't interested in hazing you likely won't find it worth your time, as there's next to nothing included other than fraternity life - no classes, other extracurriculars and very little about relationships other than those between the brothers. (less)
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I started highlighting every other paragraph before I stopped and just gave myself up to the excellent writing - t...moreARC for review.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I started highlighting every other paragraph before I stopped and just gave myself up to the excellent writing - there aren't new points here, just well-put argument from an author who brings a unique perspective. Buy multiple copies and hand it to every woman you know who doesn't want to be called "feminist". Give to your teenage daughters. Read it. (less)
Really only one and a half stars....these types of books can be done well (see Julie Julia and the recent Jennifer Gwyneth Me) but this one.....I knew I was in trouble from the first chapter when she talks about her admiration of Gwyneth Paltrow and how her very favorite movie is..."A Perfect Murder". Wasn't that some horrible knock-off of "Dial M for Murder"? I'm of the firm belief that world can be divided into those who read "Goop" and sane people.
In addition, Harrington never met an exclamation point she didn't love, a huge pet peeve. Her bio says she's a Harvard and Columbia graduate, but those schools must have left her plenty of time to become totally immersed in celebrity culture and/or be so desperate for a book contract that she agreed to do this. Here's a bit of what you can expect.....in the chapter titled "I Tried Madonna's Diet" (note that she generally "tries" these diets for about three to four days) she notes, "I was so scared of this DVD the whole week that I actually hid it in my couch. Finally, I find it in my couch and play it. It is so hard! It involves doing push-ups with your feet on a chair."
Clearly this book was written for girls (and I use that term on purpose) whose idea of "reading" is catching up on Cosmo or Us Weekly (because, seriously you guys? Sometimes People has stories about people with cancer! Yuck!). No. Just no. (less)
File this under "I read it so you don't have to" - but, make no mistake, I have no problem with Jimenez's conclusions, necessarily (al...moreARC for review.
File this under "I read it so you don't have to" - but, make no mistake, I have no problem with Jimenez's conclusions, necessarily (although some could have used stronger sources). My issue is that this really should have been a nice little article in Rolling Stone and Jimenez's efforts to turn it into what seemed to be a 900 page book (my ARC didn't have page numbers) rendered it a slog.
First, the title of the book should have been, THE BOOK OF MATT: WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT MATTHEW SHEPARD OVER TEN YEARS AND HOW I PERSONALLY FELT ABOUT EVERY BIT OF IT, INCLUDING HOW I OFTEN GOT REALLY NERVOUS AND PARANOID ABOUT NOTHING AT ALL. Nothing annoys me more than a nonfiction writer who makes him/herself a large part of the story for no reason (see also, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks....this is what afterwords are for, people.
Second, here is what Jimenez knows, thinks he knows and/or believes:
1. The death of Matthew Shepard had next to nothing to do with the fact that Matt was gay. 2. The death of Matthew Shepard had everything to do with sex for hire and methamphetamine. 3. Number 2 was not covered in the trial because the prosecution wanted the death penalty and would have much better luck if this was considered a hate crime and the defense knew that unmasking Aaron McKinney as a gay (or bisexual) tattletale would do him no favors in prison. 3. The media turned Matthew Shepard into a gay Emmet Till and ought not have done so, because Matthew wasn't killed because he was gay. 4. Methamphetamine is everywhere and it is bad. 5. Russell Henderson is generally a good guy who got caught up in a bad situation. 6. Laramie police and public officials may have covered up various and sundry things, including the involvement of Doc O'Connor, the business of meth in Laramie, and/or the fact that Matt may have been killed because he "knew too much" (Jimenez refers to this a lot, but I'm not sure that even he knows exactly what Matthew knew).
Jimenez spared us most of the gruesome details of Shepard's death, as he should have, because there's no question Matthew died a sad, lonely death. For Jimenez the question is why did he die and, since he didn't die as part of some "gay panic" (this reference is made several times), what his death should mean in the wider scope of equality for gay people. Those are all fair questions, but, unfortunately it was too long, the author involved himself too much and some of the allegations are not sufficiently substantiated such that I just couldn't enjoy this.
Edited August 26, 2014 to add:
In the interest of full disclosure I received the following e-mail from the publisher after posting my review. Take from it what you will:
While I appreciate your review and your personal opinion, I fear you may have missed much of the information that corroborates what Jimenez writes. I wish to direct you to the Random House author page:
I do not ask you to change your review, because it is important that reviewers have the freedom of speech to provide their own personal analysis unhindered by direct influences, but wanted to share these links as a means of personal enrichment, as you seem to be one who would be genuinely interested in further information.
When reading first person accounts like this I always feel a bit like a voyeur, but Knight is quick to say that, for her (definitely the most publicly...moreWhen reading first person accounts like this I always feel a bit like a voyeur, but Knight is quick to say that, for her (definitely the most publicly visible of the three women held captive by Ariel Castro) being open about her captivity has helped her heal. Knight was held the longest (eleven years) and as per her account likely suffered the most at the hands of her captor.
Michelle Knight's troubles did not begin with Castro as she survived a horrific childhood and life as a runaway before having and falling in love with her son Joey. However, her time with Joey was short before he was taken from her, first by social services, then by her kidnapping. She was abducted in 2002, then subjected to the worst of all abuses imaginable. Amanda Berry joined them in 2003, the fourteen year old Gina DeJesus in 2004. Their amazing rescue in 2013 brought an end to their confinement, but my heart still breaks for each of them - this is an amazing story of resilience and never giving into despair. (less)
As I approach month nine of my never-ending cycle of diagnosis, misdiagnosis, re-diagnosis and more medical tests than I can imagine m...moreARC for review.
As I approach month nine of my never-ending cycle of diagnosis, misdiagnosis, re-diagnosis and more medical tests than I can imagine most 90 years olds have had, I am coming to this both hopeful and afraid. I think I will hold off on it until AFTER I return from my trip to the Cleveland Clinic this week.
*****As I mentioned above the description of this title so closely mirrors my own experience I wasn't sure whether I would hate it or love it, and ended up liking it, but being a bit frustrated with the author at times.
First, Berger has been diagnosed with MS, which is something I was tested for early on, and I don't have it. Therefore, our experiences aren't at all identical and I would never presume that they were. I also expected her to seek out alternative therapies (I haven't yet gotten to that point, but I would not dismiss some of them out of hand). However, what I did not understand at all was her immediate reaction to the diagnosis. Typically lesions on the brain and/or spinal cord are indicative of MS. The fact that I didn't have any told my doctors I didn't have it. Berger has lesions on her spinal cord and received her diagnosis from a physician who had a less than optimal bedside manner. I get all that.
(view spoiler)[Since lesions typically DO indicate MS why didn't she seek a second opinion from another neurologist before going to alternative healers? She ends up paying for a lot of her care out of pocket anyway, so it doesn't appear that cost was a factor. If she felt so very certain the lesions weren't MS, go to a specialist....someplace like the Mayo or the Cleveland Clinic (one or both is covered by nearly EVERY health plan, I've learned). Now, to be fair, I have been where she is - I received not one, but two diagnoses of Parkinson's disease before going to Cleveland Clinic where they gave me a different, and much less debilitating diagnosis, so I know that, at least in my experience, doctors at those facilities don't just accept the word of a general physician.
I also was a bit worried about her complete dismissal of the four standard MS protocols. I get that all of us with chronic illness hear stories (perhaps even true) about people who heal themselves through a combination of healthy foods, yoga, prayer, acupuncture and no Western medication, but I'm also a big fan of thing like penicillin and believe that, in a lot of cases, Western medicine IS the best thing going (again, not necessarily in Berger's case and it's a decision people must make for themselves, but I'm always a bit wary when I hear that someone is treating their breast cancer with a healthy diet and wheatgrass versus chemotherapy). (hide spoiler)]
Rant over. Like Berger, I've come across my fair share of unsympathetic and, worse, uninformed doctors. I, too, was told by one physician that I was likely just having "panic attacks" despite horrific, objective symptoms that kept me in the hospital for weeks. So, I'm on the same "tour" that Berger references, but, for me, and for now I'm sticking with Healthcareland and the Cleveland Clinic. Perhaps I won't always feel that way, but it's working for me so far. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
First, the title. I liked it, but then I LOVED it when I saw the whole thing (the Fire Island motto as told by Frank Corradino) in the...moreARC for review.
First, the title. I liked it, but then I LOVED it when I saw the whole thing (the Fire Island motto as told by Frank Corradino) in the Acknowledgments section, "fork on the left, knife in the back, spoon in the nose, dish, dish, dish."
As for the book itself, It appears to be an accumulation of Musto's columns from the Village Voice (and does he not write for them anymore? He was an institution.) so some of it is quite dated and other parts go into long discussions of people and places that those outside the NYC party scene (of various decades) would know nothing about (for example there are so many mentions of Kiki and Herb I felt like they might be at my house). He also notes that this is his second collection so perhaps some of the best bits were in the earlier volume.
I'm guessing that pre-Internet blog/Perez Hilton that Musto was THE man about NYC and quite risque and he still knows how to pack a punch....sometimes with his incredibly frank discussions of sex (including a few too many mentions of his own penis), sometimes just with his wit, "Wynonna Judd had an eighty minute therapy session the other night, and since she billed it as a concert, I totally managed to be there to watch." He also must have been, at least in part, the inspiration for SNL's fabulous Stefon character as he snarkily reviews lots of nightclubs along with Broadway shows, parties and other happenings in and around the city.
If you are a fan of Musto or the NYC "scene" during the 1980s and early 90s, enjoy it in small batches. (less)
A gift from my lovely friend Denise who thought that just gazing at the cover would help the Cleveland Clinic madness go down a bit easier. I'm not su...moreA gift from my lovely friend Denise who thought that just gazing at the cover would help the Cleveland Clinic madness go down a bit easier. I'm not sure I even care if it has words inside.
****Update. Huh, there are words. I taped the book jacket to the ceiling of my bedroom so I can look at Rob as I read.
Mr. Lowe, you are one handsome fellow.
I read good reviews of Lowe's first autobiography, published only a few years ago, and I'm probably not alone in thinking some most of his best stuff went into that book. He's a decent writer and seems to be a good guy who loves his wife and family, but he just didn't have many new stories to tell. I'll have to keep an eye out for book number one.