When I first read about this, it seemed right up my alley. Frugality, strange diets, revealing tidbits in the form of a memoir. PEOPLE magazine even rWhen I first read about this, it seemed right up my alley. Frugality, strange diets, revealing tidbits in the form of a memoir. PEOPLE magazine even reviewed it. "The Urban Hermit", I'm sorry to say, is a very odd book. It feels like something that MacDonald, a journalist, pitched to his editor because it sounded like a good book idea only to discover too late that it really would exhaust its topic after 80 pages. How else to explain the desultory chapters involving MacDonald's journeys on the road, covering topics as diverse as Bosnia and hippie festivals? The main thesis, how the author lost 130 lbs from eating only 800 calories a day, is returned to again and again but it doesn't connect very strongly with other parts of the book. I was left wondering what the point was, other than to write a book....more
Guilty pleasure, you have met your match. Make no mistake about this, "If I Did It" is OJ Simpson's signed, sealed, and delivered confession of why heGuilty pleasure, you have met your match. Make no mistake about this, "If I Did It" is OJ Simpson's signed, sealed, and delivered confession of why he murdered his ex-wife and her potential lover, Ron Goldman. As many a seasoned prosecutor will tell you, the truth is often simple and clean, and does not require endless rounds of explanation. To wit, "This is a love story, and like a lot of love stories it doesn't have a happy ending."
OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown suffered from amor fati, crazy love. They drove each other nuts for seventeen years, until OJ snapped and killed her and the man he thought was going to be her lover for the night, Mezzaluna waiter Ron Goldman. Initially, he had just gone over in a rage to confront Nicole, but was incensed when he encountered Goldman outside the house. Convinced they were about to have sex, OJ knocked Nicole out (he claims she tripped and fell), killed Goldman and then Brown. After murdering them, he stripped down at the crime scene (presumably driving home nearly naked), dumped his car, and ran up a secret side passageway to his house and jumped in the shower.
Simpson claims he had an accomplice who took the bloody clothes and knife and dumped them somewhere. I found the details about "Charlie" to be a little vague, even hallucinatory. I'm not sure I believe that Charlie exists. I think it's possible OJ took the bloody clothes with him to the airport. The rest of the story sounds right to me, and is familiar to anyone who followed the case.
What is not familiar OJ's side of the story. Oddly enough, I find some of his confessions about Nicole plausible. I don't think this was much of a "domestic abuse" case as some painted it. Instead it was two passionate people driving each other crazy for years, until things turned violent and eventually irretrievably wrong. Of course OJ belongs in prison for life for what he did, but that doesn't make him a monster. Books like this balance out all the hyperbole in true crime writing....more
I bypassed this book many times because it looked too hokey. I guess at some point I had internalized the smear that Obama is merely a "motivational sI bypassed this book many times because it looked too hokey. I guess at some point I had internalized the smear that Obama is merely a "motivational speaker." Thankfully, he isn't. President-elect Obama has clearly taken the time to study US presidential history and contemporary economic and social woes and has melded them into a book that mixes policy ideas with personal narrative. It is well written, engaging, and revealing. It's also very funny and relatable at times. I love his descriptions of Alan Keyes: "Unlike most politicians... Mr. Keyes made no effort to conceal what he clearly considered to be his moral and intellectual superiority... that self-assuredness disabled in him the instincts for self-censorship that allow most people to navigate the world without getting into constant fistfights." Ha! Obama's own journey to Christianity, despite nagging doubts, is something I have experienced myself. There are very few politicians I have ever found relatable; Obama is refreshingly candid about his doubts and fears.
"The Audacity of Hope" is not without its flaws (some chapters are too long; others strive too hard to put a fine point on things), but it is a good read....more
Not my favorite Anne Tyler. In fact I would place it as low as it can go, on par with "Patchwork Planet" and "Ladder of Years." There really is no sucNot my favorite Anne Tyler. In fact I would place it as low as it can go, on par with "Patchwork Planet" and "Ladder of Years." There really is no such thing as a bad Anne Tyler novel, but some merely hint at her potential. Such is the case with "Celestial Navigation." It has some of her hallmarks -- Baltimore location, quirky and methodical characters, characters who are stuck in their ways but have the potential to break out into something richer. Such is the case for Jeremy Pauling. Although it never says so explicitly, he seems autistic. He lives in his own world, but that changes when he falls in love. Will Jeremy stretch beyond his comfort zone so he can be with Mary and their expanding brood?
"Celestial Navigation" lacks an engrossing protagonist, and it lacks the charming humor that is present in so many of my favorite Tyler novels. It's not bad by any means, I just was disappointed. In general, I think Tyler's early and most recent books are her weakest. The middle years are hard to beat. Try "Accidental Tourist" "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" "Morgan's Passing" "Earthly Possessions" and "Searching for Caleb."...more
By now David Brock's story is a familiar one. Sickened by political correctness while a student at Berkeley, he was seduced by the growing neo-conservBy now David Brock's story is a familiar one. Sickened by political correctness while a student at Berkeley, he was seduced by the growing neo-conservative movement and found himself flush with opportunities for tabloid style reportage when the culture wars hit high gear in the early 1990s. He slandered Anita Hill, Hillary Clinton and other notable women from the left before growing tired of right wing extremism.
Lots of interesting tidbits, although the writing is only average. ...more
This is a curious collection of musings by actress Debra Winger. They are heavy on artifice and short on dish, which is rather disappointing consideriThis is a curious collection of musings by actress Debra Winger. They are heavy on artifice and short on dish, which is rather disappointing considering her colorful career. She isn't a bad writer (although some of her metaphors are strained and there are a few cliches) but I'm not sure what the point is of all this. By the final musing, I was resisting the desire to mock her pretension.
I would say, if you must, get it from the library and read it as the last of a few vacation reads. She's no Shirley Maclaine....more
I quite enjoyed Andrew Morton's take on the life and career of Madonna. From her modest Italian-American upbringing, to her days as a dance major in AI quite enjoyed Andrew Morton's take on the life and career of Madonna. From her modest Italian-American upbringing, to her days as a dance major in Ann Arbor (who knew?), to her early days in New York (which sound like something out of "Rent"), the book's first half reads like a Horatio Alger success story. Once a recording contract and MTV come calling, her career trajectory is pure nostalgia for any kid of the '80s. You'll remember where you were when you first saw the video for "Lucky Star," first heard about (or saw) the MTV video music awards performance of "Like A Virgin," and recall the monstrosity of her marriage to Sean Penn. Most likely you didn't see her movies... I know I didn't... but her music will act as a soundtrack to her life and yours.
What's not to love? Although I am not a particular fan of Madonna (Ray of Light and Confessions of the Dance Floor are two exceptions), her career is certainly interesting. And, like any icon, her life is connected to your life. That is what makes these bios fun....more
This is the third Ann Hood book I've read, and her best. She is an evocative writer... even the agony of this story is lifted up by the poetic detailThis is the third Ann Hood book I've read, and her best. She is an evocative writer... even the agony of this story is lifted up by the poetic detail of her language. (This was true also of "Do Not Go Gentle" the memoir of her father's death.) She can make eating pasta and surviving wildfires sound like experiences you wish you were having. There is so much love in the author's life that you can't help but envy her even as she's going through horrible losses. I'm tempted to compare it to "The Year of Magical Thinking," but I think that's only because I liked both books so much. ...more