Sometimes I'm surprised by what I find in my own little library. I've tried to make a list of everything I own, (goodreads has helped with that endeav...moreSometimes I'm surprised by what I find in my own little library. I've tried to make a list of everything I own, (goodreads has helped with that endeavor) but I have so far failed at being complete. The Last of the Savages is one of those curious books, I found it the other week. I don't remember buying it, nor why, but the sticker on the back revealed that I had bought it used at a Long's Drug store. Not my typical place to purchase books, so another surprise. Perhaps I picked it up because it was something outside of the more commonly found romance or crime thriller book. In any case I am glad I did, and that I gave the book a chance.
This may be the best written book I've read all year. There's subtly, surprise and not a lot of gimmick. It's a book that you read and think this writer is someone who will be remembered. But honestly I haven't heard of Jay McInerney before, and now feel like I had missed him somehow. I will definitely look for more of his books.
The book is about male friendship, two young boys meet at a prep school. One aspires to rise above his roots and wishes he had the background of his roommate Will Savage, who is from an established Southern family who wants to not just shake things, up but to tear it apart. These two are opposites and yet they remain friends through three decades, the 60's through the 80's. History is weaved well into the story and the switching of time from present to remembrances is well done. A lot goes on in the book, and the way it is told could easily have been confusing or gone awry, but McInerery is someone who knows the craft of writing and tells a good tale. (less)
Short book, mainly literary criticism, focused on Thoreau's approach to the Indian, at a time when extermination was more or less the approach. To say...moreShort book, mainly literary criticism, focused on Thoreau's approach to the Indian, at a time when extermination was more or less the approach. To say Thoreau viewed the natives differently would be an understatement. He viewed them as nature and wondered why their poetry or art was ignored. (less)
This appears to be another classic book that I really didn't like too much. Perhaps it's me, today, and the me in my early 20's might have enjoyed the...moreThis appears to be another classic book that I really didn't like too much. Perhaps it's me, today, and the me in my early 20's might have enjoyed the book more. Hard to say, but it just didn't appeal to me. I didn't find a lot of philosophizing in this book like I thought it was about; which really was a general impression I had without actually reading reviews. Instead I found a lot of going back and forth across the country, mainly driving without sleeping, drinking all hours and other silly craziness, whew yeah. I found the approach to women reproachable and the craziness of Dean Moriarty annoying instead of entertaining or interesting. With a title On the Road you'd expect it to be about traveling and likely hitchhiking, but the reckless driving with other people's cars entrusted to them, and stealing cars, well that I just couldn't dig. I'm actually disappointed in the book. I had higher expectations than was delivered.(less)
I had some interest in the motorcycle riders, as I used to ride a scooter, and was in two clubs. But I was young and we were innocents, comparatively....moreI had some interest in the motorcycle riders, as I used to ride a scooter, and was in two clubs. But I was young and we were innocents, comparatively. While they have strict rules such as the order of riders on a bike ride, or run, we were mostly unencumbered by such rules. They want to be free but are restrictive in their actions, everything must be approved by the higher ups in the organization. Their business was mainly illegal, while most of us still lived at home with our parents, although I didn’t; I had a job, went to school, lived a fairly “normal” life.
To quote: “Their individuality is confined by a rigid conformity, ride the same brand of bike, wear the same clothes, abide the same rules. The irony is the lifestyle and appearance is clearly set up in opposition to us who live straight lives, but they are hardly distinguishable from one another.”
I found some resonance with this, with my past, the scooter days. We rode Vespas or Lambrettas only, wore similar clothing, listened to certain music, but we liked to think how individual we were. Perhaps in a group of kids our age one of us would stand out, yes, I know I did look different, but collectively we looked quite similar. When we grouped together for rides en masse it might have been hard to distinguish one kid from another. That’s about where the comparisons end. Now I know how much more freedom we really had when put side by side to these life-long bikers.
Gang activity was not what I nor my friends were into, but the ATF undercover (the primary author) was searching for that, and during his investigation got carried away where all he wanted was to become a bonafide Hells Angel himself. Of course it would have been not quite true, as he was undercover and his cover was being an illegal gun dealer, and debt collector which was false, and the killing that would get him his “cut” or patch was faked as well. The more I got into the story the more I saw how very different my experience with scooters were compared to these motorcycle guys. We had a few occasions to be harassed by cops and mostly laughed about it, although it could be annoying at times, particularly when interrupting an organized ride. Learning about this story I have a new appreciation of what a biker gang looked like on the other side. The book was interesting, not told in the best manner, still decent enough. The undercover ATF Dobyns acknowledges his story would have not been as it was without the co-author, but it still could have been told better. Despite that it was fascinating and I learned more about hard-core riders. (less)
I skimmed this book, did not read it very thoroughly but need go through nearly every page. The reason being is the book would make my blood pressure...moreI skimmed this book, did not read it very thoroughly but need go through nearly every page. The reason being is the book would make my blood pressure rise too much if I read it deeply. It's a good book, but I get quite angry hearing about companies that are so calculating, misleading and obscure important information, all in order to improve profits. People's health should not be disregarded so callously for a better bottom line.
The book is a very important book, extremely well researched and noted. The author knows what he writes. It's also a scary book, because of the truth, exposing the history of what has happened. The book tells us how science, and what sounds like science, is used to manipulate in order to avoid doing what’s right, and ultimately hurting or killing people. We see this happen time and time again.
It opens with the warning label we now have on aspirin bottle about Reyes Syndrome. Sadly many children, too many children, had to die before the label was adopted. While the drug manufacturers were debating and denying their product was the cause, more children died. The entire book is like this, sad tales where people are in harm’s way but the organizations deny the harm their product does. And why, well, we know, to ensure their balance sheets look healthy.
There are many cases of worker's health clearly being damaged, one example covered is about the butter on popcorn in a factory that was causing lung issues for the workers, and yet the company does nothing, then denies it until it is irrefutable. Until more workers become sick. The book covers, Big Tobacco, which seems easy to pick on, as well as some chemical companies. There is also a chapter on why children's IQ has gone up about 20 points recently, because finally lead has been taken out of paint and other products.
The book discusses how people demand healthy living, and we see public outcries after specific events or when a book is published, such as Silent Spring but there is a lot of push back. Companies manipulate OSHA, FDA, and other oversight regulatory agencies, who typically do not get enough funding from congress. (It isn’t in the book but money from companies or industries contributing to campaign funds and messing with the political process certainly has an effect.) Then when cases do go before the courts, poor rulings are made, often due to the manipulation continuing to go on by the companies. It is truly sad how data is used to show inconclusive results when it is clear there are health ramifications.
The book is not entirely negative, and I may go back and read the last two chapters in depth. These two are positives, how to improve the system titled: Four Ways to Make the Courts Count & Sarbanes-Oaxley for Science: A dozen ways to improve our regulatory system.
Another chapter I probably should also read more thoroughly is about how drug companies in developing their pills manipulate their data. And there are many ways they can do this, but in the end it's all about getting approval quickly even before really knowing how safe the drug may be. After gaining FDA approval if it proves to have problems, they can pull it back, but that is also difficult with more stalling on the part of the drug manufacture.
This is a vital book. I hope people will read it. It's not easy. I couldn't do it. But I'm happy it's out there, it is a necessary book that hopefully will help to change things like The Jungle and Silent Spring did. We can do better.
What was so great about The Great Gatsby? I didn’t really like this novel very much. I kept saying to myself – bleh or ugh. The follies of the rich, o...moreWhat was so great about The Great Gatsby? I didn’t really like this novel very much. I kept saying to myself – bleh or ugh. The follies of the rich, or the mystery of how they got so rich, wasn’t very interesting to me. The racism that went unquestioned was annoying, at least it rarely came up, but did not like that at all. This was written about 90 years ago now, and perhaps is a novel of its time, which is why I don’t get it. But I’ve read dated works before, classics and have enjoyed them thoroughly. Perhaps it is just my mind set of today, I’m not sure. I felt like I could have done without reading the book. This has sat on my bookshelf for a very long time, too long really. It had been recommended to me several times, perhaps back when I first heard of the book my mindset was that I’d have enjoyed it more, but then again, I didn’t read it then either. (less)
I kept thinking that Mr. Emerson’s wife, Lydia or Lidian, held herself back. She tended to the household duties much too readily. I truly did not unde...moreI kept thinking that Mr. Emerson’s wife, Lydia or Lidian, held herself back. She tended to the household duties much too readily. I truly did not understand her motivations for what she did (not following her own intellectual pursuits) and how she would pick fights with her husband, and not really attempting a rational talk with him at any point. I know I'm a "modern" women now speaking about an era past, but she was a strong woman. The book kept close to facts as I know, but of course this was largely imaginary. Given that Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau are known as great writers, the woman within that triangle is an interesting plot. The book was good, and fairly well written, but frustrating as well. (less)
An interesting book. A great book. Too bad all books aren’t so well written; then again if they were I’d get even less stuff done. This Steinbeck book...moreAn interesting book. A great book. Too bad all books aren’t so well written; then again if they were I’d get even less stuff done. This Steinbeck book is fairly focused on one main character, although there were a few moments when Ethan Allen Hawley was not the point-of-view. The book is during Ethan’s transformation, perhaps brought on by Mrs. Margie Young-Hunt and her tarot cards and influence. Or brought on by other means? Ethan always plays it straight, or really not, as he jokes around quite frequently, especially with his dear wife Mary. The word silly is used generously throughout.
Some surprising moments contained philosophizing and commentary on society….. as East of Eden was a tale about good and evil, this one is a tale of morality, about cheating. Is it okay if everyone does it? (less)
Set in modern day, farm country, near Wyoming. Cody is the main character. His half-brother, Arthur, and half-sister, Kya, all had different mothers....moreSet in modern day, farm country, near Wyoming. Cody is the main character. His half-brother, Arthur, and half-sister, Kya, all had different mothers. Their father just died and left the farm in all three names, in order for them to get along.
Cody works hard, drinks a lot, and is quiet and moody. Arthur is a businessman, almost snobbish. They hate each other. Kya is wild, has sex with many men, most married. She is almost a mediator between them. Cody falls in love with an older woman, Latta. Of course it wasn't simple, they part, Latta thinking Cody stole her prized horse and walked out, which wasn’t true.
Native Americans play a prominent role in this story, Kya and Latta are half natives, as well as Cody's friend being full, and so racism towards natives is addressed.
The viewpoint shifted quite often, sometimes even in the same paragraph. Occasionally it was a smooth shift, other times jarring. The prose is sometimes quite beautiful, although in the beginning it was difficult to get involved in reading. The writing felt forced too often.
There are many layers in the book; Family, love, roles of men and women, religion. Overall it is a good book. Definitely worth reading about these strange people in the sand hills.