This was a thoroughly readable Franzen tale. My Great Expectations were somewhat diminished after coming across so many negative reviews but I think tThis was a thoroughly readable Franzen tale. My Great Expectations were somewhat diminished after coming across so many negative reviews but I think those stemmed from folks expecting another Novel of Grand Themes a la Freedom or The Corrections. And maybe Franzen set out to write another one of those books-but I think there's something more interesting to be found in artist's works that don't quite achieve their goals. There's almost a parallel novelette here to be made from Pip's story, and in fact I was kind of miffed whenever the narrative shifted away from her. Would it have been more successful without the Assange-esque Andreas Wolf? Yes perhaps. Or maybe I'm just fascinated with characters who seem to constantly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Wolf just seemed too perfect, too much of a Babe Magnet. So I suppose that's why JF had he and Pip spar and deflect. ...more
For the first 50-or-so pages I really felt this was one of Lethem's overwritten books. But I stuck with it. Turns out the trick was to get past the RoFor the first 50-or-so pages I really felt this was one of Lethem's overwritten books. But I stuck with it. Turns out the trick was to get past the Rose character and into the other lives and how they supported the book's depiction of American dissidence throughout the decades. When he let himself go and forgot he was trying to write "A Great Book" was when I could see the Lethem I know and love shine through. It's just that when he went back to telling me-over and over-how impressive and dominant and "Communist" Rose was that I lost interest. She didn't really come alive for me until the final passages, and that was mostly through how the other family members reacted to her.
So...recommended? Perhaps for die-hard Lethem fans. Like coming around to Frank's schmaltzy Reprise years or the Stones' Goats Head Soup. That's it: this was Lethem's Goats Head Soup. Wade through with trepidation. But man when he's on (as he is in the final passages) he is ON....more
Kim the writer, like Kim the key member of SY, has a voice like no other: stark, engaging, occasionally way too overthought and pretentious. But againKim the writer, like Kim the key member of SY, has a voice like no other: stark, engaging, occasionally way too overthought and pretentious. But again like her art, it's never boring. This tome reads like a good scrapbook. While I would have liked more detailed writing on the nitty gritty of what it was like recording these singular songs, I did appreciate how her tale rounds out and sheds light on some of the personal stories that shaped what she has become. And her descriptions of her brothers' schizophrenia really breathes life into both the Sister album and the photo of the two of them that adorns the inside cover of Confusion is Sex, one of those "rock and roll photos" that has haunted me ever since I laid eyes on it. If I were into these kinds of things, I would get the audiobook, as narrated by Kim herself....more
Voted down to one star, but here is my first review.
Two stars seems a little harsh for a book this innocuous. But I give it out of love for all that iVoted down to one star, but here is my first review.
Two stars seems a little harsh for a book this innocuous. But I give it out of love for all that is sacred in story writing. Didn't Cline ever learn about "show, don't tell"? While I can't deny the simple readability of the material, he writes like a slobbering fanboy who just discovered Asteroids and the oeuvre of Molly Ringwald. What frustrates me is that I want to like this so much more than I do. So here's the problem: if this is supposed to be so insider-baseball in the telling, why does he constantly explain his references to me? Like for instance there's what should be a really funny and clever bit about "Jousting" with an opponent and those in the know gear up for what is to come-the joke is good-but then he ruins it by explaining the video game Joust. He does this over and over. Characters are described by what other more interesting character they resemble from some 80s movie. Scenes are described as "surreal" (the most over used and lazy descriptor currently in the English language). Wade calls himself "painfully shy". Oh really? Next you're going to tell me it rained cats and dogs. I think I might like this better if I had read it on the way back from my first Comic Con but before I discovered Ray Bradbury at age 11.
I wonder if one of the reasons I have such a gut-harsh reaction to this book is that I recently completed a second reading of Infinite Jest that really brought home DFW's themes of addiction to me. What annoys me about Cline's writing and breathless, dumb belief in the greatness of all technological advances is the idea that all this time spent online and with our devices is somehow going to liberate us from racism, hunger, homophobia, you name it. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that he is showing us a dystopia (it sure seems that way from the few descriptions we get of the wasteland the protagonist lives in), but I feel like he wants it both ways. OASIS is so seductive and look-all my friends are there too! And yes, I want adventure in my life and I want to read adventure stories. But I have a feeling that things will wrap up a little too neat (granted I spoiled myself from just reading the very not neat IJ).
Addendum: this book was crap, and it started annoying me too much to finish. I so rarely leave books unfinished, but in this case I have no qualms. When you start describing a party's guests as "resembling something out of Neuromancer" I am so close to done. The true tipping point? The straw that broke the camel's back? You then go on to quote heavily from Rush's "2112" which reminds your dear reader how much awesomer it is to listen to Rush and not read your drivel. Funny, Cline must have been reading my mind because on one of the many occasions I couldn't get through his tired tome I proceeded to blast Rush's "Caress of Steel" in my headphones because at least that has: 1.Drama 2.Geddy Lee; and 3.Dynamics. Storytelling. Ebb and flow. A coherent thought. Original thought.
Look, I like trash. Brian DePalma is one of my favorite directors. But when you have to work for your enjoyment of trash, then it becomes a chore. I don't want to work for my simple kicks. I just want to have them. This is clearly beating a dead horse. Gave it up and went to trusty old Kurt Vonnegut....more