This book is only about as necessary as oxygen to political science grad students. The United States would not resemble what it is at all if not for tThis book is only about as necessary as oxygen to political science grad students. The United States would not resemble what it is at all if not for this book. The 17th century English was rough going the first time, but four times later, it seems like second nature....more
This is an amazing look into Apartheid South Africa through the autobiography of a black boy growing up there. He learned to play tennis as his way ouThis is an amazing look into Apartheid South Africa through the autobiography of a black boy growing up there. He learned to play tennis as his way out....more
This is both a 5-star and a 3-star book in my mind, so I guess I'll call it a 4, even though that's not really what I mean.
I wish I had first read itThis is both a 5-star and a 3-star book in my mind, so I guess I'll call it a 4, even though that's not really what I mean.
I wish I had first read it when everyone else did--around the age of 16 or 17: before years of studying political theory and political history and US history and world history, before being deeply immersed in union and civil rights struggles. I wonder just what innocent horror I would have felt, and how I would have argued in class that this *could* happen in our world if we're not careful, but privately believing that it never would because we're too smart to let it happen, too savvy of political consumers with our democracy and our education. Instead, reading it at age 32 after all of those experiences, I came to the story with such a cynical understanding that some of these things do happen, have happened, and such an immersion in the real danger of these possibilities that I wasn't nearly as blown away as I wished I had been. I'm sure that at 16 I would have maintained a hope right up until the final page that Winston was going to win. Even if the story didn't end with the overthrow of Big Brother, it would end with a hint of its pending doom because I believed that no horror can outlast our ability to tell its story. But Old Cynical Heidi knew what was coming, knew how it was going to end, and knew how much more appropriate an ending it would be.
But I still believe that some time in the future--probably the distant future, it's true--but at some point Big Brother got its comeuppance and the people were freed. They would descend into chaos and fight other wars and debase their humanity in new ways, but they would be fighting with free minds for their own futures, and that's a step up. I guess I have a shred of innocence left after all. ...more
3.5 stars, more precisely. Oh, hell, let's go crazy. 3.75.
Since it seemed that everyone knew the story of "The Lottery," I wondered if I had read it3.5 stars, more precisely. Oh, hell, let's go crazy. 3.75.
Since it seemed that everyone knew the story of "The Lottery," I wondered if I had read it in high school too and forgotten it. I hadn't. So I spent the entire book in anticipation of this really creepy story waiting for me at the end. "The Lottery," in this post-Hunger Games world of ours, did not creep me out or horrify me in the way that everyone seemed to have expected. But I presume that I now know where Suzanne Collins got her nascent idea for a story. Personally, I found "The Tooth" and the strange character of Jim who followed the ailing woman and appeared out of nowhere at frequent intervals far more unsettling than the entrenched and unquestioned societal more of stoning a random community member for the sake of tradition.
I disliked the story of "Elizabeth," the failing publisher, the most. It seemed to drag on forever. I enjoyed the unsettled feelings of "Like Mother Used to Make" and "Charles" the most. I appreciated the bounces back and forth between city dwellers and small town folk, some appreciative of their surroundings and others disgruntled, following the sorts of vague fears and social dilemmas that occur in various social spaces.
I read in the introduction that the book was nearly subtitled The Adventures of James Harris, so I appreciated the knowledge that the repetition of that and other names among the stories was quite intentional, but I'm looking forward to a discussion about what his repetition signifies (apart from the obvious nefariousness he is often up to)....more