Is this the definitive feminist manifesto? No. I don't even think it's trying to be. Is it an entertaining read about one woman's journey toward feminIs this the definitive feminist manifesto? No. I don't even think it's trying to be. Is it an entertaining read about one woman's journey toward feminism? Yes.
The things I loved about this book were Moran's frank discussions into the "dark undersides" of being a lady. The things polite society demands we don't talk about. Or are afraid to talk about. You don't have to agree with everything she says—I certainly didn't agree with her assertion that women have not contributed much to the annals of history, science and culture—but a candid discussion into things such as periods, office sexism, the suppression of female sexuality, the decision to have or not have children, and abortion is refreshing and validating. I think in the haste to tear down and poke holes in Moran's arguments, Goodreads has essentially forgotten that sometimes it's nice to realize that "No, you are not hypersensitive or crazy. This bullshit really does happen."
Case in point:
During the course of reading this book over 3 days on my NYC subway commute, I had no less than 3 skeevy men sneer at me as they tried to surreptitiously read over my shoulder, and one tell me outright that it was a shame that a young lady read such inappropriate material in public. Another well-meaning lady told me we lived in a post-feminist society and that women were now too brazen to the extent that we had emasculated the modern male to little more than fairies. In none of these cases did I do anything to invite their unwanted commentary.
I've read books with more explicit sex scenes ("Gravity's Rainbow") or pervy 90-year-old men sleeping in beds with 14-year-old virgins ("Memories of My Melancholy Whores") and no one ever batted an eye. So why is it that I merely read a book titled "How To Be A Woman", does the entirety of NYC deem it necessary to comment on my reading habits? If that doesn't tell you that feminism is necessary, I don't know what will. ...more
Well, I think William Burroughs should have left the manuscript of his book Naked Lunch—which is also about junkies—rotting on his Tangiers motel roomWell, I think William Burroughs should have left the manuscript of his book Naked Lunch—which is also about junkies—rotting on his Tangiers motel room floor, but I can genuinely say I liked Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting.
I've never dabbled in hard drugs, I'm not Scottish and was born in the late '80s—so I couldn't really tell you whether this is an accurate depiction of what it's like to be craving the needle in Edinburgh when the AIDS epidemic was just beginning to take over the world. But once you get used to reading in Scottish English, Trainspotting is an interesting read.
Unlike Naked Lunch, Trainspotting has a discernable cast of well-developed characters. It's less of a junkie's diary and more of a look into drug addiction during a certain era. Mark Renton is the de facto protagonist, but the novel is actually a collection of short stories centering around a group of four friends. Along with Renton, you have the charismatic womanizer Sick Boy, the sociopath Begbie and the well-intentioned screw up Spud. I'm not sure you could say there's a plot other than the daily life of a junkie, but Welsh has painted a vivid picture of '80s Scotland and some of the fuck-ups who happened to have lived there.
No doubt, some more punk-minded people will get more out of this book than I did. I don't rankle at THE MAN oppressing my right to "experience life," nor do I long to blot out the pain of my inconsequential existence with hedonistic highs and petty crime. But those aren't requirements to liking this book. Trainspotting will definitely appeal to a certain type of person, but if you wouldn't normally pick up a book like this, it's worth giving a try. Think of it as slipping into someone else's life for a few hundred pages.
Seriously, the hardest bit about Trainspotting is the Scottish English and slang. It can be a bit much sometimes, but generally, it adds to the book's flavor. And if you can't get past it, well I guess there's always the movie. ...more
Well, when I started reading the Hitchhiker's Guide series, an acquaintance who had recently finished it said it had wholly underwhelmed her. Sure, thWell, when I started reading the Hitchhiker's Guide series, an acquaintance who had recently finished it said it had wholly underwhelmed her. Sure, the majority of the series is an exercise in pure whimsy, but I had enjoyed the first three books and thought her a bit off-base.
But in the fourth and fifth book of the series, I found my interest lagging and the end of Mostly Harmless caught me somewhat off guard. I sat there with the finished book in my hands, feeling rather put out.
I like and laughed numerous sections of the Hitchiker series—from cows convincing you to eat them, to the idea of a Perfectly Normal Beast sandwich and "the King" singing in an intergalactic bar with a gaudy pink spaceship.And I don't think I'll look at dolphins in quite the same way. Adams is a clever and witty writer who certainly knows how to turn a phrase.
But at the end of Mostly Harmless, I felt as if I hadn't really gotten much more than that. I think if I had read this when I was around 13-15, I would've loved this series a bit more than I did.
As is, I found the Mostly Harmless to be the weakest of the series and the first two books to be the strongest. Overall, it's an alright series with a few good laughs and an interesting take on life millions of lightyears from Earth.
Reading Saunders is a perfect example of how a writer's voice can make or break a piece. "The Braindead Megaphone" is funny, outspoken and one of thosReading Saunders is a perfect example of how a writer's voice can make or break a piece. "The Braindead Megaphone" is funny, outspoken and one of those very rare books that's both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. Saunders has a distinct way of drawing you in with his easy-going voice, and relatability. For many of his pieces featured in the book, it feels like having a long conversation with a good friend on topics ranging from the immigration debate, the decadent hotels of Dubai or a literary debate on the merits of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn."
It's Saunders' unique voice, and I'd argue excellent story-telling skills, that makes his longer pieces such a joy to read. For me, the standout pieces of the book just happened to be the longest, and seemed to send Saunders off to far corners of the earth just so he could tell us what these exotic, far off places are like. He has an astute eye for observation, which makes reading a 42 page essay on America's illegal immigrant problem a genuine "can't-put-your-book-down" experience. That said, the hands-down best pieces of the book were: "The New Mecca," "The Great Divider," and "Buddha Boy."
The reason why this book gets 3 stars instead of 4, however, is that I feel the structure of the book as a whole is a bit lacking. Normally, I'd be care a little less about that sort of thing as its a collection of essays--there's just one niggling detail. In the titular essay, Saunders sets out with an obvious agenda to "take back" the reigns from the terrorist-hating, fear-mongering pundits of the post-9/11 era. In fact, you could say that most of these essays hew towards a particular theme of trying to get the reader to think outside the box, to question the status quo and to think in a new light. Does Saunders always succeed? In short, no. I found some essays a bit preachy and clearly advocating a strong liberal bias, which in my opinion, ironically puts the megaphone in Saunders hands. The most grievous offender was the book's closing essay, "Manifesto: A Press Release from PRKA." Written as a quasi-"call to arms," it read as far too preachy and left me wishing for a better ending to what was generally a wonderful collection of essays (Or perhaps that's a huge meta joke, based off of his discussion of Huck Finn's widely panned, deus ex machina ending).
He also has quite a few essays on the nature of literature and writing itself, and its evident to see how his interpretation of good literature and writing has shaped Saunders into the talented writer he is today. Some were more satire and experimental--with varying degrees of success. I enjoyed "Woof: A Plea of Sorts" but thought "A Brief Study of the British" went on for longer than it needed. Still its refreshing to see more experimental work.
Overall, "The Braindead Megaphone" Is edutainment at its finest. ...more
Nick Hornby is one of those writers who I think would be fun to go get a few drinks with and listen to his observations on human nature. "A Long Way DNick Hornby is one of those writers who I think would be fun to go get a few drinks with and listen to his observations on human nature. "A Long Way Down" tells the story of four people who meet on the roof of a popular suicide-spot on New Year's Eve on their way to kill themselves. As the night wears down, the four share their reasons for wanting to end their lives and end up haphazardly figuring out what to do now that they've failed to do so.
The story is told through alternating perspectives of the four would-be jumpers: JJ, a washed up American rocker, Maureen, who spends each day watching over her comatose son, Martin, a scandal ridden B-list celebrity, and Jess, an unstable teenager dealing with her older sister's disappearance. Hornby has clearly spent a good deal of time thinking up these characters, and what drives them to contemplate suicide. However, compared to his protagonists in "HIgh Fidelity" and "About A Boy", none of the characters in "A Long Way Down" really evolves into anything other than an avatar for the circumstances for their suicidal thoughts. Similarly, it's clear that Hornby while Hornby is fairly comfortable writing JJ and Martin, he seems to have difficulty really bringing Jess and Maureen to life. Too often, Maureen and Jess come off as flat, one-note characters capable of feeling only one emotion; Where Maureen is perpetually depressed, Jess is just simply crazy.
Still, Hornby must be commended for attempting to take a lighter look at suicide in a meaningful way. As each character takes time to reflect on their reasons for living, Hornby draws some interesting and poignant observations about what causes ordinary people to contemplate ending their lives. Unfortunately, that's what also prevents "A Long Way Down" from really resonating; it's as if the novel is one, long, essay about Hornby's beliefs regarding suicide. The plot is also rather asinine, and it becomes clear that the group's hijinks are merely there to keep the book from getting too heavy. Furthermore, the ending is a little too neatly wrapped up, with each character coming to some sort of epiphany about their reason to live.
That's not to say "A Long Way Down" wasn't an enjoyable read; It was. If anything, "A Long Way Down" is a nice bit of entertaining fluff with a some chunks of substance thrown in here and there. Hornby has some really interesting observations about suicide...I'm just not sure it worked so well in this format. All in all, for Hornby newcomers I would probably recommend "High Fidelity" or "About A Boy" over this one; but for Hornby fans, you could do much worse. ...more