The title of this book would lead a reader (this reader, anyway) to believe the focus to be the Achaemenid Empire and it's leading men, Cyrus, Darius,...moreThe title of this book would lead a reader (this reader, anyway) to believe the focus to be the Achaemenid Empire and it's leading men, Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes, leading up to and through the clash between Persia and Greece. That assertion is an error of scope, as Holland looks not only at the rise of Persia, but that of all the major players (e.g., Persia, Sparta, Athens, etc.) in characteristic thrifty but efficient detail, which was much more than I expected--so much the better.
Persian Fire corroborated much of the information about the Achaemenid Empire Gore Vidal provided in Creation. This duplication, coupled with the abundance of sources (though largely 20th century), seems an indication that the information is well established, it's simply overlooked as part of a grade school education of the period. Notably, the most prominent Greeks as fractious, greedy, and overconfident; not that that isn't characteristic of most peoples, only that it contrasts with the cursory lay education most receive on the topic. The bulk of Greek history consists of Spartans Strong (like USA!); Athenians Philosophical (like founding fathers!); Doric, Ionian, and Corinthian columns; the Parthenon (made of columns!); Zeus; the like, et al.
The most enjoyable aspect of an education is when an important historical event one has accepted (suspected, perhaps, but never had the sense or resources to investigate), has in truth been falsely represented or unduly oversimplified, and is at last exposed as a fallacy.
My favorite example of a shattered illusion is the unprecedented beginning of the West's cherished Democracy and the halcyon Greek period that bore it. In Holland's work, Democracy is presented less as a philosophical belief that the common man should have some say in the form of their government rather than the aristocracy, or that positions of authority ought not be exclusive to inheritance, all of which arose as a consequence of Greek philosophers gathering to determine the most equitable method of rule. Instead, it came about as a means for one aristocratic family to wrest power away from another at the cost of the inability for anyone to maintain absolute power. It was a brilliant and elaborate stroke, but invariably one brought about by, as Holland implies, the spite of an out-of-favor aristocratic family.
Naturally, the citizens of Athens enthusiastically supported the proposal that they would be allowed to help decide the rules of their society, they rebelled in the streets when Cleisthenes, who gave the power to vote on laws to the people, was chased from the city by a "tyrant" (a form of monarch, though rarely of the disposition that lends to the modern definition of tyranny), who in turn found themselves faced with the power of the mob.
Similar anecdotes are strung through Holland's works, creating a tapestry of interwoven events from which he often extrapolates the thoughts, feelings, and ambitions of the characters in these histories. It is a style that may seem somewhat dishonest without supporting text, and is probably the point where he takes the greatest creative license, but at the same time makes the historical figures more than empty-eyed marble busts or rigid profiles on coins, is extremely engaging, and makes sense in the context provided.
I believe Holland is in the same league as Pulitzer Prize Winner David McCullough in terms of narrative skill, with an ability to draw a reader into a historical period through the details they choose to include and elaborate upon. The difference between the two, thus far, is McCullough (an American author) tends to focus on American (i.e., USA) history, while Holland (an English author) spends his time on ancient civilizations.
Holland began his his writing career as an author of supernatural fiction. He has since turned his English acumen toward bringing history to vibrant life, and he's clearly made the right move for his career, and, more importantly, my enlightenment.
I still have two more Holland historical works to read, but I'm enthused by the prospect that, according to his current pace of publication, we should be getting a new Holland work in the next year. I look forward to continuing the process of adulthood re-education.(less)
This early work by Thompson is cynically compelling for reasons I have a difficult time quantifying. I'm not a fan of alcoholism or unredeeming gloomi...moreThis early work by Thompson is cynically compelling for reasons I have a difficult time quantifying. I'm not a fan of alcoholism or unredeeming gloominess, but these are two of the driving forces behind the story. There are hints of Thompson's burgeoning wit and unconventional prose, but what is most fascinating are the varying degrees of "suckfish" employed by a low-grade Puerto Rican newspaper where the main character, Paul Kemp, finds himself employed. Kemp, a journalist in his early 30s, winds up in San Juan, a low spot on the surface of the world where all the dregs have pooled, trying to keep a job and enjoy himself in the process, while coming to grips with the fact that his best days of drinking and philandering are not only behind him, but that they may have been altogether wasted.
In Paul Kemp's world, everyone is trying to use everyone else to get ahead, resulting in tenuous friendships that Kemp often finds repulsive, with no alternative but isolation and loneliness, not to mention fewer job opportunities.
The majority of non-native people with whom Kemp associates have personalities with their cravenness diametrically opposed to their sense of self loathing. The worse or seedier a character, the less that character cares about how others perceive them--they become dulled to it. As the book progresses Kemp fears he too has regressed in a similar fashion over the course of his journalistic career, imagining himself to have compiled a wealth of useful experiences, only now seeing himself for what he was in the face of blatant mediocrity, arrogance, righteousness, and hedonism.
Most characters consider themselves transients, in truth, such as Kemp, who has had several jobs in Europe, or, as in Sala's case, because it's the only way they can maintain any hope of detaching themselves from a despicable San Juan culture to which they have become acclimated. Those that don't are those who have succumbed completely to their environment and base nature, such as the infamously drunken and filthy scandanavian, Moberg, who has contacts in all the dirty circles of the Puerto Rican underbelly.
The natives are never represented in great detail, or as much more than an entity seeking to take advantage of the non-natives, and are in some ways just as loathsome as the people trying to wring money from the tropical environment. They are depicted as nearly subhuman, utterly self-interested, and band together against the parasitic newcomers eager to profit from the exploitation of their islands.
Thompson's possibly semi-autobiographical work is aptly named. Rum and other forms of alcohol are consumed to the brink of bingeing, often playing a part in or the endcap for several conflicts within the story, as well as filling in all parts between.
One never expects a happy ending to The Rum Diary. It's much too bleak and bitter, with Rum and other forms of drink saturating the happy moments and drowning the poor ones, the medium in which the whole story is suspended. Instead, one can only hope for an escape.(less)
The world of the 21st century has come and gone by way of cosmic cataclysm, but unlike the dinosaurs and other victims of global extinction events, hu...moreThe world of the 21st century has come and gone by way of cosmic cataclysm, but unlike the dinosaurs and other victims of global extinction events, humanity managed to survive and reorganize into a functional society a millennia later. Not without help, though, as some suppose the supernatural or extraterrestrial may have had a hand in developing the utopic post-apocalyptic world. The 31st-century editor, however, strongly doubts the veracity of these claims (view spoiler)[, but as I've recently discovered, there's more truth to these claims than I'd been led to believe (hide spoiler)].
Rendering of 31st-century apostle
This story has a fascinating premise with a marvelous setup describing the power and functionality of myth and an editor that acknowledges the seeds of truth from which myth can spring, while resisting belief in the more obnoxious supernatural fallacies that make something truly mythical.
The framework for this compilation of myths is extremely convincing. The editor's voice is spot on, both dubious of the myths he has assembled while acknowledging they must have come from somewhere, and the quotations selected by author Matteson are well chosen and display topical erudition that lends credence to the expectation that the tales will be well-formed.
I am sadly not well versed enough in Nordic mythology and that of northern Europe to identify the many references to the Poetic and Prose Eddas found in the chapter titles, or Nordic myths found elsewhere, as there surely are. Those familiar with them are likely to take more from these stories, see the connections and implications they make, and better appreciate them.
With that in mind, the foreignness of the work appealed to me--a direct consequence of my ignorance. All around me droplets of information fell, and every so often I recognized the notes they struck upon the ground. A wealth of references to worldwide theologies abounded, and every once in a while I was able to tie something I recognized to something I did not, which gave me the impression that comprehension was only a few inches out of my grasp. This in itself was a good reason to continue on.
In some myths there are tradeoffs, however. Strictly observational myths filled with symbolism tend to suffer with me, largely because the symbolism is often too obscure for me to understand, and reading through them is akin to driving down a road littered with stop signs. This isn't all bad, and it certainly isn't the worst. If there were a primer for this book, or if someone did a nice study of it, reading such a book in conjunction would certainly be helpful. As I've stated in other reviews, however, this isn't necessarily the fault of the author, but my fault for lacking the expansive knowledge necessary to draw from required for full comprehension. This becomes apparent very early on when the self-denoted "Flying Man" states the following:
I am the shaman of initiation You are the initiates of Lascaux I am the yogi of sindhu You are the brahmacharibhava-pratyaya I am the bodhisattva Quan Yin I am Tara, Yemara, Chenrezig of one thousand compassionate arms You are the sentient beings, the inner anima and the animus I am Hermes, I am Thoth Passing from the chthonic carrying the caduceus I am the flying man You are the water pigs You are the fetish rodent and the genius of the snake You are the wild duck, the impetuous swan You have come to rest under the juniper tree to drink the galbuli to shade under its whorls to be healed with its oils to build with its red cedar woods You have come to rest under the juniper tree I will feed you and send you forth I will send you to Horeb to hear the wind, to feel, to shake as the rocks, to hide yourself from the fearsome fire. I will send you to the wilderness. I will I will I will I am the Flying Man.
Here we have an amalgamation of references from Buddhist, Greek, Egyptian, Christian, Judaism, and other theologies I likely was not able to identify, as well as locations, psychological archetypes, etc., all essentially stating "I am a messenger from the Gods, a teacher, and an artisan; you are the clay." After picking through this dense knotting, it seems fairly clear Flying Man is a direct reference to Hermes. Without an understanding of any of these references, it's gibberish. Add a rhyme scheme to it and you have something straight out of Alice in Wonderland (minus the mathematical undertones). Add a cause to it and you might end up with a book by Ted Geisel. In a metafictional sense, Matteson could not have chosen a truer opening quote with: "In a senseless world, a myth makes sense of nonsense." Knowledge tends to dispel myth with sense, but knowledge of myths is helpful in making sense of this long stream of information.
I am by no means a critic of cryptic gibberish. When I can pull off a bit of nonsense in my own work that, in the proper context or with a second read, makes sense, I feel gratified by a fleeting sense of genius. In short, Matteson knows his stuff and it would be helpful if you knew it, too.
For me, the lone drawback was not the layers upon layers of information, nor the myths themselves, but perhaps the execution of them and the description of the characters within them. Where the editor's remarks were sharp and professional, the myths in the telling were not as crisp and tended to provide information rather than let it flow along with the plot. The characters were oddly functionally observational at times, making leaps of cognition in their dialogue that turned them into narrators rather than participants in a story, and coming across as strangely detached from events taking place around them that were at times so surreal and bizarre they would have terrified any normal person.
This might be a pithy complaint considering the greater volume of myth is conveyed in extremely tedious detail designed to move the story forward, but as a matter of preference a character more fully engaged in their world is more compelling. For example, you might tell me Bruno is seven feet tall and likes to eat cheese, but this paints a dispassionate picture of Bruno--he is a block of wood. Or you could describe Bruno hunching through a doorway, one hand pressing a block of cheese into his mouth while the other fished eagerly through a pocket in search of more.
Fussing aside, this is a story I liked. I might have liked it more had the characters been more real to me, but making the story more character driven would probably deemphasize the mythmaking, which was the best part of the story. As a fan of history and myth, this book is plenty good.
I would undoubtedly benefit from a second read, and possibly a third, to understand the content more fully. While I haven't re-read a book in a long, long time, I have a file set aside in my mind that I will revisit with any new knowledge and hold it up to the kaleidoscope of my brain to see what the book looks like through each new facet. In terms of ambition alone, this story easily warrants a five-star rating.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
From the Beginning to The Gunslinger and the Man in Black
This review could easily bump up to 5 stars once I understand the full story, but to reach t...more
From the Beginning to The Gunslinger and the Man in Black
This review could easily bump up to 5 stars once I understand the full story, but to reach that point would require a massive undertaking--seven more novels follow this one. King is, in my mind, not a writer who creates the kind of book one can digest in just a few days. Granted, I've never read anything else by King, but I've seen his works bending the shelves at bookstores and libraries with their bulk. This work, too, by King's own admission, is essentially a chapter in a massive magnum opus that stretches over several books, making it considerably longer than anything else he's written, which is saying something.
Based on this book alone, I'd have to say that King is pretty good at spinning an ominous yarn, withholding information to compel the reader to continue, maintaining tension (even if it's the sort that makes me uncomfortable), and convincing enough with turn of phrase. I liked the story and it made for a fast read, despite some curious techniques that would make Andy Farmer proud. On more than one occasion we are presented with a flashback inside a flashback, and at least once we're given a flashback inside a memory inside a flashback.
Still, despite these acrobatics, I never lost the thread of the story. All due credit to King for pulling it off.
There's also the plot of the story itself: Roland, the last Gunslinger, searching for the Tower. Do I know what the tower is? No. Do I know why he's looking for it? No. Do I know where he is? No. Do I know what happened to all the other gunslingers? No. The better part of the story is like this: posing questions that are not answered. Yet.
Throughout the work King drops crumbs indicating the world might be a future version of our own, an afterlife, or some surreal composition of those who occupy it. It's impossible (for me, anyway) to guess what all this portends any better than reading the first volume of an encyclopedia would tell me what is in the last. These tidbits are tantalizing and frustrating in their isolation. Without reading further they appear arbitrary and without meaning. One is left with the hope that the author knows that meaning and will eventually explain. With a writer as lauded and successful as King, I have to believe that is the case here.
However, having so many times in the recent past been led upon a meandering and complex path in the hope of reaching some profound revelation, I've been disappointed that the purpose of so many wrinkles is to engage the reader/viewer brain, and the ultimate effort to tie these threads into a satisfying cord instead disintegrates into a half-baked conclusion that exposes the story as little more than disparate permutations meant to capture people's desire to find patterns where they ultimately, and disappointingly, do not exist.
Still trying to figure this one out. The Last Supper? Why? Also, Baltar and 6 are... what? Ignorant?
In the end, in spite of so much, I enjoyed this book. I'm not about to rush out and buy part II of CXV, but I can acknowledge this sets up some framework around which I can envision King putting up walls and ending up with a serviceable house. To be perfectly honest, he gets half his stars based upon potential alone.
Perhaps in some far off future I will finish this voluminous series and have a fuller understanding of what King intended for it. At that time I will fill in any missing stars, should I deem it worthy.
On the other hand, maybe King went this route. In which case I'll take all of the stars, crumble them into dust, and blow them in his eyes. It's the least I can do for wasting so much of my time.
Post the Final Chapter: The Gunslinger and the Man in Black
There's also the plot of the story itself: Roland the last Gunslinger, searching for the Tower. Do I know what the tower is? Sort of. Do I know why he's looking for it? No. Do I know where he is? Maybe. Do I know what happened to all the other gunslingers? No. The better part of the story is like this: posing questions that are not answered. Yet.(less)
Breezy and brisk, Tom Holland tells the story of the early Roman Republic and the counterintuitive yet inevitable transition to a monarchy in a style...moreBreezy and brisk, Tom Holland tells the story of the early Roman Republic and the counterintuitive yet inevitable transition to a monarchy in a style that is very easy to read. The Roman Republic was founded upon an abhorrence of kings, making the presumption that Rome was destined to be ruled by emperors somewhat hard to swallow. Holland, however, makes the case for Roman personal ambition and competetiveness as major motivators for kingship, and also highlights a variety of additional interesting oxymorons built into Roman dogma.
The speed with which the reader is whooshed through the narrative makes one worry how thorough a history can be without being stodgy and meticulous. Carthage, the Punic Wars, and Hannibal receive perhaps two pages. One gets the impression as they read this book that they are zipping through an art museum on a roller coaster.
Gladly, the details Holland chooses are chosen very well, which makes his accelerated style very functional. They are concise and illuminating and well crafted, and they make it possible to describe the Carthaginian wars effectively.
The Roman attitude is the primary theme, with all its perks and pitfalls. For example, Romans regarded their city with pride and arrogance, yet Holland (and others) compare it unfavorably to other cities of its day in terms of layout, consistency, and architectural beauty. The anathema of long-term despotic rule does have its advantages, as Holland indicates, allowing long-term architectural projects and metropolitan organization, compared to 1-year consular rule that prevented extensive plans of action, resulting in a Rome that was, in short, a haphazard dump in which it was easy to get lost. Romans likewise cherished the illusion of public opinion swaying the direction of their city and nation, when in truth the ruling class held sway more and more as years passed, as the Republic gradually metamorphosed into a plutocracy.
Because this period of Roman history has been covered to great extent, it's difficult to question the veracity of historical fact Holland presents--he offers up seven pages of source material in defense of his writings. Holland has degrees in English and Latin, not history, and may take a bit of creative license with the figures in his book, but he doesn't spend much time on anyone without a significant amount of contemporary writing done about them, and it's easy to infer what sort of men Julius and Augustus Caesar, Pompey, Sulla, Cicero, and others were through their actions, and because they constantly wrote about themselves or had someone else do it for them (though they may have elaborated somewhat upon their histories--it's plausible that Julius Caesar was not, in fact, a god). While the opinions and feelings he projects upon the characters may or may not be true, the circumstances certainly were, and Holland uses his Roman Thesis to calculate them appropriately.
In the end, Holland covers ground similar to that which Plutarch covers with the latter, Roman portion of his Lives, but with more energy and a great deal of circumspection about the nature of Roman society, with the aforementioned disdain for an inevitable monarchy at the forefront, and how successive personalities laid the path for Emperors.
Picking up right where they left off, though a bit more famous as a consequence of their exploits in the previous novel, are...moreThe Cloud brothers return!
Picking up right where they left off, though a bit more famous as a consequence of their exploits in the previous novel, are brothers Trevor and Russell Cloud, as well as helper-bot AidMe and the ubiquitous and fascinating Everything Machine, the Cloud.
I won't spill the beans about the plot, which you can read in the book summary, or too much about the writing itself, which you can read about in my review of the first work, Gathering Clouds. I will tell you, however, why Pink Water is a wholly good read.
Part of the goodness of Pink Water, though not the primary goodness, is its thriftness. Clocking in at 175 epages, the story is lickety split fast. Imagine yourself making the Scooby-doo skeddadle noise as you read through it. As a story targeted at Young Adults or Older Adults with no time on their hands (i.e., me), this is pretty much the perfect length. Time enough to squeeze in before one sees-something-shiny/goes-back-to-work. There isn't much down time in this story, partly because of its brevity there isn't time for it. The plot zooms.
The stakes are no less high in this work than they were in the last, either. Frankly, at the height of the climax in the first work, I didn't see any way for Trevor and Russell to recover from their incident in deep space. Fortunately for them, author Field and the Cloud brothers have more imagination, intellect, and vigor than I do. Nothing has changed in the sequel--once again the boys find themselves lost in uncharted space--and that's a good thing.
At the conclusion of my first review, I made a wish for the adventures of the Cloud brothers to continue, and the author wasted little time granting that wish. As a consequence, it is my belief that Field is either some form of magical wish-granting entity or a writer of some skill and thrift. While I hope it's the former, I would still be pleased if it's the latter. It's a win-win either way.
Warning: This review may contain HYPERBOLE (patent pending) in moderate to high doses. HYPERBOLE is not meant for those who cannot distinguish between facetiousness and sincerity. This HYPERBOLE is for instructive purposes only. If you take HYPERBOLE seriously, please seek immediate medical aid as prolonged exposure can exacerbate existing impediments to normal cerebral function.
By no means comprehensive, and lacking some measurements I think would have been helpful, this book was a curious mix of extremely basic introductory material and more complex woodworking expected of a practiced woodworker with a wealth of (non-enumerated) tools. In all, I would call it a contradiction of reader expectations with some startling omissions.
Things this book will teach/expect you to do/have knowledge to make.
For example, a "built-in" bookshelf, in one part of the book, amounts to "build a footer; build a box; place the box on the footer; add prefabricated trim." It's essentially a more cost-effective way of building a crummy box than buying one at your local non-furniture, everything store with slightly higher-quality material than the flimsy particle board furniture that seems halfway decent if you don't look directly at it for too long. Another takes on the building of drawers (just the drawers, though, not the rollers or how they should be installed) held together using a variety of dovetail joint options, though there are few hints as to how to make them (you'd need a router, the correct bit, and, unless you're really skilled, a dovetail template) other than some are more difficult than others.
If you're good at synthesizing disparate bits of information, and consult additional sources to fill in the numerous blanks (assuming I know the type and dimensions of wood needed to make a base for a bookcase is quite a leap if you assume I didn't know how to make a plywood box), this will probably work well for you. Otherwise, you're stuck with making exactly what projects (ranging from jaw-droppingly simple to fairly simple) are available in the book. Most of which are pretty dull and utilitarian.
Of course, you've got to start somewhere, and, for me, that somewhere was here.
For more adventures in woodworking by a novice, and evidence of the oversights made by this "beginnger's" book, check out my So You're Building a Bookshelf blog series. Relish (and avoid) my mistakes or commisserate with them, or add your own experiences and/or advice.(less)
It would be silly of me to revisit my thoughts on this book when they are largely encompassed in my review of the first book in the series, Buried in...moreIt would be silly of me to revisit my thoughts on this book when they are largely encompassed in my review of the first book in the series, Buried in Benidorm. The themes remain largely the same, and your sensitivity to subjects that deal with the reality of human nature, regardless of profession, may well stain your opinion of this story. While this kind of sensitivity may hint at discomfort with reality, the realm of fiction is, admittedly, designed to allow you to, and broad enough that you can, choose your own, insulated reality.
As I confessed in my review on the first book in this series, my experience with hard-boiled mystery is pretty slim. Apart from one Josephine Teybook and one by Dan Brown, we're talking about Encyclopedia Brown and the Happy Hollisters. So you might interpret my enthusiasm for this story, and its predecessors, as coming from the voice of inexperience. That said, I can speak for the strength of the story as a work of fiction, a category in which I have an abundance of experience, so I don't feel I'm misguiding anyone by saying "Yes, you're probably going to enjoy this."
Using the fewest words possible to describe my experience with this entry, I blew through this book. I tend to take a while to work my way through a story, taking breathers every now and again, ultimately turning the process of reading a book into a weeks-long process. Not so with this one. To my surprise, I roared through it in just a few days.
If you're looking for a gritty story, with a wry, disenchanted, and self-deprecating main character the likes of which you'd run across in film noire, Max is your man. On the other hand, if you're offended by the seedy characters prevalent in hard-boiled private detective stories with touches of spiritual apprehension expected from an ex-priest turned PI, hounded by clergy looking for favors, spare yourself the rage at reality.(less)
I'm not going to rate this book, since I have no intention of reading it. That does not mean I can't form an opinion of this book, which I promise I w...moreI'm not going to rate this book, since I have no intention of reading it. That does not mean I can't form an opinion of this book, which I promise I will limit to four more sentences, two of which are borrowed and two of which explain why they are used. There will also be a BONUS sentence hidden in the review, which only the most sleuthy of readers and meticulous of counters will be able to locate (hint: it will include the phrase "BONUS sentence").
As many review writers know, most things that can be said about a thing usually have been by now. With that in mind, I give you a pair of Moses Hadas quotes that seem a good fit for this book.
This book fills a much-needed gap.
Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it.(less)
A reading experience is a reflection of the reader and what is taken away is largely a function of what the reader brings with them to the book. That...moreA reading experience is a reflection of the reader and what is taken away is largely a function of what the reader brings with them to the book. That said, I found this nonfictional work daring, dramatic, a tad wordy, but ultimately satisfying in a The Government Regulatory Committee Is Doing Its Best Not to Let Me Blow Myself, Property, or the Environment to Pieces sort of way.
Tedious. For a book involving a shark killing people on a resort beach, there's quite a bit of content regarding marital discontent. It's not fair to...moreTedious. For a book involving a shark killing people on a resort beach, there's quite a bit of content regarding marital discontent. It's not fair to this book that I saw the movie first and frequently, which offers a tight narrative, a lot of tension, and some great character interaction. The book offers melancholy rooted in marrying below one's class. I found this kind of disdain an irritating distraction of a side story that torpedoed the whole experienceexploded the shark for me.
This is a more fitting metaphor.
While being disgruntled might be a genuine symptom of such marriages (even though cinema is notorious for trying to make you believe otherwise), I didn't understand what it was doing in this book. Class conflict would have been much better articulated between Flint and Hooper, which is a point the screenwriter (surprise!) clearly agreed with.
The rating here is buoyed by the fact that it inspired the Spielberg film, and because I always hum "Farewell Spanish Ladies" to myself whenever I go out on a boat... which really doesn't mean anything for the book, but means I'm thinking about the movie again.(less)