This is a biography of Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, one of the most influential figures in the 20th century Italian Mafia, written by some random guy whoThis is a biography of Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, one of the most influential figures in the 20th century Italian Mafia, written by some random guy who grew up next door to him.
I will start by saying that Carlo was far from a good writer. Very far. It's obvious that this book was written piecemeal with minimal editing and then combined. He alternates calling Casso "Anthony", "Casso", or "Gaspipe" repeatedly, often in the same paragraph, and often awkwardly calls him "Anthony Gaspipe Casso" at inappropriate moments. Repetition of key facts is frequent, and most of the chapters are just a few pages long and jarringly interleaved. It's a book that doesn't flow well, and was obviously written in fragments that were then combined. Also, Carlo's writing is too superficial, strictly written from the outside. You never really get the sense of being in Casso's head until the last third of the book, after Casso is arrested. And, of course, the book was also written a few years too soon, before the "current" events surrounding Casso at the federal level had concluded and he was transferred out of ADX; this is forgivable, because that didn't happen until after Carlo had died, but it still feels like this book is unfinished.
I gave this book 3 stars instead of 2 because in spite of the author's generally poor writing, Anthony Casso's life story is at the very least interesting, and at most a real-life Shakespearean tragedy. I equivocate here because Carlo is far from an unbiased recorder of events. There is no denying that Casso's constitutional rights were violated by the US government, which royally mishandled his case. However, Carlo really seems to have a double standard in his portrayal because of his anger at the government for how they treated Casso. For example, he bemoans the fact that Casso was incarcerated at ADX with a variety of terrorists, but he conveniently ignores the fact that Casso once blew a guy up with a car bomb on a public street. He describes the FBI agents who took Casso's testimony as a bunch of bullies and thugs, and I don't doubt that they were, but it's not as though the Mafia in general was remotely innocent of the same thing. Carlo quotes an article in full in the appendix about how the government has a track record of abusing the rights of government witnesses, and that article makes some good points. However, it was also written by a lawyer whose business is defending terrorism suspects.
Overall, this is a marginal book. I appreciate that Carlo tries to focus on Casso's humanity and honor throughout, but it's a shame that his writing isn't good enough or unbiased enough to fully accomplish the task of making a Mafia boss like Casso, who sometimes comes off as an interesting character when quoted, into a fully sympathetic human figure whose story is effectively told. ...more
Elinor Smith was probably the most accomplished female airplane pilot in history. At a time when flight was a new technology, she became the youngestElinor Smith was probably the most accomplished female airplane pilot in history. At a time when flight was a new technology, she became the youngest licensed pilot in the world at age 16; broke more records at the age of 18 than most male pilots of that era did in their lifetimes; and managed to remain very down to earth and professional while doing it. She later took 30 years off from flying to raise a family, then returned to the field in her 50's, and became the oldest pilot to land the space shuttle simulator in her 80's. She died in 2010, aged 98.
In short, Elinor Smith was really awesome. This book is somewhat less so. While the first chapter is certainly thrilling and I appreciate her down-to-earth tone, Smith's writing style is relatively dull and the chapters really start to run together as a series of flat "this is what I did at this time with these people" recitations. There are a few really interesting nuggets in here - most especially the revelation that, despite conventional wisdom, Amelia Earhart couldn't actually fly a plane until about a decade AFTER she was famous and her reputation was concocted entirely by her husband, promoter G.P. Putnam, whom Smith, despite her affection for Earhart, also reveals to have been a horrible human being. Most of the reason Smith is not a household name today despite having been worthy of the hype is entirely due to Putnam going out of his way to sabotage her career in any way that he could. However, in spite of some historically interesting details such as these, much of the book is still a litany of names, dates, and places that have no meaning to a casual reader in the 21st century. More disappointingly, despite having lived a thoroughly awesome life, Smith only covers two years of it in this book - her early flying triumphs as a teenager. I would've liked to read about the rest as well. Although one of the best things about her as a person, Smith's humility really resulted in her selling herself short when it came time to tell her own story to the world.
With that said, if you have an interest in aviation history or in stories about women succeeding in a largely male field, this is a must-read. However, there's also a reason why I was able to get an autographed copy secondhand on Amazon for just $4. Elinor Smith was the real Amelia Earhart. It's just a shame that she didn't embrace that a little more and put more effort into telling the world about it. ...more
I wanted to like this book, but I found that very difficult.
Steinberg should be commended for trying to focus on the humanity of the prisoners he serI wanted to like this book, but I found that very difficult.
Steinberg should be commended for trying to focus on the humanity of the prisoners he serves and to tell their stories. This should be the first rule of anyone who works as correctional education staff. However, I think the problem is that he's writing a book as a recent "fancy school" BA graduate that he didn't have the knowledge or life experience to really write.
The first and foremost problem with this book is the way it's written. Steinberg writes in that insufferable personal narrative style that you only learn if you go to a school for rich people, in which the narrator is a Truly Important Special Snowflake telling their Own Very Special Story and each action, no matter how mundane, is treated as an Event of Absolute, Cosmic Significance with a note of condescendingly indolent humor toward The Little People Less Enlightened Than We. Steinberg doesn't have the life experience to understand which events are worth telling and which are mundane or to understand how offensive this writing style can be to normal people, so when he gets overwhelmed by his first steps outside of the liberal arts school reality bubble he just reverts back to his programming: when in doubt, treat everything as important and when you can't think of anything that moves the story forward, put in gobs of detail about yourself doing something else that's barely relevant. As a result, this book has no flow and no idea what it wants to be about - is it about being a prison librarian, about how prisoners have shitty lives, about the specific prison in which he worked, or about the culture shock of an affluent liberal arts graduate leaving the reality bubble for the first time and having to get a job? Steinberg tried to make his book about all of the above, and as a result it covers nothing completely.
Frankly, if it weren't for the ridiculous fascination that the general public has with the novelty of prison librarians once they find out they exist (trust me - I am one - I know), I don't think this book would have been published at all. It feels as though the author was too young and lacking in life experience to have written a story worth telling, and the style he's written it in is totally inappropriate to the subject matter. Unfortunately, until someone else writes a book about prison librarianship, this is probably the only one we'll get. ...more
I was raised as an affluent half-white person who has been consuming popular culture produced by Ice-T since I was a kid. I also work in corrections,I was raised as an affluent half-white person who has been consuming popular culture produced by Ice-T since I was a kid. I also work in corrections, interact with convicted felons of all races daily, and have taken training on gang culture. Therefore, knowing what I know now I'm pretty conflicted about this book. On one hand, it's full of occasionally wise advice that Ice-T picked up through decades of life experience, and it fleshes out some of his earlier autobiographical work, such as the song "That's How I'm Livin'" (which he quotes liberally throughout). On the other, a lot of it seems like it's packaged in a way that will be most accessible to white people, not to the at-risk minority youth he claims to be speaking to/for. Ice-T is a master of making money off of white people, and, sadly, this book probably wouldn't exist otherwise. It all goes back to the key point of the book, which is "if you're young and involved in criminal activity, sooner or later you have to elevate your game to something legit. Otherwise, prison or death is guaranteed." So already something around the edges is starting to smell.
Where I'm more conflicted is in my feeling that while Ice-T has left his criminal past behind he may not be entirely sincere in his repudiation of gang life. There are recent pictures of him still flashing the Crip signs, and gangs and criminal activity go hand in hand. You can take a gangster away from the gang but you can't completely take the gang out of the gangster, so even if Ice-T has left his criminal past behind, identification as a member of a criminal group will always be part of who he is. At the end of the day, an extremely wise and intelligent thug with a ton of legit money is still a thug. Similarly, while he complains about later generations of rappers overly glorifying violence in order to sell records, this seems hypocritical to anyone who has actually listened to Body Count's discography, especially the later stuff. Ice-T certainly has more class than later generations of rappers, but he can't sincerely repudiate the culture of violence that has taken over black urban society when his music was a large contributor to that culture originally; maybe not as large as NWA, but you can't tell me that a lot of poor street kids in 1990's urban America didn't listen to Body Count and get the wrong message.
Ultimately, while on one level large parts of this book seem sincere and heartfelt and there's a lot of wisdom in Ice-T's perspective on life, there are also a lot of places where he's clearly bullshitting his clueless, mostly-white audience. We should expect nothing less from Ice-T, but it's still a bit disappointing. If you're really interested in Ice-T's music and want to know more about his life, read this book - he does have some funny stories, and some universal wisdom that is genuine. If you want some sociology and insight into criminal behavior and the factors leading to it, it's a mixed bag. But if you want a sincere repudiation of life on the street, you have to be really damn white and clueless to buy what this guy is selling.
Also, the ghostwriter of this book is a white Canadian dude who went to Princeton. ...more
An interesting, provocative, but flawed analysis of Texas's governing philosophy and relationship with the rest of the United States.
The biggest proAn interesting, provocative, but flawed analysis of Texas's governing philosophy and relationship with the rest of the United States.
The biggest pro of this book, for me, is that Grieder gives her state a lot of context and perspective. She seems to be especially targeting progressives inclined to demonize Texas because of its prominent right-wing politicians and various other political issues that impact the rest of the country. There's a lot in here about Texas history and governing philosophy that makes not just Texas but other frontier states founded around the same time (such as North Dakota, the state in which I currently reside) make a whole lot more sense to someone who was raised in a blue state. And I think it's admirable that her overall focus is on Texas and the rest of America trying to learn from each other instead of resorting to knee-jerk hyperbole, both liberal and conservative. I learned a lot from reading this book and got a much better perspective of the world as it really is, not just as people who spend their lives overreacting to trivial political issues want to pretend it is.
With that said, this book is far from perfect.
First of all, the title is misleading because it implies the same kind of Texan belligerence that liberals find so off-putting, when in fact Grieder mostly takes a fairly balanced and moderate tone throughout. There are a few spelling errors throughout, which annoys me for a work that someone is charging money for, and I felt like a lot of the chapters flowed together too superficially in that uniquely irksome way that happens when journalists try to write books. And the focus on mostly counteracting hyperventilating liberal critiques of Texas (which is very valid up to a point) may limit the audience of this book to people who are already familiar with such critiques.
However, the biggest issue I had with this book is that Grieder mostly takes a fairly balanced and moderate tone, but at times can't seem to stick to it. For example, her otherwise above-average use of citations and factual evidence seems to go out the window whenever she encounters an issue that she personally does not want to think about. Nowhere is this more apparent than when she continually dodges around the ramifications of the fact that the religious right has lately exerted control over Texas government to a much greater degree than she gives it credit for, from the textbook issue (which she dismisses outright but that multiple education experts within that field agree is a VERY big deal) to the fact that having a strong separation of church and state clause in the state constitution isn't worth much if it's only going to be selectively enforced (Texas Freedom Network, which Grieder mentions repeatedly when they're saying something she wants us to see, has an entire page on their website devoted to this very issue). Other issues that she mentions but refuses to cover in detail include the state's poor record on human services generally, and on law and order issues - especially capital punishment (which she dismisses as the work of one rogue DA) and punitive targeting of minors in public schools by law enforcement (which she totally ignores).
In addition to this problem in her coverage, Grieder also frequently compares Texas to California whenever she's discussing something Texas does better, which I thought was tacky given that she kind of seems to be rolling her eyes at Rick Perry for doing the same; a more balanced range of data comparing Texas to other large states would have been more effective, albeit less flattering given that Texas usually finds itself in the bottom third of such rankings (another unflattering phenomenon that Grieder acknowledges but does not explore).
Ultimately, this was an interesting read that gave me a lot of perspective, helped me understand a lot about why Texans are the way they are, and finally convinced me to donate my copy of What's the Matter With Kansas? to the library sale because it espouses a very jaundiced way of looking at the world. Grieder's faults as an author and inability to overcome certain selective biases keep this from being a truly outstanding work, but I would definitely recommend it as a library book if you're interested in the subject matter and are willing to tolerate its inconsistencies. ...more
This book is full of interesting developmental information about what makes boys boys and what makes girls girls. It seeks to give context to variousThis book is full of interesting developmental information about what makes boys boys and what makes girls girls. It seeks to give context to various conventional-wisdom ideas about gender differences and to address them scientifically. The book is structured from pre-birth through the early grades over roughly the first six years of a child's life (the main cognitive development period).
Let me start with a critique: I find it really unfortunate that someone decided to put the words "cutting edge" into the title of a work of scientific nonfiction. That just looks worse with every day that goes by since the book was released way back in 2000, and calls attention to the fact that some of the material it contains is dated. With that said, the information in this book has aged unevenly. The stuff about cognitive and gender development in babies, especially the first chapter covering the pre-birth stage, is fascinating. Once you get into school age, the questions of how boys and girls learn differently and especially how they deal with stereotyping has now entered the academic mainstream and is better addressed by (much) newer works such as Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M. Steele (2014), which deals with how people who are victims of negative stereotypes because of social "labels" are affected by those "labels" in terms of academic performance; the main takeaway here is that people were writing about these issues at least 15 years before they entered the mainstream and nobody was paying attention. As that later work also shows, by the time kids reach that stage of development it's also a lot harder to separate other variables such as race and social class, and in that respect this book kind of seems to be in denial by trying to do a "pure" analysis of one variable (gender) that is strongly and complexly linked to those other factors in real life.
I would still recommend the first few chapters of this book if your interest is how boys and girls develop as babies. That stuff was fascinating, and the highlight of the book for me. I just wouldn't blame you if you stopped after the first few chapters, because the second half of the book, while not terrible, is flawed in its execution and has been superseded by more current research. ...more
Well, it's the autobiography of a guy who was only really known for doing one thing (playing Frasier Crane), but it was written only three years intoWell, it's the autobiography of a guy who was only really known for doing one thing (playing Frasier Crane), but it was written only three years into the show Frasier, which ended up running for eleven years. Yes, he talks about Cheers and about his incredibly unlucky early life, but the timing of this book's release seems really odd because most of what a reader today would want to read about hadn't happened yet.
That issue aside, as celebrity autobiographies go this one is well-written and competent, if as pretentious as you'd expect anything by Kelsey Grammer to be (the ellipse gives it away). Grammer had an unusually tragic first 20 or so years, and he handles those issues very well, but overall I thought the book was very much in the style of other self-indulgent nineties autobiographies - long on airy solopsistic tangents that go nowhere, short on content. In many ways, it reads as though Frasier Crane was playing Kelsey Grammer throughout rather than the other way around, which just goes to show how there's not much to his acting beyond that one role.
Overall, if you really like Kelsey Grammer, it's worth reading. If not, it isn't. It's not a bad early nineties celebrity autobiography, but beyond Grammer's slightly superior command of the English language vs. most other celebrities, it doesn't really stand out, either. I think the main issue is simply that Grammer was in his early forties at the time and hadn't finished enough of his life to actually write a book about it in the first place, so while he was poised to make more money off of an autobiography released at the height of his stardom and probably did, it would've been a more interesting story 10 years later. ...more
This is a mediocre legal "thriller" that is only occasionally thrilling. According to its own hype, this was one of the "most hotly anticipated booksThis is a mediocre legal "thriller" that is only occasionally thrilling. According to its own hype, this was one of the "most hotly anticipated books of 1987", which probably implies that people in the eighties had much lower expectations for their thrillers than people today. Reading it today, it's not an awful book in the sense that Turow obviously put thought and pride into his work and the situations are realistic, but it's not an especially captivating one, either....possibly, the situations are a little bit TOO realistic. There are thrilling moments, but also some very dull ones, mostly those elements which are too dated to be entertaining today. Chief among these is the protagonist's constant obsession with the murder victim, with whom he'd had an affair that she'd ended weeks earlier; this internal monologue obtrusively inserts itself into the action at inappropriate moments throughout, occasionally grinding the plot to a halt and, in the last 30 pages or so, actually becoming the plot. I know that overthinking human relationships for its own sake was 'in' at the time and may be the most significant characteristic of way too much intellectual output created between 1970 and 2000, but today it's just insufferable. Similarly, there are pacing issues. The big "action" of the novel ends right in the middle, and the revelation of the murderer's identity and why is totally separate, followed by an unsatisfying ending that isn't even a little bit clean and mostly just falls back on the whole obnoxious obsession thing. Overall, while it's a better first novel than many, you can still see that it was his first novel. Aside from those issues, though, it's an adequate book by an adequate author; worth reading once if you like legal fiction and easy to come by if you're interested, but the world won't end if you skip it. ...more
I was seriously tempted to make that one line my entire review, because the entire point of this book seems to be "DivorWho the hell is Brad Garrett?
I was seriously tempted to make that one line my entire review, because the entire point of this book seems to be "Divorced C-list Jewish comedian from a crappy 90's TV show with a modestly hot girlfriend half his age got a book deal even though he has little to actually say". As it is, it reveals Garrett to be a weak, neurotic man who has suffered some reverses in life and has allowed bitterness about that to define who he is.
To this end, this book consists of a few early biographical chapters about Garrett's life and early career followed by a ridiculous amount of opinions about things he obviously knows very little about. The biographical parts are mildly interesting and give some insight into what it was like to perform with then-A-listers such as Bill Cosby and Frank Sinatra. This guy at least knows the comedy business and has some good advice for would-be comics, or I'd have given this book one star.
This is because the rest reads like really bad stand-up by someone who hit his prime 30 years ago, which is exactly what it is. As the book goes on this material becomes increasingly trivial, crude and desperate, and really just reveals why ignorant celebrities shouldn't write books. By the time he gets to the part where he's going out of his way to offend ethnic stereotypes and young people with tattoos just because he can, it's obvious that he's just filling paper and isn't actually trying, and that's where I stopped trying as well and sent the book back to the library unfinished. He even occasionally JOKES about not trying to write a good book, in a pathetic attempt to spin the fact that he doesn't care into humor that only he finds amusing. As it is, I have better things to do than listen to this guy's pointless depressive egomania and blaming the world for his own problems. I have people in real life for that, and life's short enough as it is.
If you're an aspiring comic, reading the first few chapters about his career as part of your research might not be a bad idea, but otherwise this guy has nothing to offer the world, and the sad thing is that this seems to be entirely by choice. I do hope that the sad trickle of revenue generated by thousands of public libraries purchasing this book (and then immediately discarding it) is enough to pay Mr. Garrett's publishing fees, because really this whole venture seems like more trouble than it's worth for him and for us. ...more
This is a collection of stories by a career NYPD officer. The first half is mostly war stories from the "good old days" of the 1980's, when crime in tThis is a collection of stories by a career NYPD officer. The first half is mostly war stories from the "good old days" of the 1980's, when crime in the city was out of control and cops there led much more interesting, and shorter, lives. The second half suddenly becomes a lot more personal and mostly has to do with the author getting old - there are stories about his father dying, how he reacted to his puppy running into traffic, 9/11 and retirement. I will say that what really interested me about this book is that while most good writers are good writers because they're well-educated, Osborne is a better writer because he DIDN'T go to college, but spent decades writing police reports. Consequently, he has a vocabulary that's neither too large nor too small and has very little ego to go with it. This results in a fast and easy read that conveys a lot of action and emotion using very short and concise sentences. He does make a few rookie mistakes such as repeating the same thing over and over in different chapters, but the first half of the book is quite exhilarating and gives some good insight into how the NYPD really works, not just how they do it on cop shows that are mostly fiction. With that said, the transition to the second half of the book, which completely changes its tone to be more introspective, is sudden and a little bit jarring. I realize that it's an accurate documentation of his career, but he skips over years of his life as a cop to focus on a handful of experiences that weren't advertised on the cover. While these experiences are powerful and I give him credit for writing them down at all in such a macho profession, I would've liked to have had a couple more chapters of pure war stories in between the later introspective stuff. Maybe life doesn't really work like that, but books do. I certainly recommend reading the first half of this book if you're interested in a cop's perspective of life as a cop, but you might want to skip the second half unless you're really interested in reading about his midlife crisis as well. ...more
I guess I'm on a roll reading bad autobiographical books by stand-up comedians most people have never heard of, considering I'm reviewing this at theI guess I'm on a roll reading bad autobiographical books by stand-up comedians most people have never heard of, considering I'm reviewing this at the same time as Brad Garrett's book. Both books are generally a waste of time for the same reason: stand-up comedians have nothing interesting to say that isn't already in their act, but because we have this tradition now in the publishing industry of giving book deals to random celebrities, we have the opportunity to read about how Jim Gaffigan loves his kids or how much of a neurotic failure Brad Garrett is, even though neither of them has anything worth saying that's worthy of preservation in a 200-page book.
With that said, this book is entirely a collection of anecdotes about how Jim Gaffigan has too many kids. Really. That's the whole thing. And most of it is just him being self-deprecating about being too lazy and too Catholic to fix that. When I read a book like this by a comedian I don't respect or care about (such as, well, Brad Garrett), it just makes me want to give up and read something else. But I actually kind of like Gaffigan's routines, and I feel as though reading this book makes me respect him less as a person, especially when he does terrible-person things such as bring 5 small children into a fancy restaurant and then tries to laugh off the fact that he just ruined the $100 meals of everyone else in the room, as well as the waitstaff's night. In that respect, I have less interest in Jim Gaffigan now than I did when he was just the Hot Pockets guy. Now he's the Hot Pockets guy who also happens to be an irresponsible member of society as far as having had too many kids and not knowing what to do with them is concerned.
Also, this is just a pet peeve, but the fact that someone decided to reverse one of the 'd's in "dad" on the cover of this book even though Gaffigan shows us the actual picture of the piece of paper that says "dad is fat" written correctly really annoys me. I hate the antiquated "kids are stupid" trope that it's playing to. You'd think that in the 21st century we could manage to finally get over our regressive social tendency to treat children as dumb objects, but hey, we needed a cover by Monday, right?
With that said, I can't really recommend this book to anybody. It has no applicable audience outside of the author's own family and friends, and even that is stretching it at times. Truly, no one else cares how Jim Gaffigan parents his children; what Brad Garrett's penis looks like; or that Alan Alda once had a dog stuffed. That's not the general public's business, and it's enough to keep me away from the "memoirs" of comedians for the rest of my life. They're too trivial in their neurotic self-importance, and they really have nothing to say that the general public needs to know. ...more
This is a "sequel" of sorts to Deloria's brilliant Custer Died for Your Sins, but is much less cohesive than that work, and occasionally contradicts iThis is a "sequel" of sorts to Deloria's brilliant Custer Died for Your Sins, but is much less cohesive than that work, and occasionally contradicts it. It contains a great deal more of the trenchant social commentary which made Custer such an effective work; essays about white liberal politics, minority groups' relation to the US Constitution; and the structural differences between capitalist and communal societies are particular highlights. However, these observations are only about half of the work. The rest is responses to a variety of minority activism that was going on at the time, which range from dated but still historically interesting to dated and just disappointing. It almost seems as though Deloria wanted to publish all of the material he didn't include in Custer, but then let his publisher dictate what the rest of the book was going to be about, which ended up being "timely" then and dated now.
There are in particular two strands of this book that don't hold up today. The first is the "change or die" fatalistic rhetoric in the last third of the book that implies that white society was inevitably doomed to extinguish itself before my then-unborn generation was old enough to shave unless white people gave up all of their institutions overnight. Deloria himself had just spent two books arguing that this was essentially impossible, so contradicting himself here does that argument no favors and this far after the fact just seems tremendously and stupidly dated.
The second is a major flaw in the book's thesis as pertains to misunderstanding the white Baby Boom generation (here identified as "young white people"). His argument is that white Baby Boomers, through their cultural acts of rebellion, are creating a new "tribe" with more in common with minority groups. This argument is incorrect and actually contradicts an argument Deloria makes in Custer, in which he says that young people have no understanding of Indian culture in practice because they haven't absorbed the tribal aspect of it. Throughout this book, he argues the opposite: that Woodstock '69 was a moment of tribal definition for that group and that they would somehow emerge as tribally oriented from that single experience. Of course, we know now that the Baby Boom generation was mostly characterized by being too large to be united politically on anything; that Woodstock was a commercial festival celebrating individual hedonism, not group unity, that trashed the entire town in which it was held; and that liberal activists in general constituted less than 20% of the Baby Boom generation and were in no way representative of the entire iceberg. This facet of Deloria's argument essentially shows that he has no deeper an understanding of white society than whites do of Indian society - he's just very good at analyzing structure.
Overall, this is a book that contains a variety of valuable social commentary and insight and is still well worth reading today if you are of an open enough mind to appreciate it. However, this is also very much the book that establishes Deloria's limitations as a social critic: one who is much more able to offer a well-reasoned abstract critique than he is able to bring those ideas into the real world. ...more
A collection of essays about various US cities organized from southwest (San Diego) to Northeast (Syracuse, NY) and varying in quality depending on whA collection of essays about various US cities organized from southwest (San Diego) to Northeast (Syracuse, NY) and varying in quality depending on who wrote them and why. Some are social commentary, the best of which is Emily Grozdik's excellently snarky piece about the superficial awfulness of Miami circa 2005. Others are written by natives and offer some interesting insight into their respective cities, such as Cincinnati, Providence, and Syracuse. However, as with any collection of this type, there are also some that are just filler (Lehigh Acres, Florida); too short to be meaningful (Phoenix); too personal in a way that doesn't really give insight into the city itself (Las Vegas); obscure and boring (Duluth, GA); or all of the above (Williston, ND from the perspective of an outsider who just came there for the money). There are also a couple of interviews with random development figures, which serve as the "essay" for Cleveland and Boston, and this change in format is jarring and, in my opinion, shouldn't have been included.
Overall, this collection hits more often than it misses and provides some interesting local insight into the majority of the cities it covers, despite the variable length and quality of many of the pieces and a few odd editorial decisions. ...more