An idealistic and unrealistic view of architecture and land use. It would be nice if we all could live in perfect little towns like Woodstock, VermontAn idealistic and unrealistic view of architecture and land use. It would be nice if we all could live in perfect little towns like Woodstock, Vermont, but that's not going to happen.
There is a section in the book where Mr. Kunstler waxes nostalgic about the closing of family farms in upstate rural New York. He writes that the farmers that remain are only hoping to hold out until they receive an offer from a developer to use the land for housing or a strip mall. An important reason that many farms in the New York and New England area have been abandoned and returned to forest is that they can not compete with the large farms in the mid-West or Pacific Northwest regions. Should we subsidize those farms that can not be run successfully ? Or, if there is a need for housing in the area, should we allow those areas to be used for housing instead ? Farms are a business, just like any other business. If they fail, it is unfortunate, but perhaps the land could not support its use as a farm and is better used some other way. Simply because an area has been used for farming since colonial times is no reason that it should continue to do so if there is no economic value to the farmer.
This is typical pie-in-the-sky writing on architecture that gives students a rose colored view of the world. ...more
This is the type of idealistic, polemical book on post-WWII architecture that I find very irritating.
Looking back on the choices of the previous geneThis is the type of idealistic, polemical book on post-WWII architecture that I find very irritating.
Looking back on the choices of the previous generation and deciding that they must have been in some kind of drunken stupor is a very low blow. Simply because the design choices that were in use in the 50's are not compliant with those that the writer favors does not mean that those older designs are necessarily the work of drunks.
Yes, there are problems with suburban tract housing. However, I refuse to believe that large numbers of the 50's generation were in a drunken stupor because they were so bored with their lot in life after having such a great time in WWII. Perhaps Mr. Kunstler has taken John Cheever stories too seriously ? Veterans of WWII may have been nostalgic about their service, but I would think that they were perfectly happy not to be shot at and instead would prefer to "flip burgers and wieners in a joke bedizened apron and a clownish chefs hat"
When the WWII veterans came home, they wanted jobs, houses, and happy families. Yes, not all of them, but a lot of them. How were those millions of people supposed to be housed ? Were they going to return to their parents homes and apartments in the cities ? Or maybe the family farm ? No, they wanted their own home. Millions of them had to be built, and built quickly. So of course lots of those houses were not great works of art.
Perhaps we can move forward and work with the advantages of the suburbs instead of insulting our grandfathers wholesale. ...more
I really don't think these 'Clara Benson' books were written in the early 20th century. The book is a perfectly fine 'cosy' mystery, but I don't buy tI really don't think these 'Clara Benson' books were written in the early 20th century. The book is a perfectly fine 'cosy' mystery, but I don't buy the story that it had recently been found by the author's family.
Writers of popular novels from the 1900 - 1930 era, like Jane Abbott, Edgar Wallace, E. Philips Oppenheim, Edna Ferber, Margaret Sydney, Willian McLeod Raine, or Angela Thirkell, include a great deal of description in their novels. Typically, there are pages and pages of detailed description of absolutely everything. Especially if the book is set in a foreign country like this one is. At the time, very few people had the means to do very much traveling, so readers liked finding out about the details of what it's like to live in a place like Italy. There was no television, or magazines, or much of the other media which we take for granted these days. So books were seen as a way to learn about foreign cultures. The food, clothing, family life, architecture, art, even the plants and local animals are all described in novels from this era. . It could be why these writers are not very well known now, it's a different style that seems odd and at times tedious to modern readers. There's none of this type of description in these books. Since there is not as much description as is typical for this era, the plotting is too fast paced to have been from this era.
The vocabulary is also not as complex as the typical novel from this era. Yes, it's sprinkled with a few key phrases, but each sentence is fairly simple and uses common words. Read an old book and the sentences are filled with words that are not very commonly used now, and are much more complex than this.
Also, the attitudes and reactions of the characters are much too modern. It was very rare for a single woman to travel as much as this character does, and she also does it not just as a single woman, but alone as well, with no friend with her. Maybe this is explained in one of the other books, but this really was not common at the time. Isabella Bird was able to do it, but she was the rare exception.
There is a scene where the main character drives a car. Driving was still very uncommon in the 1920's, a bit less in the 30's, but very few people had cars in comparison to the total population, and it was not at all common for women to learn how to drive. Cars of this era are not at all easy to drive, they don't have all the modern conveniences like power steering and automatic transmission, so it's not exactly easy to drive a car from the 1920's, it's a lot of work to just steer the car. In books of this era, there would normally be a detailed description as to how the main character learned how to drive, where they got the car, why they were driving,what an adventure it is to drive. But not here, she just gets in the car and drives.
I would have been much more accepting of the premise if I knew it had been written recently, and it had been released as a mystery that just happens to be set in the 1920's, but being told that it was written close to 100 years ago just ended up getting me irritated. Read a Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie instead. ...more
Considering that not a lot happens in the book, Troost manages to make this book about his life in Fiji and Vanuatu fairly funny. By "not a lot happenConsidering that not a lot happens in the book, Troost manages to make this book about his life in Fiji and Vanuatu fairly funny. By "not a lot happens", I mean he doesn't go adventuring through the jungle, searching for new species of sharks, or some other extreme activity. He spends much of his time in the village or city where he and his wife are based. He manages to make what might have been a fairly mundane existence seem exotic, which is what it probably is since most people are never going to be able to go to Vanuatu anyway. He does briefly visit a volcano, which turns out to be a but more dangerous than he had expected, but mostly, he's sticking to town.
There's a nice amount of history and information on the cultures of the two countries. Some interesting info on the local food and culture, and some funny stories about how kava is consumed, which is part of the 'getting stoned' of the title. I would have liked some more interaction with the local people, but I'm not sure if I would have been able to interact much more than Troost does.
Also, I thought it was great that he figured out that his job was not the right fit for him and he did something about it . Rather than sticking with it since that would be the safe choice, he left the job and went to Vanuatu. Yes, his wife was able to transfer her job to the South Pacific fairly easily, but it is still admirable to pick up stakes and leave a safe position like this. They decide 'this place is not for us' lets see what else is out there, and they just do it. Not many people have that kind of courage, and that's something to admire. ...more
It's funny, I spent a summer working on Martha's Vineyard too. Walter Cronkite hired me to help maintain his sailboat, and I had a similar experience.It's funny, I spent a summer working on Martha's Vineyard too. Walter Cronkite hired me to help maintain his sailboat, and I had a similar experience.
'Hey, you there, what am I paying you for, my boat is a mess!' he said one day.
'Yes, I noticed that too, Wally' I said. I called him 'Wally', he didn't seem to like that, but I thought it seemed a bit less formal than 'Mr. Cronkite', or 'Walter'. I thought a casual attitude would lead to discussions of my feelings and ideas, rather than force us to focus on what I had been hired to do, which was to make sure his sail boat remained sea worthy.
'Well, could you get some work done, why did I hire you ?'
'I wish you would ask me about my feelings!, I have thoughts and opinions, you know! What about my ideas on U.S. foreign policy. Let's sit down and discuss the news of the day, Wally'.
'I thought you knew about sail boats, you haven't done any work here at all!'
'What about me!' I cried, and yes, I cried a lot. Weeping on the deck of the sail boat, while sitting in a lounge chair and working on my tan.
'That's the way it is, you lazy bum, that's the way it is! Now get to work!'
What a kidder that Wally was. Oh well, back to working on my tan I guess.
Ok, I'm kidding. I never worked for Mr. Cronkite, but who would believe that I did anyway if I wrote like that ? I'm exaggerating the style a bit, but you get the idea. I found this to book to be laughable. Written by a self-centered person clueless as to anything or anyone else but herself. ...more
I read Peter Lovesey's books for his well rounded characters and attention to detail, not so much for their suspenseful or even believable plots, andI read Peter Lovesey's books for his well rounded characters and attention to detail, not so much for their suspenseful or even believable plots, and this one is no different. I've read four books in the series so far, and I really do enjoy them while i am reading them, but then a week or so after I've read them, I've just about completely forgotten the details of the plot of the actual mystery involved.
The main focus here is a string quartet, so on the plus side, I learned a great deal about Classical music, how quartets interact, and have a new found interest in the music. Lovesey does such a great job describing the pieces that the string quartet plays throughout the book, not just their musical content and how difficult they are to play, but also their emotional content as well. I've also enjoyed following the progress of the group of detectives in the series especially the main subject detective Diamond, including their personal interactions how the Bath police force works, and even such details as what they are eating!
The only thing I've ever been less than enthusiastic about in Lovesey's books is the central crime story itself. I just don't find this crime story to be compelling or memorable. The motive is a bit tenuous and the crime seems unnecessary for the perpetrator to achieve the desired goal. But that's what I've come to expect from Lovesey, and that's just fine, I'm happy enough with what he does do well so just three stars from me on this on, it's perfectly fine for a quick Summer read. ...more
What other sport but tennis would a kangaroo play ? And what else would a kangaroo who wants to play tennis do when her friends are busy doing other tWhat other sport but tennis would a kangaroo play ? And what else would a kangaroo who wants to play tennis do when her friends are busy doing other things, but play by herself ? ** Spoiler Alert** How does a kangaroo play tennis by herself ? By jumping over the net faster than the ball can travel, of course. This is a counting book for kids, but with a little lesson about resiliency and self confidence as well. The illustrations are very amusing, especially the one of the kangaroo making lemon tarts. ...more