Humor is difficult, and I just didn't connect with Heller on that level. We had a protracted argument abIt took me a long time to finish this classic.
Humor is difficult, and I just didn't connect with Heller on that level. We had a protracted argument about it actually, as he tried repeatedly to convince me that absurd situations are the tops in funny—more so if the participants/victims are sarcastic, stupid, or weird—while I demurred. In the end, finally, I was done with it, and could move on. ...more
This satire of war resonated with me more than Catch-22 did. (It wasn't the sci-fi, although I did appreciate the idea of a race capable of seeing inThis satire of war resonated with me more than Catch-22 did. (It wasn't the sci-fi, although I did appreciate the idea of a race capable of seeing in four dimensions.) Catch-22 dwells on the absurdity of war, but this book attacks its ineluctability. The "author" lays out his argument in the first pages: writing an anti-war book is like writing an anti-glacier one. Both phenomena are unstoppable facts of life.
This is certainly the attitude of the Tralfamadorians, who represent the mature, reasoned, and incredibly passive authority on the subject. "So it goes" is their refrain, and Billy is convinced. His existence is pleasant and comfortable (even when it's not) once he adopts the Tralfamadorian outlook; accept things as they are because they're "supposed" to be that way.
Of course, that's an awful approach if your goal is to prevent war. The fact of the matter is that we don't see in four dimensions, we're not alive at all times, and we can't assume everything is for the best. Vonnegut satirizes how atrocities like the fire bombing of Dresden are the product of people who don't understand these simple practicalities.
But back to the sci-fi: Vonnegut's treatment of fate and free will may be fatalistic, but it certainly simplifies the whole concept of time-travel. No need for complex machinery, complicated rules (to prevent paradoxes), split time-lines, or parallel universes. Just learn to see in four dimensions and you're golden.
If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be ugly. It's intentionally so; the ugliness of the world (and how it got that way) is the foundaIf I had to describe this book in one word, it would be ugly. It's intentionally so; the ugliness of the world (and how it got that way) is the foundation of the story. It's also one of the reasons I generally avoid post-apocalyptic literature. The epiphany waiting at the end of the book—human beings are fundamentally good; human beings are fundamentally bad; human beings are fundamentally ambivalent; life is what you make of it; life is mean and low; love is all that matters; love will conquer all; just have faith—is never worth it. Why suffer through a lot of unpleasantness for some hardly original, saccharine twist that's supposed to "make you think"?
Nevertheless, I've wanted to read The Road (a Pulitzer winner), just to see if an award-winning post-apocalyptic novel alters my opinion of the genre.
Irrespective of the subject matter, this felt very much like a young writer's early effort. Some really interesting characters weren't enough to make up for the cartoonish ones, and plot holes became distracting. I was happy to turn the last page and put this book behind me. ...more
I started this book almost by accident, and really wasn't looking forward to the difficult subject matter—even if this memoir eventually turned out toI started this book almost by accident, and really wasn't looking forward to the difficult subject matter—even if this memoir eventually turned out to be uplifting, faith-affirming, inspirational, eye-opening, etc. It was all those things, of course.
Gbowee tells an intensely personal story that feels genuine and unguarded, maybe at the cost of a little polish. She doesn't ignore her own shortcomings; she's not a saint. In this context, though, that just serves to emphasize how extraordinary changes may be effected by ordinary people.
Part II of the book contains the meat of her activist history, and I found it the most engaging. (Part I describes the early experiences critical to her development as a peace worker; Part III is an extended epilogue.) ...more