Wow this guy sure can write. A few times here and there, I felt it was getting a little bit overtold or drawn out, but somehow even those parts are em...moreWow this guy sure can write. A few times here and there, I felt it was getting a little bit overtold or drawn out, but somehow even those parts are eminently readable, and as a book editor, I'd have a hard time cutting any of it out.
After this Middlesaex and this, I'm in awe of this guy's ability to tell a story. maybe I would have been after The Virgin Suicides, too, but unfortunately I never got a chance to read it ... I had already seen the movie before I even knew there was a book, and long before I had ever heard of Jeffrey Eugenides.(less)
Speaking as an ignorant layman and a generalist reader (and probably a pretty low-grade addictive in the serious scheme of things), I thought this was...moreSpeaking as an ignorant layman and a generalist reader (and probably a pretty low-grade addictive in the serious scheme of things), I thought this was really good.
My two initial misgivings about this book (namely (a) that the approach to this huge subject was simplistic or oversimplified, and (b) that the author's perspective was too "etic" to be convincing to me) were both soon proven misplaced and unjustified.
It turned out that the approach was not at all simplistic--it turned out to be a very careful and exhaustive summary of just about every aspect of this huge subject that I can imagine.
As far as the emic/etic thing goes (once again, as a non-professional who's really not too well read in this field--as fascinating as it is to me--I hadn't really given this all that much thought before), but the more I read this, the more I realized that there's a lot to be said for the value a therapist who *can't* empathize in an internal way with an addict's rationalizations, etc. This author has seen it all, it seems like, and the real value of his observations is that he can say to any addict from any walk of life, etc., that he's heard that rationalization before or that he's seen a particular behavior or response before and it always results in [whatever .. whether good or bad]. So the author's dispassion and detachment actually turned out seeming like a good thing, if not perhaps even a necessary thing.
This second point is something I'm going to have to talk about some time with a goodreads friend of mine who actually is a longtime professional in this field. It seems like the in the popular media, the counselors who have the most credibility are successfully recovering addicts themselves ... but I'm thinking now, after reading this book, of all kinds of reasons why that shouldn't be true at all.(less)
This wasn't as good as I expected it to be, having read lots of very interesting and very readable Gina Kolata pieces in the Science Times over the ye...moreThis wasn't as good as I expected it to be, having read lots of very interesting and very readable Gina Kolata pieces in the Science Times over the years.
The chapter on exercise addiction, "Is There a Runner's High?" was really fascinating, and a lot of it was new information to me. I liked the parts about exercise pioneers or entrepreneurs like Joe Weider and Bob Hoffman (and Jack LaLanne and Charles Atlas, who are mentioned in passing a few times), but most of this book and the findings and anecdotes in it were really not all that interesting to me I guess.
There's a lot about "spinning" in this book (which I had never even heard of before), so if you're interested in spinning (or regular cycling), you might like this book more than I did.
I'm giving it 3 stars instead of 2 because of how great that addiction chapter was and because I did like some other parts, too. (less)
This was excellent. It's told in a series of interview answers from maybe 30 or 40 or 50 people who were close to Farley during his life, including hi...moreThis was excellent. It's told in a series of interview answers from maybe 30 or 40 or 50 people who were close to Farley during his life, including his three brothers and his childhood friends, old high school teachers and coaches, and show biz friends including many of the SNL players from 1975-1995. You might think that format would be disjointed and lack flow (that's what I thought would be the case when I first picked it up), but in fact all of these passages from different people are woven together brilliantly by the editors into a very tight and compelling page-turner. (less)