Despite its flaws (particularly preaching at the end that is out of keeping with the narrative), The Jungle is a book that should be read by every AmeDespite its flaws (particularly preaching at the end that is out of keeping with the narrative), The Jungle is a book that should be read by every American. Most who talk about the book focus on the horrible conditions and practices of the meatpacking industry, and particularly since this takes place at the turn of the twentieth century, they pretty much stop there. One might get the impression that having been instrumental in the creation of what eventually became the Food and Drug Administration, The Jungle has done its job and should be relegated to the dusty shelves of history. But that would be wrong. Sinclair's novel is every bit as timely today as it was a century ago.
We might assume that because of the FDA, food is safer and the industries that bring that food to our tables are less corrupt than in 1906. However, books such as Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation demonstrate otherwise. Yet there is more to the novel than an expose of the industry.
The story of Jurgis Rudkis is one in which we see the evils of unchecked capitalism and greed and how they work to rob an honest, working man of physical and emotional life, his dignity, his morality, and eventually: hope. We do not get a lesson in how bad luck can bring a man and his family to soul crushing poverty. We see the machinations that bring that poverty and perpetuate it, destroying everything human in its path, with nothing to stop it.
This book needs to be read now because there is something of Jurgis Rudkis (or one of his ill-fated family) is every working American. Only the players and some of the schemes have changed. Many like to believe we live in a country were we can do and be anything if we work hard enough, but the poor know better. The plight of the "wage slave" has only been obscured by an a obese and television soaked nation.
Upton Sinclair famously stated about The Jungle, "I aimed at the public's heart and by accident I hit it in the stomach." If we do not want history to repeat itself, I suggest we read this book with our hearts and our minds....more
This novel is about two boys who are sexually abused and plot together to kill the men who are molesting them. In addition to the victims and the perpThis novel is about two boys who are sexually abused and plot together to kill the men who are molesting them. In addition to the victims and the perpetrators, we meet the mother of one of the boys and the teacher who knows something is wrong, but doesn't have the evidence to prove it. Sounds like an engaging story.
And for the most part, it is. If These Trees Could Talk is very interesting, though not really groundbreaking. It doesn't have to be unique to be a good book. Readers will be very interested in the characters and will keep wanting to know what happens next. But sadly, this is not as strong a novel as it could have been.
While overall, the story reads fine, it contains too much prose that, for lack of a better word, needs revision. There is needless repetition, sentences that lack life or punch, and lazy description where the author opts to refer to television shows rather than really describe. Those problems are not on every page, but appear frequently enough to put me off. There are also a few moments where the narrator inserts information or a mini-sermon, pulling the reader right out of the story instead of adding to it.
As I said, the novel is readable and interesting for the most part, and I think that most who finish it will find the twist at the end something to think about. (I'm not sure I care for it, but am willing to admit that my feelings may be a matter of my personal tastes rather than a flaw in the story itself.) Smith is at least trying to tell an important tale here, and he gives us perspectives that we might easily dismiss....more
I so enjoyed reading this book. Jimmie Rae Murphy is one ornery and likable gal with a "junking obsession," and her adventure to find a friend's killeI so enjoyed reading this book. Jimmie Rae Murphy is one ornery and likable gal with a "junking obsession," and her adventure to find a friend's killer takes her many different places estate sales (where she would have gone anyway), gas station bathrooms, the apartment of her ex-husband's new lover,and quite possibly into the arms of a mysterious and handsome stranger. Jimmie Rae can't seem to get away from danger, even in the seemingly mundane world she thought she lived in. First Monday Murder is a romping good mystery. I look forward to more. ...more
Redemption and family are two themes in John Grisham's novels, and we certainly have both here. One story in Calico Joe involves a bitter, aging pitchRedemption and family are two themes in John Grisham's novels, and we certainly have both here. One story in Calico Joe involves a bitter, aging pitcher and the rising star whose career is ruined with one beanball. The other involves the same bitter man and his failure as a father. The story moves from first person to third and back in forth in time, between the son and his trip to see his dying father and the events leading up to the awful game. This can be a little confusing, but I got used to it pretty quickly. (I never did get quite used to the verb tense shifts though.)
On certainly does not have to be a baseball fan to appreciate the history of the game, which Grisham clearly knows and loves, or to enjoy reading about these people. The narrator is as interesting a character as Calico Joe, Warren Tracy, and Clarence Rook, though not as dynamic as one might expect. But that is not necessarily a flaw.
I fully expect this novel to be made into a movie, and when it is, I hope it is handled by a bright and creative director instead of getting turned into a Hallmark presentation. Otherwise much of the real grit of the issues addressed in Calico Joe are likely to be lost, and that would be a shame....more
Ready Player One is a fine little story about young man in a virtual world trying to win a contest and trying to keep from getting killed, in the gameReady Player One is a fine little story about young man in a virtual world trying to win a contest and trying to keep from getting killed, in the game and in the real world (which is strangely distant) in this book. From that description, it probably doesn't seem like much more than a novelized version of Tron, but the book is really much more exciting and interesting than I am making it out to be.
Ernest Cline does a good job drawing the universe and various "worlds" in the OASIS, where a contest/war is being waged for an item left by the creator of the OASIS. The player who finds it will become heir to all this amped up Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/guy who created Nintendo has left, which in this book means pretty much the whole world, or what is left of it worth having. It
I'm told a movie of this book is in the works, and I'm sure, in the right hands, it could be a fine film. But I have some reservations. First, the author/narrator's obsession with the 1980s is, in a word, baffling. The story presents this decade as a golden age of all things artistic, when it was only a golden age for video games. References to terrible television shows and mostly (thank you, Rush) bad music, made me groan throughout the reading. Second, the out and out worship of James Halliday, creator of the OASIS, is disturbing. The protagonist (a teenager named Wade Watts) not only loves what the genius made and achieved, but even applauds his anti-social, psychologically destructive behavior. Had there been some sort of revelation that Halliday had realized that he was out of touch with his humanity, I might have been okay, but -- spoiler alert -- Halliday's approach to life is mirrored in the disciples who stumble only into their own human connections.
These objections are more about my personal preferences than the quality of the book. Ready Player One does suffer, just a little bit, with some of the stilted prose one finds in some first novels. And it reads, in some ways, like a formula road trip/buddy movie/coming of age story. But once the tale gets going, it really is an adventure. Wade Watts' quest is one that demands not only his considerable skill in gaming, but also requires him to learn about himself and how much growing up he has to do. He falls in love, of course, and has to figure out how his feelings connect to his goals. The obstacles Cline puts his character through (aforementioned 80s references aside) are clever and fun to read about. Of course, I was rooting for the hero, but I enjoyed watching as he worked to overcome his problems, not just by shooting bad guys, but by using his head. The part of the novel where Wade goes undercover was particularly engaging.
Chances are most readers will get more out the book than I did. Perhaps my disappointment is that novel could have been more than it is. Nonetheless, there is a lot of fun to be had in reading Ready Player One....more