Read and became obsessed with the title story a few years ago. In this book, I loved the first ("This Is How It Starts") and the last two ("Housework"Read and became obsessed with the title story a few years ago. In this book, I loved the first ("This Is How It Starts") and the last two ("Housework" and "The Necessity of Certain Behaviors") a lot. The rest didn't do so much for me personally -- they felt a bit too quirky and contrived somehow, though I'm allergic to whimsy and other readers might feel differently -- but Cain's definitely a good and original writer. The collection's worth the price of admission for those three stories alone, even if you don't end up caring much for the other ones, which you might.
Plus, there's a naked lady on the cover! And it's not false advertising in that these stories contain a fair amount of sex. Hubba hubba!...more
I really wish the cover to this book were up here; I can't find it anywhere online. It's black with yellow writing, and shows three women standing inI really wish the cover to this book were up here; I can't find it anywhere online. It's black with yellow writing, and shows three women standing in the darkness, two in chador and one unveiled, all three in gigantic 1982-style sunglasses.
So far a really fascinating and helpful book that conveys a sense of what was happening to women's status in revolutionary Iran. It includes articles by leftist, feminist Iranian women (who are understandably freaking out), excerpts from primary documents (such as the new constitution, and comments from Khomeini, Bani Sadr, and Taleghani on the question of the veil and women's rights), and a list of women's organizations in Iran....more
Liked the parts I read, hope to come back later and read more of it. Published in 2001 and so I imagine a lot of the western ad stuff has changed a biLiked the parts I read, hope to come back later and read more of it. Published in 2001 and so I imagine a lot of the western ad stuff has changed a bit since then....more
I skimmed around and only read parts of it. Seems pretty solid, if overflowing with Shakespearean analogy and allusions. I picture Dr. Milani smokingI skimmed around and only read parts of it. Seems pretty solid, if overflowing with Shakespearean analogy and allusions. I picture Dr. Milani smoking a pipe, dressed in tweed and arm patches, reclining in a vast study decorated with beautiful Persian rugs and a handcarved bust of the Bard. However, Wikipedia tells me he graduated from Oakland Tech, which does give him some street cred... as does, I suppose, having been jailed under the Shah for teaching Marxism, then barred from publishing or teaching after the Revolution. Okay, the guy's a badass, and if I had time I'd actually sit down and read his book. It's got a good narrative flow, moving along at a decent clip, and despite some amusing professorial lines in places doesn't appear to get dull. Milani is more down on Mossadeq than most other guys that I've read, and has a more complex and ambiguous take on the CIA-driven coup. I couldn't find anything specifically about the stewardesses, but there's enough salacious gossip to balance out all the political stuff.
I certainly have no grasp on Iranian history or politics, but one thing this book drove home is that being the Shah seriously sounds like it sucked. I don't just mean later, but from very early on: man, what a miserable life. I am definitely not raising my kid as a monarch, there is just no way that lifestyle will not screw you up....more
This was one of those history books written in an annoyingly subtle non-linear way. It would keep moving around among different perspectives, and in sThis was one of those history books written in an annoyingly subtle non-linear way. It would keep moving around among different perspectives, and in so doing would go over the same time period numerous times. Like you will read about the thirties, then the forties, then the fifties, and you keep reading, then suddenly you see it's the forties again only you might have not realized that, and if you're me, you're like, "What?" I personally find that style disorienting, and it put me off this book, which otherwise did seem pretty good. I might just be stupid and especially bad with time, but I wish more of these histories had timelines and were better about being clear exactly when the things they're describing occur.
Other, more clever readers probably would not have these problems. In fact, judging from all the other reviews on here by people who read the whole thing, this is a spectacular book, and I have no reason to doubt that they're right; again, my own problem was a personal thing.
Anyway, this book is an interesting study in post-war American arrogance and in early trend-setting hijinks by the CIA. It's also obviously a cautionary tale about blowback. I should've probably finished it, but I got busy with other stuff and didn't wind up focusing on this period in my paper about Iran. If you're American or British and don't recognize the name Mohammad Mossadeq (or one of its unlimited transliterations), you should definitely read this book or another one like it....more
Holy hell, Death in Venice is fucking amazing. If, like me, you somehow just never got around to reading it, pull yourself together and do something aHoly hell, Death in Venice is fucking amazing. If, like me, you somehow just never got around to reading it, pull yourself together and do something about that now....more
I'm sure this has been said before, but Madison Avenue suffered a grave loss when this guy decided to go into fiction.
I really enjoyed all the storiesI'm sure this has been said before, but Madison Avenue suffered a grave loss when this guy decided to go into fiction.
I really enjoyed all the stories in the first, ad-themed section, but it's sort of been on a gentle downhill from there. Some of these -- like "The Red Ribbon," the only one I'd read before -- got too message-y for me. Still, I'm liking it. I've been embarrassed in public when it's been revealed that I'm the only one of my friends who has never read George Saunders. I guess this oversight is because somehow, despite being an unoriginal cliche of a bourgie coastal-dweller with a liberal arts education that ill-prepared me for my job but which saddled me with inescapable intellectual pretensions, I only got around to subscribing to The New Yorker a few months ago. Apparently George Saunders publishes a lot in The New Yorker, as demonstrated by the fact that when I got home tonight after a day traveling around reading him, I found that he'd written the story in this week's issue. Apparently it's raining George Saunders! There are worse things....more
I'm generally good about not being too starstruck by literary reputation, and I feel pretty confident that I can bravely approach the big guns and judI'm generally good about not being too starstruck by literary reputation, and I feel pretty confident that I can bravely approach the big guns and judge them based on my personal view of their merits. But with Chekhov, for some reason, I find myself cowed. Like, I'm just not really sure what I think of him and I kind of have this stupid feeling like I want someone to tell me. You know, it's CHEKHOV, right? I should have some big RESPONSE. I should love him! Or loathe him! I need to think something BIG. It's CHEKHOV! I gotta come up with a passionate opinion about him! I gotta have some glittering insight into why he's so big and important, or else a rabid conviction that he's totally overrated and bad.
I really don't have any ideas like that though. "A Doctor's Visit" was so insanely awesome it made my brain melt a little and leak out my ears, but aside from that, I didn't have a strong opinion one way or another about the stories that I read ("The Chorus Girl," "Dreams," "In Exile," "The Teacher of Literature," "Anna on the Neck," "The Darling," "The Lady with a Dog," "The Bishop"). I mean, they were fine. There was stuff I liked. There was stuff to which I was fairly indifferent. I mean, I dunno, it was fine.... but this is CHEKHOV! I'm supposed to think something a lot stronger than "I dunno, it was fine."
But I didn't. Oh well! At least I've finally read Chekhov, even if I still don't have much to say about him one way or another....more