I had high hopes for this book, which promised to tell the story of how the Black Lives Matter movement started, from the first protest in Ferguson toI had high hopes for this book, which promised to tell the story of how the Black Lives Matter movement started, from the first protest in Ferguson to current days. The author is a Washington Post journalist who spent months in Ferguson and then subsequently reported on many of the other killings of black people that were committed by the police. By the author’s own admission, this book is the result of years a reporter’s note-taking; the problem is that it really shows. There is no real structure to this book, only a loosely chronological account of events with a lot of skipping back and forth; on many occasions I found myself trying to figure out what case I was reading about, what city, what protest. It’s a very chaotic and frustrating read and unfortunately, that detracts from the subject matter.
Lowery’s book is still an interesting account on the origins of the BLM movement and it certainly gave me an insight of what it must be like to be at the receiving end of abuse and oppression. But it could have been condensed in a long article, or edited into an easier to follow, more readable book....more
When Amazon offered me an advance copy of ‘Rules of Civility’ back in 2011, I knew by the first couple of chapters that I had a bestseller in my handsWhen Amazon offered me an advance copy of ‘Rules of Civility’ back in 2011, I knew by the first couple of chapters that I had a bestseller in my hands. I was right, and in the following months, Amor Towles’s debut novel took the book charts by storm around the world. Without a doubt, “Rules” was going to be a tough act to follow.
Towles’s second novel is set in the fictional Metropol Hotel in Moscow, where the protagonist, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, is confined to ‘house’ arrests because of his alleged anti-government poetry. In the hands of a less talented writer, the setting’s physical constraints could have made for a very claustrophobic reading experience, but Towles’s Metropol is such a rich microcosm that you never tire of exploring its corridors, restaurants and barber shops down to the very last nook and cranny.
The story begins in the 1920s through the mid 1950s, and through the passing of decades and the decline slowly befalling the Metropol’s interiors, we are getting a sense of the huge political and social changes unfolding on the outside, interwoven with the Count’s storyline in such a subtle manner that one could easily mistake this novel for something of no substance. But that would be wrong: despite its closed setting, this is a ‘big’ story that successfully combines historical, social and romantic elements, and handles each strand with unrivalled flair and humour.
It must be hard, in this day and age, to write an aristocratic protagonist without descending into parody, or modernising him beyond what would be realistic for their time; but Towles achieved that with Count Rostov, a man who, despite his confinement, manages to live by the maxim that "If one did not master one's circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them." As such, Count Rostov is one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in a long time - charming, witty and irresistibly debonair - but never shallow. There are darker moments in the novel, but although undoubtedly poignant, they are also brief, and as a result the story never loses that lightness that makes it so easy to turn page after page.
If “Rules of Civility” was a terrific debut, “A Gentleman in Moscow” is an equally terrific second novel, and one which firmly establishes Amor Towles as one of the most talented American writers of this decade. ...more