One of my favorite kinds of historical fiction - take a little-known historical event and add human emotions and complexity to illustrate larger pointOne of my favorite kinds of historical fiction - take a little-known historical event and add human emotions and complexity to illustrate larger points.
I was confused by why there was a lack of bitterness. I was expecting more of an elegiac by the mothers or a stringent resistance to the journey as being such a public affair rather than a private one. Or anger at the loss of their sons. It came out in a patina towards the end, but there was far less than I would expect. I figured every group has a Lauder - the miserly character from Homeland, who while maybe acerbic and antagonistic, displays a spectrum of thought and emotion that causes others in the group to think. ...more
The majority of the heroes / troublemakers / muckrakers are hilariously written with valuable lessons. But he gets too lost in some of his lesser knowThe majority of the heroes / troublemakers / muckrakers are hilariously written with valuable lessons. But he gets too lost in some of his lesser known personal heroes and the writing does not convey the same gumption of them as the other heroes. As with everything Offerman does, incredibly funny. ...more
I'm tired of books about professors as protagonists. It is not much of a relatable world, and there is so very little "professoring" actually happeninI'm tired of books about professors as protagonists. It is not much of a relatable world, and there is so very little "professoring" actually happening that it is a moot point anyway.
I could not get a read on the time stamp. I am guessing 80s? Not very many cultural references to guide an inference.
That being said, the writing is lucid and intriguing, the moral conundrums are interesting, and the characters have real bite to them. Kingsley Amis is an automatic favorite with me because of Lucky Jim so I am willing to try about anything from him. ...more
The first 400 pages were amazing. The caliber of writing, the intersection of the Martins' lives, the feeliThis was a strange sensation I experienced.
The first 400 pages were amazing. The caliber of writing, the intersection of the Martins' lives, the feelings that manifested through the writing, the sadness I felt on behalf of various Martins, and the influence of world events and town events on their lives.
The final 100 pages were boring, like either someone else wrote it or Kerouac was fooling around and flopped. The plot was uninteresting, the characters even became dull, their lives lost resonance with me, and the sadness was no longer so visceral. This has not happened with any other book, especially so precipitously.
George Martin's paradigmatic portrayal of the average Joe / everyman / working American blue collar man of New England belongs in the pantheon of that category. His dialogue with his children reflects the generational gaps and his inability to handle the changes in the world with verve. The move from Galloway to Brooklyn encapsulates it perfectly.
I was hoping for more from Francis. He seemed like someone worth cracking with individual psychology.
Peter was a great character in high school, so it was saddening to see his downfall at Penn. I cannot quite answer why he gave up the chance at stardom. ...more
After reading through the entirety of the Jeeves catalogue, I was waiting for the Bertram and Jeeves fights that extended beyond the mere article of dAfter reading through the entirety of the Jeeves catalogue, I was waiting for the Bertram and Jeeves fights that extended beyond the mere article of despicable clothing. Got it here. Great spin on the usual order of things and a book you should save toward the end of your Wooster and Jeeves reading. ...more
A few thoughts on this one. This is complex in many regards.
As I have run deeper into the Roth oeuvre, I feel comfortable in saying that it helps toA few thoughts on this one. This is complex in many regards.
As I have run deeper into the Roth oeuvre, I feel comfortable in saying that it helps to read these Roth books in a certain order. After writing best-selling and critically acclaimed revolutionary novels for over half a century, there are many Philip Roths (some consistent themes). There are some novels that I am sure are short of the top notch quality that Roth hit in the 1990s. This belongs to the sequence of the top notch 1990 novels, but the themes inherent in the novel demand familiarity, and I daresay, a liking of Roth and Roth novels - person and books. There are many reasons I have seen for readers to compartmentalize the distinction, liking the quality of work without liking the artist behind the work. That comes from avid readers and non-readers alike.
The reason I say you need to like Roth is that this is an exercise in self-narcissism. The narcissism is deserved in my opinion. Being the best living American writer merits that level of narcissism. Being a successful author in the way that he has managed to do so adds onto that. Celebrity breeds narcissism, and this is a productive exercise of narcissism that explores themes that can only be explicated through narcissism, fame, and celebrity. Because of the narcissism necessary to this exercise, you probably need to like/admire/adulate Roth. It seems tiring and awful to read a 400 page exercise in narcissism if you are not emotionally and intellectually invested.
The most interesting question presented through the narcissism is whether the celebrity has an obligation to advocate and represent. A more detailed and specific way of saying that is whether an author who has dedicated 40 years of professional writing to representing a (portion?) of a community has an obligation to advocate and represent for the interests of that community. Does Roth have some obligation to be the face of Jewish people abroad or in the United States? General criticism that he has received over the decades would indicate that many Jewish people do not even want that. Does Rushdie get to be the face of South Asian immigrants in Europe (doubt that want that, either)? Celebrities are often involved in their pet projects and efforts, but raising money to fight diseases is not controversial. Advocating for the interests of a minority group is. How does Roth answer that question? It seems like his natural position is that he, nor anyone else, has that obligation. The foil for that is Moishe (what a great children's character Moishe Pipik sounds - with him and the Golem, I feel I missed out by not hearing Jewish children's tales), who demands that Roth use his capital and cache for what is perceived to be for the good of the group. Roth wants to write in the Connecticut woods. Moishe demands that fame use its personality and influence to advocate and engineer change.
What is reality is another Roth leitmotif, this time explored through Halcion and drugs. Roth is always tightroping fact and fiction line with his own life, upbringing, history (masterfully, I would add). The drugs might be a necessary part of being in the position that he has and an immense part of the 1990s. The blurring of what is reality makes for an interesting additional dimension.
I know it is such a minor point, but I love the idea of swerving away from the title and hitting the audience with a twist. I would love to see the agI know it is such a minor point, but I love the idea of swerving away from the title and hitting the audience with a twist. I would love to see the aghast look on their faces. ...more
I actually think Lord Goring is a bit of a hero. Sure, he rejects all ambition and is content with sitting on his aristocratic arse all day while hisI actually think Lord Goring is a bit of a hero. Sure, he rejects all ambition and is content with sitting on his aristocratic arse all day while his father upbraids him (maybe there is some heroism in that), but his quips and overall maneuvering are delightful. Delight is an underrated aspect of reading Wilde. The hilarity, subtle barbs at the audience, social criticism, and character interactions predominate. The delight pervades the reading experience.
His final speech - as I am sure it is for most readers - was definitely jarring and incongruous to me. The footnotes I had tried some gymnastics to explain it. I am trying to process it still. ...more
I am guessing that Bollywood movies have drawn too much inspiration from this.
More explicitly than the other Wilde plays I have read, the critique ofI am guessing that Bollywood movies have drawn too much inspiration from this.
More explicitly than the other Wilde plays I have read, the critique of society is overt and clearly what Wilde wants to play. The frivolity is not on full display so much, but the manners, etiquette, and small talk were what made the critique so overt. The small talk banter about the weather in Act II had me cracking up. Plus, the whole big-to-do is over the fan. Plus number two, everyone is lecherous and committing adultery with each other, giving away their paramours by using first names. What a world. ...more
This was a lot of fun, which is the caption accompanying all Wodehouses.
This was my first Wodehouse experienced bereft of Jeeves and Wooster, yet theThis was a lot of fun, which is the caption accompanying all Wodehouses.
This was my first Wodehouse experienced bereft of Jeeves and Wooster, yet the fun translates to other goofy characters. They all seem to have elements of reality to them, mixed in with enough fantastical silliness to make them more entertaining than real characters.
There are so many bad 80s movie plots that spurt out of this plot. Insurance twists and manipulations. Chevy Chase must be salivating. ...more
I love the allegories here. The environmentalist Chisolm can represent you, whether or not you feel strongly or not about the idea of environmentalismI love the allegories here. The environmentalist Chisolm can represent you, whether or not you feel strongly or not about the idea of environmentalism. I think that is a true strength; when a character can capture special feelings and themes without it being the idea he fervently supports that engenders the positive feelings.
I have total admiration for Cheever's writing style. It is impeccable. You can hang on every sentence. I was hooked by page 5.
So Cheever deserves some merit and credit for creating the Naked Man, popularized by How I Met Your Mother. It certainly is not the same, but a Modified Naked Man is the progenitor here.
I need to watch the Cheever Letters Seinfeld episode now. ...more