I love this book. But I don't get it. I mean, I get the fictional story that is told, about Michael's brother Carl. At least, I get what happened. ButI love this book. But I don't get it. I mean, I get the fictional story that is told, about Michael's brother Carl. At least, I get what happened. But I'm not sure of its significance. Or how it relates to Melville, or Columbus, or any of the other connections that are made. I mean, at times I could see the connection. But I don't understand the bigger picture. Was there a bigger picture? I'd love to hear what other people think. See, despite this, despite me not 'getting' it... I really liked this book. It is a thrill to read, to learn about Carl, and to read the thoughts and readings that Michael quotes, to see the connections he is trying to make, or happens to make. I love Melville's writing, so of course I'm going to love a book that quotes freely from him and intersperses it into these thoughts that Michael is having. I don't know. This book had me hooked from the beginning to end. And now I want to know more about it. For those that don't know, and want a run-down: Michael Mills is an club-footed MD who refuses to practice. He comes home, feeds himself and his children, and then retires to the attic. The whole book takes place, let's say, over one night, as Michael ruminates about his brother Carl, his family history (he is related to Melville), and freely associates his thoughts with quotes from Melville, with the Columbus myth, with spermatazoa, and everything in between. I want to read it again...
As to the question of man’s monstrous inheritance, Metcalf admirably avoids offering up easy answers — the emphasis on literature does not lead the narrator to suggest that we as a species are redeemed in any way by instances of artistic excellence, nor does the narrator offer up literature as some method for finding solace. But the sympathy Mills has for Columbus, despite crimes committed upon the native population of the lands he “discovered”; for Melville, who doomed his family to penury with his will to fame; and, finally, for his murderer brother, points to the way literature can aid an understanding of monsters and their crimes. It is a simple truth, one that is easily forgotten, and one that the family members of those killed in Charleston seemed to acknowledge when they offered the murderer their forgiveness: Buried within every monster is a man.
These stories are great. They really are. They are varied and fun and cruel and clever. Victory Lap, Sticks, Escape from Spiderhead, My Chivalric FiasThese stories are great. They really are. They are varied and fun and cruel and clever. Victory Lap, Sticks, Escape from Spiderhead, My Chivalric Fiasco... these are all worthy of your reading attention. But... for some reason they didn't have that umph that I want from a story. Often I felt sort of empty by the end of the story; that it hadn't affected me in a strong way. And I want stories to do that. Civilwarland did that to me. Have I read too many Saunders stories in too short a period...that I have buffered away the luster? I don't know. Oh well, it is never a waste of time to spend with Saunders....more
At first, I thought this book had a specific message or agenda. I mean, it sort of does, related to the title, but if you focus too much on that, muchAt first, I thought this book had a specific message or agenda. I mean, it sort of does, related to the title, but if you focus too much on that, much of what she relates will leave you scratching you head. When I realized that this is mainly a memoir, a rumination on a life lived, then I began to appreciate it much more. Some highlights are her description of her cocaine addiction. She actually describes this period in positive terms, and how she stopped cold turkey. I liked this section, not because I am a fan of amphetamines or something, but because it is a narrative that you don't often hear "I did a lot of drugs once and it was one of the best periods of my life" (not an exact quote). I think it takes a lot of courage to write something like that. Her pregnancy complications are brutal and honest and terrifying. The grilled cheese chapter i found to be an honest, complex, and fascinating look at rape and consent etc. This book did make me feel bad about all the terrible things men do (specifically to women in this book, but also made me think of terrible things they do to other men (violence, etc)) There are some stylistic and writing issues I take, but whatever....more
I really respect Abbey's prose, and his unadultered love for the Utah desert. I bought this book after my visit to the Arches and a climbing trip to II really respect Abbey's prose, and his unadultered love for the Utah desert. I bought this book after my visit to the Arches and a climbing trip to Indian Creek. I felt as though the desert was a place I could simply exist and be happy, without the need to do anything. It was all so strangely beautiful. Parts of this book brought back that beauty in a vivid way, which I am thankful for. He can also wax poetic, and be funny. Other times he's a fucking asshole...and not in a charming way. Points off for being a modernized version of Walden, which was a huge disappointment....more
This book is really fantastic. It is humorous and sad and gentle and rough. It is absurd...and then oh so human. George's authors note at the end is alThis book is really fantastic. It is humorous and sad and gentle and rough. It is absurd...and then oh so human. George's authors note at the end is all you need to know: "The stories are mean, in places. They're occasionally nasty. They are abrupt and telegraphic and odd. Sometimes the author seems to be rooting for the cruel world to go ahead and kick his characters' asses." Or: "But also, while working on "The Wavemaker Falters," I noticed something: if I put a theme park in a story, my prose improved, the faux-Hemingway element having been disallowed by the setting. Placing a story in a theme park became a way of ensuring that the story would lurch over into the realm of the comic, which meant I would be able to finish it, and it would not collapse under the conceptual / thematic weight I tended to put on a so-called realist story." AND: "Had others, loving this much [referring to his wife and two daughters], had it go wrong? Did that ever happen? And I knew the answer was yes, of course, all the time, every day. Which raised a second question, one that I now see as being at the heart of this book: Why is the world so harsh to those who are losing?"
I love you George Saunders. I shall read more of your beautifully human and comically absurd work....more
Incredible. There are books that come along and completely change the way you see the world. This is one of those books. It is a big subject, and epicIncredible. There are books that come along and completely change the way you see the world. This is one of those books. It is a big subject, and epic in scope. It's hard to even believe how well Pinker tackles this subject. There are a lot of conclusions that he draws that make me feel uncomfortable (pointing out how state authority and gentle commerce can reduce violence, two things that feel uncomfortable to me with my romanticized view of anarcho-syndicalism), but that's what good books do: they present evidence that makes you see the world differently. I also recommend reading published criticisms of this book. The ones I have read have turned out to be largely unfounded. It is interesting how this thesis can create this knee-jerk reaction in people: "How dare you suggest we are living in a great time for violence?" He does not tackle whether our current time is the best time by other measures (ecology, for example), so don't let that get you down. He chose one topic, a massive and fascinating one, and did an incredible job tackling it. Bravo....more
Damn. I was absolutely loving this book for the first 3/4. The last bit, however, sort of ended on a middle-of-the-road, humdrum note. I am very biaseDamn. I was absolutely loving this book for the first 3/4. The last bit, however, sort of ended on a middle-of-the-road, humdrum note. I am very biased for absolutely fawning over her descriptions of Vancouver, and biking across the country. And her handling of such a complicated issue is nothing but praise worthy. But she needed to carry that momentum to the end. But...yeah, it just felt stale. Oh well. I definiitely recommend this book anyways. I had a blast reading it....more
First book of 2017. Another great addition to Mike Clelland's various guide books. While not comprehensive, this is a great book for beginners, and evFirst book of 2017. Another great addition to Mike Clelland's various guide books. While not comprehensive, this is a great book for beginners, and even experienced people looking for a quick reminder and sometimes some really good 'hacks'. Clelland and O'Bannon are clever guys indeed....more
I only read The Tooth and The Lottery. These are great stories. I don't think they push the bounds of literature or anything; they are simply delightfI only read The Tooth and The Lottery. These are great stories. I don't think they push the bounds of literature or anything; they are simply delightfully macabre. Sort of like The Twilight Zone stories... It's hard to describe these stories without ruining them. I should read more of her work someday... [edit: just read The Intoxicated. It's super short and you can read it here . Fantastic and resonates strongly with today and our bleak future...]...more