Fine and readable, but really very basic. Not at all an academic book. The anecdotes from the collapse of the 90s are funny/painful, when I realize myFine and readable, but really very basic. Not at all an academic book. The anecdotes from the collapse of the 90s are funny/painful, when I realize my grandparents must have gone through all that. The optimism going forward is...also funny painful, given that a cynical, worst-case guess at Ukraine's future - an impoverished chaos torn between Russia and Europe - only barely scratches at how bad the situation really is, as the one thing Reid seems confident about is that country certainly wouldn't break up. Yeah.
The thing is, every time i'm in the Ukraine, i'm struck by how rich it is in many ways. So much space, so much water, so much green. Educated population, extant (if crumbling) modern infrastructure, medical system, education system. This isn't some patch of desert or somewhere that has never gotten out of subsistence agriculture - it just tumbled back there. I always get vaguely angry there, almost. Like, what's your excuse, huh, you ridiculously vast expanse of stuff? I guess I need a more in depth book for that. ...more
I think I like this a little better than it might deserve. Maybe because it's the first Hemingway i've read. That writing style - it wears itself outI think I like this a little better than it might deserve. Maybe because it's the first Hemingway i've read. That writing style - it wears itself out by the end, but for a while, I found it genuinely pleasurable just to read. Kind of fleshy and very nearly, well, erotic in a certain way. Not even the contents in particular - just the style itself. (Does that make any sense?)
It so jumps out as so very and particularly masculine, that there was something very physical in reading it, inhabiting that not-my-own skin. But, also in being aware of men, of ideas of manliness - and in how fragile and constructed they sometimes are - and appreciating wading around those ideas and anti-ideas for a while, in the sense that, well, I like men, you know?
Of course, I have no idea if that idea of men, (writing for men? Writing as men?) is something Hemmingway really tapped into, or just troped up, but it was still fun before it got kind of boring.
Well, that was one of the weirder reviews I've ever written, but there it is. The story, as such, is not much to write home about, but in dialect with the style, there was something there for me. ...more
Very weak. I picked this up because I really enjoy Melvin Bragg's radio show "In Our Time," because he seems to have a knack for asking the interestinVery weak. I picked this up because I really enjoy Melvin Bragg's radio show "In Our Time," because he seems to have a knack for asking the interesting, but still rigorous, questions. This is just plodding and cutesy though. Not any particularly interesting angles on the language or on linguistics in general - yes, English has a lot of loan words - and not very compelling as history. It did make me want to find out more about the Reformation though. I guess that's something. ...more
Meatier than the first one, and a little nastier. Enjoyed thoroughly.
So far it seems to me like the two Cormoran Strike books are intensely concernedMeatier than the first one, and a little nastier. Enjoyed thoroughly.
So far it seems to me like the two Cormoran Strike books are intensely concerned with appearances. Vanity, perception and presentation of self. Celebrity and reputation in the main mystery plot, yes, but also in more insidious, more prosaic ways in the background subplots that I actually found myself enjoying more by the end. Strike is terribly perceptive about people, about the way they like to show themselves, but he seems almost an unreliable narrator when it comes to himself.
He stands out, effortlessly cool, masculine, authentic compared to the suburban, social climbing mileu he spends so much being contemptous of. But the text itself has just a little more sympathy for these characters - his fussy, well-meaning sister and self-awarely spoiled brother, Robin's jealous fiancee, the p3ublisher he takes up with and dumps - and the gap gets interesting.
Strike makes more sense to me here, with that context. He's proudly aloof of his famous father, but there's a jealousy there too. His willingness to use people and throw them out of his life when he's done. The shade of longing for his old army life - discipline and his own authority, rather than cameraderie or sense of purpose of whatever. His ex - who seemed like a bit of a drama queen in the first book, but basically ok - is revealed here as an utter piece of work, thoroughly selfish, gratuitously cruel and snobby to boot. It rather raises the question - what kind of man would have that as the grand, torrid love afair of his life? ...more
Perhaps because I'm pretty much the choir here, there's nothing terribly interesting in explaining that neolToo much economics, not enough geography.
Perhaps because I'm pretty much the choir here, there's nothing terribly interesting in explaining that neoliberalism is a thing which is and which is not nice. This we know. I was hoping for more of an exploration of the actual spaces created, not just the fact of their existence and the ideology behind it. How do these places function? What tools, designs, aesthetics do they use to maintain themselves, and why? What story are they telling the people inside them? The people outside them? What can they tell us about the logic and worldviews of the people who created them? Why are they so often so fucking ugly?
Some of the articles touch on this, but often quickly dodge away again. The best, in this sense, is probably the article on Managua, which discussed the exclusionary functions of that cities new roads. Most of the rest were largely descriptive, showing how capitalism created this or that gated community and what's wrong with it, but not really saying much beyond. The essays were often fun reading (and short,) since describing someone else's appalling taste with one's best acidic quips is a happy sort of thing to do, but still left me wanting a deeper, perhaps bolder, investigation of this issue, that would pay more attention to culture, aesthetics and space itself, and less to the predictable effects of IMF policy. ...more
I had a lot of fun with this. The final essay is slightly impenetrable but awfully tantalizing, and the collection of analytic viginettes are insghtfuI had a lot of fun with this. The final essay is slightly impenetrable but awfully tantalizing, and the collection of analytic viginettes are insghtful and often downright hilarious. Some of them have dated - though often in illuminating ways that don't suggest much progress, really - and others remain totally spot-on for today. Barthes doesn't exactly take apart the world around him, rather he tries to understand what its actually communicating, what the moral of the message is, and how this normalizes a (bourgeouise) status quo. ...more
Just ok. I'm very easy to please with a passing reference to some eccentric bit of history, like microscopic kingdoms ruled by nuns or weird buildingsJust ok. I'm very easy to please with a passing reference to some eccentric bit of history, like microscopic kingdoms ruled by nuns or weird buildings or people with odd names, so this book had a head start with me. That said, It never did seem to find a good middle ground between telling some of the drier political and military history and merrily skipping away from it in favour of the funny stuff. Chapters and chapters did go on abouut successions or military campaigns, but with a carefully cultivated air of sheepish embarrassment that rather wore itself out, and on the other hand still didn't really deliver enough information for it to be interesting. Or to make any sense.
Winder also largely shied away from the really salacious personal gossipy stuff about various demented Habsburgs, which seems a bit of a shame. Come on, that's really all we can salvage out of the awful idea that was thousands of years of aristocracy. What does work pretty well is the cultural stuff, particularly art and music, and the book did add a few writers to my mental tbr pile. Winder's joy at encountering and describing various strange and disturbing paintings, statues, victory columns, overegged gazebos and that sort of thing is pretty infectious. ...more