Perfectly enjoyable paragraph by paragraph but never quite there, never quite as good as I kept hoping it might become. The characters, setting, histoPerfectly enjoyable paragraph by paragraph but never quite there, never quite as good as I kept hoping it might become. The characters, setting, history, etc, all just never managed to come alive for me. The eponymous city seems like a particularly glaring miss, a potentially fabulous bit of worldbuilding that stays cornered to the occassional descriptive passage. ...more
The more ambitious this series gets, the more, alas, eyerollingly, distractingly, preciously didactic I find it. The oh-gosh-really moment of the inveThe more ambitious this series gets, the more, alas, eyerollingly, distractingly, preciously didactic I find it. The oh-gosh-really moment of the invention of currency is adorable enough, but what really made me chortle helplessly and give up on the book as an actual story I cared about, rather than an instructive on the subversion of fantasy trope X or Y, is Geder's cackling geek-boy-at-his-worst, like he's a psychological profile of someone who emails Anita Sarkeesian misogynistic comments. Interesting, sure. Admirable? Perhaps. A good read? ...more
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
So this is the most useful book I could find about Burundi, (of the seven the library held.) It's essentially the summary of several hundred in-depthSo this is the most useful book I could find about Burundi, (of the seven the library held.) It's essentially the summary of several hundred in-depth interviews conducted with Burundians in 2006 or so, delving into their opinion and experiences on everything from their personal life stories to their political opinions, worldviews and hopes and ambitions for the future. I expect the main criticism might be the synthesis Uvin does, boiling down hundreds of interviews into a few pages of a kind of national barometer on different issues - that interpretation is probably going to look a lot more debatable to those that know that society.
The picture that does come across is complex and difficult, but not without optimism. Peace, education and women's rights are preceived in complex and significant ways. One thing that struck me, and echoes what I know from Israel, is the importance of free movement and travel as a component of peace. It reinforces my sense that this is more than a bourgeouise whinging, but a deep aspect of the way people in conflict feel about their personal safety and their neighbours.
On that note, the attitude that Burundians have towards their recent past and conflict strikes me, as an Israeli, as disturbingly and almost obnoxiously healthy and positive. (And utterly foreign.) I almost instincitively don't trust the idea that the public sentiment towards ethnic conflict might be to move on, let sleeping dogs lie, and accept blame and responsibility as being evenly spread around. It will be interesting to see what we can learn from that.
A little style-over-substance, and the style wears itself very thin quite quickly. I liked the beginning, but well before the end I was just waiting fA little style-over-substance, and the style wears itself very thin quite quickly. I liked the beginning, but well before the end I was just waiting for it to be over. Story and character just dissolve under a terribly contrived plot (that demands people constantly explain it to each other to give it any substance) and that exhausting, over the top writing. A shame - this is the rare book that I wish was actually longer. It feels like an over-long novella, but with the potential to be a longer, more patient, more substantial novel that I would have enjoyed a lot more. ...more
Fun and interesting. A lot of cool science, some ominous (but not terribly ominous) climate change data, and neat insights into the way the various reFun and interesting. A lot of cool science, some ominous (but not terribly ominous) climate change data, and neat insights into the way the various research stations function socially and economically, both one by one and as a sort of continent-wide, international community. I do think a bit that some of the whimsical humor and quirkiness of the place, which Walker seems to really admire if not downright fangirl, is less some astonishing adaptation mechanism of almost superhuman cameraderie in face of nature, etc, and more that it's a bunch of nerds on a really extreme camping trip, but I guess that was charming in its way too. ...more