Approachable non-fiction is the unicorn of the book world. Most non-fiction I've come across is dry at best, and completely unintelligible at worst. NApproachable non-fiction is the unicorn of the book world. Most non-fiction I've come across is dry at best, and completely unintelligible at worst. Not so with Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari's book on dating and relationships in the modern world. It helps that he's hilarious (if you haven't seen "Master of None" on Netflix, I beseech you to do so), so he presents a lot of research in a way that is both understandable and interesting. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect with this book. I worked in a bookstore for over a year, during which this book was released, and when it was shelved in the "Community & Culture" section of the store, I was confused, knowing Ansari solely for his comedy. But the research itself is solid and fascinating. Ansari's take on it is just the icing on a very enjoyable piece of cake....more
I keep trying to come up with adequate words to describe Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing. “Haunting” seems to come to closest to what he achieves so quietlyI keep trying to come up with adequate words to describe Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing. “Haunting” seems to come to closest to what he achieves so quietly and elegantly in his prose. I first read Ishiguro when I picked up Never Let Me Go, which suggests a dystopian future in England. The Remains of the Day, an older work, is set in the past, in the post-WWII era. While it isn’t as obviously tragic as Never Let Me Go, it is in some ways perhaps more heartbreaking.
The Remains of the Day follows Mr. Stevens into the twilight of his life, as he reflects on his years in the service of Lord Darlington as butler of the latter’s majestic English estate. Now under the employ of Mr. Farraday, an American, Stevens leaves the estate to embark on a journey through the English countryside with the hopes of convincing former housekeeper Miss Kenton to return to the household.
That, in a nutshell, is the “plot” of The Remains of the Day. It’s certainly not a plot-driven story, instead focusing on what is below the surface, in the private joys and challenges of the characters, particularly Stevens. Ishiguro is masterful at exploring the nuance in his characters, and because of this, we come to learn that although appearances are paramount in Mr. Stevens’ world, what is going on in the private reserves of his mind are far more complex and fascinating. Stevens’ worldview is challenged repeatedly, both by the demands of his new employer (Stevens struggles with the concept of bantering, which seems to be more important to his American employer than his former British one), as well as with the acceptance of who Lord Darlington really was. Stevens is reserved to the point of repression and although this is abundantly clear to the reader, it is less than self-evident to the butler. Through a series of vignettes that he recalls, it is undisputed that Mr. Stevens has given more to his employer than even he realizes. His sacrifice may be in service of what is noble and proper, but he has little to show for his efforts.
Like Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day leaves the reader feeling melancholy, heartbroken by the sense that although Ishiguro’s characters can’t miss something they never had they are missing it anyway....more
These days, when people hear the word "Scientology", this is probably what first comes to mind:
As ebullient as Tom Cruise was when he jumped on Oprah'These days, when people hear the word "Scientology", this is probably what first comes to mind:
As ebullient as Tom Cruise was when he jumped on Oprah's couch to proclaim his love for then-girlfriend Katie Holmes, he is, for better or worse, the face of Scientology, and as Leah Remini claims in her book Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, Cruise is also one of the de facto leaders of the controversial "religion."
That Remini is so openly critical of Cruise and of other church officials comes as something of a surprise, given the reputation of the CoS as being a group that deals with dissenters in no uncertain terms. However, as Leah Remini notes, Scientology holds far less sway over Hollywood as a whole than they'd lead non-members to believe. Inside the church, however, it's a different story. Celebrity congregants are required to pay exorbitant tithes, for lack of a better word. They are also expected to recruit other celebrities to the religion, as Remini points out when recounting the story of being asked by church leadership to invite friend Jennifer Lopez and Lopez's then-husband Marc Anthony to Tom Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes in 2006.
There is certainly some dishing in this book about the church hierarchy and an interesting behind-the-scenes look at "Mr. Cruise" which paints him as an infantile, spoiled, protected and coddled jerk. But the heart of this book lies in Remini's humour which is probably what kept her sane through 30+ years in this cult-by-any-other-name (she was brought into the fold as a child by her mother).
I remember Leah Remini from her first appearance on Who's The Boss back in the mid-80s, which was one of her first roles. I've always liked her, and I can still say that after reading this book. She is self-aware enough to admit that she is far, far from perfect, but she remains charming, stubborn, humorous and likeable, which makes her easy to root for as she takes on life outside of Scientology....more