I feel a bit guilty marking this such that it will count as a book read. As a Kindle Single, it's more of an extended essay.
It's an extended dirge anI feel a bit guilty marking this such that it will count as a book read. As a Kindle Single, it's more of an extended essay.
It's an extended dirge and meditation about the uneasy world which Linda Grant and I are both making our way through -- the uneasy shadowland between the primacy of the physical book and the ascendancy of the e-reader. (If I were in a more cynical mood, I might class this as an advertisement for Kindles, but since Clark is ambivalent about the gadget, I won't be so mean-spirited.)
Grant contrasts the social function of the physical book -- as conversation-starter, class-marker, even as mating bait -- with the inescapable limitations of its weight, heft, aging, and upkeep. She rightly points out what a tiny fraction of the total written output of modern literature can in fact be found in a digital form. But ah, that digital form! When you can carry several books of a thousand pages with you to be dipped into at any time. . . what joy. On painkillers, or can't wear your glasses? Blow the font up even until every line is a single word. (Myself, I read the Catechism on the bus, let some talented voice read me stories as I drift off at night. I practically rejoice when the bus is late and I can squeeze a few more pages in... and just last week missed my stop because I was more interested getting to a certain point in the story than in getting to work on time.)
Lots of topics crammed into this small essay, including: the fate of bookstores; the doubtful nature of leaving bequests; the economics of authorship; as well as all I've stated above.
If I were in a book club (I'm not, these days), I'd recommend this as a sort of salad course between novels. ...more
Fair Robin Williams, may he rest in peace, Did do a bit on one of his live shows Where he pluck’d random topics from the crowd, And made of them most wiFair Robin Williams, may he rest in peace, Did do a bit on one of his live shows Where he pluck’d random topics from the crowd, And made of them most wise and witty skits. And oft would he declaim these in the form Of blank verse such as used by that great Bard Of Avon, Shakespeare. Now, ‘tis true That Shakespeare, in his day, full many plots He did take up, and make fresh stories, so, Would coming ‘pon George Lucas, seize this tale Of knights and rebels, evil kings, and fools, Fair siblings separated, treacheries, Compose a tale all in the Globe might cheer, Just such a treat do we find render’d here.
OK, sorry. Just couldn't help in after reading this little treasure. If you haven't clicked away in disgust, let me say that I wish I'd read the afterword first. Author Ian Doescher here describes the relationships between Shakespeare, Lucas, and the archetypal hero's journey, as well as describing how he came to write these books. He quite deftly renders some of the classic quotable lines from the film into a Shakespearean idiom. The repartee between Han and Leia is suddenly redolent of Taming of the Shrew. I also love the dialogue between assorted Stormtroopers, as they explain away their decisions NOT to break down doors, etc., in pursuit of Our Heroes. ...more
Bouncing back and forth between 3 and 4 stars one this one. I've told you I like big sprawling books, and this is that, spanning about 70 years in itsBouncing back and forth between 3 and 4 stars one this one. I've told you I like big sprawling books, and this is that, spanning about 70 years in its 500 pages. One of the back-cover blurbs calls protagonist Lillian Dunkle an anti-hero, and perhaps that explains my ambivalence. I kept hearing Dunkle's narration of her story in Joan Rivers' voice, and if you know my tastes, you know that is no compliment whatsoever. She's extremely self-centered, driven, a bit paranoid, a shoplifter and petty thief, thinking in absolutes. When she is suddenly brought to account, her self-loathing is also dramatic.
When you consider that she was blamed by her mother for aiding her father in tricking the family (what five-year-old says NO to Daddy in the glow of his undivided attention?); disabled in a tragic accident; abandoned; hungry most of her childhood; crippled (not the term I'd use, but she does); seduced and betrayed in any number of ways -- maybe it makes sad sense that in the end she relies on and trusts only herself.
Although published last year, Lillian Dunkle is looking back from the vantage point of 1982 -- I'm not yet used to times I can remember as an adult being treated as historical events, but it rings true enough, if slightly exaggerated. (Then again, that sense of exaggeration is characteristic of the early 80s, yes?) This book has indeed been carefully researched. Sometimes the seams of the research show a little too much. Certainly the evolution of ice cream in America needs to share the stage, key as it is in Dunkle's life; but I'm not sure that we needed quite so much of the making of live television shows, or quite the amount of decade-specific name dropping with which Lillian establishes her importance in the world. Yes, it shows a pivotal aspect of her character. But by my count, it goes on too long, as does the overuse of certain catchphrases.
(Don't believe me about this? Go back and count for yourself how many times Scarlett O'Hara actually *says* "fiddle-de-dee" or "I'll think about that tomorrow" as opposed to how many times we *think* she said it.)
Not especially deep, but engrossing and vivid. ...more
You know those little clips at the end of Dragnet and Adam-12 that told what happened to the suspects? Or the end credits in movies like American GrafYou know those little clips at the end of Dragnet and Adam-12 that told what happened to the suspects? Or the end credits in movies like American Graffiti or 9 to 5 that give the fate of the characters in the time after the curtain closes? I'm very fond of those, so this book was a treat for me. Alphabetically, she gives the "rest of the story" for various major and minor characters. Sookie, Sam, Pam, and Eric get the most press as you might suspect, but no one gets more than a page or two. Some of the children born after the books' conclusion have their stories told as well. Some characters are taken to their grave, or beyond, but Sookie and Sam are left in the happily-ever-after, which is fine with me. Not all the characters -- not even all the "good guys" -- have that happy ending, so if that prospect bothers you, pass this by. I was sad, but it felt more true than ongoing bliss for everybody, and none of the outcomes is inconsistent with who the characters had been in the stories.
The book has the luscious illustrations -- almost illuminations -- of Lisa Desimini, who deserves more credit than teeny print under the copyright notice. The illustrations here would make a nice goth-flavored children's book! It's true that the illustrations are serving as padding; the book would of course be much shorter without them. But they are high-quality padding, IMHO.
Don't pay for this -- unless you can get it cheaply used, borrow it from a library. I'd have felt ripped off had I paid full freight for this. Thanks, tax dollars, for this simple pleasure. ...more
As with all anthologies, some stories I loved, some I read only because of my love of completeness. When I am looking for new authors to read (yeah, lAs with all anthologies, some stories I loved, some I read only because of my love of completeness. When I am looking for new authors to read (yeah, like that's a problem!), I found a few candidates here. But this is not an introduction to contemporary vampire fiction -- it's a sampler for those looking for the right "blood type" for their next snack. ...more
I enjoyed this, and found it intriguing, but also frustrating.
Where I work, the basis of our work used to be routine work that more or less literallyI enjoyed this, and found it intriguing, but also frustrating.
Where I work, the basis of our work used to be routine work that more or less literally came in the mail. It had definite ebbs and flows, but it was fairly steady and predictable. Now, that traditional stream of work is drying up, and more of our work is focused around projects, driven by this grant or that, this inquiry by a donor, that passion of a dean.
I think Scrum MIGHT be helpful in giving our staff a way to manage these sudden and finite projects. The challenge, I think, would be creating these teams in an institution so in love with hierarchy and process. The staff I know best seem really to crave being given very explicit direction, and Scrum expects team members to be highly self-directing.
I think of this as professional fanfic; apparently, Harris signed off on the various stories, but still, what you have is other writers playing in herI think of this as professional fanfic; apparently, Harris signed off on the various stories, but still, what you have is other writers playing in her playground. The results are uneven. It was a little scary to experience MaryJanice Davidson turning Eric Northman into EmoVamp; apparently, that put-upon tone isn't just Betsy Taylor's narrative voice, but the author's own. Others are better, and I especially liked the stories than took minor characters and gave them a star turn.
Recommended for people who won't have a sense that tinkering with Bon Temps is sacrilege. And if, like me, you find yourself under the weather and in need of light, undemanding reading, here you go. ...more
First of all, let me state my bias right up front. I love chunky inter-generational sagas. Whether fiction or non-fiction, watching the children be boFirst of all, let me state my bias right up front. I love chunky inter-generational sagas. Whether fiction or non-fiction, watching the children be born and grow and have children of their own and so on is great fun for me.
Since this is the first of a trilogy called, "The Last Hundred Years," I presume I have about five years to go until the curtain closes on the Langdons. I hope I can be sufficiently patient during that time.
The book is told from the POV of a shifting cast of family members. Smiley gives the narrative reins even to babies still only a few months old, which is perhaps not surprising if you remember the star turn she gives her hog narrator in parts of Moo. The narrators are in the present moment; no annoying, "Reader, had I but known!" moments to be had here. (If, sometimes, the Langdons seem to be conveniently prone to strange forebodings, well, I come from a family well versed in omens, dreams, and odd feelings about things, so it doesn't seem as odd to me as it might to you.)
Each chapter covers a year, and this book opens in 1920 and closes in 1953. The Langdons are, of course, touched by the world around them. Walter, the patriarch, struggles with whether to mechanize his farm; eldest son Frank goes off to WWII. Unlike some other books I've read, such as The Education of Henry House, the characters do not have repeated "chance" encounters with a famous person just so that the author can make real people jump and dance like marionettes. I like this book much better for that.
If you have some vacation days at the end of the year, I recommend this plain, yet richly detailed and thoughtful narrative as a great fireplace-and-tea book. ...more
Another college "classic," we gossiped about its roman-a-clef possibilities endlessly. Clearly, clearly, this was about Anita Bryant, only who was thaAnother college "classic," we gossiped about its roman-a-clef possibilities endlessly. Clearly, clearly, this was about Anita Bryant, only who was that other family member? And WAS there, or had there been a conspiracy like the one described?
It seems to me now that we weren't really giving Warren credit for having an imagination... not really flattering. Sure the title character is LIKE Bryant, and so, after all, are many people.
The central question of the book intrigues me still today: If we were really honest with each other about our circumstances and our lives, what prejudices of our own or of others would be at least shaken, if not cast off? And on the other hand, should sentiment trump rational argument?
Along with some high-class thriller action, this book will give you food for thought, be you homophobe, homophile, or somewhere in the great green in-between. ...more
Note that this is a 30+ year retrospective review, and I sort of doubt that my opinion would hold up under re-reading. So very much in my life and perNote that this is a 30+ year retrospective review, and I sort of doubt that my opinion would hold up under re-reading. So very much in my life and perspective is different now.
But at the time, it was difficult to get same-sex romances with ANY writing level above soft porn or sappy sentiment, especially in a town with more cows than people. This love story of an athlete and his coach was passed around in my little circle like a treasure on a pillow. ...more