I love Jeff Somers. I loved the first two books more, but I still loved this one. There was one point in this book where I squawked aloud, turned to mI love Jeff Somers. I loved the first two books more, but I still loved this one. There was one point in this book where I squawked aloud, turned to my companion, and exclaimed, "Can you believe what he just did to [character]?!" And then I had to explain the plot, and who the character was, and I still was just rewarded with a blank stare. I guess I didn't explain very well. But what I'm saying is that it takes a certain something special to get a reader to do that in the first place. Squawk, I mean....more
I really enjoyed this book - it's an intriguing line of reasoning that old-style mixed-used cities with dense populations are actually inherently easiI really enjoyed this book - it's an intriguing line of reasoning that old-style mixed-used cities with dense populations are actually inherently easier on the environment (per capita) than sprawling suburban/rural development.
The author also explains some basic energy issues (where does gas come from? What do we make out of oil? How much oil is there?) and makes some interesting points about people's environmental assumptions - for example, about the locavore food movement (local food isn't always necessarily easier on the environment) and LEED building awards (LEED points and environmentally responsible building are two separate things).
I found it a bit unnerving, though, that the author himself, after seven years in Manhattan, moved to a rural area when it was time to raise kids, and is still there. He brushed this away halfheartedly, saying something along the lines of "well, even if we move back to the city, somebody else will move into our house here, so there will be no net gain for the environment." I'm not buying it.
I also wish he had offered more concrete solutions - obviously there's the implied "get more pople living in cities and driving less" solution, but there were no clear steps outlined other than hints about making gas, cars, etc more expensive and cities more appealing.
Despite these issues, I'm seriously considering buying a copy of this book so I can re-read....more
Another winner by Ulitskaya. She tells the story of the final days of Alik, a red-haired Russian artist living in New York who is dying of paralysis fAnother winner by Ulitskaya. She tells the story of the final days of Alik, a red-haired Russian artist living in New York who is dying of paralysis from a mysterious disease. Alik is surrounded by women (very few of whom are clothed - there's a heat wave, the AC has been broken for months, and, well, it's just that kind of crowd), and as they tend to him, trying to feed, baptize, heal, and even make love to him, their unique stories also unfold.
True, the story revolves around a man, but what stands out the most are the novel's women in all of their complex, crazy, multifaceted glory. I love the way Ulitskaya builds up her female characters - mothers and daughters, lovers, virgins, trapeze artists, lawyers - and the constantly changing relationships between them. ...more
“Most people are constantly perpetrating little acts of violence on others, even when they don’t mean to. You almost never do that, Chihiro.”
What a be“Most people are constantly perpetrating little acts of violence on others, even when they don’t mean to. You almost never do that, Chihiro.”
What a beautiful book! This was one of my train reads last weekend and it touched me on a really personal level. It’s a love story, but it’s not the kind of love story that makes me squirm uncomfortably. It’s about two broken people – one more broken, one less – accepting their love for each other, and learning to trust that love. Which is maybe one of the most profound things ever. It’s a simply told story, in an honest tone. There’s a spooky house by the lake and a dark past and an awkward family history, but above all there’s a love that manages to avoid emotional violence, as hinted at in the quote above.
I think I can see (I just skimmed through some Goodreads reviews) how this book has the potential to come across as insipid or annoying, especially in terms of dialogue – but for me, it worked just right. Maybe it was my mood, maybe the train, but it was good....more
This was a fun book, and a quick read. The entire novel takes place in a queue in Soviet Russia - what people are waiting to buy is never quite revealThis was a fun book, and a quick read. The entire novel takes place in a queue in Soviet Russia - what people are waiting to buy is never quite revealed, but discussed by the queue-ers at length ("Are they Czech? No,the policeman said they're American . . . suede or leather? I heard there were some dark brown ones available . . . are you allowed two or three?"). There's no narrator, only an endless series of observations on the length of the queue, arguments, flirtations, plans to run out for an ice cream, curses over how the summer heat is melting the ice cream, and so on. This is Vladimir Sorokin's earliest novel - the first of his I've read - and from what I've heard of the others, it's probably the most "normal" in terms of setting, plot, and so on. It's still quite interesting, though, and it definitely took a lot of skill on his part to write such a good book based on nothing more than people waiting in line. ...more