I read the 1933 edition, which is very different from the revised 1965 edition. In fact, the cover of the book shown is wrong. There are not tropicalI read the 1933 edition, which is very different from the revised 1965 edition. In fact, the cover of the book shown is wrong. There are not tropical settings and no army guys in the book I read.
But there sure are cringingly terrible racist stereotypes about Chinese people! If you want to read a novel for kids that literally has phrases like "diabolical, yellow face," have I got a book for you!
The mystery begins with the boys needing to get laundry done in a hurry, because Aunt Gertrude is coming. So they take their bag o' clothes to the Chinese Laundry. Unfortunately, the good, honest Sam Lee no longer runs the Chinese Laundry, and instead there's a guy with a twisted grimace of a grin named Louie Fong running the place.
How evil is he? Why, he can't have their stuff done by tomorrow, even though they need it! It take "thlee, fo' day" (sic).
And then it's not even done! The truth is, they never get their laundry back! Instead, the boys uncover a ring to smuggle Chinamen (sic) into the country - right into Bayport, which, I'm pretty sure, is on America's east coast.
But neve rmind. There's lots of overheard conversations, knives thrown, trap-doors (sic), disguises, telegraph office messages, and everyday people traveling from town to town by boat like that's a thing people do.
There's also a roadhouse called "Lantern Land" owned and run by Orientals (sic). 217 pages was a bit much of this. I've had my fill of embarrassing xenophobic Americana for quite a long time.
According to this PDF, I happened upon one of the 3 Hardy Boys' mysteries that are the most racist (the 3 being volumes 12, 13, and 14), and in fact, the racism is one of the reasons people doubt these 3 were written by supposed ghost-writer Leslie McFarlane, who wrote most of the first 25. Volume 13 has old South stereotypes of former slaves, and volume 14 has Mexicans. Whee....more
I wish Sinclair Lewis had written The Grapes of Wrath. The Joads would have found work with a guy who owned a carnival or something, who was passing tI wish Sinclair Lewis had written The Grapes of Wrath. The Joads would have found work with a guy who owned a carnival or something, who was passing through California's orchard country just at the right time. Who doesn't like a cheerful ending?...more
I made the mistake of seeing a couple of reviews while I was reading this, so I knew I was supposed to think this was either a Dickens novel in the 21I made the mistake of seeing a couple of reviews while I was reading this, so I knew I was supposed to think this was either a Dickens novel in the 21st century, or proof that adults have all been dumbed down to think Harry Potter is the height of literary excellence. So I wanted to come in and say, "why can't it be both?" Dickens loved a sappy ending where good got rewarded, evil got punished, and Rowling seems to consciously pattern her writing after Dickens.
But I can't do that. Not feeling it. Toward the end, I was thinking (and by the way, this thing is nothing if not compelling - don't worry that you're going to read part of it and not want to finish), maybe, just as Seinfeld introduced us to the amoral sitcom, Tartt is mainstreaming the amoral novel - no moral, no lessons, no themes: it's just a bunch of stuff that happened.
Without spoiling it, I will say that Tartt's universe isn't chaotic and meaningless. Overall good is rewarded. But I'm not feelin' it the way I do with Dickens (or Rowling) - I'm not cheering the result, and warmed in the cockles of my wherever my cockles are. It's morality tacked on where it doesn't belong, or something. Not sure.
But like I say, it's a compelling story, and I do appreciate that the romantic questions came to a believable end, where any 19th century author would have smote Kitsy with quick-acting consumption and removed her forthwith.
I read this because I'd never read any Quindlen, and thought I should make up that deficiency.
I am very aware I'm a man as I write this.
So I'll say II read this because I'd never read any Quindlen, and thought I should make up that deficiency.
I am very aware I'm a man as I write this.
So I'll say I know I'm not qualified to really talk about the subject matter (escaping an abusive husband), because I have no experience with it. It certainly got disturbing at parts, but not gratuitous. The emotional horror and psychological bullying were the hard parts.
And for once, I didn't hate the reader's guide in the back (well, the part that Quindlen added. I still refuse to read 'discussion questions.'). It was a neat insight into an author's relationship with her protagonist....more
Of all the post-apocalyptic YA novels with protagonists coming of age and being tasked to save the world, this is one of them.
Points for being able toOf all the post-apocalyptic YA novels with protagonists coming of age and being tasked to save the world, this is one of them.
Points for being able to recognize Chicago as the dead former city where this is set.
None of the rest of it makes much sense, though. In dystopias, I always find myself pondering the presented premise, and how we got to where we are now. Fahrenheit 451 - One day everybody agreed that books could lead to different opinions, so we should burn them. Hunger Games - civil war in the US. Most powerful region represses all the others and kills a couple of dozen kids a year on live television because nobody is repulsed by that. Uglies - technology simply led to the point where national government was kind of irrelevant, and different sections of the country, all self-sufficient, evolved in different ways. Rollerball - corporations become so much more powerful than governments, that we just admit it and thus the world is run by amoral entities. Pepsi commercials - one day Coca Cola profanely declared that Pepsi was better, went out of business, and Elton John became monarch of a new music-based society. Divergent - one day everybody in the Chicago area (what happened to everyone else?) met and decided that 5 arbitrary character traits, which are neither discrete nor all-encompassing, are going to be the basis of everything, and that every person has to dedicate themselves to one stupid trait at the expense of all others, lest ye surely die.
Some of these are better than others, but for whatever reason, I just can't get into that last one. Couldn't stop shaking my head at the premise. Couldn't believe that at that first-day meeting, nobody asked why we couldn't support two or more of these positive attributes.
OK, so this is not a great book. But it is charming in its badness. Our author tells us how we feel about each character, and our hero is so wonderfulOK, so this is not a great book. But it is charming in its badness. Our author tells us how we feel about each character, and our hero is so wonderfully good he's boring as all get out.
I guess it's a good slice of Manchester life around the turn of the 18th to 19th century, but our writer is such a clumsy observer of human character, and the period she's writing about is before she was born/when she was a little girl, so I'm not even sure of that.
***spoiler*** We also learn that marrying somebody you don't really love, because they love you and you're doing it out of pity, is a great thing to do, and besides, fate rewards you by killing your wife and the husband of the man you passionately love. So marry somebody who's solid and you don't feel passionate about.
OK, if I've sold you on this little bit of mediocrity, and you have a car trip coming up or something, the librivox version is worth getting. The narrator has, or uses, a Liverpudlian accent so well you think he's channeling John Lennon at times....more
Osler draws interesting parallels - really substantive ones - between the trial and execution of Jesus as presented in the gospels and the modern AmerOsler draws interesting parallels - really substantive ones - between the trial and execution of Jesus as presented in the gospels and the modern American capital punishment system.
He's at his best when addressing the reader as a Christian. That is to say, Osler isn't preachy, and he doesn't have a political agenda. He asks, without making (this reader, anyway) defensive, to examine the meaning of the gospels - is it happenstance that the narrative has God the Father yield up his innocent son to be executed by the state?
Or are Christians supposed to infer something from that?
Would the story be the cornerstone of a religion if Jesus had been killed by an extralegal gang? If the mob had lynched him? Or is it significant that it was a legal process that rushed to judgment, convicted him, and executed him?
They are questions I hadn't considered before, among others, and although it's a quick read (about 140 pages), it'll leaving me thinking about it for a long time....more