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
I guess I was in the mood for a bit of magical realism. Pretty enjoyable. No morals, no deep themes, just some fun oddness playing right on the edge oI guess I was in the mood for a bit of magical realism. Pretty enjoyable. No morals, no deep themes, just some fun oddness playing right on the edge of consciousness....more
Here's a snippet from the goodreads short bio of Collins: "...after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens' bloomed. NoGolly this was terrible.
Here's a snippet from the goodreads short bio of Collins: "...after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens' bloomed. Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has received for fifty years."
Well, we can stop again. The verdict is in.
He wishes he had a point of conflict for this novel. The principles in here - a woman who's been blind since age one, another woman who's the widow of a revolutionist, and a guy who escaped the hangman's noose after he was all but convicted of a crime, and has seizures as a result of being hit in the head while robbed - are now hand-wringing because the blind girl dislikes dark things.
A good slapping party could have ended this book about page 50. Get over it! *slap* You! Tell her you took silver nitrate because your stupid Victorian medicine thought it was good for seizures! *slap* Then tell her to get over your blue skin! *slap* You! Stop playing along with all their histrionics! *slap*
I mean, seriously. It's almost bad enough to enjoy hating all the characters, like a one-star horror movie, but it's not quite that bad so it's enjoyable. Plus, it's way too long to read with sustained irony.
And the guy flatters himself in the preface as a good observer of human nature! Nobody ever behaved the way these people did!
He also is a tiring and uninteresting turner of phrase.
And unable to say something other than what he means. Where Dickens or Austen would have a money-obsessed jerk like the reverend in this book talking about how a moneyless marriage prospect was disagreeable, or indolent, or anything but poor, that's beyond Collins. It's so dull.
Two small exceptions. The reverend's wife was a damp lady. He's not terribly clever about it, but it's there. And the German doctor is obsessed with mayonnaise. Kind of funny.
But I can't end with that, because the upshot is I want you leaving this with the message Collins is terrible. So let me add he probably had Hummels adorning his house. ...more