Travel stories, personal anecdotes, scientific evidence, soul-searching questions, and environmental tourism all combine in David Gessner’s beautifullTravel stories, personal anecdotes, scientific evidence, soul-searching questions, and environmental tourism all combine in David Gessner’s beautifully written book, The Tarball Chronicles. Even the cover, featuring the image of a man’s body, clad in protective gear, with the head of the infamous “oiled pelican” gives the reader a predictive look into the story held within the pages of Gessner’s book. Much like the illustrative pelican/man, Gessner draws heavily on the idea of connectivity and how it is impossible to escape that web that binds us together with every other thing.
Before I start my review out I have a disclaimer: I know Brian Davis. Not only do I know Brian Davis, but I would argue that, for his fiction, I am prBefore I start my review out I have a disclaimer: I know Brian Davis. Not only do I know Brian Davis, but I would argue that, for his fiction, I am probably his #3 or #4 fan (he does have family, after all). Brian has a way with words and that translates well also into his non-fiction, of which A Link to the Past is firmly a part of. Brian, in addition to being a gifted storyteller, also writes incredible poetry and song lyrics, so with all of that said and the shameless plugging complete, let's move into my review of his memoir.
A Link to the Past is a set of essays that deal with the secondary part of Brian's title, Stories of Growing Up Gamer. I know there are parts of my life that I can define by certain MMOs that I played and the friendships formed as a result of those games (in fact, as I sit here typing this, I'm enjoying the hospitality of an old guild leader/best friend of mine). I found myself reliving parts of my own life, as a result, as I wandered through the fragments of his life that Brian reveals in this memoir. I laughed quite a bit, as he is quite the witty writer, and I learned quite a bit about games that I absolutely did not want to know anything about before. But Brian makes those games relevant because he uses them as a framework for his growth as a brother, a son, a friend, a writer, and ultimately, the person he is today.
There are moments of brilliance - comparing his relationship with his older brother to the relationship of the Sega Genesis to the NES being one of them. There are moments where I, admittedly, found myself skimming a little more than I wanted to (anything to do with sports, other than college football, and I check out). There were a few revalations about my friend that I got to enjoy - but I will also say that, as much as I enjoyed the glimpses into Brian's life, there was a bit of something missing.
I crave Drama (with a capital D) in my memoirs. There was a passing remark about a girlfriend at one point, but other than that, there really wasn't that much drama happening. And that may have been because there wasn't much drama in Brian's life to talk about, but still, there has to be some. And without those moments of vulnerability revealed, the genre of memoir can come off a bit detached. So while I adore Brian and love having his friendship as a part of my life, I still put the book down feeling as if I knew the surface aspects of his life, but not that much about what's going on deep inside. I wanted to know that too. Maybe someday I will get to.
All of that said, I would recommend this book to anyone who has a gamer in their life. It'll be a great conversation starter, because I know it made me want to talk to my friends about how games have influenced the person I've become today. Brian goes pretty in depth in a review-style fashion about obscure titles and some not-so-obscure titles (Final Fantasy VII and VIII feature pretty prominently) but I didn't play those - I loved the online Final Fantasy XI which Brian wasn't so much a fan of. All that said, pick this one up. If you are in Peoria, IL - go to a book signing or catch Brian playing his music at Thirty-Thirty Coffee. You won't regret it....more
It's only natural that since I am fascinated by survival stories in fiction that I should also look to some crazy real-life stories. That's exactly whIt's only natural that since I am fascinated by survival stories in fiction that I should also look to some crazy real-life stories. That's exactly what caught my eye when I saw Ed Stafford's book. NAKED AND MAROONED is a heck of a title and a little bit of marketing genius. Who could pass something like that up? Then, upon further reading, I noticed that he spent his time in the South Pacific and, given my recent time spent in the Pacific, I had to know what it was like.
I have a fascination with King Richard III. As many people know, his skeleton was recently found (near a parking garage) and, as a result, we are ableI have a fascination with King Richard III. As many people know, his skeleton was recently found (near a parking garage) and, as a result, we are able to know more today about what this famous man looked like - in addition to knowing more about his deeds. Richard III was the monarch connected with the two princes, if you have heard that story. He's also known as the "Evil Crouchback," due to his having scoliosis, we have since learned. Richard III was the last monarch before the uniting of the York and Lancaster Houses - two houses who had been at war for 100 years in the War of the Roses. But Elizabeth of York is clearly not about Richard III - it's about Elizabeth. However, Weir understands that in order to fully understand Elizabeth we have to understand how she grew up, what influenced her, and most importantly, what the evidence has indicated about the person she was.
One of the things I love most about Native American literature is the complete relevance the stories have to life today. James Marshall recognizes thiOne of the things I love most about Native American literature is the complete relevance the stories have to life today. James Marshall recognizes this and expertly weaves his own insight into stories that have been passed down in the oral tradition from his grandparents. Many of the stories contain information about Crazy Horse, one of the most famous of the Lakota, and quite a few of them talk about the origin of familiar creatures and traditions, such as the buffalo and the sun dance. Returning to the Lakota Way is not only a collection of these stories, but also a challenge to its readers to think long and hard about the morals of the stories and the impact it would have on our lives and communities if we just applied them to our own lives.
It was interesting timing, because I picked up The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy immediately after reading Ann Patchett's newest memoir. The differenIt was interesting timing, because I picked up The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy immediately after reading Ann Patchett's newest memoir. The difference could not have been more night and day. Pat Conroy does not pull punches, laying bare the very foundations of his childhood in a brutal way that manages to keep the self-pity at a minimum and, instead, tells a story of learning to live with the hand life deals you and moving forward to become a better person.
I've been a fan of Ann Patchett since reading her brilliant masterpiece of a book, Bel Canto. I have an insane amount of longing to visit the bookstorI've been a fan of Ann Patchett since reading her brilliant masterpiece of a book, Bel Canto. I have an insane amount of longing to visit the bookstore she is co-owner of in Nashville, TN (Parnassus Books), and every time her name comes up in my email, on the internet, or in conversation, I have to hold myself back from squealing in delight and rushing insert myself into whatever is being talked about.
To be honest, I would not have picked up The Reason I Jump on my own. I just so happened to win it in a drawing provided by the publisher and then, duTo be honest, I would not have picked up The Reason I Jump on my own. I just so happened to win it in a drawing provided by the publisher and then, during the middle of the day the other day, I picked it up and thought... "hm, it's not that long." So I opened it up and dove in, starting with David Mitchell's introduction.
There are no words to describe how disappointed I was by The Butler by Wil Haygood. What I was expecting was a book about Eugene Allen - you know, theThere are no words to describe how disappointed I was by The Butler by Wil Haygood. What I was expecting was a book about Eugene Allen - you know, the famous man who was the White House butler and served eight American Presidents. Basically, you know, what was written in the summary of the book. But I should have been forewarned because look at the first line of that summary - it's a lauding of all of the accolades of Wil Haygood. And that's ultimately what The Butler was about - Wil Haywood's story as he sought out the man who inspired the story.
After reading Mary Doria Russell's Doc, I was excited to get a book on another larger-than-life figure from the O.K. Corral.. well, kind of. Still, aAfter reading Mary Doria Russell's Doc, I was excited to get a book on another larger-than-life figure from the O.K. Corral.. well, kind of. Still, a look at the woman who was married to Wyatt Earp was pretty darn close to that figure, and I was very, very curious about her.
The Lady at the OK Corral is the story of Josephine Earp, the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp (or one of many apparently). Not much of this book is spent on the big showdown at the corral which is, apparently, just as Josephine would have wanted. But the result is a story about lawsuits, libel suits, and fighting over a biography that, to be honest, I had never heard about.
Josephine was a spunky woman, there's no denying that. The parts of the book that focus on her actual life talk about the rough manner of living she and Wyatt embraced - traveling, never putting down roots, living through intense heats and bonedeep colds. What struck me the most was just how mobile they were, and just how much money Wyatt Earp was capable of making. Throughout the book there is mention time, and time again, of how Earp was cheated of the royalties from people using his name...but I saw over and over how he and Josephine really used that name to make quite a bit of money (at one point, in one year, I believe the equivalent was 1 million dollars today).
The result? This book ends up seeming like a cross between a grand adventure and a whine-fest. And, ultimately, the whining and lawsuits got to me and I just lost interest. Such a shame - I was hoping to hear more stories and less about her battles to make sure that Earp was portrayed as a "good" man. ...more