A somewhat bombastic collection of character sketches and scenes of said characters making (mostly) terrible decisions of one type or another. Boyle c...moreA somewhat bombastic collection of character sketches and scenes of said characters making (mostly) terrible decisions of one type or another. Boyle comes highly recommended from a couple of my coworkers, and I'll definitely be reading more!
A few samples:
"She didn't have to be at work till twelve the next day--she was an assistant to the reference librarian at the university library, and her schedule was so flexible it was all but bent over double." (71)
"He was no longer a freshman at Brown, not officially, but he had his books and his course notes, and he tried to keep up as best he could. Still, when the screams echoed through the cellblock at night and the walls dripped with the accumulated breath of eight and a half thousand terminally angry sociopaths, he had to admit it wasn't the sort of college experience he'd bargained for." (136)
"He was in his own house, among familiar things, but everything seemed distorted and unfamiliar, because he'd never before gone up these stairs with a gun in his hand--and yet he didn't feel nervous or tense, or not particularly. He felt like a hunter in an air-conditioned forest." (242)
"It was a warm, full-bodied day in early fall, the sun caught like a child's ball in the crown of the Jeffrey pine outside the window, and I was washing up after lunch when a smooth melodious voice interrupted Afternoon Classics to say that people were bleeding from the eyeballs and vomiting up bile in the New York subways and collapsing en masse in the streets of the capital." (282)(less)
A delightfully sardonic look at the paternal British colonial point of view during the “Indian Mutiny” of 1857. Pokes fun at all involved--nobody is s...moreA delightfully sardonic look at the paternal British colonial point of view during the “Indian Mutiny” of 1857. Pokes fun at all involved--nobody is spared!
A few samples:
"Louise, too, remained silent. In Fleury's view she was quite right to sit there quietly and listen to what the gentlemen had to say, because speaking a great deal in company is not an attractive quality in a young lady. A young lady with strong opinions is even worse. What can be more distressing than to hear a member of the fair sex exclaiming: 'In the first place, this...and in the second place, that...' while she chops the air with her fingers and divides whatever you have just been saying into categories? No, a woman's special skill is to listen quietly to what a fellow has to say and thereby create the sort of atmosphere in which good conversation can flourish. So thought Fleury, anyway." (47)
"The Padre...could not understand why the Bible should have had to be translated at all, even in the first place...why it should have been written in Hebrew and Greek when English was the obvious language, for outside one remote corner of the world hardly anyone could understand Hebrew, whereas English was spoken in every corner of every continent. The Almighty had, it was true, subsequently permitted a magnificent translation, as if realizing His error...but, of course, the Almighty could not be in error, such an idea was an absurdity. Here the Padre was aware of intruding on matters of extraordinary theological complexity which blinded his brain. It was so hot and one must not allow oneself to get caught like a ram in a thicket of sophistry." (51)
"Indeed, this renders the conversion of the native very difficult for beside this ascetic fervour he sees the Christian priest living in a comfortable house with a wife and family...and I fear he's not impressed. Not only the clergyman but the whole Christian community must seem very dissolute to him, I'm afraid...What use is it if we bring the advantages of our civilization to India without also displaying a superior morality?...Mrs Land, we are raising ourselves, however painfully, so that mankind may enjoy in the future a superior life which now we can hardly conceive! The foundations on which the new men will build their lives are Faith, Science, Respectability, Geology, Mechanical Invention, Ventilation, and Rotation of Crops!" (82)
"What an advantage that knowledge can be stored in books! The knowledge lies there like hermetically sealed provisions waiting for the day when you may need a meal." (182)
"At the thought of statistics, the Collector, walking through the chaotic Residency garden, felt his heart quicken with joy...For what were statistics but the ordering of a chaotic universe? Statistics were the leg-irons to be clapped on the thugs of ignorance and superstition which strangled Truth in lonely byways. Nothing was able to resist statistics, not even Death itself, for the Collector, armed with statistics, could pick up Death, sniff it, dissent it, pour acid on it, or see if it was soluble." (186)
"As silk-worms secrete silk, so human beings secrete sin. There is a normal quantity of sin which, for their everlasting punishment, any community of erring humans cannot help spinning in the course of their lives." (209)
"'We look on past ages with condescension, as a mere preparation for us...but what if we're only an after-glow of them?'"(219)(less)
"It was in a high-school library in suburban Los Angeles in the late 1980s, when I was fifteen years old, that I first read about a tiny tropical coun...more"It was in a high-school library in suburban Los Angeles in the late 1980s, when I was fifteen years old, that I first read about a tiny tropical country called Equatorial Guinea, where the president had once lined up his political opponents in a football stadium and had them gunned down to the accompaniment of rock music. It was the kind of story that sticks in your head, and I became something of an Equatorial Guinea junkie after that." (preface xv)
"Student of North Africa will quickly notice that this book, like so many others purporting to be about "Africa," focuses almost entirely on countries south of the Sahara and will perhaps query the decision, given that Egypt and Algeria are both significant oil and gas producers and Libya is rapidly increasing its output. But while the nations of the Maghreb are no less "African" than those south of the Sahara, my goal here has been to avoid the far more familiar terrain of Arab (and, by extension, North African) oil politics. Some will consider this a criminal omission, but any attempt to shoehorn in a superficial discussion of these countries in the absence of a larger exposition of Arab history and politics would, I would argue, have been the greater crime." (preface footnote, xvi)(less)
Simple story with sympathetic characters going through difficult times. A few class conflicts, but mostly cooperation and goodwill. There are many opp...moreSimple story with sympathetic characters going through difficult times. A few class conflicts, but mostly cooperation and goodwill. There are many opportunities in the plot for things to go horribly wrong and terrible things to happen, but this isn't that kind of story (it predates the current gritty juvenile/YA trend).
Some library love: "The library was nearby, and Dad pointed it out, reminding Robin that now that they had a permanent address she would be able to have a card again...Just looking at the outside of the library made Robin lose herself for a minute, remembering the feel of libraries. There was that special smell made up of paper, ink, and dust; the busy hush; the endless luxury of thousands of unread books. Best of all was the eager itch of anticipation as you went out the door with your arms loaded down with books. Libraries had always seemed almost too good to be true. It didn't seem possible that anything as important as a book could be free to anyone--that is, to anyone who had a permanent address." (64)(less)
Local Bay Area! Art and words--double threat! And what a delightful variety of artistic styles. Very impressive.
Social pressures of high school with a...moreLocal Bay Area! Art and words--double threat! And what a delightful variety of artistic styles. Very impressive.
Social pressures of high school with all the unthinking cruelty and pranks that entails, culture shock of moving back to a country you left as a child, young love dashed, disillusionment with human evils--this collection has got it all.(less)
What?!? This is so fantastical as to be beyond belief, but I found it fairly easy to suspect my disbelief most of the time. I even found myself thinki...moreWhat?!? This is so fantastical as to be beyond belief, but I found it fairly easy to suspect my disbelief most of the time. I even found myself thinking, "Wow, is there really a giant bookstore in Paris that's just mountains upon mountains of books? That's cool" but then I realized how silly my internal monologue sounded. I guess I'm a sucker for the autobiographical narration, and I take David B. at his word. But then when an ancient god of destruction makes an appearance only to disappear inside the letters of a book and vanquish a foe hidden there, even gullible me realizes we're venturing into the world of literary daydreams.
I did actually think some fairly deep analytical thoughts as I was reading this, but just like a fever dream or the realizations made while on a journey of controlled substances, those epiphanies disappeared between the pages when I closed the book. Just like Emile Travers and the Angel of Death. Ahhh….(less)
My favorite panel: “The hardest thing about a peanut allergy is remembering to stay vigilant. Especially if you don’t actually have one.”
Sadie preten...moreMy favorite panel: “The hardest thing about a peanut allergy is remembering to stay vigilant. Especially if you don’t actually have one.”
Sadie pretends to have a peanut allergy when she moves to a new school so she can attract friends. Of course nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan! Except lying always gets out of control, and her shallow ploy to attract attention/friends is based on a false identity. Whoops.
I enjoyed the artwork, the story was an interesting cautionary tale concept, with all the elements of high school drama that go along with changing school and finding new friends. Overall pretty good.(less)
I happened to be reading the Scott Pilgrim series and also a couple of Hope Larson books at the same time. After reading the back cover of Scott Pilgr...moreI happened to be reading the Scott Pilgrim series and also a couple of Hope Larson books at the same time. After reading the back cover of Scott Pilgrim #3, I found out that Hope Larson and Brian Lee O'Malley are a couple! Synchronicity.(less)
Great concept, difficult and painful to read because child abduction and soldiering is not a happy topic. But also a bit awkward to read because the d...moreGreat concept, difficult and painful to read because child abduction and soldiering is not a happy topic. But also a bit awkward to read because the dialogue felt forced. Overall a worthwhile effort.(less)
Best dialogue: "Todd's a vegan." "No kidding! I mean, anyone can become a vegan if they work at it, right?" "Um, no. Ovo-lacto vegetarian, maybe." "Uh, wh...moreBest dialogue: "Todd's a vegan." "No kidding! I mean, anyone can become a vegan if they work at it, right?" "Um, no. Ovo-lacto vegetarian, maybe." "Uh, why not?" "Most people just can't take it. It's a fact of science. The main thing to know is that I'm better than most people." "Graduated top of his class from vegan academy and everything." "How does not eating dairy products give you psychic powers, anyway?" "You know how you only use 10 percent of your brain? Well, it's because the other 90 percent is filled with curds and whey!"(less)