i picked this up on a recommendation from several different people. i read it in about an hour, while sitting on the couch with a cat on my lap.
it'si picked this up on a recommendation from several different people. i read it in about an hour, while sitting on the couch with a cat on my lap.
it's a very sweet book, with a lot of profound thoughts in it. the ending is very poignant, but surprisingly, i didn't get teary at all. i thought i would, and i really wanted to. it just didn't happen.
i also think my rating suffered a bit from practicality. i'm one of the first to believe that being child-like (not childish) can be a very good thing. not losing sight of the wonder, the magic, and all those amazing invisible things. but when the "grown-ups are strange" kept coming up, i wanted to say, i know. they are. we are. but we have to be, in order for you to still have that childlike wonder and the ability for you to dream. we HAVE to work. we have to do things that make no sense to you. possibly it's not that important, but it's necessary. so don't be so quick to judge.
a very good story, and one that i will share with others. 4 stars....more
i honestly don't know how to review this book. i've thought and thought for days. i suppose i can at least explain that the three stars is kind of ani honestly don't know how to review this book. i've thought and thought for days. i suppose i can at least explain that the three stars is kind of an average. the book gets five stars for effort - obviously the author did amazing amounts of work, and it's really kind of a cool idea. but i think, deep down, i really really didn't like the book. hence the one star. in basic math, five plus one divided by two equals three! (put that in your footnotes, mr. d.)
i respect the book itself. it's well done, for what it is, which i guess is experimental literature/prose. i liked the idea of dual story lines, for lack of a better description, with the navidson record and johnny's story, even though johnny's story tended to irritate me to no end and really didn't seem to have a point. i did enjoy the storyline with the haunted house, and i think (perish the thought) that it would have been a great book just on its own.
i guess, at the end, it just wasn't my style. but kudos to the author for making the book equivalent of forrest gump. you either love it, or you hate it. sadly, i tend to fall closer to the latter. but good try anyways!...more
i thoroughly enjoyed this book. i hadn't really known much about either subject (the 1893 chicago world's fair or h h holmes) prior to reading the booi thoroughly enjoyed this book. i hadn't really known much about either subject (the 1893 chicago world's fair or h h holmes) prior to reading the book, and i loved learning so much about something i knew nothing about. that's always fun. it was interesting to learn about the advancements, ideas and "modern" things that had their origins in the fair (ac vs. dc current, shredded wheat, the pledge of allegiance, etc.). i found myself wanting to learn more.
a couple of reviewers have mentioned that it almost seems like the two stories (holmes and the fair) would have been better in their own books. i find myself agreeing with them, to a certain point, merely because with the scope of the book, larsen has to resort to some teasers to fit in everything he wants. he talks about how the architecture of the chicago world's fair changed american architecture in general, but he doesn't really follow up on that. and the holmes story is very interesting, but aside from the fact that holmes used the fair to the extent that he knew it would bring him new victims, the two aren't really that linked in my mind. the way that larsen portrays it, the fair was really just a convenient tool for holmes.
i wanted to know more about some of the larger and smaller players in the fair. i sympathized with olmstead regarding his landscaping, and i was really impressed with ferris and his wheel, as well as the story behind it. it's things like that where i wish the stories were stand alone - each seemed to suffer just a tad because the other needed the room. throw in the story of prendergast (also interesting), and it was almost too much. (as an aside - i realize the story of prendergast was pretty important in the long term, with the assassination and the way it affected the end of the fair, but it almost seemed like a throwaway. had this been fiction, i would likely be roasting mr. larsen for his throwaway plot that really had nothing to do with the story except to ruin the ending (in a way) and disrupt the flow.)
another sort of detail - i don't know how much mr. larsen had to work with (from the research in his book, it seems like a lot), but i actually would have really liked more maps and pictures. i think based on my childhood reading of non-fiction, i always tend to look for that section in the middle of the book with maps and pictures, and i found myself strangely disappointed that this book didn't have that section. i think it would have been a great addition.
still, a great book. very informative, very interesting, and a great jumping off point for studying either subject in greater detail....more