The Long Earth idea has huge potential, but drags on quite a bit. Nothing really happens until about halfway through the book: the narrator does make tThe Long Earth idea has huge potential, but drags on quite a bit. Nothing really happens until about halfway through the book: the narrator does make the reader curious about the whole system, by revealing tidbits of information and that's about it - not that one should know everything, of course. Are the Earths infinite? Are they in the past? What is 'stepping' between worlds anyway? Again, huge potential and daydreaming opportunities. It often felt like reading 'The Book of the New Sun' by Wolfe: a series of beautiful images loosely connected, but not really flowing, like browsing through a medieval bestiary. This book is more fun and not creepy, mercifully. I was very biased when I started: I wanted to like this series out of adoration for Pratchett (I don't know the works of Baxter) and I can't help comparing the writing. This is not the Discworld, it's another saga with a different personality: letting go of that silly thought made it more enjoyable. I don't know if I will continue reading the series, however much the ending begs a continuation....more
The message is simple: make "art", ship it, connect to the audience, move on and make better "art". You will not always succeed, you will not make eveThe message is simple: make "art", ship it, connect to the audience, move on and make better "art". You will not always succeed, you will not make everyone happy - you shouldn't try to. After a few chapters, I started wondering what could all that "art" have to do with me (and why had I bought this book anyway?). That's because Godin throws the word "art" - no quote marks in the book - around a lot and without too much introduction, and elaborates on it extensively. The point is, "art" in this context can and is work, so also productive activities, not just painting/dancing/music etc. There you go: your work can and should be art. From the author's point of view, this is not about being fancy: the industrialist economy of making stuff, selling stuff and building a reliable, predictable consumer base is on its way, thanks to connection. The next step is a connection economy, more humanized, where it is more important to reach out and be human. In such an economy, you can't just work following the procedures, you need to make art out of work. With this definition of art, anyone can make art: it could be a product, a performance, an initiative at work, a book, anything. Someone will still be doing the production-line kind of work, in its broadest industrialist sense, not you (hah!). Key features of such art is that it creates connections with the audience, which means, not everyone; that it's risky; that nobody will pick you to do it, so don't wait and go; and that there is no other way, apparently.
This book will require some digestion. I like the message of heroism, I've grown a strong feeling against selling more stuff to a stuff-rich world - which, ironically, is my line of work - and I'm definitely up for more human connection at work. I'm rather risk-averse and for folks like me there are many catchy nuggets to be found in the pages. Many feel like genuinely good coaching: pushing, empowering, a little in your face. The nuggets are hidden in a lot of mud, so to speak and I considered dropping the book a few times, only to find another shiny nugget a few pages later. Well played!
I did not like many things in here: first of all, I expected more examples connected to the working world, naively, in hindsight: this book is about having no map and going out there, not a Harvard case study. So I appreciated the short examples at the end, at least it eased the nagging feeling that I'd been reading a pile of nothing - the author might have said that it's a reaction of the "lizard brain" exposed to something dangerous for the status quo. At times it felt like reading a brainwashing manual, since the message is delivered countless times in many nuances. A lot words are spent about connection, but on the other hand about as many are about not necessarily listening to criticism. You choose your audience as an artist, make art for them and not listen to the rest. It works logically, I just can't put my finger on why I don't like it.
I should go and make some art now, whatever it might be. Start small, fail a bit, make something bigger....more
Mettiamo da parte la trama: sapete che è un romanzo in versi liberi e parla di precariato post-lauream e post-doc. Il mondo interiore del protagonistaMettiamo da parte la trama: sapete che è un romanzo in versi liberi e parla di precariato post-lauream e post-doc. Il mondo interiore del protagonista ci viene dischiuso pagina dopo pagina: il giovane è al limite della depressione, alle prese con la transizione apparentemente impossibile oltre il mondo dell'università e del dottorato. La Padova delle vie sporche degli appartamenti studenteschi a basso prezzo, i discount con gli immigrati a margine della città e della società, le fermate degli autobus in periferia, i bar che si riconoscono, il Veneto razzistello delle vecchiette sospettose e arcigne, non aiutano. Il linguaggio risulta spesso pesante, come fosse un testo dei Marlene Kuntz che non finisce mai, ma finisce per entrare in testa e si va avanti pagina dopo pagina. Se avete vissuto Padova come studenti e conoscete il Veneto, questo libro vi colpirà con la precisione e la forza di immagini e sensazioni che avrete provato almeno una volta, anche di sfuggita, e questa precisione vi impressionerà. Di sicuro è successo a me, specie quando ho trovato sulla pagina immagini della mia città natale (Montebelluna), quei grigi autunnali sui fossi delle strade di periferia e le frasi fatte dei trevisani medi esposte come mai avevo letto. Se invece non avete molta dimestichezza con Padova e non vi interessa l'inquietudine di un veneto verso la sua regione, vi risulterà indigesto....more
I had read this in Italian years ago and wanted to read it in the original version as well. I am a big fan of Zappa's music. Frank Zappa was a man of sI had read this in Italian years ago and wanted to read it in the original version as well. I am a big fan of Zappa's music. Frank Zappa was a man of sharp, uncompromising opinions, a self-defined conservative, first and foremost a composer. I enjoyed his thoughts about composition, very specific insights about his creative process and glimpses of the vast musical culture that allowed him to create all those tunes I like. And then slap silly lyrics on them to delight, troll and pester everyone, depending on which side of the 'freak' camp you were. Or simply if you appreciated humour in music. The Zappa thinker is less pleasant. He's rough and tough, he's not pretending to be a wise man or a leader and the reader shall expect some provocation and plenty of ranting. Some are well argumented, some are... just his opinion as a person. All in all, a great read for fans. If you don't like the ranty bits, jump to the next chapter, they're handily short....more
Susan Cain starts from the so-called Extrovert Ideal in Western society, then proceeds to brings us heaps of introvert success examples from real lifeSusan Cain starts from the so-called Extrovert Ideal in Western society, then proceeds to brings us heaps of introvert success examples from real life and research showing how deep in our body introversion is. Since at least after WWII, we - as in, Europeans and Americans - were born and raised in a society putting extroversion in a positive light (the Extrovert Ideal) and looking at self-reflection, high sensitivity, reservedness with some suspicion, when not with worry or disdain. As a consequence, the estimated one third of the population who has introverted traits can have difficulties in thriving and sometimes outright doubts about being 'defective'. It's a quite motivating read for introverts: not only there's nothing wrong with being an introvert (the word normally has a negative connotation, unlike its jolly brother 'extrovert'), but one can thrive and win in all situations and partner with extroverts building strong relations and teams. I approached this book with an interest for introversion on the workplace, so with such bias the narration felt sometimes less relevant than I would have liked. On the other hand, I learnt a thing or two about introversion in children and love life, which was very interesting....more
Three books, connected by a city, a few themes and analogies between characters. I approached this work without knowing any background about it, but mThree books, connected by a city, a few themes and analogies between characters. I approached this work without knowing any background about it, but maybe I should have done homework, because I didn't appreciate the subtle mechanics connecting the three parts. Books one and two felt slow, brainy and without direction. Exercises in the subtle nuances of the mind and the dramatic consequences they can have externally, so to speak. No connection with the characters was felt, not much happened. Book three was more enjoyable, in the sense that I was hooked by the protagonist's tension and I wanted to know what would happen next. Well played. It was a pleasant, oh-I-get-you-now-buddy, feeling to understand that the three books are connected: they are stories about watching and being watched, disappearing with a plan or just randomly; they share some character names, although they have different roles - some sort of internal joke for the reader? Eventually, just in case, the author steps onto the stage in book three and plainly mentions this. I guess the author was successful in his clever plot: I read the books from the beginning to the end, after all, if only to see if I could spot more of the subtle connections and feel clever about it. Reading pleasure and emotions, on the other hand, were small....more
This trilogy was a lot to digest. Roth's writing demands the attention of the reader: it glides historically, through 20th century United States of AmeThis trilogy was a lot to digest. Roth's writing demands the attention of the reader: it glides historically, through 20th century United States of America, no less; it hops without warning into the skin and point of view of another character and back to the narrator; and jumps through style hoops. I'm a sucker for the first and the last point, so it got me. American Pastoral was my first contact with the author and his alter-ego narrator Nathan Zuckerman. I plodded through the initial old-age musings of Mr Zuckerman, wondering what I had got myself into, when all of a sudden I found myself decades earlier in a Newark seen through the eyes of the irresistible, hard-working, morally sound and yet doomed to failure 'Swede' Levov. Time is very fluid in Roth: we already know what will happen, who's dead and who was bad, but it doesn't matter. What matters is the journey of history through people and witnessing the ineluctable downfall of the heroic, if only too perfect, Levovs. I Married a Communist was dropped around halfway. Despite the occasional gem of an image, it didn't move at all in my eyes. Iron Rinn and his struggle did not click with me. Too much political jargon, maybe, such as the Fourties and Fifties were. Because of this disappointment, I began The Human Stain with mixed feelings and I am happy to report that I loved it even more than American Pastoral. It is easier to connect with this third book: first of all, it is closer to the flesh and base humanity. There were a few very carnal scenes that almost felt like non sequitur in A.P., whereas sex is important here. Some characters are sensual through and through: that drives them and puts them in stark contrast with the puritan wave of outrage around the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. The second reason for an easier connection is that there is less history than in A.P., or rather that the young Coleman Silk rides it and heroically twists out of it, whereas the Levovs went with the flow, trying to do the right thing. We can't but cheer for Coleman and then Prof. Silk since he does his own thing, but he ends up punished for his hybris: it can't be a coincidence that he teaches Classic Literature. Coleman Silk would make a hell of a 'hero' as he is, but once we discover the secret he hides in his past, all his actions and his conduct acquire even more depth. Once more, like in A.P., Roth casually dropped into the story a glimpse of the end pages before this, so here we are, halfway through the book, we've just known the big secret and yet we must go on to understand why it ended the way it did. On top of this there's the meta-story of Zuckerman/Roth writing the very book we are reading. His point of view steps forward every now and then to remind us that we are reading a truth pieced together by the patient, thorough and a tinge dull character/author. Trippy. What a journey this was....more
You can read this rather enjoyable collection - if you're a fan of Mr Stephenson: you'll be curious to hear him ponder about many an issue, mostly techYou can read this rather enjoyable collection - if you're a fan of Mr Stephenson: you'll be curious to hear him ponder about many an issue, mostly technological. Some older material will be meh, some will be well-rounded and pleasant. He talks with an admiration you can feel about the world of the Baroque Cycle; he sheds a light on his vision of science fiction, or rather speculative fiction as he names it one speech. He edited some of the meh stuff because he cares. - if you're a geek: Mr Stephenson loves geeking out and he is an authority in geekdom, mostly of the science-fiction and technology type. You will then appreciate the essays about geeking out vs vegging out and his massive tale about long-distance underwater cables.
I really, really like Mr Stephenson's writing in general, so I was game for this one anyway. Two moments I appreciated in particular: - the descriptions of technologies from the early long-distance communication era. I read them with fascination with which I used to leaf through books explaining the world when I was a kid. I can't help picturing him watching them with the same kind of excitement, albeit with plenty more years of education and a sober technical eye. - his introduction to a book by the late D.F. Wallace: I liked the insight into a specific type of Mid-Western environment where they both grew up. I've always been fascinated by such stories, as they scratch beneath the superficial vanilla image of the US that we easily have on the other side of the pond (the fact that the opposite happens all the time is out of scope)....more