This is not my favorite style of writing. That being said, there are parts of the book that were not only beautiful, but that carried me along on a ri...moreThis is not my favorite style of writing. That being said, there are parts of the book that were not only beautiful, but that carried me along on a river of images. Woolf's prose is mainly comprised of what we would now call "word clouds," or as I like to think specifically in her case "phrase clouds." That isn't necessarily bad. I know I just said it's not my favorite kind of writing, but I was willing to try it and see where it lead. I really wanted to see how Woolf handled action by use of these "phrase clouds." The action, or events in this book are neatly tucked into the ongoing stream-of-consciousness of all of the characters. The way the novel is written, you feel that all of the characters are inextricably bound together. At times, Woolf moves seamlessly from character to character; at other times I felt like I was a little lost as to when she transitioned into the thoughts of the next person.
I had heard of this book a long time ago, but never had the time or motivation to read it. A curiosity about Virginia Woolf compelled me to take this on a trip with me and finally resolve the questions I had about her as a writer. I know some have called her an early feminist author. I don't know about that, except that she does give the women she creates definite personalities. For that time, perhaps, that was feminism to give them real feelings and thoughts, instead of being acceptably agreeable all of the time.
Woolf's portrayal of Septimus' mental illness, which most certainly was PTSD after WWI, is scary. It has been said by other writers that she was able to write so well on the subject of how he thought and how he was treated by care-givers due to her own bouts of mental illness. It certainly is a sympathetic treatment and an eye-opener. I found her passages regarding him to be the most interesting. The other description that I have found that has stayed with me is of her silver green mermaid dress that she would wear to this all-encompassing party she was planning. I keep thinking about that and visualizing what it it must have looked like. Overall, an intriguing novel.(less)
This is a highly detailed account of the crash of United Airlines Flight 232 in Sioux City, Iowa on July 19, 1989. Anyone who has seen the news foota...more This is a highly detailed account of the crash of United Airlines Flight 232 in Sioux City, Iowa on July 19, 1989. Anyone who has seen the news footage of the barely controlled DC-10 attempting to land on the runway, but instead catching the right wing and turning into a fireball, will never forget it. The author, Laurence Gonzales, pulls together interviews from surviving flight and cabin crew, as well as passengers, into a mostly tight and fast-moving narrative; he interweaves diverse subjects such as explanations of how titanium engine parts are made and what was actually done during the autopsies. Adding interviews of air traffic controllers, rescue personnel, and the like helps to explain the impact of the accident and its aftermath. There is no doubt that this was a HUGE project to undertake; for the most part, it works well.
One of the issues that that disrupted the smooth flow of the narrative were the discussions of the recovery of the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. I would guess that the problems that arose in reporting the retrieval of the two items were due to contradictory information from different people who were involved in the recovery. I note that there were two different stories about the recovery of the CVR and FDR, albeit they were very similar. It just threw me when I was reading as I recalled the previous report and I needed to re-read the two sections. Another issue detracting from the smooth storyline were the discussions about the search for the missing fan disk or fan disk parts. On page 287, Laurence states that "[A]nd indeed, Clark, along with other people who were searching for the disk, would never find it." From that sentence I believed that the fan disk would never be found. However, on pages 312-313, there it was: the missing fan disk (or most of it) being hit by a combine because it was embedded in a field. Why do these continuity issues matter? For me, I had to re-read sections to be able to determine the disposition of the missing items. I used to read accident reports when I was training to be and after I became a professional pilot and had a certain expectation of absolute accuracy, unless explained otherwise. I wanted to know what happened to key pieces of the puzzle and the way this information was written, threw me off.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone in aviation or anyone who is interested in this accident and its reconstruction. I would strongly advise anyone who is nervous about flying OR who is squeamish to NOT read this book. The information about how the deceased were identified by their dental work still haunts me (and the morgues that handle those type of accidents no longer do it that way). A very interesting and gripping read, including the parts on how titanium is made once you understand its significance to the crash. (less)