I thought this a very sensible and solid book. It applies practical economics to some of the huge problems that we face including: -the threat of clima...moreI thought this a very sensible and solid book. It applies practical economics to some of the huge problems that we face including: -the threat of climate change; -the unsustainable growth of public debt, both hidden and acknowledged; and, - growing inequality. She deals well with the study of happiness and its link to standard economic measures. Thankfully she gently disposes of the arguments who would throw away GDP. The author does not, I think, have the ambition of pretending to advance the frontiers of knowledge. But, she draws on key insights from some of the leading practitioners and applies and explains them in clear terms. I like the fact that she is neither apocalyptic on the one hand, nor complacent, on the other. She conveys that real progress can be made incrementally. She is sharp-tongued on the topic of bankers' pay and obscene bonuses. There is a dubious, but interesting, argument advocating abandonment of bonuses and performance pay at all levels. I was intrigued, but not convinced. A very worthwhile read. (less)
This is a well argued analysis of the big trends in the global economy. It offers valuable guidance for economic policy in both the 'advanced' and eme...moreThis is a well argued analysis of the big trends in the global economy. It offers valuable guidance for economic policy in both the 'advanced' and emerging world. It does not gloss over the difficulties but is at its core optimistic that we can experiment our way to acceptable and durable solutions.
This was Roth's last book. I thought it was very fine though some reviewers felt it was incomplete and at under 200 pages it is at times like a mere...more This was Roth's last book. I thought it was very fine though some reviewers felt it was incomplete and at under 200 pages it is at times like a mere outline of a life, a sequence of brief sketches.
The Emperor's Tomb runs in parallel with The Radetzky March and follows another member of the Trotta family, Franz Ferdinand, a young Viennese man, young when WWI breaks out. His Slovenian father has been successful in America and returns to Austria. Franz lives a lazy existence, meeting with friends in Cafes and restaurants, not taking anything too seriously, cloaking a growing love for Elizabeth, because love and marriage are not acceptable in his circle. Sex is with prostitutes, and an aside.
Two characters from outside privileged, idle Vienna capture Trotta's imagination and that of his friend. Joseph Branco, a cousin of Trotta's from Slovenia, who spends part of each year as an itinerant chestnut roaster, traveling throughout the provinces of Austria-Hungary. Thee other is Manes Reisiger, a Jewish coach driver from Galicia. Manes first appears with a letter of reference from Joseph, seeking help in getting his talented soon into the Conservatory.
When war begins, Trotta arranges to join the same regiment as these two. Their war is inglorious, a series of retreats quickly followed by capture and exile in Siberia. All three return, but to a world transformed. Franz Ferdinand himself appears never to be employed save for the period as an unsuccessful soldier.
Before going to war Trotta marries Elizabeth but the marriage is unconsummated. His old servant, who has accompanied them on their wedding night, dies suddenly and Trotta stays with him rather than with Elizabeth who is gone when the morning comes.
When he returns from the war, Elizabeth is making 'arts and crafts' and in a strange lesbian relationship with a Hungarian 'professor' who designs the (unsuccessful) crafts. Much of the remaining family wealth is dissipated supporting the enterprise. Trotta's father-in-law and a Prussian who seems to be a convincing con man lubricate the slide into financial ruin. Elizabeth has Trotta's child, a son. He is "a blood-red, frightful-looking creature with much too big a head and limbs which remained on of fins" Elizabeth abandons the family shortly after the birth, beguiled again by the Professor and the Prussian to try to be an actress in the new film business. Trotta is besotted by his son, but soon sends him to Paris "to my friend Laveraville".
The final scene, the onset of Nazi rule, is a very fine chapter.
Of all the star allocating decisions I've made this seems the silliest or the most humbling. I didn't so much read this as persevere. Line by line or p...moreOf all the star allocating decisions I've made this seems the silliest or the most humbling. I didn't so much read this as persevere. Line by line or phrase by phrase this was gripping or at least not difficult, unless the author was describing a math obsession. The three books proceed from the first reasonably concrete story with mvement across a geography by probably distinct characters, each with some sort of objective. In the second, an individual is confined to a single room, perhaps an assylum, perhaps what would now be a long-term care facility. The narrator knows he is going to die fairly soon. The words are about what he can observe from his his bed or cull from memory, possibly imagined. In the third, it is not even clear whether the narrator is alive or dead. He doesn't move, his gaze is fixed. Initially, his situation seems purely geometric; a minimal number of 'characters' orbit about him and he sees them only when they are in front of him; he speculates about the space he is in, its shape and dimensions. Later in a surrealistic turn he seems buried in a jar, part of a restaurant's display, hearing passersby, debating whether the voices heard and recorded come from his own head or from the outside. Every statement is paired with its opposite as the narrator can't make up his mind. The Unnamable seems purely 'existential' (if I knew what that meant, I blush to write it down) because the narrator is talking about whether he or what he is seeing is real or not; whether what he is saying comes from the inside or the outside. Some seems to be about being a writer. Are these characters (names all starting with M) distinct, or are they projections of the author? Some seems theological. Some being seems blamed for the circumstances and the author anxiously wants it to be over. There is a character or being called Worm who seems either like the devil or like the id. So why is this interesting to me? I am left with a lot of puzzles. But phrase-by-phrase the language was interesting; the words seemed conversational, natural I probably imposed a loquacious Irish voice in a bar speaking the lines, to help mee through it. Paragraphs and even sentences are abandoned; thank God for commas In desperate need of help I have reserved an edition with a preface by Harold Bloom and a Cambridge guide to SB that will hopefully clear the fog. Meanwhile, I'll take comfort a good cozy mystery.(less)
This is history of an old fashioned sort, mixed in with a Westerner's pride.
The treatment of Mexicans, Indians and sometimes of all others than Anglo...moreThis is history of an old fashioned sort, mixed in with a Westerner's pride.
The treatment of Mexicans, Indians and sometimes of all others than Anglo-Americans might not have raised eyebrows in 1929. The Plains were a challenge fo courageous men, but had a tendency to drive women mad.
The first part of the book is a sweeping and enjoyable take on the pre-conquestera: physical geography and climate dictates all; Indians adapt, though the nomadic people of the plains are a more savage obstacle to the eventual settlement than the more placid people east of the Mississippi valley. (more to come)(less)
This is such a great book. You suspect from early on that life isn't likely to work out well for young Willie Dunne of Dublin when he enlists and head...moreThis is such a great book. You suspect from early on that life isn't likely to work out well for young Willie Dunne of Dublin when he enlists and heads to the Great War. Soon he is staring into a mysterious yellow cloud. Ending a home leave he finds himself staring and aiming his rifle at the familiar wall of the General Post Office, unable to find a satisfactory explanation other than that the Huns had snuck into Ireland. It's a rich and moving story.(less)
Rebus is hard to beat among the ranks of care-worn, hard drinking police detectives. His messy personal life is always and inevitably in disarray. That...moreRebus is hard to beat among the ranks of care-worn, hard drinking police detectives. His messy personal life is always and inevitably in disarray. That doesn't overwhelm the story, but fleshes out the character. The backdrop to this 1994 novel is the Edinburgh Festival; good times not shared by the residents of the Garibaldi Estates, the Gar-B. Catholic-Protestant resentments simmer and the old troopers of the Orange Lodge can't satisfy the young tough guys of the Estates, as bitter at being shunted aside by the tourists and the affluent professionals rising to the fore as at the fading struggles across the waters in Ulster. Rankin tackles these themes in a straightup way, never descending to politicaly correct sociology. Rebus is drafted to a securities service unit after a grisly executiong style murder is discovered in the buried medievil recesses of old Edinburgh. The new guy is never quite welcome; and back at the station his colleagues give him a rough time (water off a duck's back to Rebus) for his elevation to an elite squad. The plot is complicated but never stretched. A good read, as I always expect from Rankin.(less)