The fascinating stories of Cynthia Ann Parker and Quanah Parker bookend an endless recounting of battle after battle, in depth tactics (stressed againThe fascinating stories of Cynthia Ann Parker and Quanah Parker bookend an endless recounting of battle after battle, in depth tactics (stressed again and again - once is interesting, 10 times, not so much) and all. In finally getting to the last stage of Quanah's life, a small portion of the book, some of the anecdotes have justifications that they are "worth noting" - of course they are, they are the most interesting parts! I do think that Gwynne stresses quite well the blow that reservation life was to the Indians and how their way of life disappeared. There were other personalities sprinkled throughout, but I feel like I just read one long recounting of a century of battles rather than the stories of people I was hoping for. Not recommended.
An addendum on the racist language/unbalanced nature of the book that other reviewers mention: I had interpreted Gwynne's words as how white people regarded Native Americans, but I also know that I wasn't always able to give 100% of my attention while reading through this so I could very well have misinterpreted or be remembering wrong.
I don't think the book as a whole is skewed completely against Native Americans as some make it out to be, it certainly illustrates how cruel, stupid and racist many of the white people were - especially in the retelling of Cynthia Ann's story. Gwynne stresses again and again how many of the supposed (and reported as such) incredible victories of white forces against Native Americans ended with them limping home, lucky to even be alive.
At the same time, I did often wonder about the veracity of many of the accounts given the truth in the criticism that this seems to be told mainly from white sources. What else was completely false in the accounts he used or colored by outright racism? I think Gwynne did a great job telling the stories of both Cynthia and Quanah, as well as revealing the true stories behind many of the battles rather than what had been reported. At the same time, the Comanches really are made out to be a marauding, bloodthirsty band that killed and raped and plundered just for the joy of it (The book is also full of many forces of Caucasians that love and pointedly seek to kill Indians.). Truth or racism? My own apparent "noble savage" complex made that stuff tough to swallow. I do find myself wishing there was more actual Comanche voices and accounts in the book....more
Charles de Lint is one of my guilty pleasures - he can be pretty cliched in his descriptions and his characters can get a little preachy. I generallyCharles de Lint is one of my guilty pleasures - he can be pretty cliched in his descriptions and his characters can get a little preachy. I generally don't mind the preachy tendencies because I tend to agree and there are usually other qualities in his writing that make up for it.
I read this story collection over a number of months when I just needed something quick and different for my nightly reading. By the end of it I was wondering why I read de Lint in the first place. This is a very weak book, and because of that the stories all kind of blended together for me in a non-descript mass. The things that sort of irk me about his writing were only magnified. Many of the stories in this book are also structured in a manner in which there are voices interjected in between the plot and it's not quite clear if it's someone different or if it's an internal monologue by one of the characters already introduced. I don't think this is a bad thing - it can be great for suspense and keeping one involved in the story to puzzle it out - but I found I just wasn't invested enough in the stories to do anything but skim past.
This is most definitely no Dreams Underfoot - his first Newford book and a collection that I can still reminisce about, loving all the haunting, creepy twists and turns he took with each story, successfully keeping me in suspense until the end. I believe this book had a different theme centering on artists, and perhaps that's why the stories feel like they have such a different mood to me. But while Dreams Underfoot presented a many layered world full of all sorts of creepy and odd wonders, this book made Newford seem quite one dimensional and lackluster.
Out of any of them I thought the last story was the best and presented a pretty fascinating, unresolved question to ponder in the end....more
I find the majority of mysteries I've read deliver paper thin, cliched characters. In my estimation, Gruber's greatest strength is that he doesn't sacI find the majority of mysteries I've read deliver paper thin, cliched characters. In my estimation, Gruber's greatest strength is that he doesn't sacrifice characterization for plot. The many tangents that are a common complaint with this book give one a real sense of the array of people in the story and while I couldn't stand Mishkin, I had a real soft spot for Crosetti and his family. An interesting juxtaposition in narrators. It's too bad the mystery portion was so lackluster.
While this book was good at first, it never became amazing and to some extent there really wasn't that much mystery. I never found myself on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out how things added up or questioning each character's motive and penchant for deception. When it comes down to it, it was just a race to the end because it would all be revealed then - I wasn't all that invested with anything more than finishing this one and giving it away by the time I was halfway through. In addition, the "clues" that alternate with each chapter, while an average of two pages, are mind-numbingly boring and I struggled often not to fall asleep during these little detours....more
I was delighted to see a shelf of these at the library and zeroed in on the Kingsolver edition. Short stories feel so new to me that the idea of seeinI was delighted to see a shelf of these at the library and zeroed in on the Kingsolver edition. Short stories feel so new to me that the idea of seeing how people of literary merit judge them is incredibly appealing. The author section in the back that tells the inspiration for the story is also great.
I'm embarrassed to be rating this one star. I feel like I must be the problem here, not the stories chosen. And I don't know if perhaps I don't like the style of stories these were culled from or Kingsolver's taste! I feel like a lot of these heavily showcased a character's "inner life" when a lot of what I savor about a short story is how little interactions between people can signal volumes, and the way an author communicates that.
The first few stories seemed off to me. Enjoyable to a degree, but lacked a certain finish. I was excited to read Ha Jin's Cowboy Chicken. The clash of Eastern and Western cultures it espoused sounded right up my alley, but I couldn't finish it. I thought many of the stories went on for much longer than they really needed to. Halfway through the book I utterly dreaded the start of a new one. This book sucked the story-loving life out of me!
I loved My Mother's Garden by Katherine Schonk.
I feel like I don't have enough experience with short stories that I can say "don't read this." Obviously these were considered to be good stories by a number of people, who am I to disagree with that? I'd recommend one read this and come to their own conclusion....more
While I found the way Nordstrom wove political theory into her ethnography to be quite artful and was fascinated by much of it, she doesn't necessarilWhile I found the way Nordstrom wove political theory into her ethnography to be quite artful and was fascinated by much of it, she doesn't necessarily give one the most holistic or nuanced representation of the war in Mozambique. To some extent she acknowledged this. I enjoyed her exploration of the different mechanisms Mozambicans employed to resist violence in peaceful ways and how their view of violence differed from the underpinnings of Western culture and philosophy. I would recommend pairing this with Culture in Chaos: An Anthropology of the Social Condition in War for a more well rounded look....more
I read 80 pages in the first day in an attempt to finish this in one shot, only to realize that I basically had no idea what was going on due to the aI read 80 pages in the first day in an attempt to finish this in one shot, only to realize that I basically had no idea what was going on due to the amount of acronyms and my failure to pay close attention.... backed up 40 pages and wrote an outline to keep them straight.
Within those first 80 pages one will encounter: RUF, SLPP, APC, NPFL, ECOMOG, ECOWAS, NPRC, ISU, SSD, ULIMO and probably a couple of others I neglected to write down. Even if you're reading this for general interest and not for school/educational purposes, I'd suggest writing them down as you go along to keep it all straight.
This book was a slog. It is an endless recounting of events with an interjection of letters from Sierra Leonans. While it reveals some pretty important ties between people in power and truly gave me a sense of how diamonds played a role in conflicts and amputations, I can't help but wonder if there's a better account out there.
On the back of this book the claim is made that this is "The book they thought you should read... but refused to publish" with a list of quotes from publishers stating a variation on how wonderful the book is, or how they wish they could publish it. Perhaps the real reason they did not publish it is due to its mediocrity. I feel bad slamming the book because I did genuinely learn from it, but I don't feel it was all that well written....more
Admittedly it wasn't what I had expected - I picked it up specifically because I was interested in the psychological trauma Terri Jentz sustained andAdmittedly it wasn't what I had expected - I picked it up specifically because I was interested in the psychological trauma Terri Jentz sustained and how she dealt with it. While one is not privy to the gritty details of PTSD or the various revelations she may have had about her psychological state during her investigative process, she makes it clear that her research of the details surrounding the attack played a big part in her healing process.
At first it is very much along the lines of a true crime book, consisting of the background of Jentz and her biking companion and the details of the attack. As the book progresses and she gets further into her investigation, it becomes a much broader rumination on the impact of the crime on the surrounding community. The warmth and concern of the people who remember the attack is often tangible.
Jentz also explores the psychology of violence against women on both the micro and macro level, as her main suspect is a repeat offender: how violent relationships are sustained and the attitude of communities that continually give well-known abusers a pass, from neighbors to the law enforcement and court systems.
One of the most salient critiques about this book is that it can get repetitive. At the same time, I found that the way she constantly comes up with the same details from different people can be quite fascinating in terms of how stories change and what impacts memory. Her case was pretty much town legend. In addition, it was a useful lens through which to view people - for instance, the man she interviewed who made her attack all about him and how his failure to be the "hero" ruined his life (And yet, his memory of the attack is grossly inaccurate.). I also just never got tired reading how each new individual she interviewed wanted to bond with her over this event that impacted the community so deeply.
To some extent there are more radical strains lurking under the surface here, and every time she touched on them I just wanted to nuuudge her a bit so that she would further develop and explore these thoughts. While she makes the connection between society's entrenched misogyny and violence against women quite clear, she only touches on such things as community versus state sanctioned justice and the cult of individuality in America and its adverse impact on community.
By the end of the book the music of Twin Peaks was playing in the back of my head, foreboding shots of pine and fog looming. Jentz successfully ties the dark, moody landscape to wanton violence against women as her personal investigation increasingly turns up stories of murdered women having been dumped in the surrounding pine forests. I found myself feeling seriously disturbed and unsettled despite the warm people she met and the relationships she had formed during her quest....more
I've been remiss. I finished this book just before I left for Peru and despite managing to write a review I never posted it. In the interest of full dI've been remiss. I finished this book just before I left for Peru and despite managing to write a review I never posted it. In the interest of full disclosure I received this book from the Good Reads' giveaway program. Regardless, it has landed on my essential reading shelf for a number of reasons.
Maybe you were in a neighborhood where Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) put up posters. Even now, I remember them vividly - charges that they killed puppies. As a jaded teenager, I never paid much attention to them - I figured if they had to use such a sensationalist charge to tug at my emotions the whole deal was probably absurd. Perhaps I was also somewhat offended that they thought they needed such an extreme charge to get me involved.
I like to think that maybe ten years later I'm a little wiser and a little less jaded, but regardless, enter Green is the New Red. I was surprised to find SHAC's story in here, along with a number of other animal rights and environmental activists, specifically those who were a part of ALF and ELF. I also like to think I have a decent awareness of the government's tactics when it comes to social movements - I know they killed Fred Hampton, I know they infiltrate vegan pot lucks with FBI agents, I know they run secret prisons and I know that big money has its tentacles everywhere in politics.
And yet Green is the New Red routinely had me all sorts of shocked, appalled and infuriated. Potter lays out the history of the red scare (I had to stop at this point and let the new information sink in, it just blew my mind.) Another example is something that seems to have currently come on the radar of liberal groups - my inbox is lighting up with emails about ALEC, the group in which corporations pay to be members and then draft legislation that is then presented as legitimate by lawmakers - Potter goes into depth about how ALEC works in the book and I was left feeling infuriated.
There are many, many different threads in this book. Court cases against animal rights activists, a history of the red scare, details about the government infiltration of liberal and leftist groups, corporate influence in government... Despite that, Potter more than manages to make a very convincing argument that Green is indeed the new Red, illustrating that activists that try to change corporate behavior are the new brand of terrorist. Admittedly I probably wouldn't have picked this book up if I felt that it concentrated too heavily on animal rights activists. And despite that being the book's focus, there's a lot to learn here - Potter portrays the larger picture just as successfully as his focus on animal rights and environmental activism. And because of that, EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK!!!!...more
Came across this slim volume by chance while looking for You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down in the library. It is comprised of a short introduction outlCame across this slim volume by chance while looking for You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down in the library. It is comprised of a short introduction outlining the controversy surrounding Walker's work in California schools, the two short stories that were in question, the beginning of The Color Purple and an appendix with pro/con letters to the editor and a partial transcript of the school board meeting.
I read it in one sitting and it restored my interest in reading short stories given the last collection I read was such a slog. "Roselily" and "Am I Blue?" are truly powerful and get you right in the gut. Roselily was removed from school tests for being "anti-religious" and "Am I Blue?" for "anti-meat eating."
Roselily presents the turbulent, unsure thoughts of a girl as she is wed. The layers in this story are incredible. The contradictions in her "choice" to marry; one can probably argue that she doesn't truly have one. I loved its structure - creative and different.
Considering the intersectionality of "Am I Blue?", it's quite laughable that people aimed to get it removed for the most benign portion. I'm sure it was more about its unapologetic stance towards racism (citing slavery and Native American genocide) and sexism. I think the use of an animal in demonstrating the way that oppression is linked is quite brilliant. The ruminations on the treatment and suffering of animals aren't so much privileging as giving animal rights a place alongside other forms of oppression in a complicated, interconnected web.
An even more interesting contortion of the debate is that the "pro-family" groups (Eagle Forum, aka pro-heterosexual-patriarchal-1950s-christian-white-family) that came out against these stories in force during the board meetings framed it as a "parental rights" issue. They maintained that parents have the right to dictate the curriculum due to their taxes. I would be curious to see what kind of stories would be given the seal of approval by these groups - I'm sure it would be a field day picking apart the politics of privilege, "neutrality" and the stuff deemed family friendly.
Overall, an interesting little volume that was worth the read for both the stories and the politics regarding the efforts to ban Walker's work in schools. The Same River Twice, which is about Walker's portrayal of African-American men is cited at the end of the book and is one I'll be sure to check out....more
I wish this book had actually been edited. At first it was captivating, but there was so much overlap in these essays that by the end I was so annoyedI wish this book had actually been edited. At first it was captivating, but there was so much overlap in these essays that by the end I was so annoyed I could barely get through. It's fine to reference the same events over and over when these are articles that are appearing in different places, but to get that in a book? It seems completely lazy to me. No excuse for that....more
Each and every one of these stories has a moment that takes your breath away - Walker creates this perfect, revealing web of circumstances in each stoEach and every one of these stories has a moment that takes your breath away - Walker creates this perfect, revealing web of circumstances in each story, only to sum up the situation - whether through the words of a character, or a reflection, by saying so much with so little. I've wanted to read this book for a long time and I'm so glad I finally did. I would love to pull out the most powerful quotes of each story here, but I feel that would do injustice to them as a whole. Read it for yourself and see. Well worth the time....more
This book is indeed brief, but in the best way. She surveys anxiety from a number of different angles, from the excommunication of snails and puttingThis book is indeed brief, but in the best way. She surveys anxiety from a number of different angles, from the excommunication of snails and putting marauding animals on trial in the 1400s (one of my favorite parts of the book) to personality types susceptible to mental disorder and the vagaries of psychiatry.
Well worth the read, especially if you battle anxiety - her humor comes through often and at the perfect time. Often I found myself shaking with laughter while yelling (maybe only in my head) "I KNOW JUST WHAT YOU MEAN!!" (Effexor withdrawal: "I missed a single dose and I felt like I was trapped in a disco club on acid with the strobe light at maximum pulse.")
She levels a searing critique at psychiatry, and while I'm behind that 100% I would take her experience with drugs with a grain of salt. While I have also had my fair share of HORRENDOUS psychiatrists and horrendous side effects and withdrawal, finding a psychologist I could trust made all the difference. I still struggle with existential (yes, melodramatic) and ethical concerns when it comes to medication but it makes the decision to go back on slightly easier. While my psychiatrist is another story altogether (to the point that I sometimes lie about my condition so she doesn't just hand me an increased dosage), my experience with medication has been much different this time around.
On a separate note I'd be happy to discuss it with anyone on a more personal level....more
Ah well. I probably should have payed more attention to the title, "FOWL Weather". While it is still quite funny at times (I really enjoy Tarte's humoAh well. I probably should have payed more attention to the title, "FOWL Weather". While it is still quite funny at times (I really enjoy Tarte's humor), it was difficult to feel lighthearted given the number of animal injuries and deaths, as well as the account of the steady decline of Tarte's mother into Alzheimer's. I picked this up to take a respite from life's stresses and instead found myself feeling stressed out by someone else's continuous bad fortune!! In addition, there is this strange theme that runs through the book that has to do with Tarte's supernatural encounters. I wasn't sure if some of these things were merely for laughs or actual anecdotes. It didn't quite gel with my expectation of a book chock full of stories about animals.
Though it's hard not to love Linda Tarte, his wife - just reading about her makes you want to know them both. They seem kind of nutty in a truly wonderful, life enriching way, ha! I really admire Tarte's honesty about his struggles with depression and anxiety and that was at least one welcome and pleasantly surprising element in this book.
The idiosyncrasies of the Tartes' animals and their dealings with them are the best parts of his books but there just wasn't that much here in this one. I'll probably pick up his first book, Enslaved by Ducks and read it again - it is one of my "must read" nature books....more