This book did not fit ME! My rating is not a judgment of the book; it shows only how I personally reacted to the author’s lines. The majority of the bThis book did not fit ME! My rating is not a judgment of the book; it shows only how I personally reacted to the author’s lines. The majority of the book I did not like, thus I can only give it one star.
I did appreciate the author’s description of places - sites on the fringe of San Francisco and the dessert environs of Death Valley, California. The setting is predominantly Polk Street, San Francisco, at the turn of the 20th century.
Am I glad I read the book? Actually, I would say yes. Why? To have experienced those descriptive lines. To test another author of the naturalist school of writing. One clearly sees similarities with Theodore Dreiser, another author of this school.
Naturalism is a literary movement that emphasizes observation and the scientific method in the fictional portrayal of reality. Novelists writing in the naturalist mode include Émile Zola (its founder), ThomasHardy, Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, and Frank Norris. (Source: Wiki)
So what gave me trouble? The dialogs. While they may accurately depict how people speak to each other, reading such can be extremely tedious and boring. Phrases are repeated over and over again, first as a question, then an answer followed by a person’s confirmation, another’s reconfirmation and then maybe the question gets posed all over again! On and on and on with the exact same words! A lengthy paragraph may be devoted to two people saying goodbye! This may be accurate, but it is pushed too far in the dialogs of this book. Not once and not by just one character, but by all of the characters over and over again. This drove me bonkers. Writing in this manner makes the characters sound stupid, but are all of them stupid?! That is what went through my head. Well, perhaps; the author is clearly critical of how people behave…. which leads to the next problem I had with the book.
The central theme of this novel is avarice, but don’t all of us see avarice with distaste? And don’t we all know this even before picking up the book? Norris’ message is loud and clear. Too loud and too pushed to the extreme. Money is hoarded. Money is gloated over, killed for and what people do to collect it, pile upon pile, is drawn to an extreme. The story loses touch with reality. What the author wants to say with the book becomes a rant, a lesson pounded into our heads. What unrolls is absurd. In reading the book we obligingly let ourselves be bashed over the head with the author’s message concerning the evils of greed. The climax at the end is metaphorically a clash of cymbals.*
The characters did NOT pull me in. They become too absurd to be taken seriously. There is a love affair that sours. The characters are merely the means by which the author delivers his message, his resounding warning against avarice and greed.
There is an anti-Semitic sentiment to be found in the author’s lines.
I downloaded this free of cost at at Librivox. It is accessible here: https://librivox.org/author/842?prima... It is fantastic that the site does exist! I recommend using the Librivox app. Without the app maneuvering within the audiobook becomes difficult.
This Librivox recording is read by Jeff Robinson. The speed varies. The reading is uneven. Parts are fantastic, other portions less so. The end was very well read, but I cannot disregard some of the earlier sections. I disliked the cinematically rendered intonations for the immigrants of Swiss / German origin that speak in this book. These immigrants do have a dialect and they do use incorrect words. I am fine with added dialect touches as long as I can decipher the author’s words. In parts I couldn’t. I will rate the narration with three stars and I will in the future choose other Librivox recordings performed by him. Overall he does a good job.
**************** *So you wonder why I call the ending a clash of cymbals? Here is why, but it is a BIG spoiler: (view spoiler)[ McTeague is out in the Death Valley dessert with the money he has stolen from his wife, after killing her. His arch enemy turns up!The mule is running off with the money on his back! So they must shoot him, but splinter also the water canteen. The mule is the only way the two can get out of the dessert and now they have no water! THEN McTeague fights with his enemy and shoots him, but before he dies the enemy puts handcuffs both on himself and McTeague. They will die together. (hide spoiler)]My God what an ending. See what I mean about a clash of cymbals?...more
I started this, listened to 3.5 hours of the audiobook’s total of 26 and simply couldn’t imagine continuing. The first chapter (2.5 hours), which theI started this, listened to 3.5 hours of the audiobook’s total of 26 and simply couldn’t imagine continuing. The first chapter (2.5 hours), which the author calls an “opening brief”, can in simple terms be seen as an introduction. This introduction was not concise; it was rambling and consisted of mundane generalizations. It did not clarify how the book would be organized nor in precise terms what the author wished to show. Nothing enticed me to continue.
To better understand the field of cognitive science I am looking for a book based on solid scientific backing, not one based on speculation. I want at least a modicum of solid proof for what is being claimed, and I found not one smidgeon of that here.
There was an excessive amount of criticism of other scientists’ views while at the same time the author’s own views were not made clear.
I disliked the manner in which the author gave an enormous number of examples which supposedly were meant to prove the generalizations made. Many examples proved nothing. They referred to movie figures, characters in fiction, objects we use in our daily life and further generalizations about human behavior. The list of examples drowned out the statement that was to be proven.
Even in the first introductory chapter there were statements made the validity of which can be debated. We are told that humans today no longer worry about robots / computer programs being made that function better than man. That is not true! In the news recently was a debate about the inequitable use of artificial intelligence programs.
So I finished the unwieldy, long-winded, empty first introductory chapter and moved on to the second. Before quitting the book I wanted to check if perhaps the style of writing altered. It did not.
The narration by Mel Foster started off too fast, but I got used to it. At one point I set the speed down to 75%, and that was too slow! Sentences become distorted. In a book such as this a listener needs time to consider what is being said so they can themselves evaluate what they are being told.
The rambling, chatty writing style, the multitude of generalizations and the lack of both conclusive evidence and scientific backing are not what I am looking for. If I do not want to read a book, this says clearly that I did not like that which I read. I am giving this one star....more
Not a bad book, but not what I was looking for. I didn't realize to what extent the book would focus upon sexuality, AIDS and abused individuals. EvenNot a bad book, but not what I was looking for. I didn't realize to what extent the book would focus upon sexuality, AIDS and abused individuals. Even ordinary people, people with less serious problems than those studied in this book, are troubled by loneliness, lack of communication and meaningful contact with others.
The author wanted to get a handle on the loneliness she felt when her partner left her. She was in her mid-thirties and she felt utterly alone, alone in NYC. We are told that she was raised in a lesbian family, but we are not told the sex of her partner. While this is a memoir of sorts, it has in fact very little specific information about the author. You may ask what sex has to do with all of this. I mention sex only because in this book it plays a central role. Sex is a key component of the entire book. Another book on loneliness might focus more on age, on one’s ethnic background, on physical or psychological disabilities and less on sex.
The author looks at four artists: Edward Hopper (1882 - 1967), Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987), David Wojnarowicz (1954 – 1992) and Henry Darger (1892 – 1973). She states that the loneliness they felt affected their art. She does not make the claim that art can be seen as a means to remedying one’s feeling of loneliness, isolation or alienation. Why these four artists? Hopper because his paintings reflect a sense of separation between individuals. Take one glance at his painting Nighthawks and you see this. Here is a link: https://www.google.fr/search?q=nighth.... Those he paints are not communicating with one another, there are no crowds and we observe through a window. Asked if his paintings are meant to express loneliness Hopper’s reply was ambiguous. Perhaps subconsciously, is the most we can get for an answer. The other three are LGBT artists, thus sharing common ground with the author’s own background. They all are from urban environments, NYC for three and Chicago for Darger. Their lives and their art forms are reviewed. All share problems relating to sexual, physical and/or mental disabilities and abuse. Yet regardless of the similarities that do exist, each one’s art is completely different from the others’. I don’t see any revolutionary conclusions that can be drawn from the study, except maybe one – that society must take an active role toward abolishing sexual discrimination and it must actively work toward helping the weak, the mentally disabled, the poor and those physically and sexually abused. It doesn’t say all that much about loneliness though, and that is what I thought was to be the central focus of the book! For me the book has a political message rather than a philosophical one.
The author queried how it could be possible to be lonely when living in an urban environment. This was for me self-evident. We all know that one can be alone in the middle of a crowd. Just because one has people around it doesn’t mean there is communication.
I cannot say I necessarily agree with all the ideas the author proposes on art, on loneliness or on social media. I grant that her ideas can be used as a starting point for further discussions.
I suppose the book might have engaged me more if I had loved the art of the artists described. Hopper’s I like but the others do little for me.
A word about the writing, the prose, the lines. If I say the writing is excellent, and it is, I don’t mean that it is lyrical. It is instead lucid, coherent, expressive and utterly clear.
The audiobook is narrated by Zara Ramm. Her reading is fluid. What is said flows into your head and you completely understand. You feel as though you are thinking the thoughts yourself, but the speed is so rapid you get exhausted and it is necessary to take breaks. You are left no time to think on your own. I prefer a slower speed. Let me point out that my view of the narration has not influenced my rating of the book.
Even if there are commonalities between the different artists, the book lacks cohesion. It is neither a memoir about the author, nor does it provide complete biographies on the four artists and I do not see how this book has helped the author resolve her own sense of loneliness. If it has, she has not explained how. It does make a political statement, mentioned above in the third paragraph.
If you haven't read Sebastian Barry you should at least try one. You should read him to experience his prose. You should read him because he capturesIf you haven't read Sebastian Barry you should at least try one. You should read him to experience his prose. You should read him because he captures Ireland and what it is to be Irish.
This is my second novel by the author, having given A Long Long Way five stars. A Long Long Way focuses on WW1 and the failed Easter Uprising of 1916, set before the Republic of Ireland came into being. Much was promised to the Irish soldiers and so little delivered. Independence came not until 1922.
The Temporary Gentleman is set in 1957, after both world wars and after Irish independence. The central character, Jack McNulty, is in Accra, Ghana, a former British colony, and it was in this year the Gold Coast gained independence and became Ghana. In his mid-fifties, he is looking back on his life. This is his story. He’s an engineer, an expert on bridge construction, explosives and defusing bombs then later a UN observer. A husband and a father. Some of his dealings are shady. Was he involved in gun-running when stationed in Togo? His travels and his jobs and drink, they are for him escape. Escape from what? He is writing a memoir. Maybe by writing he will come to understand who he is and why and what he would like to change. How do we change in our own eyes and in others? He writes of his past, of his wife and of his children. How is it that we hurt those we love most? The book is both a personal story of one individual’s struggle with life and marriage as well as an observation of how we are a product of our culture. Who is Jack foremost? Gentleman or bastard? British or Irish? Or a bit of each. Land, culture, language, religion and history separate and bind the English and the Irish. What has this done to the Irish people?
The prose is stellar. Simply beautiful lines, often melancholic in tone. Lines of subtle meaning that make you think. Lines for contemplation rather than definitive answers.
The telling switches between the past and the present, but one is never confused. The past and the present are intertwined; the past has shaped who Jack is now. What will the future hold? We are abruptly told at the very end. I like the ending.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Frank Grimes. Easy to follow and told in an Irish dialect. It is very well read....more
I enjoyed the first half quite a bit, the latter half much less. I am rating the book, not the man, and my rating only expresses how I personally reacI enjoyed the first half quite a bit, the latter half much less. I am rating the book, not the man, and my rating only expresses how I personally reacted to the book! I am of the 21st century.
This is an autobiography and it is published long ago - in 1900! Booker T. Washington lived from 1856-1915. He was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. The exact year of his birth is not known. Some say 1856; he guesses maybe 1858 or 1859. Neither can we identify his father; the guess is he was white. During the Reconstruction Booker was still a youth. He worked at a corn mill and later in a coal mine, got himself educated at Hampton Institute, became a teacher, an author, an orator particularly famed for his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech and even met with President McKinley. He founded the Tuskegee Institute, a black college in Alabama. He received a Master of Arts Honorary Degree from Harvard in 1896. Clearly this is a man worth acclaim and a man of which it is interesting to learn a bit about.
It was the description of his life as a slave and the first years following the Declaration of Emancipation that captivated me. The small details, like not knowing where to sleep when given two sheets, like picking a surname, like never sitting down to a meal or how it feels to wear a flax shirt. Getting an education at Hampton Institute was quite an ordeal, but he was determined. I was rooting for him.
Much of this book is devoted to Booker’s philosophizing. I admire the man and his moral fortitude. I admire the importance he lays on self-reliance. I agree with his belief in the dignity of physical labor. I agree that education must be accomplished through use of one's hands, head and heart. I agree that those who are happiest do the most for others. I agree that more can be achieved through praise than through criticism. I do think he had a knack for saying things elegantly.
However, as Booker works toward establishing the Tuskegee Institute he has to convince others to donate, to contribute funds. He did in fact get money from Andrew Carnegie. He had the strong belief that given the facts, benefactors would contribute to the cause. The book begins to sound like a promotional sales pitch, and he repeats the same moral dicta over and over and over again. I do agree with much of what he says, but it became a preachy, repetitive rant and so exaggeratedly optimistic. (He states the KKK had disappeared!) Maybe in 1900 people could still be optimistic? I don’t know. Anyhow, at book’s end I was totally fed up! Was the latter half of the book written for the purpose of impressing others of his accomplishments and so more donations?!
The audiobook is narrated by Noah Waterman. The recording sound sometimes echoes and changes volume, but I could understand the spoken words. Neither bad, nor spectacular....more
In reading this book I was hoping to better understand the German existentialist philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 - 1900), both the man aIn reading this book I was hoping to better understand the German existentialist philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 - 1900), both the man and his particular form of existentialism. The book takes place in the last months of 1882 when Nietzsche was 38 years old; at this date he was neither widely read nor publicly acclaimed as he posthumously came to be. Some of the events of the story did not happen, but they very easily could have happened, this being a definition of fiction put forth by André Gide, a French author and winner of the 1947 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is just such fiction that Irvin D. Yalom wished to write.
That what happens in the story could have happened, even if it did not happen, is explained in a well written and very interesting afterword. Letters are quoted that give proof of the possibility of the fictitious events. What is true and what is not is clarified, even if at times it can be hard to keep straight. The author goes on to explain why he wrote the book, what he wished to achieve by it and why in detail he drew the story as he did. On completion of the lengthy afterword I much better understood the book - why he chose the year 1882,why he chose to incorporate particular real-life characters and why he chose to fabricate the fictional elements as he did. On completing the afterword my whole view of the book changed; only then did I come to really like the book. Nevertheless, I have chosen to give the book three rather than four stars because I do not think a book should have to be explained to be appreciated. That made clear in the afterword should have been conveyed in the story itself. My interpretation of the story before reading the afterword and after reading it were different. Without the afterword I wouldn’t have considered giving the book more than three stars. The bottom line is that I would probably have preferred that the author had presented the figures, their beliefs and actions in a straightforward book of non-fiction.
It is important to know that the author is an accomplished psychotherapist, an existentialist and an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University. He writes about that which he knows.
The author saw the book as an implement for teaching. I did learn elements of Nietzsche's philosophy. While the basic tenets of his philosophy are made clear, an in-depth analysis of the philosophy requires a different book. One’s appetite is merely whetted and there is a lot of repetition.
The two central figures are Nietzsche and Joseph Breuer (1842 – 1925), the latter being a prominent Austrian physician working in the field of neurophysiology. Breuer had from 1880 – 1882 been using talk therapy to treat Bertha Pappenheim (1859 – 1936) for hysteria, an illness which at this time was coupled to the female sex. Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) and Breuer came to write about her under the pseudonym “Anna O.” in Studies in Hysteria. Published in 1895, it is considered one of the founding texts of psychoanalysis. We also know that Breuer’s wife had become jealous of her husband's interest in Bertha, and rumors had begun to circulate. All of the above is true.
Breuer is 40 in 1882, and being 40 he could have had of a mid-life crisis. This is how the story is drawn here - he became infatuated with his patient, he ignored his wife, he couldn’t resist the flirtatious requests of Lou Salomé. Lou Salomé did actually exist and she was having a “relation à trois” with Nietzsche and Paul Rée. Nietzsche did propose marriage to her, but she refused. In the story Lou requests that Breuer treat Nietzsche. Perhaps, perhaps, it might have been so, but we do know that Breuer never did meet Nietzsche. The ins and outs, the true facts and the possibilities become confusing.
Before reading the afterword, what I saw was a book about a mid-life crisis and the book was more about Breuer than Nietzsche! We are told of Nietzsche debilitating illness, both physical and psychological, but his illness doesn’t become palpable until the very end. Only at the end does the focus shift to Nietzsche, and only then did I feel his suffering. For me he was the stronger of the two men.
I feel some aspects of the fictional story lacked credibility. In 1882 psychotherapy had not yet come into practice and it was never practiced by Nietzsche. Is it conceivable that the distinguished physician Breuer would treat (view spoiler)[Nietzsche’s physical disorders in exchange for advice from Nietzsche to help Breuer overcome his despair, his fear of death and his erotic fixation for Bertha? I found the rapid resolution of Breuer’s marital discord not credibly drawn. (hide spoiler)]
The author wants to show that much of the acclaim given to Freud rightly belongs to Nietzsche. In the book he has the younger Freud influenced by Nietzsche through Breuer, but we know that in reality they never met!
The author wants to show and does show how existentialism could be used in psychotherapy. He wants to show and does show how both patient and therapist influence each other. The fictional aspects of the story convey this message.
The audiobook is narrated by Paul Michael Garcia. He uses a stronger, firmer intonation for Breuer’s words. Nietzsche’s intonation is weaker, more questioning, less firm. Should it be this way? As stated above, only by the book’s end did I feel Nietzsche’s suffering so for most of the book the intonations felt wrong. On the other hand I could hear who was speaking by the use of two intonations, and this was certainly helpful.
The book well draws Vienna in the 1880s and the birth of psychotherapy.
Please note that the book has a co-author: Michelle Burford. Diane Guerrero is still rather young; sThis falls somewhere between three or four stars.
Please note that the book has a co-author: Michelle Burford. Diane Guerrero is still rather young; she is born July 21, 1986. She is primarily an actress, not an author. It is to her credit that she saw the need for a co-author. She is writing this book to bring attention to the plight of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Definitely a worthy goal.
The author's youth is evident in the language used by the author. On one hand her exuberance is charming and yet at times the swearing and the hip choice of words simply come across as immature. However, I am willing to dismiss this immaturity, reasoning that this is a book about her life and she is telling us how she has experienced the events. Maybe she simply cannot tell it any other way, and she is only thirty. Still, I am not quite sure a thirty-year-old should sound this way.
The book covers three central topics - the deportation of her parents when she was only fourteen, her path toward psychological maturity with focus upon her relationships with her parents and finally her acting career. Of course all three motifs blend. The author is very honest when analyzing her own behavior and decisions. The traumatic disappearance of her parents and the total absence of family from such a young age have had psychological consequences. Fortunately she did eventually receive psychological guidance. Today she is a motivated woman fighting for immigration reforms, feminism, environmental awareness and political activism. She voices her opposition to Trump. With reference to her own past difficulties, she asks if pain has a purpose and replies, "It can if we give it one."
So in the final analysis while at times the writing feels immature, her maturity shines through too. The two jar against each other somehow. Are we seeing a contrast between the lines of Diane Guerrero and the co-author Michelle Burford? Perhaps.
The parts about her acting career shower praise on those she is working with and stress the importance of these projects - the series Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. Here the absolute honesty revealed in the earlier discussion of family relationships is lacking. What other alternative does she have? She cannot criticize her current employers and colleagues. These portions satisfied me least, but will probably be gulped up by aspiring young actresses. It is particularly in these sections that the author sounds so terribly immature.
Diane narrates her own audiobook. She sounds young. OK, she is still young, but at the same time she here seems to be directing her voice toward a younger audience. Yelps and screams are difficult to render well in the audio format. You have to recognize a scream but not sound too screechy. Here you jump. At times her voice drones on, but on the whole it is her exuberance that is too inflated. The audiobook has accompanying PDF files with family photos. Don't miss them!
The question addressed is important – better rights for undocumented immigrants. The honest revelations about the author’s feelings toward her parents are moving and intelligent. Yet the book feels as though it was written primarily for young people, and that is not me. ...more
First just stop and consider the cover....which looks very simple. At the center are a kestrel and a heart. From them flow waves and reverberations baFirst just stop and consider the cover....which looks very simple. At the center are a kestrel and a heart. From them flow waves and reverberations back? I neither considered the cover nor its significance until after finishing the book. It is a perfect cover.
Exquisite writing is the feature that stands out most prominently.
Humor, deep sadness, grief and cause for anger are to be found within these pages. Also an awakening, understanding of what has not been understood before, both for the reader and the writer.
This is a very unusual memoir. It does not focus on a check list of information such as date of birth, schools or occupations. The author speaks of his world through the eyes of his younger self. It flips between periods in his childhood, his teens when he had a pet kestrel and his meeting with a psychologist when he is in his forties. Each chapter begins with a date. Knowing that he was born in 1961, makes understanding each section simple. The author has (view spoiler)[Asperger Syndrome, a kind of autism often making social relationships and communication difficult (hide spoiler)]. I was told this by a friend, but I appreciated discovering this on my own as I read, so I am putting it in a spoiler here. His intelligence and his ability to minutely observe and appreciate what he saw around him are magnified, not diminished. As one discovers more and more about the young boy one needs to reevaluate that which we are told. I loved the ending, how the author sees the world around him and relates to others.
The author is not only an author, naturalist and nature photographer, but also a television presenter. Narrating his own book was thus a given. He is a talented speaker and nobody but him could possibly have read the lines with such perfection. He is best known for the children's nature series The Real Wild Show (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rea...) of the late 80s and has presented the BBC nature series Springwatch (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springw...) from 2009. I recommend listening to the audiobook rather than reading the paper book. You get an added dimension. You hear through his intonations what the author saw through his eyes and felt in his heart. This is a great book for both children and adults.
I am giving this five stars, even though I did feel that at the two thirds point it dragged a bit. It has beautiful lines, draws the reader in, reveals so much about the author’s inner self (view spoiler)[ and those with Asperger Syndrome (hide spoiler)] and finally has fascinating information about many, many animals. From snakes and tadpoles and dinosaurs to otters and mice and tons about birds! I highly recommend this book. It is a work of art.
The book will make readers open their eyes to the beauty of nature. ...more
I cannot give this book less than three stars because it contains lots of totally fascinating information about animals - the greater and lesser apes,I cannot give this book less than three stars because it contains lots of totally fascinating information about animals - the greater and lesser apes, whales, octopus, fish, birds and elephants for example. The author is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist. He is the Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behavior at the Emory University psychology department in Atlanta, Georgia, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Primate social behavior is his central focus but this book goes beyond primates. The latest research about the abilities of animals and animal cognition is exciting. Our knowledge concerning the science of animal cognition, self-awareness, understanding, cooperation, inequity aversion, conformism and empathy has progressed far from the early days of behaviorism. The book starts with a review of the history of the science.
Nevertheless, I did have problems with this book. I found it poorly organized. I would have appreciated clearer chapter titles so you knew what the coming chapter would contain. The chapters had diffuse titles such as Cognitive Ripples, Know What You Know, Talk To Me. The same experiments are mentioned several times with additional information added the second time around. Neither was there organization in terms of the species covered; one gets a smattering of species in each chapter. Quite simply the book was put together in a messy fashion. The author has a central message, namely that experiments must be designed to fit the animals being tested and that we must stop overestimating human cognition and underestimating other species' cognition. These became the author's mantras. I don't disagree with what he is saying but the preachiness with which the messages were delivered became annoying. The book is said to be written for the layman. One minute he addresses his readers as if we were children. Soon after the lines read as academic bickering. The author comes across as “thinking he knows all” and negatively viewing others. The tone is negative, which gets tiring. The result? You have to wade through a lot to get to the fascinating ground information.
One more complaint – in comparison to the books listed below, the presentation of the experiments in de Waal’s book does not let readers get close to the animals. You do in the books listed below. Too often in de Waal’s book we are told what particular experiments prove, rather than letting readers judge for themselves.
So yes, I do have a bunch of complaints with the way the book is organized, its tone and manner of presenting the data. The information presented is nevertheless thorough and fascinating.
I spoke of the author’s negative tone. This is further enhanced by the audiook narration performed by Sean Runnette. The words are clear but the tone is one of sad despondency.
The writing is uneven. Occasionally I would come across a pretty line, but for the most part I found the writing ordinary,Why didn't I like this book?
The writing is uneven. Occasionally I would come across a pretty line, but for the most part I found the writing ordinary, unclear, pretentious or overwrought. All too often fancy words are used when a simpler one would have sufficed. Some sentences sound terribly profound, but what really do they mean?
There are two sisters (Ruth and Lucille) who behave in diametrically opposed manners to the suicide of their mother, the death of their grandmother who came to care for them after the death of their mother and to the death of their grandfather whose life was taken when the train he was on crashed from a bridge. These girls come then to live first with two great aunts and finally their aunt, Sylvie. This aunt is viewed by society as "flakey", unreliable and clearly inappropriate as a mother. The great aunts were certainly equally incapable. This is all presented at the beginning of the book, with few lines and little explanation. Lucille wants (view spoiler)[a secure ordinary life. She comes to live with her home economics teacher. Ruth settles in with her aunt, Sylvie. The central theme is about their relationship and what is demanded of them by "good society". It is about what they do to survive. (hide spoiler)]The book looks at Ruth's and Sylvia's manner of living compared to the life chosen by Lucille and the life society claims is best.
What is the book trying to say? That loss and abandonment leads to transience? Perhaps, but Lucille didn't follow that route and Sylvie had been flakey and lived as a transient for years even before her sister, the girls’ mother, had killed herself. Maybe it is as simple as this that people are different and there is no one correct manner of living. This is a rather self-evident message! Lucille's life is shown as narrow and restricted by others and society's opinions of her. Sylvie has heart, compassion and shows understanding for others, although the life she and Ruth opt to take is uncertain, difficult and borders on the improper. Sylvie is shown as appreciating nature and pursuing flitting dreams, but at least molding her life to her own wishes, accepting the hardships that follow. The problem is that we do not see if Ruth has chosen this route by free will, she was too young to really decide when she follows Sylvie. Maybe she has simply been molded by her aunt. What the author is trying to say leaves me confused. Images are splattered before us and they don't hold together, pointing to a clear message.
Ruth is telling us this story from the vantage point of an adult. The words spoken are not those of a child. A further incongruity is that Ruth never wanted to talk and here she is telling us this story. There is no clue as to what has changed her into this talkative person!
There are references to religious stories which I didn't understand - Cain and Abel and Noah and more.
The audiobook is narrated by Becket Royce. The tempo is uneven; at times too fast. You can hear what is being said, so three stars for the narration.
I don’t think this book has anything remarkable to say, and if it does it went over my head. The writing didn’t impress me. ...more
This book starts out slowly; give it a chance. By the end you will see that all the separate parts hold together providing a complete, cohesive and stThis book starts out slowly; give it a chance. By the end you will see that all the separate parts hold together providing a complete, cohesive and strong argument confirming the intelligence of ravens. I knew very little about ravens when I began. Now they fascinate me, and I am convinced that Bernd Heinrich, an experimental biologist, has in a balanced fashion woven together both his own scientific experiments and numerous anecdotal stories.
The book is well organized. It starts with his capture of four 1-month-old ravens followed by description of his aviary and the birds’ maturation, pairing, nesting, copulation and hatching of subsequent generations. The original four and their offspring become individual characters to the reader. After first becoming acquainted with these basics, the book delves into the fascinating discussion of behavioral patterns, intelligence and emotions, continually gathering information from both scientific experiments and anecdotes. Their play behavior will certainly make you laugh. You will even learn how and why they come to bathe in dirty puddle water when it is freezing cold! Bathing is play, and play behavior, curiosity and intelligence are directly correlated. The symbiosis between ravens, wolves and early man is fascinating. Sources and statistics are documented. The book concludes with an exemplary summation of all that has been covered.
I wasn’t impressed with the audiobook narration by Norman Dietz. He drones on an on in a level boring tone. He makes the content sound uninteresting, which is really a shame. I am giving the narration two stars because you do hear the words clearly. If you choose the audiobook be prepared to listen to the author’s words and not what is coming through your ears!
What started in a boring fashion with what seemed unnecessary details became a totally fascinating book and wonderful reading experience. A really good book!