sadly, this was the only Zola i read in 2014. that leaves me with only 2 books left in the Rougon-Macquart series (which i should have finished this ysadly, this was the only Zola i read in 2014. that leaves me with only 2 books left in the Rougon-Macquart series (which i should have finished this year, but got lazy).
part of the problem was that the Debacle was just that: i have to say this was the most disappointing of the whole series so far. it's about the prussians and the Paris Commune and war and all the drama that should accompany that, but the first two thirds felt like a tedious history lesson and by the time it warmed up, i was just wanting it to be over with.
sadly, i did not feel much attachment to the characters and i feel like Zola was more interested in Napoleon's movements outside of Paris than anything like telling an actual story. it doesn't help, either, that the connection to the Rougon-Macquart family feels tenuous at best. this feels like it barely qualifies as part of the series. bummer.
my goal for 2015 is to finish this series at long last. i just need to find translated copies of the last two books....more
hadn't read this in a while, so took it for a spin again this summer ~ love it as much as i dd when i first encountered it more than twenty years ago.hadn't read this in a while, so took it for a spin again this summer ~ love it as much as i dd when i first encountered it more than twenty years ago. what more can i say?...more
Daudet chronicles his agonizing decline due to tertiary stage syphilis. And interesting little book that is neither depressing nor a long bore of sympDaudet chronicles his agonizing decline due to tertiary stage syphilis. And interesting little book that is neither depressing nor a long bore of symptoms and complaints. If you have no sympathy for hypochondriacs, this will definitely not change your mind any. ...more
i was hoping for a little more detail about the neighborhood in Fell's Point ~ the people who lived there and how they lived. this brief overview provi was hoping for a little more detail about the neighborhood in Fell's Point ~ the people who lived there and how they lived. this brief overview provided a little bit of information, but focused mainly on the shipyards and the clippers and other vessels built and sailed out from Fell's Point. to be picky, i don't think the history of the boats is the history of the point, but it was nevertheless written in an engaging style, had a lot of great pictures, and provided a lot of little tidbits pointing toward further items worth researching, so overall, i enjoyed this and appreciated the introduction to an interesting subject....more
For such a slim volume, this took me forever to finish! Part of the reason, however, was that I was making copious notes, so really the length of timeFor such a slim volume, this took me forever to finish! Part of the reason, however, was that I was making copious notes, so really the length of time I spent with it is testament to its usefulness as a piece of research. I learned a lot about development, trade, and immigration in Minnesota from this one ~ not in any great special depth, but the exact sort of overview that I needed with plenty of tidbits from which to pursue things in more depth. The maps were also very helpful in getting the lay of the land. This books uses primary sources that I would ultimately like to get my hands on, but also provides plenty of details about the climate, culture, etc. to make me feel like I have a decent grasp of it all. Lot's of excellent information particularly about the 1850s, which was exactly what I needed....more
Inspired, but not based upon, a famous court case of the era, this slog through the "city mysteries" genre lacks cohesiveness, alas. As this is an earInspired, but not based upon, a famous court case of the era, this slog through the "city mysteries" genre lacks cohesiveness, alas. As this is an early work of Buntline (Edward Zane Carroll Judson), he struggles with a degree of authorial intrusion that makes most early Victorian-era fiction seem positively disinterested in its audience, sometimes rambling on for paragraphs moralizing about the plight of the downcast of New York and referencing previous chapters (as such), etc.
But all this yakking only thinly veils what is really a story meant to provoke and titillate, it seems. The author kitchen-sinks the scandals: gamblers, child-snatchers, prostitutes, thieves, murderers (even the infamous "Butcher Bill" makes an appearance).
The style is so overwrought in the romantic tradition that more than halfway through I forgot that its purpose was to show the evils of the city--so if you undertake to read this romp through 1840s Gotham, don't expect any happy endings ~ or any "ending" at all, for the author leaves many threads hanging with the threat of a sequel (The B'hoys of New York). Don't know yet if I will go suss it out. The characters who are left standing at the end of this one are a pretty despicable lot and Buntline promises the next book will be even darker.
Not altogether successful as a novel (too pastiche and too gross a caricature), it's nevertheless interesting, particularly for its presumably authentic vernacular and it's frankness of subject matter. And it's amazing how much of our everyday civil idiom was kind of lowbrow slang at this time. Mined many a turn of phrase, too, that will add color to my own research....more
This is an interesting book, but not what I expected (nor hoped for). Whereas other Civil War books have too many lists of minutiae with not enough coThis is an interesting book, but not what I expected (nor hoped for). Whereas other Civil War books have too many lists of minutiae with not enough context, background, or notes, here's a book that I actually wish had included more lists and minutiae. The focus here is on a few American brands that have been around forever (Du Pont, Tiffany, Brooks Brothers, Squibb, Borden, Scientific American, American Express). A single chapter is dedicated to each "brand" and a brief history of the product is provided with some context on its impact during the war and subsequent evolution over the next 150 years. While they are all interesting, it felt like a mixed bag to me and I longed to know more about other brands in vogue that didn't weather the century. But that was not Schmidt's intent, so I can't fault the book for my expectations. Nonetheless, I feel I can quibble with the fact that this feels more like an introduction to a subject on which a great deal more could be written. Great footnotes, a nice collection of essays overall, but I could have used a little more meat with my potatoes. ...more
i have read some interesting criticisms of this book, and i have to say that after following eddy around for at least twenty years or thereabouts, thii have read some interesting criticisms of this book, and i have to say that after following eddy around for at least twenty years or thereabouts, this work is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of at least attempting to contextualize his life in a way that offers more than just the lurid sort of scandal-mongering that have made poor eddy a bit infamous.
so okay it's not perfect. but for an otherwise somewhat obscure royal whose life was mostly "vanished" in that curious way of blotting out things rather left unremembered, cook manages to pastiche eddy's short life back together through what little has survived. there are omissions, certainly, and i almost would have rather cook confronted all the rumors more head-on (his dismissal may seem to some like he's got something to fear or hide, perhaps? i don't know), but i found this a very satisfying read: well documented, and with sufficient new material to make it well worth my time.
and frankly it's nice to see something written about eddy that isn't overly obsessed with all the scandals ans rumors that have been (mostly) posthumously applied.