This is an icky uncomfortable book I had to finish as fast as possible to put it behind me (and avoid nightmares). Made even more distressing given thThis is an icky uncomfortable book I had to finish as fast as possible to put it behind me (and avoid nightmares). Made even more distressing given the plot and gruesome subject matter is based on a true story. Consider this quick read in the graphic nonfiction horror category I rarely stray into (although I do enjoy a good true crime/legal read).
The terrifying aspect of the story of an unwanted pair of inherited sisters then held captive, tortured, abused, and worse is that it was at the hands of their aunt, her sons, and the complicit and acting neighborhood kids. The narrator is the next door young man that makes every page turned where he stands by doing nothing gut wrenching. It pulls you into the slippery slope of madness into hell.
You wonder how there are people this awful in the world, even though you know there are. This book is a voyeuristic disguising story even less sensational than the actual source material, as it tries to put you there in the dungeon basement coming to grips with the psychological damage and hold the adult granting permission has over the kids.
Ugh. Shudder. Don't read it unless you want to be fucked up by it. ...more
Just a lovely short story about where our own prejudices come from yet how we can undo the difficult circumstances of our personal experience throughJust a lovely short story about where our own prejudices come from yet how we can undo the difficult circumstances of our personal experience through direct interaction and commonalities with 'the other' even in the most dire and depressing of circumstances... set in the backdrop of a nuclear apocalypse. Love this style of illustration as well. My kind of graphic novel....more
Hard to think this powerful book could be more perfect; its author is as strong a writer and storyteller and he is a selfless champion of equal rightsHard to think this powerful book could be more perfect; its author is as strong a writer and storyteller and he is a selfless champion of equal rights and justice.
He tells one main story (Walter) of a man given a sham trial (in the eighties! When I was alive!) and put on death row (Alabama executes more than any other state) for years when he was completely innocent. But he also weaves in 11 other stories of minors sentenced to death life in prison without parole, poor women persecuted and jailed for stillborn deaths, and other miscarriages (not intended) of justice, trials, and law.
He started the Equal Justice Initiative since Alabama is the only state that doesn't give free legal aid to those on death row - and there are lots of on it. His blood, soul, money, and life go into it. Thankfully it's going strong still today.
Throughout the book Bryan masterfully tells his story alongside those lives he sought to save in our broken judicial system built on institutional racism. This book is more important than ever and while not a difficult read, it is a heavy one. Your heart hurts alongside his.
Loved this book. I've read Michael Lewis before but only when he's writing about other people. Turning the focus inward, this memoir of a father is inLoved this book. I've read Michael Lewis before but only when he's writing about other people. Turning the focus inward, this memoir of a father is insightful, funny, wise, and delivered with a huge shot of empathy. The fact that it's incredibly well written also really helps in this genre.
He's brutally honest about the ups and downs that come with fatherhood, his relationships with his wife/kids/work. He even goes to raise a child for a year in Paris, then comments about how he's not Adam Gopnik (ha! another good book). Each column-length story takes you birth by birth of each of his kids through his vasectomy at the end.
Incredibly readable and genuine, you feel the warmth and love from the page. Just so many great quotes and lines about what it's really like, has me excited and feeling ready to be a dad. ...more
Like watching Narcos, Sicaro, Scarface, (even a little Goodfellas) and every cops vs mexican druglords flick, The Power of the Dog delivers perfectly.Like watching Narcos, Sicaro, Scarface, (even a little Goodfellas) and every cops vs mexican druglords flick, The Power of the Dog delivers perfectly. There is gruesome torture, murders, sex, violence, shoot outs, drugs, backstabbing (figuratively and literally), prostitution, politics, religion, set ups, traps, stings, negotiations, terrorism, mafia, and tense thrilling reading for the macho man beach read set. You realize almost everyone dies at some point, not sure how long you have with each character, and wonder how they'll get out of this situation and like an action movie cliche they somehow manage. Enjoyable fast read for a big book....more
Sweetbitter is a love story. English major comes to New York (same month that I did, but that's when our stories diverge) and falls into a job at oneSweetbitter is a love story. English major comes to New York (same month that I did, but that's when our stories diverge) and falls into a job at one of its top restaurants.
She falls in love with: the city, the life, food, wine, work-family, late nights, sunrises, music, dive bars, independence, dependence on a mothering mentor figure, cocaine, cabs, poetry, records, books, flowers, beer, money, the fast pace, hard work, sweating, work politics, the bartender, cigarettes, coming of age, herself.
It's cliche, intentionally unavoidably so, and why I initially avoided the book. But its inevitable cliche, earnestly well written and self aware, that deserves the hype. It draws you in, with the perfect fucking title, cover art design, and overall book package. This is a story you know, want to know just like you want to go to the fancy restaurant because you know the server in the back and she tells you it's magic there and you want to fall in love too.
It's intoxicating. The author transfers that intoxication through to page to you. And you're hoping that the drinks don't end and the check never comes. ...more
A really basic primer to pregnancy, with a bit of awkward forced jokes amidst earnest buddy advice. I appreciate that when the book published there waA really basic primer to pregnancy, with a bit of awkward forced jokes amidst earnest buddy advice. I appreciate that when the book published there wasn't a lot yet in this field for this audience, but it feels a bit stuck in time today. Certainly you could do far worse by not reading anything at all, so this has some solid advice, but most seemed common sense to me and I didn't learn much....more
Teju Cole is a talented writer, that is for sure. This 'fictional novel' read more like a memoir/novella as it details the narrator's personal journeyTeju Cole is a talented writer, that is for sure. This 'fictional novel' read more like a memoir/novella as it details the narrator's personal journey home to Nigeria from NYC where he went to school/became a writer (obviously lines are quite blurred between fact and fiction here, perhaps at the detriment to the reader as this feels so intimately real).
The book reads in short bursts of scenes and stories woven from reuniting with old friends, experiencing the corruption/bribes/grift of the Lagos economy, and the lower quality/higher inconvenience living the narrator left behind when he made it out of the country.
While the story touches on the troublesome family history and split, it never delves deep enough into any relationship beyond the surface level relationship between the narrator and his homeland. And the ending comes in short, leaving you wanting more - a lesson, takeaway, anything beyond You can't go home again.
But while it pulls up short and stays very surface, the prose and photography are beautiful. I feel like I got to know Cole and Nigeria well, and want to read his more popular book Open City....more
I was drawn to this very long epic sci-fi novel because I had been wanting to read a Stephenson book for awhile when Bill Gates announced it as his suI was drawn to this very long epic sci-fi novel because I had been wanting to read a Stephenson book for awhile when Bill Gates announced it as his summer read and I heard more and more about it.
This is a book for people who read The Martian and thought it was lacking in enough physics equations, post-Apocalypse politics, socio-economics theory, enough character story archs, and true science fiction thought experiments. It's so long that it's essentially three books in one, connected through this singular event brought about by the destruction of the moon, leading to the end of life as we knew it on the surface of earth, and what would come next.
There are some extremely awesome passages of true Gravity-style space action writing, thought provoking What-If scenarios planned out to their conclusions and consequences as to how humanity would prepare for a post-earth future and then evolve within those constraints, and lots of fun original sci-fi nerdity storytelling. Stephenson is the master of the epic scope built on tiny meticulous detail and science/math. It seem plausible and practical and always emotional and messy when humans are involved.
It would make for an amazing mini-series (Battlestar Galactica style), but I felt really bogged down in the overwrought details, math-explaining, and dozens of characters to track and care about. It's a real commitment to take on, with sincere rewards, but doesn't come easy and so only those really interested in this subject matter should proceed - since Stephenson doesn't write with kid gloves on....more
Had this book on my list for a long time (mostly due to Issac Fitzgerald's cheerleading it) and was excited to snag a signed copy on my first visit toHad this book on my list for a long time (mostly due to Issac Fitzgerald's cheerleading it) and was excited to snag a signed copy on my first visit to the Astoria Bookstore.
Given that I love contemporary literature, multiple character storytelling set in Brooklyn (and books titled 'Infinite'), I had high expectations for Infinite Home.
But those high hopes gave way to a very slow start to the book. You're getting to know these characters inch by inch as they crack their apartment doors open and reveal themselves, and as soon as you get interested in one character it jumps to the next one to start all over again. I felt unmotivated to press on early on but I'm glad I did.
As the writing is very sharp and original in feel, despite a trope of strangers becoming friends and then some. Each character is eventually fully formed, with flaws and decency, and you end up cheering them on to become bigger than themselves, fighting for their new identities and alliances.
The antagonist is certainly cliched and underdeveloped intentionally, but the remaining characters surprise me in how they ended up before the final page. This book is slow, but beautiful, deep and painful, and unique but not necessarily entirely predictable or rewarding. Approach with caution and lower expectation for a first novel and you'll be pleased....more
Having seen the industry splash that this book has made, I could not ignore the chance to read the book (from the library) to have an opinion on whethHaving seen the industry splash that this book has made, I could not ignore the chance to read the book (from the library) to have an opinion on whether it should have been published in the first place.
Backstory: Newsweek editor/journalist journeyman is let go from traditional publication (is also mocking writer of Fake Steve Jobs), having covered tech for years thinks he can hack it in a tech startup, is hired and then finds himself a bad "culture fit" as a 50+ gray hair white man from old school publishing, hangs in the job for a paycheck until he is pushed out, and bitterly writes a memoir of his time there, then that startup engages in something illegal enough for the FBI to investigate an attempt to steal the book manuscript ahead of publication, basically writing the ending where the people on the other side of the bad culture fit prove themselves to be the assholes they were made out to be the whole book and the author goes to write full time for Silicon Valley, full circle completed.
Ok, that's the background and foreground (and basically ground) of the story actually. I was drawn in because I know the company at the center of this scandal and this book had real impact: executives were let go and a FBI investigation was launched and most in the industry have had to respond to it. Books are so dangerous again that people are trying to steal peeks at them before they're made public. They are the cause of federal involvement!
So while I love that a book can spark this discussion, it's kinda sad that this is what it takes. Here's a self admitted spiteful bitter cynical writer made to miss his now-dead industry and stay in a job he's never been happy with, blowing up so big that it has to take down so many reputations - author included.
The people in the company are on the whole good people that believe in what they're doing. The fault for the unstable IPO/profit viability comes back to the economy, JOBS Act, and how everything is built and rewarded these days. People respond to incentives as the Freaknomics guys will tel you and the startup industry is no different.
For anyone in the startup world this will hit close to home in either a good or bad way and while it's hard to empathize with an old guy yelling Get Off My Lawn, the writing is self aware enough to be funny and entertaining and the material is ripe for humor. I read quickly and laughed but still thought the book was a dick thing to do for money. ...more
This quick dark disturbing read is meant to be consumed all at once, like a meal, without much interruptions. Should you be able to find the 3 hours oThis quick dark disturbing read is meant to be consumed all at once, like a meal, without much interruptions. Should you be able to find the 3 hours of sustained time, or break it up into two shorter periods, you'll read on as this upper class posh family unravels with secrets foretold in the tagline to the title: how far will you go to protect your children?
It's that nature v nurture discussion that this book will provoke, as what starts off to be likeable characters devolves into appalling ids of people.
The book is laid out over one evening dinner between two related couples brought together to discuss their kids, with back story interjected between courses revealing the dark issues underlying the discussion. Filled with shock, deception, deceit, and all of the fun you'd expect that comes with that, the perfect happy family is shown to be anything but.
Worthwhile for anyone intrigued in wanting to know more... perhaps a great plane or beach read for someone who needs a gripping well written story....more
I had heard that this was this year's well written entertaining summer page turner and it more than lived up to that expectation - it's one of the besI had heard that this was this year's well written entertaining summer page turner and it more than lived up to that expectation - it's one of the best/most fun books I've read this year.
From the writer/showrunner of Fargo (TV, which I admit to having not seen), this is the dramatic story of a private plane crash that killed rich important people, leaving a random new unrelated acquaintance alive. The book unfolds much like LOST in where we get the backstory of most characters up to the moment of the crash as well as living in the aftermath of the media scrutiny, investigation, and mystery of what actually happened.
Given that most of the book takes place around NYC locations is just a bonus.
The story itself is thrilling and compelling, each character well developed like a short story, and it keeps you turning pages as the pieces of the puzzle drop into place before throwing you for a loop. I had a lot of fun reading this book and would recommend it to almost anyone that wants a good strong read....more
I approached this book wanting to like it (as Mary Gaitskill seems a fascinating person and writer), but much of the book was a struggle for me.
She wrI approached this book wanting to like it (as Mary Gaitskill seems a fascinating person and writer), but much of the book was a struggle for me.
She writes beautifully, in a poetic-lens prose, of the narrator's childhood, modeling stint in Paris, and returning in NYC, interspersed with her unusual friendship to Veronica and how it shaped both their lives.
But the stream of conscious, shifting timelines, thoughts, and lack of driving plot took away from my reading experience. While there were often amazing scenes, moments of brilliance, and quite funny writing, it wasn't sustained enough for me to want to keep reading.
Some of the best stuff comes near the end as the main character focuses on the evolution of her relationship with Veronica and what it means for the both of them. She'd often say what many think and it was this insight and lack of filter which endeared me to both of these characters.
But I can see why Gaitskill may be a stronger short story writer, as this longer format didn't appeal too much to me as a reader....more