A friend just gave me back my ages-old copy of this book, three years after I had forgotten that I had lent it to him. I am overjoyed to have this bac...moreA friend just gave me back my ages-old copy of this book, three years after I had forgotten that I had lent it to him. I am overjoyed to have this back in my possession. So much so that I feel compelled to immediately reread it. That is just how good this book is.
***Post reread*** The problem with reading Neal Stephenson is that you can not help coming to the realization that, no matter how hard you try, how dedicated to the craft you become, you will never write anything as fully formed, as intricately detailed and impeccably researched or as purely fun as Snow Crash. Give up, all ye purveyors of mediocre science fiction, Stephenson owns you. At least that was the impression that I had while reading the book. All of my own half-hearted attempts all stand out as poor homages to this masterwork.
From the postnational aspect of citizenry to civilization's basis in codified behavior to brain-twisting explanations of the physics of virtual samurai duels, Stephenson has thought everything through down to the pico level of detail and left no loose ends dangling. When he is describing Nuclear Fuzz Grunge, you have to believe that somewhere in his office there exists an evolutionary chart that traces the development of this niche musical genre, much as Tolkien formed the intricate lineages of his elves.
Anyone familiar with Stephenson's more recent books, The Baroque Cycle, Anathem, or Cryptonomicon, is well aware of his skill at cramming as much as possible detail into every page, but it's here in Snow Crash (and his follow-up, The Diamond Age) where he really just lets loose and has fun. A pissed off Aleut who drives around on a motorcycle with a hydrogen bomb sidecar, a smart-mouthed skater chick who rides the miles of highways in LA, the Mafia as a quirky group of good guys- Stephenson is clearly having a great time while writing this, nearly as much as any reader will have. I really don't think that I could recommend this book any higher.(less)
I have read this book more times than I can count and have given away more copies than I can think of. This is an essential book for anyone who enjoys...moreI have read this book more times than I can count and have given away more copies than I can think of. This is an essential book for anyone who enjoys science fiction and I love making people aware of it. Ender is a protagonist that you can not help but sympathize with, his intellect exploited and twisted all in the name of a greater good, and the way Card renders him and the other 9-10 year olds in the Battle School makes this one of the greatest reads I have ever come across.(less)
I was sitting at my cube farm today, moving numbers from one spreadsheet to another, cursing the internet tracking that keeps me from daytime Goodread...moreI was sitting at my cube farm today, moving numbers from one spreadsheet to another, cursing the internet tracking that keeps me from daytime Goodreading and daydreaming of pixies and unicorns when I received an email from my wife that utterly rocked my world. ":( Salinger's dead," read the short missive, and with that my world grew a little more gray. Normally news of celebrity death does little but placate my immense Schadenfreude, but Salinger's death is a serious blow to me and I feel compelled to emote all over my computer screen (don't worry, I have tissues).
Who remembers the moment when they first fell passionately in love with reading? I'm not talking about when you realized that reading was enjoyable, or a good distraction from your family, or a great way to spend a sunny day in the park. I'm talking about when you realized that this was it: life could throw anything at you and, as long as you had reading, you could cope and move on. That rather than simply entertaining, your world could be expanded and fleshed out by what you glean through a page- that this great human fuck-up can best be understood by placing yourself within the head of strangers and seeing the world through their eyes for a time.
I can chart the exact instant this thought struck me- when I first finished reading Salinger's Nine Stories, particularly the utterly heart-breaking "A Perfect Day for Bananafish." To this day this book is still my favorite of his limited oeuvre and a surefire contender for Top 5 favorites of all time. While he is deservedly renowned for Holden Caulfield's teen angst, it is the subtle pathos of Nine Stories that marks him as an author without equal.
The alienated Seymour Glass, who I always pictured as a stand-in for Salinger himself, and his tragic inability to connect with anyone but young children. The prescient Teddy, whose thinly-veiled Buddhism came years before the Beats began reading Suzuki. Esme, Charles and the damaged Sergeant X- all three of whom I feel an unceasing tenderness for. The idolized Chief and the heartbreak of Mary Hudson. All of these stories I can return to again and again, myself changed by the passing of time, and find something new and rewarding to take from them. Whether it is his absolutely perfect dialogue (I know of no other author who so accurately captures the rhythm and cadence of speech), his impulse (need?) to include a death in nearly all of his stories as if to remind us that even imaginary friends can get hit by buses, his endless attempts to put into words the passive disconnection from the rest of humankind that we all, at one point or other, feel overwhelmed by. There is more literary merit in this slim volume than the whole New York Times bestseller list.
I've often harbored the dream of hanging out in Salinger's tiny New Hampshire village and somehow attracting the eye of the reclusive author- carrying groceries across the street or some such menial chore. We would get to talking and he would offer to read some of my meager works and, wonder of wonders, offer a few words of advice. You know, Daydreaming 101. Sadly this will never be. If there is a bright side to this tragic passing, it is that hopefully he’s been writing feverishly for the past 60 years and his estate will begin posthumously publishing. This is the only real kind of immortality available, and hopefully Salinger's words will be read for centuries to come.(less)
It's in the running to be my favorite Palahniuk book, but for the time being I'm just going to say it's my second favorite just so none of the other b...moreIt's in the running to be my favorite Palahniuk book, but for the time being I'm just going to say it's my second favorite just so none of the other books get offended. I don't know what it is about death cults but between them and hitching a ride around the country in the back of those prefabricated homes that are always taking up 1.5 lanes on the freeway, this book has nearly everything I like in a story.(less)
I've been milking this read for well-nigh a week now and as the end draws ever nearer, I am almost overwhelmed with sadness that this book will soon r...moreI've been milking this read for well-nigh a week now and as the end draws ever nearer, I am almost overwhelmed with sadness that this book will soon return to its home on my shelf and my short time with Alyosha, Grushenka, Ivan, and Dmitri will be over. It is easy to see why this is considered Dostoevsky's magnum opus.
I've read quite a few of Dostoevsky's books over the past few years but I can think of none that I've relished to the extent that I have The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoevsky's skill at creating fully-fleshed characters that are beautiful in all of their faults is unparalleled. Along with these amazingly real characters, Dostoevsky manages to address issues of faith, morality, and the ties that bind a family in ways that make them easy to comprehend to the lay reader.
Whether you're looking for a book with which to open up the vast expanse of Russian literature or even just looking for an interesting book that offers up vividly real characters in some of the most florid prose, The Brothers Karamazov is not a book to be missed.(less)
This is an incredibly heart-breaking book set in a post-9/11 New York and starring a tender young boy searching for proof that his father survived the...moreThis is an incredibly heart-breaking book set in a post-9/11 New York and starring a tender young boy searching for proof that his father survived the collapse of the World Trade Center. A very personal, very human, look at an event and it's aftermath that is truly refreshing after the past four years of watching this genuine tragedy become an over-politicized hot button used to justify ever increasing power grabs. Safran Foer reminds us that at the bottom of these global elements and lofty ideological struggles between "freedom" and "submission to God" there are people. Simply people as flawed and beautiful and frail as everyone else.(less)
A fantastic collection of short stories from the man that invented cyberpunk. Far more accessible than the more highly touted Neuromancer, but still o...moreA fantastic collection of short stories from the man that invented cyberpunk. Far more accessible than the more highly touted Neuromancer, but still offering a heavy view of possible futures and technological "progress". Features the original story of Johnny Mnemonic, which is far better than the Keanu Reeves crapfest.(less)
**spoiler alert** I am so glad to have finally read this book. Plath's prose is so eloquent and beautiful that it almost makes me want to read some of...more**spoiler alert** I am so glad to have finally read this book. Plath's prose is so eloquent and beautiful that it almost makes me want to read some of her poetry. This book was almost disturbing in the way that I could relate to her heroine, Esther Greenwood, especially in the early scenes set in New York.
I think being able to relate to this character went a long way toward alleviating the apprehension I had that this would just be a 1960s version of She's Come Undone, with which there are definite corollaries. However, this book manages to keep you rooting for Esther the whole way through and just wanting to smack her doctors for continuing to force her through electroshock therapy rather than just listening to Esther without trying to force her into some preconceived model of propriety and conform her behavior to that of what "proper" girls do.