If I had read this book prior to reading My Name is Red, I would no doubt have given it a higher rating as I most certainly enjoyed it. Beautifully buIf I had read this book prior to reading My Name is Red, I would no doubt have given it a higher rating as I most certainly enjoyed it. Beautifully built, this story ties together personal and political layers and manages to interweave a walk along a fiction, anthropology, history, biography line that brings us into another world. Here is art getting created--whether it be a book of poems, a biographical investigation of a poet's death, a coup d'etat born out of a play and ended in another. The fiction of our love that is not fiction--love of a place, a person, a world--drives us to create and recreate that world.
* If the two sisters, Kadife and Ipec were treated as symbols, what would they be symbols of? For instance, could they represent two histories of the same place--one covered/religious and the other uncovered/secular? Are either faithful to their own ideals or to those Ka wants?
* Is Ka's creation of his poems a kind of religious experience? What might the loss of those poems represent?...more
Sometimes it is difficult to put one's finger on exactly what makes a story work or not work. From the point of view of construction, these stories arSometimes it is difficult to put one's finger on exactly what makes a story work or not work. From the point of view of construction, these stories are sound. Like good carpentry, they show craft and workmanship, a broad palate, some playfulness. But for me, they fail to attract.
* Although music and musicians have a role in each of the stories, neither the music nor the musicians come across as fully formed. The music is given a kind of centrality but it does not really carry any of the stories. There is a sense in which being a musician is a sideline for characters that could have as easily been the ability to juggle or foxtrot. Since all the musicians have a kind of second string or has-been nature, perhaps this is more intentional than I give it credence. But it seems weak for a book that uses Nocturnes as the title.
* The tone of the stories all seem off in some way. Nocturnes conjures a liminal time and although this is temporally covered in many of the stories as the actual fall of night and has a subtle relationship to many of the character's careers, the story lines don't capture the feeling of this--neither the manic attempt like that of a two-year old to keep from falling asleep or the thoughtful hypnotic structure of a simple set of notes repeating.
* Despite the many places the stories take place, there is a kind of homogeneity to them. In some way, I compare this book to the movie Night on Earth. The movie captures something about place as well as night that these stories don't manage to bring out for me. ...more
If you like (or love) Colfer's other books, then this one is should be no exception. Another action packed adventure laying the groundwork for a possiIf you like (or love) Colfer's other books, then this one is should be no exception. Another action packed adventure laying the groundwork for a possible series of books--interesting characters, a future world.
Colfer continues to create fast paced plots with plenty of action and violence in a novelized-comic-book or word-based-graphic-novel style. Two of his creations in this book that I particularly liked are:
a) Lawyers being the the first-response teams for incidents and accidents. b) Nonlethal weaponry--especially the shrink wrap virus.
Perhaps intended as a satire, the violence (and reality of that violence) undermines the tone of this book as does the overall sense at the end of thePerhaps intended as a satire, the violence (and reality of that violence) undermines the tone of this book as does the overall sense at the end of the story that people in positions of power simply desire to continue to make money on the situation and have no intention to fix it. This book seems to fall into that category itself--a method to poke a wound to make money but without shining any kind of useful light on the situation....more
This is an interesting inside look at the work, decisions, and history that led to a vaccine for polio with a focus specifically on the work of JonasThis is an interesting inside look at the work, decisions, and history that led to a vaccine for polio with a focus specifically on the work of Jonas Salk. Although this book has a primary biographical focus, it none-the-less spends a good deal of its contents regarding the underlying science of immunization. It is interesting to me to see how, to a great extent, the work on the polio vaccination was not made up of giant leaps of genius or insight, but an ongoing doggedness to develop and prove a method that could be safely applied. Science, at a certain level, changes, not by discovery alone, but by a series of choices on how a problem can be approached and resolved or circumvented.
Here are some items I find interesting from this book:
1. The explanation of how virus typing is done was very intriguing. We are highly reliant these days on the visual--and so its is particularly interesting to see how a biological science, faced with a virus too small to see, devises a method to know what that virus is. The number of hours and lives of monkeys and other animals sacrificed to this work was eye-opening. 2. Because a vaccine aims to stop infections, but does not cure the disease, it does not resolve various important issues. For instance, exactly how the disease is spread is not resolved. Similarly, people who have had polio are not healed. The vaccination work does not need to develop methods to treat the disease or to diagnose it quickly. 3. The argument of whether a live virus or dead virus is more effective or safer is not resolved. 4. One sees and begins to understand the ongoing importance of equipment and manufacturing techniques including such things as: development of plastics and rubber for syringes, disposable needles, electron microscopy, centrifuge and filtering technology, and growth mediums....more
"Imagine half the world ends and the other half continues" is the opening line of the opening poem called Music from a Burning Piano. That line sets t"Imagine half the world ends and the other half continues" is the opening line of the opening poem called Music from a Burning Piano. That line sets the ground for all of the rest of the poems in this collection. The language has an elegaic beauty and a core of darkness--remembering loss. This is not a simple book. There is no clear recovery or resolution. Even in the last poem called The New World, we find a sense in which the newness is the tissue grown over the wound--"We heal whether we want to or not"--implying not freedom, but a fatalism to living through destruction....more
1. Humor 2. (Devil head) Vocabulary presented in context of story 3. Idea-list for Band Names and firstA List of Things that Make This Book a Great Read
1. Humor 2. (Devil head) Vocabulary presented in context of story 3. Idea-list for Band Names and first albums 4. Critique of Catcher in the Rye 5. An inside anthropological view of the organization of high school social structures
A List of Things that Weaken the Overall Book
1. Lack of depth to any female characters 2. Under-valuation of skilled percussionists 3. A difficulty in pulling off an ending
Regardless of all else, this is an excellent book for generating discussion on various topics. Such as:
1. Compare and contrast King Dork's relationship with various female characters to what you consider to be normal relationships. Does his behavior in the relationships make you admire him or recognize a flaw.
2. Pretend you are an anthropologist at your school (or office/place of work). Describe how the people organize themselves into groups. Describe the power structures of various relationships. How do various groups interact? Do you find the groups describes in King Dork realisticly portrayed?
3. To what extent is Kind Dork another Holden Caufield? Does the critique of Catcher in the Rye deconstruct King Dork as well, pointing out its own phoneyness?
4. How do you feel about "fuzzy" plot endings? Do you feel the book is more realistic by not resolving the mystery of the father's death? Or do you feel as fiction, it should have tied everything up more neatly? ...more
The beginning inventiveness of this story is impossible to maintain over the length of this novel and thus one is left with something of a disappointmThe beginning inventiveness of this story is impossible to maintain over the length of this novel and thus one is left with something of a disappointment by the time you reach the end. Perhaps it might have been kept shorter--more like Auster's City of Glass or Travels in the Scriptorium. As an apocalyptic novel, if one compares it to something like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, you sense a weakness in the underpinnings. There are very rich parts, beautiful settings, but they do not in the end seem to exist on a deeper, philosophical level. What does it mean to be the last person alive? What do you owe to the world's existence? The second world--the inbetween one of memory--is a wonderful creation and the combined apocalypse of that world with the "real" one is striking.
The brief exploration of a world made entirely of remembered people linked to one living person seems like it could be something more than what it is. But what does one do with it? For a moment, it seems like the author could have thrown out the second story and used the world of memory to construct the last living person. It might have become a kind of detective novel in which the people of the city track their existence back to one person and in which we learn about that person and about human nature based on what survives in memory. Why this person? What caught the eye? Stuck with the mind? It is these brief memories as opposed to the long term relationships that really start to open up a person and get us inside their head....more
History too boring for you? Just a bunch of old guys making war? Ah, my friend, you must travel back to the time of the Tudors. Here is history caughtHistory too boring for you? Just a bunch of old guys making war? Ah, my friend, you must travel back to the time of the Tudors. Here is history caught somewhere between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Desperate Housewives. Sorry, no vampires are actually in this telling, although Thomas More does seem to like dark places and Anne Boleyn has a certain thirst for blood. This is an enjoyable read and paints in particular a new kind of picture of Thomas Cromwell. ...more
Another fine dystopic society, well built, and well maintained. It is quite enjoyable to have this world unfurled in front of us as readers and the poAnother fine dystopic society, well built, and well maintained. It is quite enjoyable to have this world unfurled in front of us as readers and the possibility of further explorations of it....more
Although this work entirely misses the mark in trying to interweave two main story lines--that of the Chicago World's Fair, the White City of the titlAlthough this work entirely misses the mark in trying to interweave two main story lines--that of the Chicago World's Fair, the White City of the title, and of a serial killer, the Devil of the title--it remains interesting and piques the reader's interest in the history of the fair and in the crime solving that eventually leads to the capture of Holmes. Despite being filled with what seems like no end of interesting facts and people, the prose has difficulty breaking out of a descriptive style and generally does not draw us into the event--does not put us there. More profoundly problematic is the structural problem of presenting two story lines which could be interwoven and blended in ways to compare and contrast the light and darkness--the wealthy and the poor--the desire and the lie of actions but does not take the opportunity to really do so.
What finally is the heart of the city? Is the white city a facade or a wish or a lie the rich tell themselves to present a city built on slaughter as a gentleman? Is the devil the killer or something in the psyche of a city which can fail to protect its people? Larson has excellent building material collected here, but what he builds is far less than what the title of the book promises. ...more
This is an amusing read with enjoyable characters, which, like the Artemis Fowl stories, has a larger than life feel--as if everyone is an actor in aThis is an amusing read with enjoyable characters, which, like the Artemis Fowl stories, has a larger than life feel--as if everyone is an actor in a movie where lines are delivered and angles of view are controlled to present things more real than reality ever is. Colfer writes a good plot and paces the story well. This is not a children's story--no story that deals with hair loss in men can ever be a children's story. If you have enjoyed Colfer's other books and like the idea of a comic book style noir crime genre--or say, if you like Bruce Willis movies--you should enjoy this story. However, I was hoping for some growth--something that would move out of the simply amusing and work on building a character that has some depth. Colfer has a cleverness and wit that I enjoy and I would really love it if, like a Coen brothers film, he could edge beyond the violence and the comedy and capture something more real. ...more