Liked this a lot better than The Shining. The plot sticks together. The characters are more cohesive. The whole thing just holds up a lot better. It'sLiked this a lot better than The Shining. The plot sticks together. The characters are more cohesive. The whole thing just holds up a lot better. It's more believable. I think Stephen King is a better writer now. However it wasn't perfect. I kind of felt like he could do better. Like he whips the books out too fast, or doesn't give them as much depth as they could have. Like he's a bit too much flash and not enough substance. Is it too much to ask for substance in your genre fiction? Maybe, but it can be done and he always comes off seeming almost, but not quite good enough. Still a very fun read....more
This was a great read. Romance and evil villains and minor theatricals. A from rags-to-riches kind of tale. It was relaxing to read about a time whereThis was a great read. Romance and evil villains and minor theatricals. A from rags-to-riches kind of tale. It was relaxing to read about a time where things moved only as fast as your feet (or your horses) and not faster than your brain can conceive of. If everyone today read a course of Dickens I think we'd be much less stressed out and more happy. Turn off your screens....more
I quite loved this book. Shteyngart lived in Leningrad until he was seven. He suffered from severe asthma and was beaten by his father and called FailI quite loved this book. Shteyngart lived in Leningrad until he was seven. He suffered from severe asthma and was beaten by his father and called Failyurka (little failure) by his mother. He also poignantly describes waiting in line for three hours at the Gastronom for one desiccated eggplant. Ah, life in the former Soviet Union.
Then they move to Queens and he goes to Hebrew School with no English or Hebrew. It takes him a few years to pick up English and he is decidedly unpopular, but he comforts himself that there are a few boys less popular even than he.
He has already started writing. Even in Leningrad he wrote a story for his Grandmother. He has conceived of a secret desire to be a writer, even though he knows he is supposed to be a lawyer. His parents have a very strict life planned for him.
He goes to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan and Oberlin for College. He has a hard time fitting in and thinks it is because he is an immigrant, but it sounded to me pretty much the way almost everybody feels in high school and college. He starts drinking pretty heavily and doing some drugs.
He describes he first love affair tenderly and his second as somewhat bizarre. His finds a mentor and a patron, a benefactor, he calls him, who patiently goes over the manuscript of his first novel with him many times, and takes his abuse. Shteyngart is terribly human, full of a need to be loved and appreciated; wretched, from the scars of his childhood.
He intersperses stories about his parents throughout the book. He seems to be leading to a big reveal of some horror at the end, but either the horror was imaginary or I missed it. Perhaps it was that his father bloodied his nose.
There are pictures and he was such an adorable child, but turned into an average, kind of funny-looking adult. I think he's just now beginning to grow into his face again.
As a person of Russian Jewish descent who was also an unpopular nerd in school with a desire to write, I found the whole thing very affecting. A must read for immigrants. And a great success story. Congratulations, Gary Gnu!...more
2013. Brilliant book. In an America-gone-wrong in 2023 there's exists an apartheid state. Right here in New England, people of color are living in an2013. Brilliant book. In an America-gone-wrong in 2023 there's exists an apartheid state. Right here in New England, people of color are living in an inland forced-work-camp area, making the products the rest of us consume. Back on the other side of the wall advertising, now called Pop Show, is everywhere, and Sterling is a secret saboteur, working sometimes for years, just to take down a few jumbo-tron like screens of advertising for a few hours. When Sterling (white female) meets Lore (black female) non-violent revolutionary from inside the apartheid area, sexual sparks fly as they argue about what to do to change their worlds. It's poignantly tragic how little they really can do in this world of horrifying limitations. Must read. Reminds me a little of The Handmaid's Tale except it's a racially split world rather than religious....more
2012. Like brain candy. Like if Stephen King was a really good writer. Lyrical zombie apocalypse novel set in NYC. What more could you ask for? Genuin2012. Like brain candy. Like if Stephen King was a really good writer. Lyrical zombie apocalypse novel set in NYC. What more could you ask for? Genuinely harrowing at times, funny, the language is stunning. Clever. Why didn't I give it more stars? Well it's the characterization I guess. The book is suspenseful and plot driven, but the protagonist, Mark Spitz, is pretty shell-shocked and just not very compelling, and neither do you get to know any of the other characters very well. So, while i think Colson Whitehead should try to dethrone Stephen King in the horror game, he may need to work on his characterization a little first....more
1965. This book is one of those changed-my-life-books that come along once in a while. I can't be expected to review it impartially therefore. I suspe1965. This book is one of those changed-my-life-books that come along once in a while. I can't be expected to review it impartially therefore. I suspect it may have some flaws, but for me it came along perfect at the perfect time and swept all other possible concerns away. I suspect it is a bit didactic, possibly dry, dated, not radical enough. Who cares? It was as Bob Dylan says in Tangled Up In Blue: And every one of them words rang true And glowed like burning coal Pouring off of every page Like it was written in my soul from me to you ...more
2003. This book started out amazing. It breathes New York City. It has a main character, a writer, named Sidney Orr, age 34, whom I really like. It te2003. This book started out amazing. It breathes New York City. It has a main character, a writer, named Sidney Orr, age 34, whom I really like. It tells Sidney's story over a few days in 1982, when his life is particularly crazy. It also tells several stories he's writing, one of which I found extremely compelling and wanted to get back to, but he never finishes that part. The story reaches a dead end. Some of the other stories were told such a way that it was like a writer was telling you about what he was writing instead of actually writing it. This was cool, in small doses, but was carried too far, and lost my interest. The original story about Sidney is also quite compelling, but I was disappointed in how it ended. The book as a whole seemed to be saying something profound about life in general using writing as a metaphor for life. Life is random. Life altering things happen when you least expect them, you can't control them and they don't mean anything, they just happen. And they don't tie up neatly like a Hollywood Movie, or even most novels. So it doesn't tie up neatly either, and it was unsettling, and ultimately unsatisfying too. I don't want to read a long rambling book about randomness and lack of cohesion in the world, even if it's very well written. So while it definitely has some brilliant moments and good prose, I didn't love it....more
1967. This book rocks out. It is occasionally about trout fishing in America, but mostly not. It reminds me of Donald Barthelme a little. Perhaps a li1967. This book rocks out. It is occasionally about trout fishing in America, but mostly not. It reminds me of Donald Barthelme a little. Perhaps a little drug-inspired. It hasn't got a plot; it's more like a string of episodes in the mind of someone who has done too much LSD. If you could bring that unhinged LSD feeling of knowing and understanding everything, but kind of not being able to quite put your finger on it, or explain it, it's kind of like that. It's a nirvana-inducing book. It unhinges you from reality for a second and let's you see the universe. Yeah, it was that good, but it was uneven to me. Some chapters were over-the-top, unimaginably good (my personal favorite is "The Cleveland Wrecking Yard"), while some missed a little or at least they didn't do it for me. Go read it. Now....more
2011. This is the great American novel in a way. It's about going back in time to save JFK, how could it not be? Spoilers! I was disappointed that the2011. This is the great American novel in a way. It's about going back in time to save JFK, how could it not be? Spoilers! I was disappointed that the lovers didn't get back together at the end. The ending was cheesy and maudlin. Yeah, I guess if they had got back together, that might have been a little too hollywood perfect, but maybe there was some other way it could have gone. I dunno. Also, the idea that if you fuck with time everything will go all to hell with this 'butterfly effect' is not exactly a novel concept. So I could predict what would happen. I also would have liked to see how Sadie liked the future. Was really pleased that in the awful future, Vermont Yankee had melted down. Ah, realism. Still, King's a great story teller. Definitely worth reading. Lee Harvey Oswald was perhaps the most interesting character to me....more
1982. My first Spenser mystery and I wasn't impressed. It has some great old Boston Combat Zone scenes, but the writing is strictly hack stuff. Adequa1982. My first Spenser mystery and I wasn't impressed. It has some great old Boston Combat Zone scenes, but the writing is strictly hack stuff. Adequate. The fighting that Spenser and his black army buddy, Hawk, do in this book is simply not credible. And it went on so long it was as boring as those ridiculously long fight scenes in some movies. Seriously, I put the book down in the middle of a fight and didn't pick it up til the next day. His perfect-seeming relationship was also suspect in my eyes. They've been together how long and they're still having great sex? On the regular? I don't know. It wasn't plausible and it wasn't very entertaining. Not planning to get another one real soon. Read Russell H. Greenan instead....more