I wish I could rate this book on different elements. A three-star rating really isn't what I mean to rate it. The ideas in the book make me want to giI wish I could rate this book on different elements. A three-star rating really isn't what I mean to rate it. The ideas in the book make me want to give it something closer to a 5 -- the richness of the characters, interweaving of different histories, and of course a crazy interpretation of what America means (many many overlapping trajectories that are not even or linear). However, I wanted more from Gaiman's prose. And, although the end made sense and I thought it was tied up well (and in a way consistent with the rest of the book), I put the book down and thought, "well, okay then." I take that as a sign that I wasn't particularly attached to it. There was definitely no crying.
All in all, definitely worth a read, especially for the way that he plays with ideas of what it means to be a god, what it means to be "real" or fictional, and what it means to inhabit a geological location rich with multiple histories originating elsewhere that have shifted (and been neglected) over time. If you can deal with slightly "meh" prose (absolutely nowhere near the richness of Bradbury) and a meandering storyline (rather than a severe plot arc), it's worth it. Hell, it's worth it anyway....more
As soon as I finished this book, I wanted to read it all over again. I moved quickly through it (something like six days) and, although I never felt fAs soon as I finished this book, I wanted to read it all over again. I moved quickly through it (something like six days) and, although I never felt frantically committed to it, the narrative really got into my bones. So much so that I shut myself in my office after my lunch hour to finish it.
I enjoyed tracing a family (and the themes that ran through that family), but more than that I enjoyed this book as a re-vamping of a classic Judeo-Christian narrative, bringing it into new light while simultaneously bringing out a strand in it that frequently goes unmentioned. A little bit of a dialectic going on, for sure.
Steinbeck's prose is phenomenal, but rarely flashy, in this very calming way. And although there is, as always, more than one layer going on, the depth of the narrative feels effortless and not strained or manipulative. Just really really beautiful.
I think this is going to bump something out of my top five. This is a big deal....more
It took me a few months to get through this book -- the last third really got me (and launched me into the rest of the trilogy), but the pace of the fIt took me a few months to get through this book -- the last third really got me (and launched me into the rest of the trilogy), but the pace of the first half or so did drag a bit for me....more
Definitely glad I read this - it really jump-started me re-structuring how I relate to food. I've been a vegetarian for 10 years and was vegan for 3 oDefinitely glad I read this - it really jump-started me re-structuring how I relate to food. I've been a vegetarian for 10 years and was vegan for 3 of those years (I feel that's important in my reaction to the book).
Pollan's writing style is clear and articulate. I appreciate the depth of his analysis and that he is frequently critical of his own perspective. I do have to agree, though, that he spends a lot of time belaboring the ethics of eating meat. I guess, though, this is part of being an omnivore (which is precisely the premise of his book). The section on corn was phenomenal and has led me to swear off high-fructose corn syrup, as well as push me towards buying as much local organic produce as possible (moving away from processed frozen vegetarian meals). The section on the local farm, though, was particularly effective -- his descriptions of using animals and plants to improve soil quality, taking land and decomposition into our framework of what goes into our food. This really drove home for me the importance of eating from more local sustainable farms. I really think that if our food system were more like this, I'd be less opposed to the consumption of meat (although I'm not sure that will ever really be on my radar).
The end of the book let me down a bit. His foraging meal is interesting, and I appreciate that he says this is not sustainable. However, his conclusion (not surprisingly) is that neither fast food nor total hunter-gatherer is feasible. But what about the entire middle of his book?! The section on local farms that are in touch with what it really means to produce food was so promising, and I feel he let it languish. While his conclusion to that section was strong and fantastic, I'm disappointed that it dropped out of the equation in the end.
Still, the book has led me to really think about what I'm eating and commit to more whole foods from local organic farms. That, in my mind, is what makes this an incredibly effective (and therefore "good") book....more