this book is a tool through which the author, gary chapman, can play out his jesus-complex disguised as a relationship self-help book. there are refer...morethis book is a tool through which the author, gary chapman, can play out his jesus-complex disguised as a relationship self-help book. there are references from the bible throughout almost every chapter and gary likes to include generous praise from his clients who call him a "miracle worker." it's damn-near pretty close to being called god.
the book has all the hallmarks of a bestseller: easy to read (i read it in one day); hopeless circumstances that seem beyond repair; and an uplifiting ending. the more bestsellers i read, the more i realize that the formula for mainstream media isn't just used in music and movies, it's used in books, too. ugh, how annoying. i admit, i was almost sold on it, too. the author used just the right amount of despair and at the appropriate moments, instilled hope for a better future. and while hope isn't bad at all, the book lacks in addressing the complexity of relationships as well as the diversity of relationships in today's world. for example, this book may not translate well in multicultural relationships that are dictated by a whole different set of mores and values. also, i wonder how it would be relevant to queer couples or polyamourous relationships. it's quite apparent that this book is meant for hetero-white-christian-monogamous couples.
but the one major caveat of this book that isn't so much a caveat as a poorly disguised advocate of misogyny, is the case of a woman who has been abused (what type of abuse has been perpetrated isn't made explicit and gary's reluctance to do so makes me suspicious of how the church deals with issues of domestic violence). gary's advice? dismiss any of your own feelings of discomfort (being used for sex) and have sex with your husband as an act of love and hope that he will reciprocate that love. and what i don't understand is how people have overlooked this, even people who are in the psychology field. that's one thing he doesn't really address, how to identify your limits and make compromises. if you can't see the problem with this picture, i pray you never get married. or have a relationship. or speak to people.
the gender roles in this book are fucking archaic. there's this little section where gary talks about the gender differences in sexual desire. according to him, these differences are all physiologically based. men simply have more tension built-up as a result of massive sperm generation whereas women don't, and that is why women don't crave sex the way men do. instead, women only want sex if their men meet their emotional needs. what, do men not need to have their emotional needs met? are they really just fucking animals who want to empty their over-spermed dicks? why don't they just jack off into a toilet for crying out loud? oops, am i not supposed to mention masturbation in the presence of god? and gary makes women seem like fucking prudes from the latest harlequin romance, the christian edition. gag. this man has very little knowledge of couples outside the realm of christian folklore.
his section on physical touch made me laugh. i wasn't sure if the lame attempts at humor were to assuage his own discomfort or that of his audience. yes, gary, people have sex. i understand that when you tell me to rub my partner's leg with my foot that i should make sure i'm not rubbing the dog. harhar.
to be fair, he touched on the basic fundamentals of communication with your partner, but i can hardly call this book revolutionary. his book on the five languages of love for children sound more useful just because the developmental stage they are in matches the dumbed-down tone of the book. you'd think he was writing for couples who were born in a vaccuum.
i'm so over reading new york times bestsellers. we've been brainwashed into accepting that the typical mainstream formula is quality literature. i prefer real talk to fluffy shit, thank you.(less)
so, it starts off strong. it almost feels like a biography, that's how real it felt to me. i actually looked on the back of the cover...moreSPOILERS AHEAD!!!
so, it starts off strong. it almost feels like a biography, that's how real it felt to me. i actually looked on the back of the cover to see if it was based on a true story or something.
one thing i noticed off the bat was hosseini's style of writing. it was an extremely easy read. i wasn't sure if this was so it would be accessible to a wider audience or so we could concentrate more on the story rather than the prose or what. what's ironic is that the narrator and protagonist is supposed to be a gifted writer. anyway, the writing wasn't the book's strongest point. honestly, the author of the inner elvis had much better descriptive writing.
however, his simplistic writing style didn't take away from the emotions triggered in the story. i was practically bawling at every emotional scene. i have to say, though, that the rape scene, which is the first dramatic scene in the novel, was the best one. i know that sounds horrible, but it's timing and significance was on point.
and that's where things kinda went downhill for me. even though i was caught up in the story, things became really cliche. amir and hassan are the two protagonists in the story. amir is the son of baba, a wealthy and admired male widower while hassan is the hare-lipped hazara, people who are regarded as scum of the earth according to afghani history. anyway, hassan and his father, ali, are servants for baba and amir, but they are viewed as family. it's a refreshing departure from what could easily be a cinderlla-type plot.
anyway, amir is this really smart, well-educated pansy who can't stand up for himself for shit and hassan always backs him up, even taking on 3 guys on his own. there's a little rivalry between the two boys, with amir constantly testing hassan's loyalty and scoffing at him for seeming to be such a sucker. but when shit turns serious, amir doesn't return the sentiment.
the year that amir won a kite flying competition, hassan takes off for the last kite and ends up being cornered by child-sociopath, assef, and his cronies. when hassan refuses to give up the fallen kite, assef rapes him in an alley and amir watches the whole thing from a hiding place because he's too afraid to jump in and protect his friend.
as i kept reading, cliches and implausible coincidences start popping up everywhere. it turns out that amir and hassan are half-brothers. (i think i saw that plot-twist in days of our lives once.) when amir goes back to afghanistan to save hassan's now-orphan son, that son is held captive by --guess who?-- none other than assef who has become part of the taliban. the novel climaxes with assef kicking amir's ass. and who saves amir? hassan's son! with a fucking slingshot! (hassan was skilled at that, too.) amir gets reconstructive surgery and ends up with a scar down his lip like hassan had when he had surgery for his hare-lip. good lord. then there was this brief encounter where amir comes across an old homeless guy who just happened to know amir's mother before she died giving birth to amir. how would that ever happen?
to be fair, it had a really good storyline. i still maintain that the first third was well executed. the beginning of the book stands its ground well, but that may have just made the rest of the book pale in comparison even more so. it almost felt like the author was desperately reaching for the audience's acceptance (it's his first novel). or he hurried through the rest of the book and needed to increase the tear-jerker factor exponentially by making me cry at every page to cover up the fact that he was running out of quality ideas. on a positive note, it might add more depth to an already mysterious and often feared culture in light of 9/11.
but when all is said and done, it's still an interesting read.
final word on the kite runner: i can't wait for the movie adaptation. hollywood would eat that shit up. (less)
when it comes to memoirs, i can't really critique the content only because it's about someone's real-life experiences. but i can critique the delivery...morewhen it comes to memoirs, i can't really critique the content only because it's about someone's real-life experiences. but i can critique the delivery. plain and simple, i love koren's writing style. it's easy to read yet vivid and insightful. i think so many girls and young women can relate to her experiences, it's a validation of being female in this society and the relationship females develop with alcohol as a way to cope with the pressure. plus, as someone in the psychology field, it's a good resource for clinicians who work with individuals that abuse alcohol or for clinicians who aren't familiar with these issues and need a first-hand account of what alcohol abuse is like. five stars.
EDIT: after reading some of the other readers' comments, i have a couple things i'd like to address. a lot of people say that the storyline isn't interesting. i guess with a memoir, it's more about the author's willingness to make herself vulnerable to a wider audience than it is about an interesting story. even though her experiences with alcohol are common, her motivations for drinking are of key importance because they are actually symptoms of a society that places men and women in very rigid boxes. if you're looking for pure entertainment, look elsewhere.
other readers thought she was a whiny, spoiled brat from a good background. this doesn't make someone exempt from having their own internalized demons. other readers commented on her immaturity as a writer and as someone recovering from alcohol abuse. there was no resolution and some were not satisfied with her level of insight about her own abuse. did anyone stop to think that perhaps writing this memoir is part of her recovery process? and as far a resolution, there is no concrete, static resolution to substance abuse. recovery is an ongoing process. and some people don't ever recover fully. if your relationship to a substance is that binding, it can be difficult to completely let go of the abuser mindset.
i think we as an audience can learn a lot about alcohol abuse by our very reactions. a lot of people had no sympathy for the author. in my eyes, i think this exhibits society's relative indifference and lack of compassion for those who are struggling with personal issues and how alcohol and other substances can be a life jacket if only in the short-run. there was one comment about how the author's abuse was everyone's fault but her own. personally, i did not get that, but if that was the general feeling about her, it's an honest portrayal of people who abuse substances. i was especially appalled by one reader's comment about date rape and how the author should've known she would be raped if she hung out in frat houses all the time. in a way, this comment is enraging yet enlightening at the same time. and i think this is where the book is brilliant; it draws out all the biases, all the stereotypes, the myths, the victim-blaming attitudes, and our overall lack of understanding regarding substance abuse that still pervade our society. and i think it's fantastic that the author wrote the book shortly after trying to abstain; her feelings and insecurities are still fresh and we can experience that right along with her. it gives us a perspective of someone who is struggling to find herself without her alcoholic crutch.(less)
i started out being a fan of the image elvis portrayed, the music that he brought into the world. then i made the mistake of...morethis book is sad as fuck.
i started out being a fan of the image elvis portrayed, the music that he brought into the world. then i made the mistake of wanting to get to know him as a person. after being thoroughly inspired by guralnick's first book, "last train to memphis," i delved almost immediately into this one, the second volume of the "definitive biography" on the king himself. i'd read countless reviews of this volume in preparation for the tragic ending. and tragic it is indeed.
as a matter of fact, his death wasn't so sad as it was the years preceding it. it was obvious to everyone, even elvis himself though he always denied it, that the guy was miserable. his complete dependence on pharmaceuticals and narcotics was actually his way of committing a very slow and painful suicide.
there are many ways to interpret his life: as a greek tragedy, as the fall of the american dream, as a religious tale of someone who got totally swept up by every sin in the book. you name it, elvis lived it.
I took the plunge. "Elvis, if we're gods, or at least have this 'divinity' in us, why do we need drugs?" "Silence is the resting place of the soul. It's sacred. And necessary for new thoughts to be born. That's what my pills are for...to get as close as possible to that silence." - p. 456
i think what's sad the most is that he was always innocent underneath it all. being a psychologist, i saw someone who was still very connected to his mother though she passed away. (a lot of the women he was "with" felt they often took on the role of "mother," talking to him in baby talk, responding to him when he called them "mommy.") from the time of her death, it was all downhill from there for elvis. that's another reason why i wasn't as traumatized by his death; he finally go to be with her, he finally got to rest. the guy was never at peace.
"He used to say to me, 'Honey, you're not going to change a forty-year-old man.' But in another way there was also this very naive, this almost infantile quality about him - very innocent and very pure, kind of pitiful. He definitely evoked a protective quality - he called me 'mommy,' and I wasn't the mother of his childd. But I was an incredibly maternal presence in his life." - p. 582
look at me, i'm talking as though i knew the guy. and that's one of the great things about this book. the interviews that guralnick compiled really gives the reader an in-depth look at the man behind the god. i no longer feel that it would be right to call him "sex-on-legs" anymore. there's more to him than that. that was just stuff we all saw on the surface, but underneath it all, he was lonely, he was miserable. as a young boy, he was a social outcast. he just wanted to connect with people; that was what his music originally did. but then fame and celebrity took over and his personal connection with his fans was drowned out by deadlines and music contracts, all of which appeared to have stifled the very core of being human.
in some ways i'd like to call the colonel, his manager, as the devil. he orchestrated a lot of elvis' success financially, but at the expense of elvis' humanity. it was all just business with that fucker.
i could go on and on, but i'm going to save that for the next elvis book i hope to get my paws on later, "the inner elvis." (less)
When rating this book, I was torn between giving it 3 stars and 4 stars. If I could give it 3.5 stars, I would. As a psychologist, I was disappointed...moreWhen rating this book, I was torn between giving it 3 stars and 4 stars. If I could give it 3.5 stars, I would. As a psychologist, I was disappointed at the lack of psychological depth from a professional perspective. However, from a layperson's point of view, it's very informative, especially for teachers, parents, and anyone else who interacts with youth. In fact, I would also recommend it for youth as well.
The good points: very easy reading and easy to understand. For those who aren't familiar with teenage depression, it's a nice introductory book. The author presents an abundance of stories of teenage girls. Each story illustrates the language of teenage depression well. One psychological tidbit that appeals to the psychologist in me is a reference to Winnicott and his theory on stealing. Youth steal as a way to "get something" that they are sorely missing. I love symbolism. The book also sparked an interest in self-injurious behaviors like cutting. Probably the most key part of the book is the last chapter where all the girls the author interviewed provide their own insights to depression and how to cope. Because of this and the relative ease with which to read the book are what make me recommend this book to youth.
The negatives: However, I decided against giving the book a 4th star because of a cultural gap in the stories. The cover of the book says it all: many of the girls are White. Actually, the author neglects to mention ethnicity and race at all. Wait, there is one story about a Latina girl...who was adopted by a White family. It's an important story and at least it touches on racial differences, but it's like a token minority story, kinda like how "Black" movies have that stereotypical token White character. Anyway, with such a limited perspective of teenage depression, I can't really see how this book can apply to teens of other races and ethnicities.
If you are looking for an introduction to the world of teenage depression with no psychological conceptualization, then this is a good book. But as I said, keep in mind the limited view from which it is framed. As psychologists, we'd have to look elsewhere to read about specific multicultural issues.(less)
SPOILER ALERT: do not read if you haven't read the book yet!!!
jk rowling spins out another awesome chapter of harry potter adventures. i just finished...moreSPOILER ALERT: do not read if you haven't read the book yet!!!
jk rowling spins out another awesome chapter of harry potter adventures. i just finished reading it and i'm feening for more.
i read a couple of other reviews and some people were disappointed in the lack of action this book had. i'd have to disagree. while there was significantly less adventures than the previous books, rowling still managed to maintain an aura of mystery. some questions that were running through my mind as i read:
1. who the hell is the half-blood prince? i was disappointed cuz i was sure it was voldemort; how could rowling be so transparent? so i was surprised when it turned out to be snape.
2. that was another question i had: was snape really a good guy or a bad guy? even when he murdered dumbledore, i was half-expecting it to be a hoax, to allow dumbledore to escape. even when dumbledore was finally encased in a tomb, i was fantasizing about harry glancing into the distance with the realization that dumbledore is still alive; kinda like how professor X did when jean grey died in X2. and i'm still expecting him to pop up later on in the 7th book as a surprise good guy, that he was working for potter's side the whole time.
3. when are ron and hermoine gonna hook up?! i swear, they should put some hot and heavy sex scenes in these books already. the kids are already 16; lord knows they've all got more than a little wand action goin' on.
another reviewer criticized the book for focusing too much on voldemort's past. while i can see how that can be kind of a drag for some people, i found in fascinating. i don't know if rowling has done her psychological research, but voldemort sounds like a certified antisocial psychopath. i thought this added more depth to the entire saga, rather than took away from it. and it's not like there wasn't ANY action. sexual and otherwise.
i guess the only critiques i'd have to give the book is as follows:
1. snape's admission that he is the half-blood prince. it kinda came out in the middle of a battle so it was rushed and didn't allow enough time for harry potter to register the news. as a reader, i was imaging the battle scene in my mind: all the confusion and the chaos. it was hard to really let the news sink in that snape was the half-blood prince because there was already so much going on. maybe if rowling had written it so that harry felt the battle scene melt away as snape's admission struck fear into his heart. or something like that! or maybe if rowling had written it so the truth came out as snape was killing dumbledore.
2. some of the twists and turns were a little sloppy. like when it came out that rosemerta had been cursed. there was nothing in the book that suggested that. i like it when authors drop little hints here and there that are very easy to overlook but come rushing back to you once the twist is revealed. one twist that was good was when harry suddenly realizes that snape is working for the other side. shoo, i should've been rowling's creative writing consultant. get a share on some of them royalities, ya dig?
perhaps i would've been disappointed if this had been the last book. but i'm kinda looking at it as a build-up to the finale. now that we have a first-look into voldemort's insanity, i'm soooo looking forward to reading how harry kicks his ass.
another question: what a shame that dumbledore's death was all in vain. harry found a note saying that the horcrux they thought they had stolen was a fake. and the note was written by RAB who the hell is RAB?? so glad the 7th book is out this month, though there's a slim chance i'll get a hold of one until more copies are made. tsk!
EDIT: oh, shit, it comes out in JULY? goddammit.(less)
The more I read about Elvis, the more depressing I find his life story. A man who lived the American Dream and didn't know the ri...moreTuesday, May 29, 2007
The more I read about Elvis, the more depressing I find his life story. A man who lived the American Dream and didn't know the risks and sacrifices that came with fame. It was so sad, reading about him wanting to get out of the spotlight and just being able to live a regular life, but, as he told Dixie, his first love:
"There are too many people that depend on me. I'm too obligated. I'm in too far to get out."
So sad, huh?
I also realized through reading this book that Elvis owes his title, The King, to perfect timing. Had he become big any sooner or any later, he may have blended in easily with other artists of that time. But being that he was in the post-war era after the Depression, a time when people were ready for something big, something hopeful, something new, his music embodied all of that. Not that he wasn't talented or didn't possess originality. But combined with the timing of his breakout success, it all culminated in what is now a rock n' roll legacy.
Another thing about Elvis. He was a regular dude who got caught up in the speed that is fame and rock n' roll. He seemed like a bundle of contradictions: being Christian, yet doing things are totally against his values and beliefs. One thing he said that stood out to me was when he repeated a verse from the Bible about people getting what's coming to them when they live their lives filled with sin. And according to the Bible, running around with hella women, watching porn, and being caught up in the spotlight is the epitome of debauchery. And we all know how THAT story ends. I'm heading to the library after work today to borrow "Careless Love," the 2nd part to his biography.
With that said, if I were around during that time and Elvis wanted to get it on with me, I'd be all over that! (I'm not Christian, heheh.)
One other thing that caught my attention was how ahead of his time he was. Homie liked to wear pink and black and MAKE-UP. He was the 1950's version of today's emo generation. His white jumpsuits and bling and hip-gyrating and effeminate moves on stage paved the way for likes of later pop idols like Michael Jackson and Prince. Gotta love him for that.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
"Sam called and said, 'I understand you're getting requests for Elvis Presley's music.' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'You're not going to play it?' I told him it was a bunch of crap." Rather than take offense, Sam patiently explained that he could understand Ernest's feelings but that this was not a question of personal taste: the world had changed, communications had changed, and while Sam himself was still a country boy at heart, it was not longer the days of the horse and buggy and the courthouse square, as great as those days had been. "'So you might as well start playing it,' he said. So we did, and from there on," Bowen concluded, "the music began to change, and changed rapidly after that. Younger people started listening to radio instead of putting a nickel in the jukebox. I look back on it, and that was where it began to turn."
one word: AWESOME.
no wonder he was heralded as the king. for one man to change music in such a way is inspiring in such a way that leaves me in awe.(less)
When I revealed some of the sordid details from Elvis' life as I read about them in this book, my mom commented, "Who gave this guy permission to writ...moreWhen I revealed some of the sordid details from Elvis' life as I read about them in this book, my mom commented, "Who gave this guy permission to write about Elvis's life? I wouldn't want anyone to write about me like that!"
I think the legacy of his fame and the spiraling trajectory that ultimately ended in Elvis's death only peaked the public's interest about the mysterious legendary performer. i know it did mine. after reading all those other elvis biographies, i felt i had more questions than i did answers. this book serves to clarify some of the more peculiar characteristics that elvis presented to the public, especially in his last few years of life when his performances became more and more delusional.
or maybe some people don't want to know. it's a pretty sad story. this book is meant for inquisitive minds who can withstand the harsh truths about a man turned demigod. i had read other customer reviews before reading this book myself, so i was prepared for some of the more outlandish-sounding theories that whitmer discussed.
the premise of elvis' psychopathology is based on the stillborn birth of his twin, jesse. throughout all 427 pages of the book, whitmer constantly refers back to elvis' desire to be reunited with his twin brother. it's a compelling theory, and whitmer is a vivid story-teller for a psychologist (this book is far from a dry read which i appreciate), but it's also fraught with limitations.
see, the problem with psychoanalysis is that a lot of it just sounds so farfetched. then again, i'm not an analyst. i admit, whitmer does incorporate a lot of theory such as the oedipus complex (which, in elvis' case, is so textbook it's freaky) and family systems into the case conceptualization of elvis presley, so i see a lot of legitimacy in that sense.
however --and this is where my critique of the book as a piece of psychological literature comes in-- whitmer's use of theory falls flat due to his lack of reliable references. for all we know, the literature he is drawing his claims from may be grossly outdated. and not only that, but he has never met elvis himself, yet the way he writes about elvis sounds as if he knew the star personally.
it is a very intriguing read, but begin the book with the above limitations in mind. even though whitmer tends to make absolute conclusions about elvis' psychological makeup, it can hardly be regarded as such. the first sentence in the book sums it up:
"Kafka once described the search for 'truth' as similar to the difficulties of a blind man in a room with no light looking for a black cat -- that is not there."
even if you were close to the guy, i don't think there is any way anyone could truly know him. but at least this book gives us some inkling as to what he goes on in the mind of a legend.(less)
let me start off by saying that my review of this book is totally biased for two reasons.
first, look at the cover. the boy was fine as fuck. i'm a fan...morelet me start off by saying that my review of this book is totally biased for two reasons.
first, look at the cover. the boy was fine as fuck. i'm a fan for his fuckableness if not for his musical genius.
second, i've already crowned him the king of rock n' roll despite what others may have said contrary to that. anyone who can dress up like a blinged-out adult karate kid and have performers after him (ie., michael jackson, prince) follow suit has GOT to be the king (if not a queen) in my eyes.
but i digress. i'm an avid reader and can read almost anything in a couple days or less so long as i have nothing else to do. however, i have come across books that have left me snoring in disappointment. this book was NOT one of them.
"me and a guy named elvis"... the title says it all. author jerry schilling reminisces about his first-hand experiences with the king of rock n' roll. they had become football pals when schilling was but a young tween of 12, and elvis was 19 and already making musical waves with his first number one single, "that's all right." i'd have to say that the blossomings of their childhood friendship intrigued me the most. i was transported to the 50's when elvis' music was new and raw, a time when gyrating hips were probably perceived to be the dance of the devil. the image was clear-cut: elvis was danger. the girls loved him. the guys wanted to be him. and the adults wanted to lock up their kids for all eternity.
then it just got depressing. without delving into too much detail, one can see the price elvis paid for being famous. if you have to read the book in segments (unlike myself who likes to read the entire book at once), don't allow too much time in between each sitting. i finished the book in 2 days, eager to read about what crazy shit elvis and the memphis mafia got themselves into next. i think the fact that i remained so engrossed in the story was what made me cry bitter tears at the end. and i've been a fan for all of a week by that time (thanks to an american idol special that featured celine dion "singing" with the late king).
but i warn you all to remain close to the book for another reason. schilling also talks about his own career development as a film editor while trying to be friends with elvis. and while he might've been fabulously skilled at his trade, there is something lacking in his writing.
i think the fact that i was reading about elvis himself and the fact that i was already curious to read about his life is what made me give the book 4 stars instead of 5. unfortunately, it felt more like a chronology of events with a smattering of emotions thrown in for good measure. i would've liked to have read a more vivid description of emotions in schilling's stories. it almost felt as though he was holding back for some reason. even when he described the fights between himself and elvis, it sometimes didn't read more than a line as simple as, "i was furious with him." i'm like, okay, schilling, HOW furious were you with him? were you cursing him out in your head? were you about to explode with rage? did you hate him in that very moment?
perhaps when you're that close to a living legend it's hard to be objective, or even honest about him for fear of tainting a running legacy.
one of the few times i felt something tug at my heart strings was when schilling described how devastated he was over the schoking news that elvis had died. there was the numbness and the shock. then the outpouring of anguish when he finally came to terms with his best friend's death. and i wept with him.
i've gazed upon his beautiful face (on youtube) and basked in the molasses of his voice. but now i'm even more sorry that i never had a chance to see or experience elvis as close as schilling did. now i have to read more books on elvis. let the fetish continue...(less)