The Henry plays -- and a great deal of Shakespeare's history plays -- were written prior to 1594. These are Shakespeare's early attempts and a lot of...moreThe Henry plays -- and a great deal of Shakespeare's history plays -- were written prior to 1594. These are Shakespeare's early attempts and a lot of critics have pointed out: it shows.
Henry VI, Pt 2, is definitely rough. There are a crap-ton of characters, some of whom only show up once for a couple lines and then disappear. In a production of these plays, a lot of these roles would be doubled-up. The result is a somewhat chaotic read, though I bet it's much easier to follow on stage.
All I really have to say about this play is: Early Shakespeare is Still Shakespeare!
And I think Shakespeare might've missed his true calling: dark-Kill-Bill-style comedy.
Yes, I think Shakespeare and Quentin Tarantino should get together. Wait, scratch that. They'd never shut up so they'd never get anything done. Both are kind of long winded.
However! Jack Cade, the badass-but-not-too-bright leader of the rebels, who appears near the end of the play, is the epitome of a Tarantino talky-crazed bad guy. He makes decapitated heads kiss each other. He kills people for calling him the wrong name. He proclaims random laws. His scenes are straight out of Pulp Fiction. It's a good thing Shakespeare didn't have access to needles. (Or, maybe, a bad thing.)
Some of that shit was so disturbing I laughed out loud.
Do the nobles plot for an unreasonable amount of time? Yes. Is it sometimes difficult to follow characters and their motivations? Sometimes. Yes.
But I liked it way more than I thought I would. (less)
Virginia Reed Murphy was twelve/thirteen years old when her family became one of the central groups of the Donner Party. This recollection was written...moreVirginia Reed Murphy was twelve/thirteen years old when her family became one of the central groups of the Donner Party. This recollection was written decades later, with lots of hindsight to inform the story. So, while her opinion and stance has been colored, and the references to cannibalism are reduced to about one sentence(and, considering the time period and her own personal experiences, who can really fault that edit?), it's still a very good introduction to the Donner Party's experience.
The story is more of a broad outline than a blow-by-blow account. Interspersed with Virginia's memories are contemporary diaries and letters kept by Patrick Breen and Virginia's father, James Frazier Reed.
But there's real emotion in here as well. The voyeuristic outside world may want to hear more about cannibalism, but there is far more to the story than gruesome bits and pieces. It was an epic struggle to travel west under the best of circumstances...and there were plenty of NOT best of circumstances facing this crew.
Virginia watched her father murder a man. She and her family abandoned everything they owned. She watched her mother struggle to keep them all alive. She herself almost died -- saved only by the charity of others in the group. She had to leave behind her brother and sister. Basically, as a middle schooler, she'd already seen and felt more danger than most of us will confront in a whole lifetime.
"If there's a better book than this, I haven't written it." ~Stephen Colbert, quoted on the back of American Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never...more"If there's a better book than this, I haven't written it." ~Stephen Colbert, quoted on the back of American Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't
I think the first book review of the year should set the tone for the rest of the year. And what better way to start the year 2013 than reading and reviewing the book that has everything? In fact, it has so much of everything that I used every single one of my shelves to label it. I'm pretty sure that I'm still short a couple subjects.
Sure, I could've been reading Anna Karenina and learning about Imperial Russia with the rest of my book group instead of learning about the present American stuff I already know. But since my reading goal this year is 100 books - which is like reading everything - I should start my odyssey with the book that has everything. Everything American, that is. Anna Karenina just has affairs and trains and Keira Knightly and other stuff.
Tolstoy's book doesn't have anything that Colbert's book doesn't have.
Anna Karenina has extramarital affairs: America Again has illicit relations between politicians and food.
Anna Karenina has people who hate their jobs: America Again has resume how-tos.
Anna Karenina has 2-D: America Again has 3-D.
Anna Karenina has Siberia: America Again has North Dakota.
Anna Karenina was translated into English: America Again was written in American.
It's probably this last one where Tolstoy has managed to one-up Colbert. America Again has no, count them: none, award winning translators. We're just expected to understand paragraphs like: "But the Real Question is: are America's best days behind us? Of course they are, and always have been. We have the greatest history in the history of History. But never forget, our best days are also ahead of us, and always will be. Because America also has the Greatest Future in the history of the Future. It's our Present that's the problem...and always is be."
I mean, Colbert began two sentences in that paragraph with But. And fragments. You just don't do that. A good translator would've saved him some face-saving. (less)
If you open up this book to the table of contents, you'll see chapter titles such as: "The Doctor and the Madman" "The Age of Vivisection" "The Blood of...moreIf you open up this book to the table of contents, you'll see chapter titles such as: "The Doctor and the Madman" "The Age of Vivisection" "The Blood of a Beast"
And, if you're anything like me, you think: Cool.
I knew only the most preliminary bits of 17th century history before picking this book up. For example, I knew who Louis XIV, the Sun King, was...but only via the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Man in the Iron Mask (and, no, I haven't read the book). And thanks to this delightful presentation of the first forays into blood transfusions, I now feel like I can keep up if Jeopardy! ever has a category. This makes me happy.
Author Holly Tucker does a great job of catching the layman up on the ins and outs of political, religious, and personal intrigue surrounding the controversial subject of blood transfusions. Nowadays, this medical procedure is soooooo common place that I bet more than one person reading this has donated blood at some point in their lives. Once you've read the interlocking stories of murder, mayhem, and dead-cows-in-the-living-room I'll also bet you'll never look at those needles and tubes the same way again. (In fact, you'll probably be so grateful for modern medicine that you'll hug the nurse drawing your blood.)
What I found the most intriguing was the shift in the purpose of transfusions. In the beginning, it wasn't about replacing blood lost from bloodletting, which was that most popular medical practice of the day. And today, that's pretty much how we use blood transfusions - to replace blood that's been lost through surgery, trauma, etc. Instead, blood transfusion circled around the idea that blood itself could cure certain diseases. Like madness. (In a very interesting section, Tucker takes us on a tour of Bethlam Hospital - a.k.a. Bedlam.)
Back in the day, it turns out, people were super worried about creating hybrids. Can you actually create a mermaid? The fears and arguments surrounding blood transfusions are the very fears and arguments surrounding DNA experimentation - like cloning and splicing - that come up today. So Tucker's book is very timely and an important cross section of the possible consequences of our actions, or non-actions.
So far, I think this is one of my favorites in Defoe's Pirates! series. Who would've thought that the Pirate Captain's true competition was the egotis...moreSo far, I think this is one of my favorites in Defoe's Pirates! series. Who would've thought that the Pirate Captain's true competition was the egotistical, not-as-short-as-you-think European dictator?
I wish I had more to add, other than "Really enjoyed it!" But that's pretty much how it goes down. I liked it. The story perked up an otherwise dull afternoon, and made me want to see the movie. My only really wish is for Defoe to hurry up and write more adventures, because I finished this one* and immediately started hunting around for the next one.
This is one of the books that I always "meant to read" but never got around to, despite its tiny page count and ginormous reputation. Having read it,...moreThis is one of the books that I always "meant to read" but never got around to, despite its tiny page count and ginormous reputation. Having read it, I feel like I've checked off a big ol' checkmark - so that's pretty satisfying.
WARNING: Lots of spoilers ahead, but I'm not marking it off because I'm assuming a lot of people know the story, even if they haven't read the words....
A lot of you guys probably know that this book set off a couple trends - both rather disheartening:
1. (less serious, but distressingly calls to mind the fashion of today's Emo kids): men wearing yellow pants with blue overcoats - just FYI: this was not a good look then and it is not a good look now.
After the book was published, it was subsequently banned in many places in an effort to curtail young men from imitating the climatic suicide of Werther.
When I picked up the book and started reading I was vastly irritated with Werther as a character. Whiny, angsty, woe-is-me. My impression of Werther was that he was the needy kid in class who always gets up in your personal space and spouts pop-philosophy at you, trying to make you feel inferior so they fell better. Yet somehow you always feel sorry for him. Kind of. When he's not irritating the crap out of you.(You people know this kid.)
Enter Charlotte the Adored. Somehow I found myself rooting for Werther in his attempts to win her heart (mainly because it seemed like he was winning it - in spite of his stalkerish Edward-from-Twilight approach). But Werther's angst is further angstified by the fact that Charlotte's already engaged to another guy (Team Albert!).
Really, I'm kind of ashamed of myself because I thought that anyone who would imitate this guy and kill themselves was...um...stupid.
But what follows this opening sequence of seeming emotional ranting and woe is a troubling look at the psychology that precedes a suicide. It's almost textbook. And Werther made some convincing arguments for suicide - including knocking folks like me, who haven't been there - and therefore can't know:
"It is in vain that a man of sound mind and cool temper understands the condition of such a wretched being, in vain he counsels him. He can no more communicate his own wisdom to him than a healthy man can instil his strength into the invalid by whose bedside he is seated." (p 41)
In other words: you can't tell someone who is depressed to "get over it."
And Goethe's descriptions of Werther's actions match almost point for point the clinical symptoms of depression:
In the evening I say I will enjoy the next morning's sunrise, and yet I remain in bed; in the day I promise to ramble by moonlight, and I nevertheless remain at home. I know not why I rise, nor why I got to sleep.
But the piece that got me - and probably quite a few men in pre-Revolution France - was the argument between Werther and his rival Albert. They discuss suicide openly, and Albert claims it is the coward's way out: "It is much easier to die than to bear a life of misery with fortitude." Werhter's reaction is to compare suicide to a "nation which has long groaned under the intolerable yoke of a tyrant rises at last and throws of its chains - do you call that weakness?" His argument is basically that suicide is action, and therefore a braver thing than just taking what life throws at you.
(Which I disagree with, but his argument could be convincing to the right listener - as history has proved.)
As far as the writing itself goes, well, there's miles of flowers. (Sometimes literally.) The reverence of the 'sublime' (the sensation of being small when compared to nature) was on the rise when Goethe wrote, so there's lots of nature involved.
It's an epistolary novel, so it's all letters and journal entries. This can get tedious and there's an awkward transition after Werther pulls the trigger.
It's well worth reading, but make sure you're in a happy place before you jump in. And I hope your happy place doesn't involve yellow pants. (less)
One of my first reactions: This would be a kickass HBO series.
The reasons for this reaction are manifold and relate to positive andnegative bits in t...moreOne of my first reactions: This would be a kickass HBO series.
The reasons for this reaction are manifold and relate to positive andnegative bits in the text:
1. Multiple lines of dramatic tension. You've got the future-day characters facing down a 'new' virus that threatens to take out the world, and then you've got the past-day characters facing down the Black Death. Plus you have Kivrin (the most awkwardly named character in the book...I don't know if her name being strange means anything but it distracted me, just so's ya know) who is from the future but interacting with the past. The multiple lines make for interesting reading - there's a mirroring effect that reminded me a lot of Lost and Once Upon a Time. So maybe it could be an ABC series....
2. The technology for the 'future' is a bit dated. Published in 1992, the wave of cell phone technology and the internet had not taken off. So there's some awkwardness with the telephones and their screens. Rather than insist that the timing be the future, a t.v. series has the added bonus of using visual clues to an alternate kind of reality, which would be easier to swallow. As it is, with the text offered here, the contemporary reader has to stretch (hard) to suspend disbelief. Movies and television series seem to be more forgiving of that kind of thing.
3. It is a set-maker's dream. The opportunity to develop an authentic, well-researched medieval village? Sign me up. Willis's descriptions were very believeable. All of the details were fascinating. She's imagined the pre-insulation world of small huts; the crooked, rotting pre-dental care mouths; the threat of pre-Neosporin death from a splinter; and even the telling detail of cracked fingernails. Kivrin learns the hard way that everything she knows is wrong. And Willis does a fantastic job of showing how much work a person would need to prepare for a trip to the past. You don't just get to walk in the door and say "Here I am!" You'd get shot. Or burned. Or shot and then burned.
4. Atmosphere. I got a Children of Men meets Game of Thrones feel. Basically: dark, threatening, suspenseful in both the future time period and the past. That's A+ material by my count. =D
5. There's humor - but I think it would work better in a television series format because it's kind of repetitive...and an 'in' joke is more effective with some space between punchlines. For example, there's an overprotective Oxford mother, Mrs. Gaddson. She's a pain in the booty...and we understand that two seconds after meeting her and four hundred pages later we still understand that she's a pain in the booty. Don't get me wrong, the humor does what it's supposed to do - lighten the mood - when it's supposed to do it. But I wanted more of a full-on palate cleanser.
6. As a series I think that Gilchrist would be better served portrayed by a skilled actor. He's the villain, if there really is one, and he's very one-sided. He's just a bad dude. Immoral, arrogant, and - more dangerously - stupid. Just unforgiveable. I think that comes from Dunsworthy's opinion of him, which makes perfect sense because Dunsworthy is the POV character for the future segments. A camera might have more mercy on Gilchrist, but this character is drawn with really stark strokes.
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. It took a bit to get into it - partly because of the outdated technological bits that were somehow dominating the world of the future. After the first chapter or so, however, I was into it. Kivrin's experiences were heartbreaking. And I thought Willis did a very lovely job of showing the past does matter. The gravemarkers archeologists dig up hold the bones of people who loved, hated, ate good food and bad food, and were scared of the dark - or of marrying men twice their age. They had puppies and chapped lips. (less)
What fun this was! I was really pleasantly surprised - I was looking for a 'quickie' read (which generally means a book to pass the time until I find...moreWhat fun this was! I was really pleasantly surprised - I was looking for a 'quickie' read (which generally means a book to pass the time until I find a 'real' book I wanna read) and I couldn't put it down. Finished it super-fast. This book magically has everything: a funny, intelligent heroine; a scruffy hero; intrigue with weird contraptions and political conniving; and some sex and violence. What more could a reader possibly want?!
Miss Tarabotti is a charmingly Italian heroine. Her sense of propriety in the midst of werewolves eating the faces off of people (okay, it never gets quite that bad) is worth a smile or two from the most stalwart of readers. That same sense of propriety also allows the sexier scenes to not take themselves too seriously, so you're not bogged down by rigid/tumescent/turgid members...which I'm kinda grateful for.
I enjoyed the steampunk elements - 'glassicals' and weird blood-sucking machines that make vampires look like a dustbuster compared to a Hoover.
The side characters are also charming. Loved Lord Akeldama, the 'rove' vampire, Miss Hisselpenny (what a FANTASTIC name), and Professor Lyall - the Beta of the werewolf pack. And those three characters are also used to great effect in establishing the hierarchies of Carriger's supernatural London. Probably the make-it-or-break-it moment in fantasies is the world establishment. In this book, the rules are very nicely defined, easy to grasp quickly, and - perhaps most important - are interesting.
And let's not forget that the cover is kickass.
My only beef with this novel: The POV jumps from head to head really quickly. Luckily, Carriger does it so gracefully that it's almost seamless. But just fair warning that sometimes you've gotta read a sentence or so over in order to understand whose thoughts you're hearing. (less)
I began this book with a certain hesitation - time travel books tend to read repetitively and there's always the 'paradox' question that comes with it...moreI began this book with a certain hesitation - time travel books tend to read repetitively and there's always the 'paradox' question that comes with it. For me, these shortfalls are generally frustrating rather than fascinating. Also, I'm not big on the Kennedy conspiracies and, again, find movies/novels about the subject tedious. I love Stephen King, but I meant to avoid reading this one because of the motifs. Two strikes and I hadn't even picked the book up yet.
Then the reviews started pouring in. "Tour de force!" "King's best!" Etc.
So I said, "Dammit, I'm gonna have to read this one."
Yes, Kennedy is in it. So is Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby and a lot of the potential 'conspirators'. There are bookies. There's racism (Which seemed rather shuffled to the side in a Southern state in 60s, in my opinion. A couple times I did wonder what it would be like to if Jake, the main character, had been black...you wanna talk about the past being 'obdurate'?). Lots of guns. A nod or two to It. There's the mystery of who did what, when. There's a big, climatic scene in Dallas.
But, at its heart, this story is a love story. And love stories, as basic as they may be, are never simple. The main character, Jake-Epping-turned-George-Amberson, has nothing to lose when his friend, Al, tells him about the 'rabbit hole' that takes you back to the same time and place: "two minutes of twelve on September ninth of 1958." His alcoholic wife is gone. He's teaching adult English GED classes. And no one will seem to miss him. (Kinda sad all around if you think about it.)
So this 'little guy' is encouraged to go do something BIG, something EPIC: stop John F. Kennedy's assassination. After a couple test runs to the past, and the death of his friend, Jake decides to take on the monsterous task. Even though he's discovered that the past doesn't want to be changed.
Here is where I think King dodges the repetitiveness of time travel stories. There are repetitions, certainly, but Jake is a free agent within those repeats. Every time, he does something different and, therefore, the scenes are different, the character reactions different. Plus King adds a new twist: the past itself is the biggest antagonist. In order to protect itself, it will throw flat tires, physical sickness, injury, and all kinds of trouble at you. And, to make it worse, the bigger the event a person tries to change, the stronger the past's reaction to the interloper. For example, Al, the guy who told Jake about the rabbit hole died of lung cancer trying to stop the assassination.
King also avoids feeling too repetitive because Jake's timeline is always straight. Once he enters the rabbit hole for the big event, the book flows straight for five years worth of time.
And now the story becomes: English teacher falling for a librarian - Sadie. Only King could possibly make that interesting. The constant question below it all: Is Jake screwing up her life? Sure, on the surface everyone's happy and they have to deal with Sadie's psycho ex-husband, the Puritanical attitudes floating around in the early 1960s, and the fact that Jake can't even tell Sadie his real first name. Still, Jake gives Sadie her first orgasm (this cannot be bad, right?), he listens to her, he treats her right, and man can they dance.
But there's something more beneath it - how much is he changing? And is it really for the better?
Then comes the big day...and you'll have to read the book to find out what happens. But don't worry. Even though this is an 800 page tome, you'll fly through it.
As informative as this book is, I'm still not 100% sure how to poison a person and get away with it...so I guess the "Handbook" isn't as handy as it's...moreAs informative as this book is, I'm still not 100% sure how to poison a person and get away with it...so I guess the "Handbook" isn't as handy as it's cracked up to be....
However, if you wanna know all about hunting bad guys with beakers and bunson burners in 1920s/1930s New York you will not find a better book anywhere than this one. I LOVED it.
Blum has an excellent way of guiding the reader through a multitude of areas that can get confusing in their 'high-context'-ness. Stuff like history if you're not familiar with the era or place; stuff like chemistry in any form; stuff like political science all get enough attention so, as a reader, you don't get lost lost and you're not bored to tears either. It's a fine balance and she handles it swimmingly.
This book also handles the intricately knotted tendrils of chemistry, crime, politics, and psychology in the best possible way. Cause and consequence - including the ever-irritating law of unintended consequences - are beautifully illustrated.
My favorite portions of the book were the sections that handled Prohibition's effects:
"So it was that as Prohibition moved toward reality - Wyoming had become the thirty-sixth state to ratify the amendment on January 16, 1919 - Gettler and his small staff returned to the idea that wood alcohol was about to increase in popularity. THe Eighteenth Amendment, now that it had attained full ratification, was scheduled to go into effect in 1920. Already, though, the medical examiner's office was charting a rise in alcohol poisoning, as New Yorkers hurried to find alternative supplies."
We're always looking for alternative supplies, aren't we?
The increase in drinking deaths, the government participation in poisoning its citizens (the government officials defending themselves with the all-too-common blustering defense: "They broke the law, they deserve to die!"...as if *abiding the law* and *life* have ever been synonymous), and the necessity of capturing real violent criminals (the kind who poison dozens of bakery patrons), all helped drive Charles Norris, New York's first medical examiner, and his crew to work round-the-clock to discover the make-ups of several poisons.
It's a great read. Really quick, to the point, and guarunteed to up your answer quotient on Jeopardy!. But, even more than that, I think that way Blum interweaves all of the seemingly disparate elements of the Prohibition period is helpful as a medium for looking at today's issues of concern like the economy, oil, immigration, and the reactions to Wall Street. These things, like the issues pressing in the 1930s, do not exist in a vacuum - and a good many of the problems Blum touches upon (corporation oversight, for example) are still with us today. I really think this is an entertaining and important book.
This is the first book in a long while that has made me both laugh and cry. The three interlocking narratives compliment one another well -- each char...moreThis is the first book in a long while that has made me both laugh and cry. The three interlocking narratives compliment one another well -- each character (Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter) has a distinct voice and the storylines come together very well.
The subject matter -- race, segregation, the Civil Rights Movement -- is covered with respect and an eye for detail. Though, with such a wide scope, it would be impossible to cover all the aspects of the subject...which has been a matter of some criticism directed toward the book. And it's really my only issue with the book:
While the story is very moving, and the characters well-drawn, I never felt the real danger of the characters' actions -- and having lived in the south, there are some very real consequences for breaking 'rules' even today. In the 90s, my mother (we are white) had a sore throat that she wanted checked out. She worked forty miles from our Georgia home and stopped at a clinic between work and home. She parked on the side of the building and went in, but was immediately stopped by a black nurse who said to her: "Oh, no, sweetie. This is the colored entrance."
Stockett does insert shootings and historical deaths and a police presence...but I really, really don't think that the risks presented in the story are representative of what would have happened in the 1960s. Most of the consequences are presented as social-outcasting. But it would've been their lives. Towards the end, that threat does pick up...but by the end, it's really too late to convince the reader of the danger.
(And apparently all white women are lousy parents.)
Having said that -- I still loved this story. I loved that it felt hopeful. I loved that Aibileen and Minny got to tell their stories. Aibileen made me want to hug my children forever. Minny made me want to sass the next few people I met -- just to do it. I love that Skeeter, a writer, got to write a great book. (I always cheer for writer stories!) I even loved lost, Marilyn Monroesque Celia. And I really, really super-loved to hate Hilly.
Vowell has a great way of knocking the higher goals of historical figures - she cuts through the hyposcrisy really well - and at the same time elevati...moreVowell has a great way of knocking the higher goals of historical figures - she cuts through the hyposcrisy really well - and at the same time elevating the intentions of these very human people.
The people populating this book are the Hawaiians (both royal and common), missionaries, military, Mormons, and politicians. Then Vowell proceeds to illustrate, in her own biting fashion, how these guys interact. Like all of Vowell's books, I was struck by the intricacy of the history...no matter what we may think, the world is small, and has always been so. Everything is interconnected. School systems, political systems, etc., they are all tied together. Sometimes you forget (or didn't even know, in some cases) how the reconstructionist Mississippi constitution influenced the writing of the second Hawaiian constitution.
My only problem with this book was that I didn't fall in love with it quite as much as her other books. Though she still has hilarious insights that make you go 'so true' - like this one: "I envy a people [she is referring to the Hawaiians] who celebrate their leaders' private parts - that they love those leaders so much they want them making newer, younger versions to tell the next generation what to do. In the democratic republic where I live, any politician whose genitals have made the news probably isn't going to see his name on a ballot again."
This book was written in the couple years following the murder of David Kammerer -- the real-life case which Burroughs and Kerouac were so close to, a...moreThis book was written in the couple years following the murder of David Kammerer -- the real-life case which Burroughs and Kerouac were so close to, and on which this story is based. Facts and names have been changed to protect the innocent...but, like most Beat books, the source material is not as well hidden by code-names as the participants would probably like and the book wasn't published until 2008. Fifty years later.
As if the subject matter wasn't interesting enough, it's also written by two iconic figures of the Beat generation: Burroughs and Kerouac. The story is told in alternating chapters, first Burroughs and then Kerouac taking turns at writing the chapters. This does result in a certain choppiness--which you would expect. After all, even icons were fledgling writers at some point and it's hard to control consistency-of-tone with one writer, let alone two. But it's not as rough as a reader would expect. According to the Afterword by James Grauerholz, Kerouac did type the manuscript "just as it is preserved, with no missing pages; he was a good speller and handy with punctuation." So, there you have it: good writers can do good jobs.
The story is very much a slice-of-life kind of piece, not a sensationalistic recounting of a bloody murder. If you want to know the ins and outs of the Merchant Marines at the end of WWII, bars, how to get money outta your friends, and morphine use, then this is your book. (Okay, maybe not quite that extreme.) The murder isn't a centerpiece the way that contemporary true-crime novels. The presentations of motive (and even that is not overt) and the story of the relationships behind the murder are central.
The overall voice reads very noir. The language is straightforward, which is why I think that the tone doesn't shift as much as it could otherwise. Take for example: "Then we boarded the subway and went back downtown to Washington Square." (Kerouac's chapter) and "We took the Independent down to Washington Square and said good night at the entrance because we were going in opposite directions." (Burroughs's chapter). Subject matter and descriptions are pretty similar.
Dennison and Ryko are the narrators, and they do a good a job. The characters are observant, full of questionable advice, and their reactions to a potentially explosive situation are very cavalier...which adds to the tension of the story. As a reader, I felt that the two leads were just as likely to kill or be killed at any given moment. Or die stupidly. To put it another way, it's like reading The Outsiders, only without Ponyboy's conscience.