Overall, this seems like a nod to Frankenstein: Be careful of the forces you tangle with. The dedication page lists Mary Shelley as one of the writersOverall, this seems like a nod to Frankenstein: Be careful of the forces you tangle with. The dedication page lists Mary Shelley as one of the writers who 'built his [King's] house.' Frankenstein being one of my favoritest books, there's a lot to enjoy here.
The bulk of this book is Jamie Morton Growing Up. It begins with Jamie at six years old, playing soldier. It ends 55 years later, when Jamie is 61. So, just keep in mind there's a lot of growing up to do in fifty years. Annnnd some of the growing Jamie doesn't effectively do.
All in all, there are interesting bits and less interesting bits. But what keeps this at three stars for me is that there doesn't seem to be a whole lot driving the story.
The whole mess between Pastor Charles Jacobs, the Frankenstein of this particular story, and our hero, Jamie, begins when Jacobs loses his wife and child in a tragic accident. Jacobs freaks out, tells his congregation God doesn't exist, and then heads out into the world cursing God.
While this is an understandable reaction, and a great premise for a horror novel, I had a hard time buying into it for a very simple reason: I, as the reader, didn't love or care about Jacobs' wife or child. Patricia Jacobs is blonde and perfect and can play the piano really well. The narrator says that all the little boys had a crush on her -- but there's no real, actionable evidence of that in the text. No one offers to stay after to help her clean up the church, or is caught spying on her through keyholes. Ditto the little girls crushing on the pastor himself. But all I really get is blonde, perfect, piano player, dead.
I also didn't fall in love with the little toddler -- who was cute but could be just about any toddler.
It may sound cold, but if the death of these two people is the fuel driving the story it leaves me a little, well, cold.
(An aside -- at one point the narrator, Jamie, explains that the pastor has blue eyes and his wife has green eyes but the little boy has brown eyes...I'm not a geneticist, but I kept expecting Patricia Jacobs to turn out to be a cheating, drinking whore, who had the little boy with another man. That would've been a twist on the pastor's twisted twistedness. Strangely enough, I might've liked Mrs. Jacobs better.) ...more
Loved this. I read somewhere that someone called this 'competence porn' and I didn't really understand what that meant until I read the novel all theLoved this. I read somewhere that someone called this 'competence porn' and I didn't really understand what that meant until I read the novel all the way through. Basically -- you have characters who are intelligent, who don't make randomly stupid decisions, and they remain intelligent (read: competent) all the way through.
All of the suspense and danger comes from the situation (an astronaut gets stranded on Mars) seeming too big to surmount -- none of the problems are caused by a character making a ridiculous, illogical decision. (i.e. "Let's split up!" or "I know this seems silly but let's do it anyway!")
While there's a lot of technical jargon and math that I skimmed over -- I knew it was basically gonna boil down to "this isn't gonna work" or "wow! that was really close to not working" -- it's a fun read. There's a lot of humor mixed in with all the techy, nerdy things.
Also, it's gonna be a movie starring Jessica Chastain and Matt Damon. So there's that added bonus. ...more
I'm currently producing this group of five plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre and I cannot stop laughing during rehearsals. It's very distracting for tI'm currently producing this group of five plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre and I cannot stop laughing during rehearsals. It's very distracting for the actors.
Hoverman not only has a great sense of humor in these plays but a great sense of heart. While the situations are sometimes beautifully over-the-top (like a fist fight in the waiting room of a fertility center in "Nativity"...or "The Student" which is about a rather awkward student/teacher conference) there's always a sense of real people coming to terms with their sincere, personal selves.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory is like a sociological Mary Roach. Caitlin Doughty became a medieval history major becausSmoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory is like a sociological Mary Roach. Caitlin Doughty became a medieval history major because of her fascination with death. She came to work at Westwind Cremation and Burial for the same reason -- all culminating in her desire to make death less of a mystery and more a part of our lives. And thus this book was born: to present her argument as to how death is hidden in current American culture and how that's not good for us.
Her stories about life in the day-to-day of the crematory are genuine and moving. The gallows humor is helpful when dealing with such a touch subject and I, for one, really appreciated it. Otherwise I might've cried and put the book down and said "Keep that Death stuff away from me." Which would've defeated her whole point. Doughty is candid and that's refreshing, even if I don't necessarily agree that we should move back to washing our own dead in our living rooms.
I think the only part I really took issue with was brought into stark relief because of the recent Ebola outbreak. While I am not in any way sucked into the hysteria and realize that Ebola itself is rather difficult to catch...part of the reason it has spread is due to traditional practices of families washing their dead. Doughty does address the issue of disease spreading (there is virtually no way to catch a disease from a corpse) but it's not enough to make me comfortable with handling it myself.
Other than that, I appreciated Doughty's openess and generally agreed with a lot of her arguments. ...more