boring. I want to like the book, but.... much of the text consists of tedious unrelated lists of details, and these are not interesting details. A entboring. I want to like the book, but.... much of the text consists of tedious unrelated lists of details, and these are not interesting details. A entire paragraph is devoted to the author's preference for a slight amount of makeup, in a very tedious manner.
Even the individual sentences are boring: "Thankfully, no one was hurt" or "I know that if I bought my calendars after new years, I could get them at half price nd save myself a little money." Perhaps the sentences are not boring. Perhaps they are outright dreary.
The author has Mary drop in unannounced, appearing in the living room, next to the potted ficus tree. What annunciation occurs? Mary asks to "use the washroom". She wants to "freshen up". After a nice lunch of canned soup, Mary goes to take a little nap. This Mary is so dull that she could make the insipid pastel Protestant Mary pictures from the 1960s seem daring.
Last I checked, Mary rode a donkey as a pregnant 14 year old to a strange town where she got stuck camping out in the barn, which rapidly was filled with a lot of weird (and smelly) people. When that got tiresome, she and her family took a road trip to Egypt. I had hoped to read about that woman in this book, instead we are given a hesitant woman who packs too many clothes in one suitcase, along with a blow dryer and 2 bags of cosmetics....more
TTake a quick trip back to the San Francisco of 1969. The summer of love has faded, but mystery still hangs in the fog. This is an introduction to a sTTake a quick trip back to the San Francisco of 1969. The summer of love has faded, but mystery still hangs in the fog. This is an introduction to a strange bookstore, located somewhere between City Lights Books and Chinatown. It's filled with streetwise hangers-on and a very few true seekers. Mr Penumbra, hero of Mr Penumbra's 24 hour bookstore, is introduced here, as well as the arch-enemy, Corvina.
Much as I suspected, I am just a few years under the ages of Penumbra and Corvina. I remember walking the streets of San Francisco, late at night back then, exploring odd shops that were open late to stragglers. Reading Richard Brautigan and discovering espresso (yes, this was a time before Starbucks) in the Italian pastry shops. This catches some of the magic of that period. And there is mystery even in the BART tunnels, if you know where to look.
My only complaint? This novella too far short. I want to know more about the characters - and I wish the photo of Corvina and Penumbra that appeared briefly on Mr Sloan's blog was included with the kindle book....more
A beautiful story. Slow-moving and romantic in the sense that it captures the hope and beauty of a small American town where the residents all grow upA beautiful story. Slow-moving and romantic in the sense that it captures the hope and beauty of a small American town where the residents all grow up together and live out their lives like actors in a grand play. You can capture a collections of slivers of the town's life and hold them up to the light to see the story unfold.
The writing is beautiful, but spare, bringing to mind the young Hemingway - or early Larry McMurtry when he told tales of people and passion (All my Friends Are Going to be Strangers. The cadence catches the pace of speech of a small town just beyond the mountains, isolated on the grain fields of the American high plateau.
**spoiler alert** Really? This won the Newbery prize? Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad book, but it's not a great book. It's cute. The premise is no**spoiler alert** Really? This won the Newbery prize? Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad book, but it's not a great book. It's cute. The premise is not original or clever - girl becomes friend with squirrel who can communicate with her. There is the token mysterious wise old woman who utters inscrutable truths; the annoying neighborhood kid who turns out to be wise and true; the cruel mother who confesses her love at the end. The girl who loves her weird pet and struggles to keep it. In short, there are a lot of cliches.
So what is good: the illustrations; the intermingling of text and graphic novel. That works really well. But the rest? Just go read Charlotte's Web again. It says it all better....more
The book is divided into two sections: text and cards. I read the online version, so the cards lost some of the punch and fun that they probably haveThe book is divided into two sections: text and cards. I read the online version, so the cards lost some of the punch and fun that they probably have as hand-sized, personal artifacts.
The text consists of 60 pages of mostly fun, engagingly-written words about what modern art is. The descriptions are solid and the issue of 'what is modern art' is looked at from many disparate viewpoints. Unfortunately the author has selected viewpoints that just can't be saved by good writing or lighthearted comparisons. Part 1 takes on three viewpoints: "All art is abstract", "All art is conceptual" and "All art is concrete". The author goes on to state that "painting is, like all art, a philosophical activity" which uses visual, not 'natural' language. He then ties this argument into some vague explanations on how the Renaissance infatuation with geometry was a philosophical expression, which seems to me to be a stretch. The next chapter moves right on into "the discursive frame", which "begins with the title and relates the work to language for the first time." So... the Mona Lisa only became the Mona Lisa once it was named?
In looking through the cards, there is a preponderance of works from the early modernists (of the futurist school) and then a chunk of New York artists in the 1970s-90s. There's not much that's current.
I want to like this book. I love things that make art accessible for everyone. But this book just doesn't do that. I was left with the feeling that the author is turning old dog-eared art theory from the 80s into table-top games for the desperate-to-impress dinner party set....more
A completely charming book about life in the Blue Ridge mountains. Much of the book seems to be a reflection that life is not who you are or what youA completely charming book about life in the Blue Ridge mountains. Much of the book seems to be a reflection that life is not who you are or what you are given, but how you look at things. It is the story of a divorced handyman and a dog. But it is also the story of the simplicity of kindness and the importance accepting those around you (and yourself) for what they are....more
Full disclosure: I only made it 1/4 of the way through this book before I gave up. Not much seemed to be happening, and what did happen seemed impossiFull disclosure: I only made it 1/4 of the way through this book before I gave up. Not much seemed to be happening, and what did happen seemed impossibly contrived, Characters were less than one dimensional. The settings were straight out of a primetime tv soap opera.
Spoiler alert: the book's heroine is miraculously cured (overnight!) of an incurable brain cancer by the licks and slobber of a ghostly golden retriever who, along with his mysterious handler) slips into her hospital room, evading almost all security cameras. She had less than a year to live and had been held captive by her own body's pain and seizures. Yet, add Golden drool and presto!
The last blow was that this book jumped between Califronia, where everyone is a successful, well-off surfer/ real estate agent / surf shop owner, and the middle east, where the heroine's fiance is a very manly navy seal. In a destroyed village, the seal unit is going to 'do what needs to be done' - and you know that they will do it violently, yet patriotically.
I wish I could get tback the hour or so that I wasted on the first quarter of this book. ...more
Resonant with truth. Growing up in Utah in the 1950s and 60s,I had a sense of how strange and closed the Mormons were (are?). I have tried to explainResonant with truth. Growing up in Utah in the 1950s and 60s,I had a sense of how strange and closed the Mormons were (are?). I have tried to explain it to others, but most people respond with, "I know some Mormons and they are so nice." They are. It's true. Mormons are incredibly, undeniably nice. But there is a story behind the stage set of happy perfection and Martha Beck has done a great job of gently and respectfully pulling back the curtain to show us a glimpse. This is a great read for anyone interested in religion or the history of the West - or who grew up as a non-Mormon in Utah....more
Another wonderful, magical book by and author who understands that we create our own worlds. It is a tale of magic told about a young boy who learnedAnother wonderful, magical book by and author who understands that we create our own worlds. It is a tale of magic told about a young boy who learned the art of magic from a Black magician in a mysterious hotel in a failing town. As the book progresses the illusions fall away - or are replaced by the illusions of other viewers. Intriguing....more