Wanted to read this for a long, long time. Meant to read it during hurricane season, but better late than never.
I've come to the conclusion that I proWanted to read this for a long, long time. Meant to read it during hurricane season, but better late than never.
I've come to the conclusion that I probably don't really like nonfiction books. I wasn't crazy about Devil in the White City either, in spite of the rave reviews it got. Larson does a good job of painting the image of Victorian Galveston and I liked his background into historical accounts of hurricanes long before modern science, but there were many things about this book that annoyed me.
I'm sure it has something to do with his attempt to prove authenticity of the story — Larson did use hundreds of historical documents in his research, but I find it distracting that he uses proper names for every single character he mentions. By midway through the book, I can't keep straight who each person is, what they do for a living, how they might be relevent to the story, and whether of not they'll even show up again later. Ancillary characters do not need to be named. It just confuses things. And if Larson *is* attempting to prove how authentic his account is, why does so much of what he writes seem like speculation? "Isaac probably would have ..." It got to the point where I could no longer tell where Larson was inserting his own fantasy or relying on documents to fill out the story (and yes, the book has copious footnotes, but it is insulting to image the reader of your novel is going to jump to the appendix every other paragraph to see if what you've written is based in fact or not). He also skips around quite a bit timeline-wise, which is more a pet peeve than a roadblock to the story, but while I'm nagging I might as well add it.
Finally, after all the build up to the storm, the story just drops off at the end. The novel seems so top-heavy. I wanted more post-storm resolution, either in terms of the engineering that went into Galveston (beyond the construction of the seawall), or in the form of documents from Isaac himself — journal entries, letters, whatever. You never really get a feeling for how *he* felt after the disaster.
In all, I just had the impression that Larson was trying to woo us with all his fancy research without putting a whole lot of effort into making the book interesting. It is an important part of national history that often goes overlooked, but beating people over the head with meticulousness is not going to help the story become more accessible....more
I hold the conviction that a year-long (or more) stint in the service industry should be compulsory for all Americans (if not all human begins), and AI hold the conviction that a year-long (or more) stint in the service industry should be compulsory for all Americans (if not all human begins), and Anthony Bourdain seems to share my belief, as he refers to "the life" in the kitchen as the last true meritocracy left in the world. For more than five years I worked first as a hostess at a restaurant, then as a waitress and later as a bartender at one of the busiest bars in Houston, and in that time I've learned a lot — A LOT — about human behavior, superiority complexes, humility, money, labor and the value of hard work. Because for those of you who don't know, service industry work is, masically, hard manual labor, especially for the people you don't get to see — the back of the house, the busboys, the barbacks.
Kitchen Confidential isn't the most engaging memoir I've ever read (if you can call it a memoir) and the book could stand to use a closer read from an editor, as Bourdain often repeats words and phrases in the paragraphs and even in the same sentences, but I found his anecdotes fairly entertaining (and in my kitchen experience, mostly true) and his assessment of human behavior, despite the fact that he proclaims to know nothing about it, pretty spot-on. If I were a foodie or interested in the kitchen lifestyle as a long-term career I might have liked the book more, but as it stands, I do agree with Bourdain's statement in the "Appetizer" chapter that good eating is all about risk.
"The Level of Discourse" is by far my favorite chapter in the book....more
Well written and full of life, contemplation, adventures — everything. There is SO MUCH going on in this book, and while the material is heavy, the wrWell written and full of life, contemplation, adventures — everything. There is SO MUCH going on in this book, and while the material is heavy, the writing is not, so it's a quick and satisfying read. Andrew Pham, following the suicide of his sister and a devastating breakup, cycles his way to Vietnam, which he hasn't visited since his family fled their hometown 20 years before.
This book is filled with engrossing passages on what it means to be a foreigner, no matter where you are, about putting your body and brain through challenges during endurance sports, and about the meaning of home and happiness. I can not wait to read more of Pham's work. ...more
I love to read short story collections — they're easily digestible little nuggets and the short story may be my favorite form of fiction.
But I'm usedI love to read short story collections — they're easily digestible little nuggets and the short story may be my favorite form of fiction.
But I'm used to reading collections by a single author, an author I've already established that I like. This is the first anthology I've read, and herein lies the problem — some of the stories were really, really good. Several made my throat close up and my eyes water. But there were several that just felt corny, gimmicky or forced. I can't really stand any work of art uses Sept. 11 as it's main plot point, and Judy Bundnitz horrible retelling of Joan of Arc's life as a reality television show is just tacky.
Here are the stories I loved. It'll save you the work of having to read the whole book:
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie The Epiphany Branch by Mary Gordon Gabriella, My Heart by Cristina Henriquez The Matthew Effect by Binnie Kirshenbaum ...more
I realize that this is a simplified version of the Tao, but I am not sure the philosophy of the Tao matches my own philosophy. Though I am into yoga aI realize that this is a simplified version of the Tao, but I am not sure the philosophy of the Tao matches my own philosophy. Though I am into yoga and running and inner peace, I am not into "doing nothing." I was especially annoyed at the dig at runners in the Bisy Backson chapter. Whatevs. I plan to read the actual translated Tao soon so maybe it will jive better with me, but not this.
I did like one quote though:
"When you know and respect your own Inner Nature, you know where you belong."...more