Crash is an awesome work of perversion and deviance. It challenges the safety of technology, law, and order through the voyeuristic experiences of the...moreCrash is an awesome work of perversion and deviance. It challenges the safety of technology, law, and order through the voyeuristic experiences of the narrator Ballard and extremist Vaughan. Critical reviewers on here will tell you that this book is just pornography because they don't get what the author is doing, or his cool attitude towards sex, these people are prudes and you shouldn't accept their dismiss of Crash very seriously. Many of Ballard's works challenge us to re-examine our society's attitude towards vulgar truths in life imposed through the politically correct and moral constructs, this is definitely one of them. Although criticisms that plot development is slow are valid, it is definitely not a boring ride - you hang on every word as the writer fearlessly describes and breaks all boundaries of sanity and morality. In fact, it is probably the descriptiveness and overload of filthy or macabre scenes that make this book come off as solely porno, masochistic or some kind of fetish writing. The work is a metaphor for the vulnerability of social constructs, rules, and safety - and on closer thought is pepper with character metaphor - such as actor / stunt driver Seagrave who gets into staged crashes on film up until his own real death (don't worry, not spoiling anything here btw). The characters feel relatively realistic, and uninhibited - whether it is newly re-emasculared Ballard, masturbatory sex / violence addict Vaughan, or Ballard's loose wife and mistresses. This is a legitimate journey into the violent reality of our existence and the irony posed by the violent deaths in car crashes - the car being an iconic piece of technology for safety and mobility. Definitely worth reading, not for the faint of heart. (less)
Houellebecq takes readers through the experiences of a rather passive character who belittles western ironies and materializim, the cult of success, a...moreHouellebecq takes readers through the experiences of a rather passive character who belittles western ironies and materializim, the cult of success, and most importantly, the repressed sexuality and reversal of sex roles in the modern world. The character, by off chance on a Thai tourism package embraces his perversions and eventually meets a woman who completes him. Taking us through the art world that Jean Michel curates exhibitions, to swinger and sadomasochist clubs, this is an accurate critique of the perversion of intimacy in modern society. The ending is depressing and falls somewhat flat, which detracts little from the overall message, if not adding a bit of reality to our adventure, so don't let this stop you from enjoying a great book. (less)
A MASTERPIECE on the contradictions of right and wrong, Roth's novel screams from the inner struggle of those who live, and those who suffer under mor...moreA MASTERPIECE on the contradictions of right and wrong, Roth's novel screams from the inner struggle of those who live, and those who suffer under morality guised in political correctness framed in legal consequence. The novel, under the premise of Alexander Portnoy, Jew, who can never become the ideals of Americana, or those of the Jewish homeland, and can never fully overcome the burden of critical controlling parents takes us through a journey of the most honest introspective of sexuality, wants, and vice. The "sins" Portnoy plays out are minor at best, but lived out to their full anxiety, suffering, and ironic consequences in the eyes of law, karma, morals, and prevailing social ideals. Roth shatters all boundaries while taking us into the most embarrassing, and the most audacious of misadventures of sexually deprived Alex. Written decades ago, Phil Roth still echoes the contradictions we face as people today, in complete and fearless accuracy. One of my favorite works.(less)
Had to read this for a class on Policy Analysis, was pleasantly surprised.
Bardach has a writing style that is easy to follow and uses relatively clear...moreHad to read this for a class on Policy Analysis, was pleasantly surprised.
Bardach has a writing style that is easy to follow and uses relatively clear logic. The book gives the impression he is a seasoned policy analyst. This "Eightfold Path" guide to comparing and judging policy alternatives will give you an excellent base of (to be followed loosely) steps in which to approach problems in public, nonprofit sector policy as well as private organizations, although the focus is on the former two.
The author also gives you what you want to know, examples, ideas, and "semantic tricks" to thinking out any of the steps he outlines, for instance: semantic tips for deciding what criteria to judge alternatives (variations on a solution).
If, to give any negative critique of the book, the author dissassembles his method too much sometimes - which leaves you confused as to which step you are referring to. To give credit though, not all types of analysis (and if you read the book you will know) are straightforward "Identify Problem, Identify Alternatives to solve it, Identify criteria to rank alternatives, and then choose" and depend on the context, as well as those funding your "analysis" and work.
Further, to credit Bardach, there are many pointers as well in other problem areas which are helpful, such as general project management, or even ways of structuring final reports and recommendations.
All in all, this is a quick read which isn't padded with useless information, and isn't lacking in terms of advice and pointers, to the effect of having things such as appendices of "work governments do" useful to not just borrow ideas, but stimulate the thinking process.