I don't have the heart to write much of a review for this one but I'm going to write something since I won this in a giveaway and the point of the giv...moreI don't have the heart to write much of a review for this one but I'm going to write something since I won this in a giveaway and the point of the giveaway is for people to review the books.
If you're an Irving fanatic, you should find something to love about this book. There are bears everywhere. And death. And violence. There's running and a few passing references to wrestling. There are bogeymen. And nude people. There are characters who are obsessed over the possibility of losing their loved ones. And loved ones who seem to have a knack for dying. One character is a novelist. One character exclaims rather than speaks ("Constipated Christ!" is one of his favorites.). It spans generations and travels across North America. It has vivid scenes that you'll likely never forget. It's imaginative.
But it's also about 200 pages too long (550 total). It's repetitive. It repeats itself. It says the same thing over and over again. Is that an echo that you hear? Why yes, it is. That is correct. You do hear an echo. Indeed, my friend. Indeed. If you were to zone out for a few minutes while reading it, have no fear: if it's important enough it will be repeated for you again a few pages later. Hell, even if it's a minor detail there's a good chance it will be repeated again. (Seriously, this book is at least 200 pages too long.) It abuses the use of parenthetical remarks. (Yes, it does.) And it has such strong hints of his other books that you'll wonder if he's merely recycling old material.
And yet...I didn't hate it. At times I actually liked it. But it never swept me off my feet. I never lost myself in it. Ultimately, at no point did it reward me for reading it. So off it goes to hang out next to my other 2-star books. Hey, I gave Lolita two stars, so what the fuck do I know, right?
I'm going to pass this book on to a Goodreads friend who loves John Irving and who is quickly becoming a must-read reviewer. I hope he loves this book, writes a great review, and exposes this one as the steaming pile of bear shit that it is. (As if it weren't already obvious that this review stinks.)(less)
You won, Mr. Ellroy. You won. It took 283 pages. Your short, staccato sentences finally defeated me. I couldn't take it anymore. So I quit. If I were...moreYou won, Mr. Ellroy. You won. It took 283 pages. Your short, staccato sentences finally defeated me. I couldn't take it anymore. So I quit. If I were to meet you in person, you'd laugh at me. You'd call yourself a genius. You'd call me a fucking idiot. You'd be right. You are a genius. I am a fucking idiot. That doesn't change the fact that your memoir is practically unreadable.
I was able to decipher a few things from what I read. I know that you're a weird dude. I know that your dad had a huge whanger. Your mom had red hair and you're obsessed with her. I know that you like to toss around every epithet in the book. It's not because you're a bigot. You're just so cool that you're beyond all that stuff. I know that men will kill for just about any reason one can imagine. Women usually kill because of the wrongs of men.
I liked a lot of your memoir. It just wore me down. It also bored me after a while. I'm starting to worry that I won't like your Underworld USA Trilogy. This memoir was supposed to be a lead-in to those books. It was supposed to be the lube that helped those big, fat books enter me without any pain. But now I'm not horny at all, Mr. Ellroy. I'm just cold, confused, and lonely.(less)
I'm not really sure if this book is going to be effective as a cautionary tale about the dangers of steroid use. First of all, does the target audienc...moreI'm not really sure if this book is going to be effective as a cautionary tale about the dangers of steroid use. First of all, does the target audience (i.e. meatheads) even read books? I kid, I kid. But let's be honest. Not every potential steroid user is going to see the life of Dan Clark, aka Nitro from American Gladiators, as a caution against steroid use. The negative side effects and consequences seem rather insignificant when you can put the following on your resume:
* Becoming one of the stars of a hit TV show * Having your own action figure * The ability to bench press 500 pounds * The opportunity to legally beat the crap out of people * Access to all of the best clubs in LA where you get to meet all sorts of celebrities who know who you are * Lots and lots of sex with hot chicks, including Playboy bunnies (Although Mr. Clark informs us: "The truth is, beautiful girls cannot fuck... They lead with their beauty instead of their heart, soul, and flesh. You can't fuck beauty.")
Isn't this the American Dream for many young men? The fact is, steroids can help you obtain your dreams. Just ask Barry Bonds (or half of Major League baseball, for that matter).
With that said, I do think Dan Clark does a pretty good job of exposing the dark side of steroid use and abuse. Let's see, we've got a story of him traveling to Mexico to try to legally obtain steroids and nearly being murdered by criminals posing as Federales. We've got him chasing down a car that cut him off and in his juiced state of feeling invincible, taking on three guys at once and getting beaten with a steel pipe. We've got him tiring of the relatively slow surge that comes from injecting steroids in the soft tissue of his butt and going straight to the muscles -- in one scene he has a dozen needles sticking into the various major muscles in his body; in another he tries to run across the room to answer the phone, falls, and lands on his thigh, bending the needle inside his muscle. He grows tits. His balls shrink. To counter these problems he begins taking breast cancer drugs and a drug made from the urine of pregnant women. He starts taking other drugs to deal with his rage or the pain of his injuries -- in one scene he vomits into the toilet, sees two Vicodin pills intact in the soupy vomit and realizes they are his last two, reaches into the vomit, grabs the pills, and swallows them again. There's another wonderfully disgusting scene where he gets a colonic from a woman named Olga so he can pass a drug test. But the most memorable scene of all is when he sleeps with a woman who is also a steroid user:
"I have sex with her, but it's awkward. I can feel her enlarged clit pressing against my pubic bone when I'm on top of her. I roll her over and take her from behind. It seems normal until she climbs onto all fours and I can see it sticking out from its little hood. It looks like a little baby's penis.
There's something oddly poetic about two broken people finding refuge in each other. Me with my swollen nipples and shriveled sac, and her with a clit the size of a small penis. Two people bonded in shame and sex by their secrets."(less)
Zounds! This book is wildly entertaining and I giggled all the way through Candide's awful adventures. Who would have thought that murder, rape, slave...moreZounds! This book is wildly entertaining and I giggled all the way through Candide's awful adventures. Who would have thought that murder, rape, slavery, sexual exploitation, natural disaster, pillaging, theft, and every other oppression imaginable could be so funny?
Here's some pretty good insight from the old woman with one buttock:
"I have been a hundred times upon the point of killing myself, but still I was fond of life. This ridiculous weakness is, perhaps, one of the dangerous principles implanted in our nature. For what can be more absurd than to persist in carrying a burden of which we wish to be eased? to detest, and yet to strive to preserve our existence? In a word, to caress the serpent that devours us, and hug him close to our bosoms till he has gnawed into our hearts?"
We can try to remain optimistic and rationalize that the horrors we witness are all a part of some plan but the choice to keep on living is a truly irrational one given all of the evidence available for us to consider. We go on living against our better judgment and in spite of all of our misery. It is what we were born to do.
"'You lack faith,' said Candide.
'It is because,' said Martin, 'I have seen the world.'"(less)
At 11:00 a.m. on September 11, 2001, I hailed a cab in front of my office building in Southwest, DC and asked the driver if he would be willing to tak...moreAt 11:00 a.m. on September 11, 2001, I hailed a cab in front of my office building in Southwest, DC and asked the driver if he would be willing to take me to my house in Northeast, DC. His radio was tuned to an AM talk station and he looked frightened. It appeared that he really wanted to just get the hell out of Dodge but he wasn't sure if this was the sort of event that warranted such a reaction. If this all turned out to be an overreaction or a hoax of some sort, wouldn't he have a tough time explaining to his boss why he decided to skip out early that day? I sensed his hesitation and started to move away from his cab, looking for other options. He yelled after me: "Please, please, I'll take you home. I'm sorry. Please get in." As we inched through the city and the people on the radio began to say things like "Washington, DC is under attack!" and "We believe that the White House is the next target!" the cab driver and I couldn't stop exchanging nervous glances through his rear view mirror. As the Capitol Building came into our view, a news alert came over the radio stating that large explosions at the U.S. Capitol Building had been confirmed. He said, "Oh God." I said, "Oh Shit." We didn't take our eyes off the building. I was prepared to witness a real-life version of the scene from Independence Day. Before this day, I was a naive 22-year-old kid who felt that a happy adult life was still ahead of him. In the matter of a few hours, I had become a different version of this 22-year-old kid who couldn't help but wonder what, exactly, was the point of getting up every morning and heading out into a world that had taken on the look and feel of an apocalyptic action movie.
I don't want to bore you with the details of my life since 9/11, but suffice it to say that I used it as a crutch to justify my laziness, my procrastination, my indecision, and, most of all, my inability to form deep connections with other human beings. Weak people are always looking for excuses. I felt that 9/11 was a pretty good excuse.
Which brings me to this book, which challenges you to consider how you would live your life if you knew that thirty-six years, one hundred sixty-eight days, fourteen hours, and twenty-three seconds after the moment you were born, the world would be destroyed by a rogue comet. Does anything really matter?
The book's hero, Junior, is the only person privy to this information and suffers from the day he was born with "the soul-dread caused by knowledge of the impending end of all existence." At one point Junior says: "Oblivion was always just around the corner, so what was the use of, say, trying to make the varsity basketball team, or starting a retirement fund, or having kids, or any of the other things that normal people do?"
This is a simultaneously depressing and uplifting novel that explores the meaning of life with humor, warmth, and passion. (less)
Ok, check this absurd shit out. Below is a quote from the second page of the book -- all you need to know for context is...moreIf this book only had a brain.
Ok, check this absurd shit out. Below is a quote from the second page of the book -- all you need to know for context is that Carver is the head of computer security at some company that protects its clients from hackers:
All the while he spoke, Carver was thinking about the intruder they had been chasing. Out there somewhere, not expecting the comeuppance that was speeding toward him. Carver and his young disciples would loot his personal bank accounts, take his identity and hide photos of men having sex with eight-year-old boys on his work computer. Then he would crash it with a replicating virus. When the intruder couldn't fix it he would call in an expert. The photos would be found and the police would be called.
Two points I'd like to make:
1. How much respect does Michael Connelly have for his reader here? After the third sentence about putting porn on the intruder's computer, I'd say that the vast majority of this book's readers would get the point trying to be made. Maybe some would need to know that he'd crash it with a virus to get the point, but is there anyone out there who could possibly need the last two sentences to get it? Why stop there, Mike? What about adding: "The police would show up and arrest the intruder. The intruder would go to jail for a very long time. The intruder would probably get violated in jail and while in the middle of one such violation the intruder would probably wish that he had never learned how to be a hacker."
2. What sort of hacker would need to call in an expert? Isn't the hacker an expert? Wouldn't he know how to re-format the hard drive? If the hacker worked for a company that had an IT division, wouldn't he most likely work in the IT division?
I should have stopped reading right then and there. (less)
For more than five years, Mitch Albom's book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, has had the distinction of being the worst book I've ever read. Toda...moreFor more than five years, Mitch Albom's book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, has had the distinction of being the worst book I've ever read. Today Mr. Albom has been dethroned by Jeff Kinley, a man who appears to have stopped maturing when he was 15.
I think I'll let the book speak for itself...
On his boys being forced to play sports with girls:They allowed -- no, make that required and recruited -- girls to be on the boys baseball team. I'm not a chauvinist, but c'mon. There should be times and places where a guy can hang with guys and girls can be with girls. And for me, the boys' baseball team was one of those places. Funny, but guys aren't allowed to play on the girls' softball teams. Hmm.
Comparing fatherhood to a difficult journey: There's construction on life's highways and you're forced to reroute or divert, and that slows you down. Sometimes as a father you get stuck in a parental traffic jam, or have a flat tire. You may even have "relationship wrecks" along the way. Or you may find yourself "rubbernecking" as you slowly pass by a three-car pileup involving another dad and his son... Then again, maybe you've already has some near misses or some fender benders of your own.
On girls:And today I still hold to my belief that girls are weird. I have to. I'm a guy. I have to uphold the ideals of my gender... I soon discovered that in addition to being weird, girls could also be...shall we say...hot. Very hot. No--make that smoking hot.
Why girls are the better gender to be attracted to if you are a boy:It didn't take me long to figure out that in spite of their obvious conflicting differences, guys and girls went together very well, like in a natural way. I mean, my buddy Bruce was fun to play guitar with, and Ricky and I played a lot of baseball together. But I never wanted to kiss them!
On dealing with boys' aggression:He'll need an outlet for this emotion and energy through physical activities like sports, during which he can blow off some steam in healthy ways. That's why football is so good for boys. Again, where else in life do you get to knock the snot out of some poor guy, and hundreds or people stand to their feet in applause?
On lust (Between men? I'll let you decide.):Lust is every man's struggle. We all face this temptation regularly. No one is exempt. No one is immune. It is a common guy thing. And that's why we so desperately need one another.
And, finally, some thoughts on your penis:You see, the thing to keep in mind is that your penis has no idea if you're married or not."