Utterly endearing. The vision of Mr. Rosewater answering the phone, at all hours, and listening with complete generosity... marvelous. There are fictiUtterly endearing. The vision of Mr. Rosewater answering the phone, at all hours, and listening with complete generosity... marvelous. There are fictional portraits of many so-so figures which are deemed wonderful because they acknowledge the complexity of our lives. So how wonderful to stumble upon a fictional portrait which does a sublime service to the naive, the charitable, and the subsequently marvelous....more
In fairness, this should be a 3, but the prose is so beautiful that I feel moved to defy a culture which values vapid vampire romances to give this anIn fairness, this should be a 3, but the prose is so beautiful that I feel moved to defy a culture which values vapid vampire romances to give this an extra nudge. I mean it, the language has a dreamy see-saw quality. Here be the Lands We Know, and there be the Lands We Know Not, and never the twain shall meet. Except, they shall, and all our ideas of time shall meet their counterpoint (what knows time not at all), and which shall we love more? ...more
More propaganda for those who believe everything old is bad and everything new is good. You know what? I'd rather live in a world lit only by fire. OuMore propaganda for those who believe everything old is bad and everything new is good. You know what? I'd rather live in a world lit only by fire. Our technology is polluting the skies, polluting the earth, and destroying our landbase. There are more slaves on the planet than at any time in human history - but, but, the Crusades, right? Well, no, let's throw out all our achievements because of our own War on Terror. We have taken the worst from Europe during the Middle Ages, rearranged it, abandoned all the wonderful things, and are now prancing about like the Emperor With No Clothes.
If you want to use the term medieval as an insult, at least read something besides this nonsense. Someone who actually, you know, studied medieval history, read the source material. Not this second-hand, ill-informed tripe which may as well have been written by a hack paid to promote the enclosure movement and industrialization and deny climate change and write anything else which would turn readers into good little consumers without voices. ...more
Endo's writing is a clear light, his thoughts expressed with an earnest love I find almost entirely lacking in most historical recreations. He seems..Endo's writing is a clear light, his thoughts expressed with an earnest love I find almost entirely lacking in most historical recreations. He seems... almost grateful to be contemplating his subject, to be genuinely seeking; perhaps this is what leaves him able to be open to the illuminations he finds....more
**Note: This review was written almost 10 years ago. I would gladly delete it, but it appears some people have engaged in fruitful back-and-forth in t**Note: This review was written almost 10 years ago. I would gladly delete it, but it appears some people have engaged in fruitful back-and-forth in the comment thread. I let it stand for the sake of their discussion, but since every once in a while I wake up to an email informing me of how some stranger on the internet thinks I'm an asshole (and as I'm also a person who can't stand the heat and would gladly get out of the kitchen if I could), I'd like to add a few disclaimers.
This review was written by a young woman who never dreamed more than 2 or 3 people would read it. Hence, I was not attempting to be Northrop Frye. I was being silly. I entirely agree the review would be better if it attempted real, concrete criticism rather than aggressive shrugging. To write that review, though, I would have to really care about AHWOSG, and I simply do not. But that does not mean Eggers deserved mere snark. I leave it up only to a) allow people to continue their discussion and b) the mere recollection of it is a source of instantaneous humility.
Finally, this review was the product of an incarnate, imperfect person with background associations and moods trickling into their work. I had a chip on my shoulder when I wrote this. You could say I was sneering at someone(s) in the review besides Eggers (of course, sneering is bad and one shouldn't do it at all, whether on the internet or face-to-face). As I wrote above, a good and meaningful review would be far more impartial, specific, and clear. But this isn't a good and meaningful review. It's a hasty sneer with perhaps some basis for its attitude but certainly not in the review as written, and the author would gladly delete it save for the fact that it hosts a comment thread other people find productive.
So enjoy discussing AHWOSG on this thread, but if you are awaiting a response from me on the merits of the book or to further explode in fireworks of snark, I'm afraid you'll be waiting in vain. The thread stays; please, be polite to one another. Even if snark has some ground in the truth, it only encourages snark in others, and no one feels good or changes their mind when they feel attacked.**
One of my least favorite books of all time. I cringed with frustration as I turned every page, and I only wanted to finish it so that I could say I found nothing redeeming. Oh sure, he was flashy and could draw a cheap laugh, but it was like admiration for bubbles: it went nowhere and said nothing. Henry James this is not (I don't love HJ, but I know talent when I see it and this is self-examination for voyeuristic purposes). I was disgusted with the title when I first heard of it; though I can see the attempt at self-ridicule, eh, nope, he's pretty satisfied with himself. I then heard so much lovely stuff about it, which worries me now in retrospect, but I tried it with an open mind: Nope Buddy!
Why even go into the hundred reasons why it sucks, since the author is such a vapid creature full of style and lacking substance - the book doesn't really merit an intellectual attack. Really, I think it's every single thing that is wrong with certain aspects of modern literature. Foster Wallace and Eggers can suck my metaphorical dick, since they seem to exist for nothing else but their own pretension. Way to reveal modern angst boys, sorry that people a lot smarter did it better a hundred years ago, and said something relevant for people who weren't self-absorbed fops. I look forward to a future world cataclysm in which this book can be lost, and something worthwhile take its place in the literary canon. (Also, I apologize to all the people who really sincerely love this book. I know I like some things that can be deemed pretty trivial. And who knows, maybe the author is a nice enough guy. I just, I gotta say it, I really can't stand this book, and wish there were better books around to take away some of its appeal. Art for the ego just doesn't seem enough).
My memories of the book have grown hazy, and I did write my first review while living in New Orleans. I think I slammed down a drink at Igors at 3 am while waving Flannery or Walker or Eudora in the air and swore that Franzen and Eggers were my metaphysical enemies and one day I would read Wittgenstein deeply enough to make seemingly-profound arguments about nonsense culture-consumers like "Stop making literature a habit of stylistic consumption and read something and decide if it's true." I remain too lazy, but still, I think we should read literature with an idea of the Good, and how to pursue it. My always-reforming vision has been consistent about thinking of this not as a charming memoir but as a lazy memoir without real love or value. I wish I could see what so many think they do, but it remains mirror-playing to me.. Maybe most of this is late-night fighting-Tara b.s., but I still think my absurd perspective is still more concerned about what is good and lovely and true than the steady narcissism of AHWOSG....more