I will write a longer review later. I recognize the flaws - most notably, a VERY long epilogue - but I found the setting, story, and characters so entI will write a longer review later. I recognize the flaws - most notably, a VERY long epilogue - but I found the setting, story, and characters so entrancing, I can easily forgive it....more
HOW EMOTIONS ARE MADE is really a fascinating book - one of the best I've ever read! I feel like the views fit with beliefs I have, but they expand thHOW EMOTIONS ARE MADE is really a fascinating book - one of the best I've ever read! I feel like the views fit with beliefs I have, but they expand them - possibly changing the way I look at everything! (And it's NOT a self-help book - I generally dislike those since they lack scientific evidence.)
Barrett is a professor and scientist from Northwestern and Harvard. I deeply appreciate how she goes into great detail to prove her premise:
There is no scientific, empirical, or universal sign or fingerprint for ANY emotion whatsoever. Anything we've called emotions are framed by individuals reacting in individual ways under certain situations. Those individuals could be in roughly the same situation later and feel totally different. Small changes - like when they had their last meal - may affect EVERYTHING. Of course, larger changes - like brain chemistry or IQ - also affect the ability to categorize and regulate emotion.
Then, to add to that, together, socially, we frame them as emotions using very general social reality.
My own addendum - now, I am completely gobsmacked at how, somehow, we all agree enough to feel at theatrical events when the writer, director, and actors can get us to categorize our reactions roughly the same way!!! This also works with songs and other art!!! That amazes me now!
A very simplified example: A Japanese person may call an American social event "uncomfortable," and another compatriot agrees, so it is. Their brains don't fire in the same way in that situation. They may feel "uncomfortable" for different reasons - he because the social context is different in different cultures, or maybe he was wearing new shoes. He didn't realize it was the shoes making his discomfort, so he called the party "uncomfortable."
She agrees, but maybe because because she felt the lighting was too bright, or she was getting a cold and didn't realize, or because they didn't have food that fit in with her diet.
The emotion "uncomfortable" only exists because one person has categorized his feelings that way. The other person simply agrees in general terms. Together, they create the reality of "uncomfortable". There is no physical evidence in the body or brain that creates "uncomfortable." They simply agree - creating the reality.
Emotions are based on prediction, categorization, and context interpretation - all individual and highly subjective. They are only validated, because cultures or groups generally agree.
I feel it's a very Buddhist book. The Marines would agree when they recategorize - "Pain is weakness leaving the body."
I started this book at the beginning of January, and just wasn't motivated to finish it...
I'm getting to the age where - if a book doesn't hook me (II started this book at the beginning of January, and just wasn't motivated to finish it...
I'm getting to the age where - if a book doesn't hook me (I gave it till page 78), I give up.
I feel the author is a smart person - he goes to great lengths in the book to let you know you're reading a smart author... So, the theme is great, and the setting is cool. Maybe Pearl should've trusted his research and spent more time making engaging characters instead of two-dimensional cliches. Also, the plot is there, but it is lethargic as Hell! (See what I did there? Dante? Hell?)
He went form concept to book without developing engaging, intriguing, empathy-inducing characters. Subsequently, on the 4th of April in the year 2017, I gave up on this book and put it in the donation pile......more
Nope nope and nope - sloppy typos and pretentiousness. Plus as a bonus, egocentrism! I'm going to do something crappy and say just read this review beNope nope and nope - sloppy typos and pretentiousness. Plus as a bonus, egocentrism! I'm going to do something crappy and say just read this review below, because I agree 110%. If I were better at math, I might even agree more. (I forget, but I hope one of my friends didn't give me this book - I hated it!)
The characters were interesting, and their plight - a family broken, fleeing from Cuba - held high promIt started out so strongly, and then devolved.
The characters were interesting, and their plight - a family broken, fleeing from Cuba - held high promise. Then the characters made weird choices. I also feel the author decided it needed off-putting plot twists and moments of melodrama to stay interesting... Wrong...
I like the writing style - which is appropriately melodic and metaphoric - reminded me of Junot Diaz's use of imagery in Oscar Wao. I just feel Palacio should've delved deeper into his primary conflict and left the strange twists, soap opera moments, and abrupt character changes out.
In short, it started out as a poetic epic about family, modern politics, and immigration. It turned into a nightmarish telenovela......more
I wished I’d liked this book as much as others. I didn’t hate it, but after the beautiful and complex Olive Kitteridge, this was a letdown.
Three MaineI wished I’d liked this book as much as others. I didn’t hate it, but after the beautiful and complex Olive Kitteridge, this was a letdown.
Three Maine siblings were touched by tragedy when they were young. Now much older, another family crisis brings them together to try to sort out the past and straighten their futures. They come back to their depressed mill town in Maine.
These Burgesses are not very likeable, and Strout does things that I found frustrating. First of all, the conflict between the characters isn’t very complex. Secondly, they seem more two-dimensional as individuals than is required for a good, engaging story, which might tie into my first problem.
Oldest child Jim is an angry, middle-aged yuppie who constantly picks on his younger brother, Bob. He’s also not very nice to his equally yuppie wife, Helen, who smoothes over life’s wrinkles as best she can. Little brother Bob is a distant shlub who divorced and then stumbled into a solid job as a legal aide. Bob’s twin sister Susan is just a bitter divorced mother of a thoughtless delinquent.
These Burgesses all have their childhood issues with each other… And… I wanted to be more engaged… I have four brothers and two sisters, and we don’t have perfect relationships, but we also don’t have terrible ones. We had tragedy in childhood – our mother died and our house burnt down, for just two examples. As middle-aged adults, however, we’ve moved on and become our own people. The Burgesses haven’t.
Finally, Strout is a gifted writer, but she uses oddly childish or old-school phrases like “nincompoop” and “knucklehead.” I found these didn’t add to my understanding, instead constantly frustrating me and pulling me out of the story every other page. These juvenile phrases, in fact, added to the thinness of character. I feel that Strout was trying to hint at the Burgess siblings’ arrested development after their childhood tragedies.
For some reason, there is a bookended narrative device about nosy neighbors – a mother and a daughter, both widows – who find the Burgess boys (not poor Susan) fascinating enough. I still don’t know why this is here. Does it add to the small-town Maine setting?
I do like Strout’s low-key humor – “Isn’t there a pill for that, Susan?” Also, there are some hints at American xenophobia, which may also be a hint at small-town narrowness.
Unfortunately, these things weren’t enough for me. At the center, we have people who never got over childhood tragedies or thinking or phrasing. ...more
So. I have this arbitrary goal to read a book a week in 2017. Unfortunately, I started with this one. It’s unfortunate, because this book is so beautiSo. I have this arbitrary goal to read a book a week in 2017. Unfortunately, I started with this one. It’s unfortunate, because this book is so beautiful, I read it THREE TIMES IN A ROW! I cannot recommend this book highly enough; I love it! It makes me want to write a gushing fan letter to Michael Chabon, a writer I’ve always admired, and frequently lauded.
Moonglow is a book that will often invite questions. Firstly, is it the truth, a total fiction, or a collection of truths joined by a talented writer’s imaginations? The dust jacket says it's a novel. In fact, the inner pages have that typical “work of fiction” disclaimer. In the first few pages, though, Chabon calls it a memoir. He also uses his name, his mother’s name, his family’s names and characteristics, and what feels like a heap of family history.
But we don’t know what the truth is. Nor do we find out, in the realistic sense. We certainly discover a certain emotional truth within the pages of this book; that’s it’s beauty. It’s a thrilling tale of a Jewish couple struggling after the war and into the last half of the bright American century.
The gimmick is that, back in the ‘90s when his grandfather was dying of cancer, Chabon found that the pain medications had loosed the old man’s tongue. Chabon at his side took notes (some of which were lost in the devastation after Chabon’s first divorce). Then Chabon dug in like an investigative reporter. He interviewed family members, mainly his mother. He sorted through court records – his grandfather had some run-ins – and questioned other contemporaries.
What emerges is an extraordinary tale about a damaged couple, full of wit and pain and elaborate romances and amazing events.
Chabon’s grandfather – who is never given a full name – was an extraordinarily rough character – part thug, part brilliant scientific mind, and entirely awkward with most other human beings. He had a wonky moral compass, which hated Nazis but also would resort to violence or pranks, especially to prove his point (which he never wavers from). As a boy, he dropped a kitten out of a high window just to see what would happen. As an employee, he once almost killed his boss. He was not religious but, otherwise, very culturally Northeastern Jewish. He often was involved in scams; he was also only guilty to varying degrees, depending on the scam. Sometimes, people pulled one over on him, and he worked to make them pay. He wasn't a very forgiving man...
His grandmother was French and Jewish. She had tattooed numbers on her arm. She also had a way of stopping the grandfather most of the time. The problem was that she also suffered from a crippling depression that would manifest itself in a most horrible vision, a monster that would follow the poor lady around.
The loved each other. When trouble arises, Chabon states, “My grandparents forgave each other with the pragmatism of lovers in a plummeting airplane.”
Their lives were fantastic – full of truths and lies, much like Chabon’s book. The grandfather hunted down Nazi war criminals and then invented things and then made models for NASA. The grandmother would use old Tarot-like cards to tell Chabon scary tales and fortunes. She also hosted a local black-and-white television show where she'd dress up and read scary stories. Many people tell Chabon that these programs scared the hell out of them. The people around the couple were also amazing, like Chabon’s mother, who learned to be headstrong. Or Chabon’s great uncle, who lost one eye – we find out later in the book how that happened!
Chabon always messes with form. Wonderboys combines high-minded literary conferences, highbrow academia, depression, and suicide attempts with lowbrow comedy. His Pulitzer Prize winner The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay follows the history of two comic book legends, cousins. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union mixes old pulp noir with obscure Jewish history. Like in Moonglow, Chabon often pays respect to his Jewish heritage.
Here, Chabon plays with the truth. He also plays with the great American memoir. If there is truth in here, it’s a proud homage to his grandparents – even with their flaws. If there isn’t any truth, then this is just an amazing, astounding, wondrous yarn – apparently worth reading over and over and over. ...more