This is an amazing book. You would think it would be depressing but its actually comforting, especially if you're dealing with something difficult yourself. The author lets you deep inside the workings of her mind creating a real intimacy that is rarely found in books, movies, even relationships. She is a great writer and this is a real treat. Its just a whole different way of perceiving the world around you, and how the mind works. I'd say this book is candy for people who really enjoy thinking! Intelligent, and heartfelt.
I lived for several years in Africa, and from my experiences and readings, this guy really knows what he is talking about. This is a deep, insightful story about the craziness of living and working on the edges of a zone of unthinkable war that has gone on for generations. I had a lot of trouble understanding things while I was there, and this book helped me to understand some things a bit more. It is a great story, and full of truth. Definitely, read!
There is a lot of interesting information in this book, and it is pretty good to listen to. I have two problems with it. One is how the authors constantly summarize and rephrase scientific information in a very glib and slang way, in fact rather mis-stating what they are trying to explain. I guess this is for common appeal? It comes off as disingenuous and often as judgmental. Second, this is one of those books in which the authors say that common beliefs on their subject are wrong and they are going to prove them wrong by presenting and supporting their new thesis on the subject. But they spend a ton of time saying how their new idea that they're going to share disproves the common idea, and very little time actually sharing, explaining and supporting their new idea. They continually say how they disagree with "the standard narrative", that it is wrong. And then spend hours of the book explaining and supporting the standard narrative--much more time than they explain what their new and different idea is. I kept thinking, OK, here's the part where they are going to say why this is wrong and tell me what is right... But you kind of keep waiting. If you are not paying close attention you end up taking in the standard narrative as the information the authors are trying to get across, and not as what they are trying to disprove. They sort of shoot themselves in the foot on that. Even when they present their differing idea its not very well supported.
This was the least enjoyable book I have ever read. I'm actually
upset at having wasted the time. I kept listening because I thought,
surely this must be going somewhere. Maybe the ending is so great that
it will make up for the torture of reading this gut-wrenchingly tedious
book. Anyway, its not about the sexy topic in the blurb, that's just a
tiny bit. Its 98% about this extremely self-absorbed neurotic non-religious
Jewish man questioning what Jewishness means to him. Ad nauseum. The man is
so arrogant, self focused, and profoundly boring that I found it impossible
to be at all interested. Perhaps back in the day of Saul Bellow this was a
somewhat interesting topic, but its been done. And a lot better than here. Arghhhh.
Actually, because PR is a respected author, I kept reading, because I kept suspecting
he was employing some brilliant literary device that I wasn't quite
catching onto yet. Making the book just as torturous and annoying as the character.
To make some point... But in the end, it was just a really annoying book that circled
around in the neurotic way of its character, self absorbed and somewhat pointless.
I don't even remember the ending because it was just that non-memorable.
This book started off strong, because the writing is somewhat good. By which I mean its good prose, interesting metaphors. Although that voice doesn't really mesh with the main character who isn't very interesting or insightful about life. I had to force myself through the second half. It just got more dull and more depressing, and I was realizing there wasn't much point to so much of it. By the end it was a tedious chore...
First, just about everyone will find that this book directly relates to them or a close relationship in their lives--a son, brother, boyfriend, husband, etc. I really like what this author has done. As a scientist, books in this genre often irritate me, because many authors promote a certain viewpoint--"the answer", and cherry-pick or skew the research and anecdotes presented to sell that veiwpoint to you.
But here, the author is a researcher who seems to sincerely care about the problem and suffering created, and he has spent years working logically to try and understand the causes. He presents research and compares interesting examples from all over the world and from a broad range of studies. He doesn't focus on one great answer, but presents compelling evidence supporting a range of factors contributing to the problem.
From one chapter to the next you become convinced, yes! That is "the" answer. But in the next chapter you say, wait. That is also the answer! I think that's the difference between real science versus a biased author promoting a viewpoint/agenca.
The book is very also very entertaining and listenable. Its not one of those where I have to rewind over and over to try to weed through the complexities. I think the knowledge will be new and valuable to a great many people.
I just can't figure out why he wrote this book. He says something about how he is pondering moving his young family to China because its such an important place, and he goes to check it out. That makes no sense, especially from someone who wanted only to leave civilization in his previous books. I kept thinking, maybe the government paid him to go write a really unflattering book about how messed up China is. The result of reading this book is that I sure don't want to go to China. He didn't have much good to say. The author is funny and the book is pretty listenable. It just had this overlying aura of implausibility. I highly recommend his 2 earlier books. They seem honest and are hilarious. This one...not so much.
This book is very helpful for understanding current events in Iran. The start was slow but the action did pick up. The tone is reflective and dignified. The author quietly and deeply explores the inner and intellectual lives of her women characters over a span of years. As a result we recieve the gift of understanding what it has been like to be an intelligent woman in Iran from the revolution to present. The narration is a good fit and its an intriguing listen. I'm glad that I read this book because I feel that I learned something important. Also, the idea of telling peoples' stories through the lens of great literature is really novel and interesting. I actually gained a new and deeper understandings of literature that I'd read in high school or college.
Argh. By the second half the book is pretty much unbearable. The main character isn’t likeable. I wish it was written from the son’s point of view, or the stripper; at least they seem nice. The narrator incessantly launches into irate tirades, intellectual pretentiousness, and overly sentimental self pity. There is no development or context to make most of the events in the book believable, you’re just supposed to believe them. The book reads with maybe a couple sentences of someone doing or saying something, and then these ponderous, overdramatized remarks purporting some great meaning and gravity—to every little thing, over and over. If the author is trying to evoke an insanely annoying woman who really needs to get over her brooding about her childhood and tremendous sense of being full of herself, then she did a good job. But is it something you want to spend hours listening to? My gosh, no.
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