I’ve seen only five star reviews of her book (probably fans) on other sites , but here, mostly negative reviews. So, what’s the truth? I listened to find out. As usual with two extremes the truth is in the middle. Knepper is a clever writer. She’s not often laugh-out-loud funny but she will keep you smiling. Only rarely does she come across as trying too hard to be cute. Parents of young or recently young children looking to commiserate over the stress of the job, especially moms, should enjoy this book.
I came to this book wary. I expected the self-satisfied prattling of an ex-cheerleader ex-sorority girl (Knepper proves you can do either/both and not lose your soul.) trashing motherhood for the sake of cheap laughs. It’s not that. I expected highly irreverent, bordering on irresponsible, takes on parenting in the name of comedy. It’s not that either. Knepper had the guts (okay, chutzpah) to narrate her own material and does a competent job. Some will complain her voice is too perky or annoying but it’s her, it’s genuine, and that grows on you. She knows exactly how her writing should sound which we know is rare for many author narrators. She mostly writes about how hard it is to be a good mom and how the job will drive anyone nuts if they’re doing it correctly. It is absolutely clear that she really cares for her kids. I can’t possibly disrespect that.
It’s not JUST about parenting. She starts with a riff on difficult menstrual cycles & clueless men or how guys talk too much about their favorite body part, (ironic given that the very *next* chapter is all about girl body parts.) cleaning toilets (for some cheap potty humor - very literally), and quitting smoking, among things.
You learn she’s a relatively mature parent who became a mom after a decade or so of career. Born in 70, she’s a generation Xer and calls herself a “technophobe” trying to sound like the airhead she’s not and was clearly an early adopter of the Internet and social media, long before Facebook. She fully embraces her generation’s slang in her writing.
I didn’t get over my suspicions about Knepper as a decent soul until the chapter she wrote on the need to learn to “effing cook”. That humanized her. She eventually admits to several flaws which ultimately make her easy to relate to as just a normal person and not just a self-consciously clever one. That she gave up a career to be a full time mom and talks of skimping and cutting corners to make it on her husband’s salary makes her all the more endearing.
Not all her bits are home runs. One essay imagining her own son’s thoughts as he manipulates a waitress using cuteness in that way children learn to do to try to get a better dessert goes on too long. A few times I wished her rants bit “rantier” and more extreme. There's nothing too shocking or outrageous here.
However, more often than not, she tells it like it is. If you worry that your child is weird. (Doesn’t every parent at some point?) you will be able to relate to the weirdness she describes in her son. The battles described between siblings are also classic.
Overall there was less swearing and less drinking than expected while still being legion. Her parody of the “lice letter” that invariably all parents of primary age children receive from school is very funny. Her talk on “effing game night” and “field day” are some of her most powerful writing which she saves for last.
She’s most human when she explains relying on comfort food and cheap wine, to help her through the stresses of parenthood. I’d compare her to Erma Bombeck but I never read any Erma Bombeck. I can say Knepper is a mother and writer with soul. If you find parenting stressful (and you aren’t normal if you don’t) this book will give you a few laughs and help you to feel less isolated. I don’t recommend this book for those who have never been parents but are absolutely certain they could do the job better than the rest of us because we know you’re living in a fantasy world which has no basis in the day-to-day reality of parenting described in this book.
Maupin's Tales of the City series is the most well preserved slice of popular culture ever captured in fiction. Tales and its sequels follow the loves and lives of nearly every imaginable type of person in post sexual revolution, pre-AIDS San Francisco.
These beloved books hold up because reading them is as good as time-travel back to the seventies. It is the seventies captured in real time as each chapter was first published in the S.F. Chronicle each day long before they were ever bound into a book.
The intricate overlapping lives and loves of the characters are what make these stories so delicious. (Calling them a "soap opera" does this work an injustice.) The repartee among the characters is priceless. If you've read these books you likely consider Michael "Mouse" Toliver, Mona, MaryAnn, and the very elegant Mrs. Madrigal amongst your best fictional friends. Of course an open mind is needed because relationships and sexuality of all types are major themes of these books. Prudes and/or the homophobic need not apply.
Unlike earlier versions Maupin allowed every single word of his books to be professionally narrated instead of doing just selected parts himself. As for the actual audio recordings, a woman narrator is appropriate since Mary Anne Singleton is the main protagonist. Frances McDormand reads with relish as if dishing gossip like a best friend. There is plenty of character in her voice without overacting. She does not attempt to mimic the delivery of Olypimia Dukkakis, Larua Linney et. al. from the HBO television series of this book which was a wise choice. The sound quality is superb. The intro by Rachel Maddow is short and all too sweet.
This book is NOT about past lives entwined with modern or future lives. Each character is ostensibly "reading" about the previous character but this is only very clear in one or two of the stories. If you're looking for a book like "Holes" where past and present lives impact one another you will be sorely disappointed.
Putting six different stories in one book under one title seems absolutely arbitrary here. The rave reviews seem directed simply at the writer's ability to write in six different styles to match the book's six different settings. All the stories are tragedies but a few have comic or thriller elements that made those FEW bits moderately entertaining, and keeping the reader hopeful for more but ultimately disappointed.
The writer uses an ostentatiously elevated writing style. Yet all that impressive vocabulary does not add one iota to emotional value of the writing. The first story, widely regarded as tedious in these very reviews, is a perfect example of that point.
Yes, some give this book rave reviews. They may be applauding the author's creativity, but they are NOT speaking of his ability to entertain which is weak, at best, and limited to the first halves of only three stories.
If you like generally bleak stories with sad endings you will love this book.
The author was thorough in his research tracing mortgage backed securities, which many of us might assume to be recent inventions, back to their beginnings several decades ago up and the invention of 'junk bonds' created to buy out, break up and sell off highly successful companies purely for profit. The author also describes the personalities of traders as compulsive gamblers and the myriad factors that led up to the great fiscal collapse requiring the major banks and investment banks need to be bailed out or sold out.
It's a real history with amazing personalities and a culture of greed so pervasive that it's amazing it lasted as long as it did.
or.. Greed Really Can be a Very Destructive Thing.
While lengthy the writer was able to hold my interest how well he describes the various individuals. It is an amazing bit of history and journalism.
This book is a refreshing look at game design from a player's perspective. The author rightly points out that gaming critique now is now solely limited to whether a new game is entertaining enough to be worth spending some money. If you've enjoyed any PC or console game for dozens of hours you've wondered why is this particular form of game play so uniquely fun? The author explores the answers using many major titles (but will invariably miss some of your personal favorites). He confesses a bias for console games (a controller over a keyboard) as an avid PC gamer I found the distinction not pertinent to book's themes. He poses many excellent questions: What is the nature of storytelling in a video game? How much and what impact do good writers have on a story? Should the game's story drive the player or should the game design allow the player to drive the story? What are the possibilities of open-ended story telling? (as opposed to cut scenes/cinematics) which the author and game designers view as limiting at best. He describes major titles, so one can understand the features that were overlooked by above mentioned limited critical perspective. This includes a notorious car jacking series (which I've smugly avoided as trashy) describing the many details of the extraordinarily rich virtual world it creates. Another recent gaming flop, the latest in the an FPS series set in landlocked Africa, instead of its previous tropical setting, (the latest panned by many as poor) is described for its completely unscripted physics and unique character/NPC interaction. He covers the skills to needed to complete the now outdated 2D scrolling games (i.e. why they were so fun in their day) but mainly describes role playing & shooter games as well as few obscure but completely unique and award winning games. If you haven't explored every single last major video game franchise at the very least you'll learn of new unique gaming experiences to be had.
You know it's a truly excellent story when you wouldn't want to change a single plot choice. I can list several poor choices without spoiling the story. 1) A terribly obvious 1st clue. 2) The love interest's deformity/handicap. 3) Earth's future troubles are given only a nod. 4) A trap or two to should have been set by the "genius" writer of his astounding treasure hunt to slow the inevitable greed driven corporate cheaters. (Hence the "cheesy complaints.) Despite those caveats its still a very engaging story written for a very specific demographic - game lovers and/or those nostalgic for the 80s. The virtual universe as an MMORG (if you have to look that up this book is likely not for you) is very well thought through including its own economy in which one can earn "real world" money. If the terms leveling up & acquiring items through "quests" means anything good to you may well enjoy this book. The story's strength is its unabashed love of gaming history and 80s culture. Despite its flaws the story manages some truly excellent plot twists and has a wonderfully evil antagonist and heroic band of protagonists. The narration and editing were fine. The narrator sounds just as I imagine the younger male lovably nerdish hero/protagonist would sound. The word "cheesy" has been used here meaning: inferior, cheap or chintzy. Yes, it's not the great American novel. However it certainly is original and like all the other summer/ beach novels or "brain candy" books for sale here Ready Player One is unique and very sweet.
That the writer and the woman can manage to keep you (and the child character) from dying of boredom (far from it indeed) for much of the book is quite a feat. There were many complaints about the child's point of view or narration but they sounded as close as reasonable and with the intonations that a REAL child would need serious coaching as a narrator (esp. this child's age). The entire book is a very unique thriller. I won't spoil the plot or simply retell the story just recommend it as an excellent book that helps you look at the world through the eyes of a child and jadedness of an adult.
Keith Richards has always been an enigma as a rock star. Obviously talented but I figured him as a kid who learned four or five chords and happened to be in the right place at the right time. Nope. He spends the first chapters establishing his "bona-fides" as a lover of American blues & soul. He spends a great deal of time practically gloating about how great it was snorting pharmacuetical grade cocaine which apparently doesn't automatically come with a crash wishing you'd never snorted anything. (Perhaps it was only because he also revels in staying up as many days as possible on the stuff and then finally sleeping. He also gloats about mixing his own pure heroin and admits he spent 3/4 of his life as a junkie and much of the book is about how the cops were on his tail. In the meantime he gives serious insights into his relationship with Jagger, how songs are written and where some classic stones songs got their names. There is a LOT of name dropping as to the famous musicians he wrote and played with. I know it sounds boring and now that you know what it is likely might find it so. Still I bought it with a completely open mind and was surprised that Richards comes off as a fairly thoughtful individual and not some spoiled aging star with a soul as shallow as a puddle. No, the man and is his book are FAR more complex.
The author finds an already unique cultural phenomenon or subculture and fills it with "bad guy(s)" and weirdos. Contrast the few truly rational people to highlight the weirdness of the others and bam, instant incongruity = comedy.
Give a bad guy(s) some bizarre features or behaviors and you have the recipe for a Hiaasen's unique type of humor (a low life with a heart of gold or at sometimes just bronze).
Presented HERE is the very relevant topic of "manufactured pop icon" (with minimal REAL talent) and media papparazzi into both worlds one we get a glimpse although I have no idea how thorough is the author's research into these subjects, they ring true enough for the ridicule intended.
The major criticism of THIS book is that ending seemed simply truncated, as if the editor and/or author couldn't be bothered to tie it all up far more neatly.
Much has been said about the narrator but I found that the "bad guy" voices sounded as if the narrator had listened to the previous books and matched their gruff tones quite well.
Skink (yet another "crazed" character) has a fairly minor role in this book so I can't see criticizing his narration.
In all the narration fits the satire the prose suggests. After several books one may start to tire of this formula, it was funny for many of his books but after a while you realize the author has few other tricks up his sleeve other than a new subject. The writing is all way over the top which is the source of the humor. Everyone is a parody but some occasionally have moments of cultural insight or brilliance (such a "low life" with some redeeming qualities). Those bits are the priceless bits these but still.. these to ME..are becoming a "by the numbers" format. This isn't a BAD book for Hiaasen, if you like him you'll like this. If you prefer only his BEST, this a good effort (B grade) but no A+.
This is like Monty Python but with frequent references to those who are more well read. These aren't joke books but series of stories with major non sequiturs as the source of humor. The little gags keep coming but don't expect many (or any) full on belly laughs. This is a little amusement for people who those who will pride themselves on "getting" the historical, philosophical, or literary references. Still much of it is just plain silly.
Buy the set it's a MUCH better deal.
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