The book was a sensation in 1851 and is universally hailed as a classic. But the state of the art of storytelling has moved on. The story is bogged down in details that seem superfluous in this age of moving pictures. And worse, the author spends a great deal of time vilifying whales contrary to modern marine biology. And just to poke him in the eye while I'm at it, he calls whales "fish."
But I have to say I'm glad I soldiered through it for four reasons:
1) Sprinkled thoughout are moments of superative poetry and prose;
2) it gave my a good perspective on modern styles;
3) now I can understand what they're talking about when someone refers to it;
and most importantly, 4) I can say, "Yes, I have 'read' Moby Dick."
This work upset my world for days. It quietly drew me in at first. I thought 'it has no plot at all' -- an accessory well concealed in amongst the ornate language that had already ensnared me beyond any hope of escape. I found it all irresistibly beguiling.
I was there, in Castle Lancing, England, living a gentry's life of leisure. And 'who's the antagonist' I wondered. But it didn't matter: I was hooked and couldn't stop listening except at gunpoint.
And in the end I was heartbroken that it was all over. I will listen to this one again.
PS: The landscape is littered with antagonists: witting and otherwise.
The story was adequate, but it was told first-person by a freshman in high school. Therefore, it was written at a high school level. Early on I got tired of sentences ending with "I guess", but the author was just getting warmed up.
Also, I kept asking myself why socially sophisticated and sexually active teens would suffer the company of a nerdy, cry baby virgin with psychotic episodes.
I wish I could recommend this book, but alas, such is not the case.
The book comes in three parts: true vignettes from his life experiences that propelled him to write tales of horror (he insists it's not an autobiography); writing instructions; and a blow-by-blow recount of his run-in with a minivan.
All three parts are well worth the listening, however, as he notes himself, they are virtually stand-alone units with no through line.
One delicious thing about this book is Steve narrates it himself. Like a suspect confessing under a naked, over-bright light bulb, the eagerness -- or lack there of -- concealed in his voice paints emotional undertones to his stories.
The writing instructions section is the lion's share of the book. (Please let me offer this caution: Mr. King has been writing since his was old enough to hold a pen so some of his advise will be strong meat for the beginning writer.) Mr. King taught high school English for years, and so he relaxes, entertains and hammers home a stream of practical points.
He sorts writers into four types: Bad, Good, Very Good (where he classifies himself) and Magically Gifted. He suggests only the Good can move up to the Very Good; the rest are locked-in. Perhaps if you are not at least a Good writer, you're just wasting your time?
Steve says writing is telepathy: the writer thinks a thought, then the reader has the same thought. If so, after listening to this book, you will know Mr. King intimately and will be able to write like he does, more or less.
This book is lyrical, almost poetic. It is so pleasurable that this reader is stunned that it is deeply profound as well.
I have a better understanding of ancient and medieval history and philosophy from Swerve than I got in from classes at the University. Stephen made the characters alive and interactive in their political/social environs.
Thanks to this book, I no longer think modernity evolved into our scientific perception of reality. Instead, it's clear to me that we rediscovered it. And quite accidentally.
This is one of those books that you're glad you listened to even if you are well versed in the subject matter already. It covers things like where we get the notes in the modern scale, how speakers work and most stuff in between.
It's not always easy to stick with it; it gets a little dry in spots.
The biggest complaint I have is there's not enough musical examples. He mentions music by Beethoven, Pink Floyd and many others, but doesn't play the passage. Of course he can't due to copyright laws.
I surround myself with music constantly and often I recall John's references so it's well worth the listening.
I've heard about a dozen books on speaking and this work contains the best advice I've ever heard. Mr. Humes draws on his decades of experience of writing speeches for Presidents to cut through the little mechanical details where most books get bogged down and hit the essence of audience reaction.
21 points are probably more than can be memorized. Don't worry about that; you won't use all those points. You'll likely use more than 10 of Humes' secrets depending on the type of speaking required in your engagements. But any 5 points will more than justify the time it takes to wade through the other ones.
Whether you speak to a small team or an arena, don't skip this book.
Dr. Covey says he has studied the body of self-help literature (presumably prior to 1989) and the information overload is evident in his work. He denigrates most of the literature for being “personality” based instead of “character” based.
Character development is important. Improvement in character will probably make an improvement in most lives and in society on the whole. However, this treatment falls short of leading this reader towards that end in four areas.
1. Dr. Covey reads the book himself. It would take a miracle for any self-read character-improvement book to avoid sounding preachy and sometimes he doesn't seem to even try. When he holds character improvement to have moral value, he comes off sounding messianic. On one instance, he alters the Golden Rule to make his point.
2. The premise of his philosophy is that the goal of life is to have good eulogies at your funeral. (Insert your favorite “Over my dead body” joke here.) My philosophy of life is markedly different from that.
3. Any book telling people how to live is bound to be vague and overreaching, and "The 7 Habits" is a shining example. Dr. Covey uses far more metaphors to explain his theses than I cared for, and sometimes the correlations were a little obscure.
4. The delivery was monotonous. He didn’t have the sense of drama to reach a climax at his main points. And at the end of his thesis, he neglects the use of cadence, so he announces (seemingly hundreds of times) “New Heading.”
Unfortunately, the first part of this book is burdened with self-promotion and catelogs of Mr. President's accomplishments while in office. This was overdone and not presented with a balance of what worked and what fell short. I found myself saying, "Enough already; get to the point!". I voted for him twice. I was generally okay with his performance of his official duties. But some mistakes were made: most notably the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act which contributed to our current meltdown.
The second half of the book is a rapid-fire list of over 40 proposals for Congress to increase employment. Many of these are excellent ideas. The bad news is that Congress will do nothing due to more ideology than patriotism (don't get me started on that bunch of #*$&%'s). But being an ex-president, Bill can make any proposal he wants without actually getting his hands dirty with all the negotiating and warfare required to pass legislation.
It made me pine for the good old days when there was real drama in politics.
If Dr. Johnson is correct about what's going on behind the scenes of the body politic, we are all pawns and puppets (and stooges?) in a feeding frenzy of money and power by the rich and powerful.
It is at least unsettling. For me, being a cynic by nature, it's frightening.
The topic needs a couple of semesters, not just 8 hours. Dr. Drout is terrific and has my utmost respect. But this is a elaborate sales presentation for his classes. And I truly wish I had the time to enroll.
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