Oakland, CA | Member Since 2006
Other than being way too long, this was a pretty good book! I really like the ending and felt a great affection for the characters by then. The writing was terrific. Chabon's is great at characterization. His use of imagery is fantastic, as evidenced by this passage about Rosa's letters to Joe after he left her.
"(Joe)... took out the thick sheaf of letters that he had received from Rosa after his enlistment at the end of 1941. The letters had followed him, irregularly but steadily, from basic training at Newport, Rhode Island, to the navy's polar training station at Thule, Greenland, to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he had spent the fall of 1943 as the Kelvinator mission was assembled. After that, as no reply from their addressee was ever forthcoming, there had been no more letters. Her correspondence had been like the pumping of a heart into a severed artery, wild and incessant at first, then slowing with a kind of muscular reluctance to a stream that became a trickle and finally ceased; the heart had stopped."
The history of comic books in America was interesting, and I liked the way he connected a variety of themes to that history. Mostly, these themes centered on the idea of ESCAPE. For example, Chabon showed Sammy and Joe working tirelessly for the Jews' escape from Hitler's bondage in their "The Escapist" comic books, Sammy finding himself and beginning to escape the bonds of America's prejudices toward gays, and Joe escaping from his "survivor guilt" after his immigration to America as well as working for his little brother's escape from Prague, and also Joe's escape from Rosa after what happens to Tommy.
Chabon showed a caustic sense of humor, too. For example when the name of the bedroom assigned to the gay lovers is revealed as "Ramcock." There were lots more examples, and I chuckled out loud quite a few times.
I felt so touched by the close bonds between the main characters at the end and they way they dealt with the way their lives had unfolded. I just wish Chabon had left out the whole episode of Joe enlisting in the Navy and traveling to Antarctica. That was over the top and way too drawn out. Other episodes could have been edited out or cut down as well, and then the book would have made a bigger impact. (You're probably thinking the same thing about this review, if you got this far :)
Wow! I think Scientology has to be one of the most messed up, horrible organizations I've ever heard of. I won't call it a religion; that would be a sham. The book was fascinating in that it opened my eyes to the reality and the inner workings of Scientology. At the same time, it was pretty boring in its details and the reality which seemed to go on and on. I've heard some bad things about Scientology, BUT now my eyes have been opened to the extent of the rottenness.
As I was reading about the constant "auditing" (questioning sessions with an e-meter designed to elicit a certain result from the person being audited) and "sec-checks"(confessional given on an e-meter) , it made me think of North Korea in Orphan Master's Son! Seriously, that is how BAD it was. Well, they didn't hook the person up to a pain machine, BUT they did use constant belittling, questioning, humiliating, separation, isolation, and on and on to elicit the response they wanted. I also feel like this girl's parents were partly to blame for allowing her to be taken from them and to be separated from them and sucked into this horror. Of course, she was/is from a 3rd generation Scientology family, so they were ALL brainwashed, I guess.
The book talks about how the celebrity Scientologists are treated differently, and the world never sees that horrible stuff that goes on in the background. The hypocrisy of Scientology is stunning in its breadth and depth.
I've got to give this girl credit for getting out and exposing all this to the world.
Yes! With this #3 book in the Harry Hole series, Jo Nesbo has reached his stride and has written a tense and exciting thriller/crime novel. I particularly liked this book because the reader gets to see how Harry Hole meets Raquel (the woman he is so in love with in later books) and find out Raquel's "interesting" background. Having started with some of the later Harry Hole books, I was disappointed when I went back to the beginning with the #1 and #2 books (The Bat and The Cockroaches), but having enjoyed this book so much, I'm now ready to continue on to #4, Nemesis.
While the writing was often beautiful, this book fell flat, in my opinion. I couldn’t care very much about the main character. Perhaps I did in the beginning, but she and her story became less interesting to me as the book went along. Perhaps it’s because I felt the author was trying to make her story TOO much about the recent history of Zimbabwe and not enough of a novel. The characters all became archetypes of the various problems that immigrants face. First, there was the harsh life in Africa, then there were the harsh realities of trying to fit in to American life, and finally there came the realization that in many ways immigrants can never fit in to the new country, but they can never go home, either.
I thought the first half of the book was more compelling. In the middle there was a section that was told in the first person plural, like the book about Japanese picture brides, The Buddha in the Attic. That approach is really unsuccessful, in my opinion. It removes the reader from the action, and just seems preachy or false.
I’m sure that one is supposed to feel pity for the main character and sympathize with her, and I do feel sad about all the harsh circumstances. Somehow, other books with similar situations have managed to pull me in more than this one, however.
Sally Vickers used to be a psychoanalyst, and her past profession lends a depth to her characters, and an interesting air to her books.
She usually has interesting references to some cultural aspect as well. In The Other Side of You it was painting. In this book, the references to Greek mythology were interesting because they were symbolic of the situations in the book and of life in general. The story of Theseus and the Minotaur was one example. When Agnés finally confesses what she had done as a young girl, her friend Alain says, “The minotaur is dead!” I thought that was great, but then I love symbolism. Agnés’ secret had been trapped like the evil Minotaur, and now it was released - rendered powerless. Her life had expanded and healed a lot already, but now she was truly free.
I found the writing good, the cultural and psychoanalytic aspects interesting, but overall the story was a bit underwhelming. I enjoyed The Other Side of You much more.
I'm glad I read it. I finished as I arrived in Barcelona, so that made it really fun since the book has so much to do with that city. Now I HAVE to see the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar! As for the book itself: good on the history of the city, but I have to say that it was a potboiler and extremely overdone. At first I thought it seemed a little like Ken Follett in Pillars of the Earth, but really I think Ken Follett was a better writer. There are just too many heaving bosoms, too many characters who are extremely good or extremely evil, OR too many characters who could also change on a dime from one to the other.
This was a beautifully written book, and I enjoyed the story. The author’s keen insights into issues of immigration and race and what it means to be black in America AND in Africa were really interesting. It was particularly interesting to read about Nigeria from the viewpoint of some very well educated people. The main problem I had with the book is that it was too didactic. The author was critical of whites, critical of blacks - Nigerians, and Americans. That’s ok, and a lot of it was interesting, BUT it just went on too long. All of the preaching bogged the book down. Much of it could have been edited out, and the powerful main points would still have had as much or more impact.
This #2 book in the Harry Hole series was just recently translated into English. As with the 1st book in the series, The Bat, I think the reason they weren’t translated before is because neither #1 or #2 are as good as the later books written by Jo Nesbo. I started with The Snowman and was hooked! I had to wait for #1 and #2, and I hope now that I’m done with those two, the series will get better. That’s what the reviews seem to tell me. The Redbreast, #3, has been around for a while; I’ll move on to that one.
I enjoyed reading The Invention of Wings for two reasons. First, it was a good story. Second, when I realized it was based on the true story of the Grimke sisters, I appreciated it even more. As real characters, the Grimke sisters in this book were fascinating to me because they gave me a way to imagine how two women of the early 1800’s in Charleston could become such rebels! They became abolitionists, which was radical enough, but they also were some of the very early feminists. That part was fascinating to me. I liked the structure of the book: the way it went back and forth between the point of view of Sarah, one of the Grimke sisters, and then the point of view of one of the slaves, Hetty. I thought the writing was serviceable, but it was more the story and the history that stood out in my mind.
I wanted to read this book because it brings together two of Michael Connelly’s best main characters from two different series, Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller. It was enjoyable in a crime fiction kind of way, but I didn’t think it was as enjoyable as either The Lincoln Lawyer (with Mickey Haller), or most of the Harry Bosch novels I’ve read. Also, I thought it seemed a little too forced to have those two characters end up finding that they are half brothers. The origin of the title, The Brass Verdict is interesting: it simply means “street justice,” and it is how the bad guy in this book ends up getting his due in a twist of fate at the end of the trial .
Sorry, I just wasn't that impressed with Brene Brown. There's nothing wrong with the book per se, but I feel like it's all been written before and in a way that impacted me more powerfully. She definitely did a lot of research, but when it boiled down to making her points, well, as i said, it was nothing new.
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