If you like the New Yorker's "Shouts & Murmurs" section, you might like this. I say that because the writing here reminds the deadpan style that section seems to favor.
I have never once laughed at Shouts & Murmurs. On the rare occasions when I start something there, I never finish it.
I'm not going to finish this, either.
It's just not funny. It's a bunch of non sequiturs and inside jokes about psychoanalysis and people failing to get electrocuted when they stick their noses in light sockets. I do like Woody Allen's movies, so I'm not sure why I don't like this. It just seems sort of dumb to me, which is the way I feel about Shouts & Murmurs (see above.) But the New Yorker sells. Somebody must like it. Just not me.
Woody Allen Deadpanning.
Boredom, mystification, growing disappointment for about 20 minutes or so followed by , indifference and the choice to try something else. I just returned "Too Big to Fail" because Sorkin is a despicable shill for the banksters and I didn't want him to have my money. I didn't feel that I could get a refund on this in good conscience, at least so soon after getting a refund before, because after all, they do offer an advance listen. But I kind of wish I hadn't bought it.
If you're not really sure you love "Shouts & Murmurs," don't buy this.
The headline, of course, is an allusion to that famous question posed to Shoeless Joe Jackson after the Black Sox scandal. It falls a little short of what I'm driving at, but part of what bugs me about this story is Sorkin's inside baseball hero worship. Maybe I could have expected this, but Sorkin seems to see these banksters as larger than life tragic heroes. What I was looking for was some explanation of how it could have been possible for a nation's economy to have come down to the judgment of such flawed characters. In other words, why on earth was anyone considered too big to fail? How did they get such control? How come, after they abused that control, at least some of them aren't in prison?
I lost my job as a result of their recklessness and the buddy-buddy terms they operated under. It goes down pretty hard to hear about their heartache over the impact on their bonuses and careers as they quaff $180-a-bottle chardonnay. Sorkin pays very brief lip service to "Main Street," but in his myopic focus on his heroes, he doesn't seem to know what it is, or to understand the human consequences of what these clowns, and the clownish "regulators" who were supposed to be watching them, and beyond them, the patsies from Reagan through Obama, Gramm, Leach and Bliley through Chris Dodd, what all these adequately-paid incompetents were doing, and how on earth we can prevent them from getting even more power to screw us even worse.
One of the reviews mentions the Wall Street titans "staring into the abyss" or words to that effect. In the Depression, Washington got moving partly because farmers in the Midwest were setting up roadblocks. In this case, none of the rich men -- yes, almost exclusively rich, white men -- appear to see any further than a little public embarrassment and a golden parachute to some other similarly powerful job. Boy, that's not the abyss at all. Calling that an abyss likens a worldwide economic catastrophe to a batting slump; it arises from the same blindness that made it possible for Obama, a couple years ago, to compare the obscene salaries paid to the banksters to the money baseball stars earn.
These guys have very little right, apart from their incomes, to claim to be stars. And they're not playing a harmless game.
I have to confess, I'm only two thirds of the way through the book. Maybe Sorkin will turn things around. But I'm trying to pay attention to what he has to say because, in large part, what he's writing about has a direct bearing on my trade. I can't imagine why most other people would bother.
Those positive reviews in big-name publications were written by people who hadn't been laid off yet. Don't believe them.
Do you care whether these rich guys like each other? I don't. Apparently, Sorkin does.That's the peril of being on a beat too long. He should do a stint covering gang violence.
The performance is adequate. That's what saves this book from a grade of zero, so far. I'll tough it out to the end in this book, and if I find something different from what I've said so far, I'll eat crow.
I don't think I'll have to do that.
Nope. I read him from time to time because he's more or less relevant to what I do for a "living." But I wouldn't pay for it.
It's largely irrelevant
huh? Let's be serious. Sometimes books are more than entertainment. At least, they're supposed to be.
I don't think my bitterness over this awful Wall Street-driven economy is unique. The "Occupy" movement got turned into a joke, but I, and other Americans, live by the Democratic principals that gave rise to it. I hope and pray those principals will be widespread enough to force substantive changes.
This is a wonderful book, wonderfully read. It helped me to understand courage in new ways, how what we do from moment to moment draws on our pasts, on the practical balance between fear and perseverance.
Delaney has the courage and the skill to link Captain Carlsen's performance of his duty with his own struggle to grow to manhood. That venture could have turned maudlin; it never does. This book rings true.
Delaney's reading is professional. A good journalist knows when to get out of the way and let the story tell itself, and that's what Delaney does.
Generally, when I read a book, there's a piece of me picking it apart, trying to think how I might have done it better. That didn't happen this time. I would like to be able to write a book like this. I would hope to meet adversity as Carlsen did.
I've ordered a print copy of "Simple Courage" so I can read it to my son, who also is learning the sea.
I expected a survey course, some direction for additional reading. What Shutt delivered was often intellectually slipshod and technically amateurish.
As for the mental laziness on display here: Even in a survey course, I expect a lecturer to know how to pronounce the names of the people and places under discussion, not to guess at them, as Shutt repeatedly does.
In the opening lecture, Shutt suggested that he would explore themes such as the relationship between merchant oligarchies and naval power. Instead, the lectures often delivered score-keeping. This side lost X number of ships. The other side lost a lot fewer, because they had better ships or they practiced more, or some similar generalization that Shutt fails to explore. The effect is disturbing. OK. Some of these battles took place a long time ago. But those were human beings in those fights. They wanted to live, and many suffered terribly. I'm not asking for Shutt to burst into tears over that. I'm asking him to show some discipline, to draw some broader conclusions, to develop a theme. Other historians do that. Score-keeping insults the dead, the reader and history itself.
On to the technical sloppiness: At the end of the series, a narrator credits three editors. I cannot fathom how they might have spent their time on this project. Certainly not on correcting errors. At one point, I got so exasperated that I actually started keeping a log of Shutt's stumbles, but I kept losing track. There were lots and lots and lots. I can understand that Shutt might stumble in his delivery. What I can't understand is how the publisher could have expected payment for such sloppy editing, or why Audible actually bought it.
I bought it because I didn't know how awful it would be. I wish I hadn't.
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