It hurts to join characters suffering through the immigration process, but worth it, once, for the insights into modern Soviet Jewish feelings and attitudes.
This is a story about refugees in the modern world - not in danger, not wanting for food or shelter, but truly lost, and inventorying their values for direction as they try to find their place in the world, literally and metaphorically; here their refugee status a painful externalization of their inner lostness. The narrator counters the universalism of this quest, and the particulars of each character, by having each character speak in the same generic Jewish-Russian lilt, as though this were one long Jewish joke.
The old Communists, immensely sympathetic as they lose faith in a system they worshipped, realize they were dupes thinking themselves skeptics, and wonder how to can go on and be useful in this new world; and the young, trying to find their own place.
Bezmozgis is a fine portratist, depicting people in their contexts.
everyone is all strong and good, except for the bad guy
the villain, constructing himself as a victim and turning everything to self-pity, even while he is having a stroke
it is short, despite the reader's glacial pace.
A short and shallow tale of god's justice delivered through Solomonic Israeli politicians, self-sacrificing sabras, resolute Israeli women, self-pitying traitors, etc. Hadassah chapters everywhere will love it, and Bezmozgis will dine out on this little book for years to come.
Now, with this crowd-pleaser behind him, he can resume his insightful accounts of the heartbreaks of immigrant life, their dislocated perspectives on their new homes in the US or Canada, and the casual cruelties they endure.
Brilliant first novel. Are there really so few that stream the consciousness of lonely people?
whatever moments inspired my meditations on impaired narrators and the readers' superior insight; on how lost souls are driven by biology, since they have no other compass; on how playing games opens one up, and then its not a game.
And the crtical recognition that exactly what we do in bed, the specific acts, with others and with ourselves, emerge from and are continuations of who we are, our wishes, fears and fantasies, and so very important in understanding these things, every bit as important as our speech and our acts, and our non-sexual thoughts and dreams..
This is, of course, a dirty book, a very dirty book. It could not be otherwise.
Fortunately we are in the hands of a generous author, and all that dirt, and the hot sex, and the other kind, are all in the service of an honest and warm showing of life, and how it works out, rewarding some very satisfying consolations to those who open to it.
I haven't a clue
Makes its technology seem inevitable.
One of the few coherent time-travel stories.
Frank Herbert. Here in Brian's travesty, everything subtle and hinted-at in his father's work is laid out exaggerated, told and retold at great length. Better to rehear the original works any number of times, or anything written by anybody else who is trying to be original.
Its clumsiness, The material is intrinsically interesting - life on Ix, internal organizationof the Bene Gesseret, Emperor vs Landesraat/CHOAM/SpaceGuild, etc. Someone else should try their hand at this material. I gave myself the gift of giving up after a few hours, infinitely tedious.
More is not more. Let the dead bury the dead. To quote a great line from Dune: "If you love me, kill me".
End the book 60% of the way through. I wish I did.
The biographical first third of the book is an enjoyable multigenerational family story. The second third narrows down to our protagonist, bringing him up to his present crisis. The last third is interminable repeated lamentations; they don't seem to progress. It's not often I abandon a book after reading 80%, but this time I had suffered enough, and decided to spare myself further pain.
Recites English in a childish sing-song mockery of Chinese-American diction. As the action flags, the narrator increasingly ends every sentence with an exclamation point, expressing ceaseless, infantile, patronising wide-eyed wonder in a futile effort to keep the listener awake and keep the story alive.
its the job of the editor to squelch narrators who go over the top
If you like frat-boy humor, this book is for you.
"I bought you that drink, so now I own you"
Time travel into the past always generates an incoherent and impossible story, and this is no exception. The flat characters and sophomoric humor makes this especially insufferable. Someone should tell Wil Wheaton to not recite the redundant "... he said" 's in the text.
A very generous helping of period details, this book makes sense of the Pilgrims, the crypto-Catholics, the origins of British science in the Royal Society, Newton, Leibnitz, the fourteenth Louis, Oliver Cromwell, John Churchill, Hanging Judge Jeffries; the London Black Death of 1665, and the Great Fire of 1666
The explosive extraction of phosphorous by the unbearably foul distillation of vast quantities of urine; the production of wooten steel; how an Irishman with a stick kills an armored nobleman as though he were an insect; the encampment of the Turks at the Battle of Vienna, with Jan Sobieski;
I often cheered
This is the first volume (of 8? 11?) of The Baroque Cycle, the best thing ever written by Neal Stephenson, who is a wonderful author. This is a slow start for the Cycle; if you're not sure if you want to read the whole cycle, start instead with Book 2 (Odalisque) or Book 3, volumes that provide more early action.
Edit out the howlingly ignorant prononouncements from anthrolopology and quotes-from-the-classics
Too much fluff obscures his tales of adventures among the foodies.
His observations on how we eat are interesting the first time around, but can not withstand his hectoring repetitions
audio is the wrong format - this should be skimmed page by page, not audited from start to finish
Davies has done brilliant work in the past, and relishes in debunking complacent opinion. Here, instead, he has written a history for BBC TV. Britain emerges Great, triumphant, only improved by its travails. All the imperial losses - US independence, the millions dead in the partition of India, Soros (alternately "an American" and then "a Hungarian") breaking the Bank of England) are attributed to individuals' errors, none of these catastrophes sprung from social forces, economics, the national arrogance, etc.
Half the book is the standard monarchical history of who begat and supplanted whom, alternating England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland to show their equivalence, but there is no sense of why and next to nothing in the way of geographical, geological, economic explanation of developments, nor any other explaining. The royal ties to Europe are cited repeatedly, with little mention of European machinations in Britain beyond the invasion attempts.
Speaking for the new British everyman, now worldly enough to enjoy Indian food, European beaches, and the Irish, Davies even brings Princess Di onstage, to warn the royals that their high-handedness will not be tolerated, in the name of the people.
foreign words pronounced without ironic pause
Read Davies' wonderful history of Europe, instead
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