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Index » Entertainment » Books » Book Comments Page: 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
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Proclivities

Proclivities Avatar

Location: Paris of the Piedmont
Gender: Male


Posted: Oct 2, 2018 - 11:20am


Proclivities

Proclivities Avatar

Location: Paris of the Piedmont
Gender: Male


Posted: Mar 29, 2018 - 9:04am

mysteries
Proclivities

Proclivities Avatar

Location: Paris of the Piedmont
Gender: Male


Posted: May 2, 2016 - 11:01am

book2
3

Inamorato

Inamorato Avatar

Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Feb 18, 2009 - 12:30pm

 Painted_Turtle wrote:
Inamorato, have you had a chance to read this one yet?  I'm just starting it & its really funny, so far...its a satire of modern China with a Dickensian twist

Brothers by Yu Hua





 
No, P_T, I wasn't familiar with Brothers, so I checked some reviews. This book seems to polarize reviewers, with some saying every page of its Tolstoyan length speeds by in a torrent of brilliance while others say that it is evidence that Chinese literature is now seeking the depths previously reserved for Western works. I'd be interested to hear your opinion after you've finished it. I won't ask why that with a protagonist who is a compulsive public masturbator and latrine voyeur, you thought to ask me if I'd read it yet!  

Painted_Turtle

Painted_Turtle Avatar

Location: Land of Laughing Waters
Gender: Female


Posted: Feb 18, 2009 - 9:22am

Inamorato, have you had a chance to read this one yet?  I'm just starting it & its really funny, so far...its a satire of modern China with a Dickensian twist

Brothers by Yu Hua




Inamorato

Inamorato Avatar

Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Feb 16, 2009 - 12:01pm

Hometown Heroes - A Celebration of Community Spirit

on South Whidbey Island

 

Alienation and disconnection from a sense of community can be a way of life for denizens of big cities. We cultivate isolation as self-preservation amidst the throng. The helping of others is largely left to professionals and institutions. Identification with community is through pseudo-bonding at entertainment or professional sports events. One wonders what became of the rural and small-town values that once informed our lives.

It was a happy revelation, then, to discover that Hometown Heroes - A Celebration of Community Spirit is full of stories of "regular folks" on a Puget Sound island who in largely unassuming and unsung ways have made their community a better place to live. The book tells the stories of 51 people who, young or old, conservative or progressive, affluent or impecunious, educated or self-taught, Whidbey lifers or urban refugees, have contributed of themselves to elevate the lives of those around them. 

I am ordinarily dubious about books featuring collections of local luminaries because they are sometimes glorified vanity press or simply drumbeats for boosterism. There is nothing of that in this book. From the former lawyer who lives in an old train caboose as the "conductor of fun" to the guy who runs his hardware store like a social agency to the couple—he a retired symphonic violinist who uses his woodworking skills for the benefit of the local arts center and she who uses her organizing skills to protect the local environment and to advocate for the downtrodden—these are real people doing real good.

Hometown Heroes assigns its subjects into one of six categories: family, friends, leaders, neighbors, protectors, and teachers. I read about one person every day and found that it gave me a feeling of community that I don't ordinarily experience. I am not in the people-are-basically-good camp, but reading this book affirmed my belief that it's the many good people in the world who keep it habitable. The book is written well and the layout makes it easy and pleasant to read, thanks to the graphic design work of our own glassbuteo, who is also profiled in the Protectors section. I could tell you more about this non-profit effort of chronicling everyday heroes, but you could buy the book and get the good feelings first-hand.


Inamorato

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Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 30, 2008 - 3:12pm

 

Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury by Rebecca Dickson

 

The last new book that entered my library bearing the word Treasury in the title probably had large type. Now that I might benefit from large type for other reasons, I found this Christmas gift to be a welcome addition to my library. I suppose it's a treasury because there is a glassine envelope containing various Austenalia bound into each chapter. The removable contents do not materially improve the reading experience and could have just as well been part of the conventional book. I expect envelopes were included as a marketing tool intended to make the book alluring to those who loved the special compartments in their toys. In fact, the book is probably designed for hands-on bookstore sales and isn't available on Amazon except from resellers, thus the link above to Barnes & Noble.

Gimcrackery aside, Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury is a worthwhile read for anyone who loves the books of Jane Austen and for those who are thinking about exploring the oeuvre. The book is graphically lovely and designed for easy reading. This is not to indicate it is insubstantial, though, and Dr. Dickson is scholarly in some of her analysis. After the introduction which includes an interesting overview of Austen's juvenilia, she divides the book into sections about each of the completed novels, interweaving commentary about the works, Austen's life at the time, and of the stream of movies and miniseries spawned by those beloved tales.

While there are no revelations about Austen to those familiar with her life, Dickson's assessment of the social and cultural influences on Austen and her response to them makes the book valuable to aficionados and tyros alike. That Jane Austen's works are full of sometimes subtle and sly commentary on the conventions of the period there is no doubt. Dickson makes the case in every chapter that much of the thinking underlying Austen's words is imbued with rebellion over the gender roles of the Regency period. This notion of Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion as feminist manifestos in code might go a little far, but it did get me to consider more the constraints under which Austen wrote so brilliantly.

Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury is heartily recommended to dedicated Austen readers and watchers and suggested for those who want to know what all the fuss is about.


emeraldrose63

emeraldrose63 Avatar



Posted: Dec 24, 2008 - 10:15pm

 Inamorato wrote:

 

'Tis the Season - Lorna Landvik

 

On the strength of Landvik's The View From Mount Joy (reviewed below), I picked up 'Tis the Season! for some light holiday reading. Light it is, so much that it almost floated out of my hands. Even I enjoy some fluffy reading once in a while.

This little novel takes the form of e-mail exchanges between a diverse group of characters, central among them a dipsomaniacal young heiress (there's a word that's managed to keep a feminine suffix) who provides wagonloads of fodder for the gossip rags. Yes, it sounds like somebody you know. The sole text not in e-mail form is the scandal column of a snarky blogger. That also sounds like somebody you know.

'Tis the Season! is not exactly a Christmas novel since it begins in summer and ends after the holiday, but the theme is glad tidings. There is lots of white space in this small work and the e-mail form allows it to be put down or picked up easily. Landvik ultimately makes all the characters pretty likeable, so the little conflict within is used only as a device to make everybody happy. Merry reading! 



 
I'm going to look for a copy of it now..{#Heartkiss}

Inamorato

Inamorato Avatar

Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 23, 2008 - 3:20pm

 

'Tis the Season - Lorna Landvik

 

On the strength of Landvik's The View From Mount Joy (reviewed below), I picked up 'Tis the Season! for some light holiday reading. Light it is, so much that it almost floated out of my hands. Even I enjoy some fluffy reading once in a while.

This little novel takes the form of e-mail exchanges between a diverse group of characters, central among them a dipsomaniacal young heiress (there's a word that's managed to keep a feminine suffix) who provides wagonloads of fodder for the gossip rags. Yes, it sounds like somebody you know. The sole text not in e-mail form is the scandal column of a snarky blogger. That also sounds like somebody you know.

'Tis the Season! is not exactly a Christmas novel since it begins in summer and ends after the holiday, but the theme is glad tidings. There is lots of white space in this small work and the e-mail form allows it to be put down or picked up easily. Landvik ultimately makes all the characters pretty likeable, so the little conflict within is used only as a device to make everybody happy. Merry reading! 


Inamorato

Inamorato Avatar

Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 7, 2008 - 5:21pm

 

 

America America - Ethan Canin

 

No novel this year brought me more enjoyment than this one. Ethan Canin weaves engaging characters through 35 years of American history, weighted toward the early 1970s but with ample time spent on recent years to allow contemporary perspective on historical events. The protagonist begins as a working class high school sophomore who through unlikely good fortune finds himself taken under the wing of a rich and powerful kingmaker and thus witnesses the inner workings of a campaign for President in the 1972 election.

I turned 18 a few weeks before that election and remember the candidates and races very clearly. The author doesn’t change the facts at all but manages to seamlessly insinuate the candidacy of a liberal New York senator into the contest. The story is so well integrated with historical truth that it is almost like reliving the election. 

Most notable in the structure of the novel are the prodigiously interwoven jumps between eras, sometime five and sometimes 35 years. Were not this in the hands of a very skillful writer, the story could have been badly disjointed. As it is, never once was there a loss of continuity or even a moment’s confusion. Canin is a master of foreshadowing and then obliquely dropping in material additions to the tale without note.

The characters in America America ring true in the speech and thinking of the protagonist’s family and social contemporaries and in the customs and mannerisms of the social elite with whom he spends most of his time. The fact that the story is narrated mostly from the point of view of a teenage boy forces the character to be keenly observant but uncritical. This is left to the middle-aged version of the character who then interprets and often philosophizes about decades-old events.

Canin has much to say about the American political process, about the kind of people who seek high office, and about the fourth estate. The ability to assess the qualities that once elevated journalism to a distinguished and trusted place in our culture and then the long post-Watergate decline is made easier for the narrator when he becomes publisher of a small newspaper. The author uses his story to make astute commentary about the interrelations of socioeconomic classes and the changes over time in the outlooks of the Depression and baby boomer generations. He uses the character of a Generation Y newspaper intern to make incisive assessments of the life and times of her parent’s and grandparent’s generations.

America America is a hefty book in both size and substance. It is so well-crafted, though, that I sped through it, eager to see what happens. For those who lived those days, this book will refresh your memories and give insight into those times and these. For those who came after, it will provide insight into how life then became the world you live in. For everyone, the novel is entertaining, engaging, and engrossing. Recommended.


Isabeau

Isabeau Avatar

Location: sou' tex
Gender: Female


Posted: Nov 29, 2008 - 4:45pm

 Inamorato wrote:

 

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

 


The knowledge that changes to the language are seldom effected by grammarians is one of the things that Fogarty employs to make her book so useful.


Thankyou! 



Inamorato

Inamorato Avatar

Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Nov 29, 2008 - 4:31pm

 

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

by Mignon Fogarty

I had the good fortune to grow up hearing the King's English spoken and throughout my adult life have tried to improve my diction, which means I probably didn't need to read Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Nonetheless, I found the book useful to brush up on some points of usage and to be aware of trends in grammar. I would be happy to be considered one of Mignon's minions.

Available only in paperback or as an audio book, this 200-page volume had its genesis with the Grammar Girl podcasts on iTunes (also at the Quick and Dirty Tips website). It might rightly be called an English usage guide, but Usage Girl doesn't have the ring of Grammar Girl. The book won't supplant Strunk and White's The Elements of Style or The Chicago Manual of Style, but might be more useful than either of those to the typical RP writer.

If you are daunted by the the maze of English usage rules and wish for easily recalled tips for good writing, Fogarty's book is for you. Her Quick and Dirty Tips™ approach supplies mnemonics for nearly every rule. She employs a breezy style that avoids the dry and sometimes stodgy style of many grammar guides. She seems to have traditionalist instincts but easily discards practices that she considers hidebound or lacking in contemporary usefulness.

An example of Fogarty's willingness to discard a longstanding grammatical rule, she endorses (with reservations) the use of they as a singular pronoun, e.g., When an RP listener loves a song, they should rate it a ten. The use of they with a singular antecedent has always struck me as a conflation of political correctness and ignorance that sets my teeth on edge, but I'll readily acknowledge that it will eventually be considered acceptable usage by even traditional grammarians. The knowledge that changes to the language are seldom effected by grammarians is one of the things that Fogarty employs to make her book so useful.


Inamorato

Inamorato Avatar

Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Nov 12, 2008 - 6:09am

 Inamorato wrote:

So Brave, Young, and Handsome - Leif Enger

Leif Enger's first novel, Peace Like a River, showed him to be no small talent and I anticipated his next effort, So Brave, Young, and Handsome, which reveals that he suffered no sophomore slump. The author skillfully creates characters, times, and places that ring with authenticity. There is an element of Huckleberry Finn in this tale that covers much of the continent, often by river, and introduces vivid characters that illuminate the variety of the human condition. 

The story is set in the years before the first world war and is told by a novelist who has a half-dozen aborted attempts at recapturing the success of his first book. It begins in Minnesota at a homestead on the Cannon River (coincidentally which forms the southern boundary of the county where I live) where the writer befriends an old-time outlaw still on the lam for crimes committed in the Old West. Monte Becket joins the old bandit and murderer to help him find his long-abandoned wife in Mexico where he hopes to make amends. Their path through Missouri and Kansas introduce them to new companions and an old nemesis who dogs their trail like the grim reaper. The crossing of dreary Oklahoma and Texas reflects the bleakness and regrets of their lives. Continuing west, there is death, hope, and redemption.

Enger's research into history and geography is reflected in the deft description of people and places. The unobtrusive details convey the sounds and smells of a bygone day. The look into the hearts and behaviors of his characters is timeless. Chapters are just two or four pages, yet the novel flows easily from beginning to end. Recommended.
 

So Brave, Young, and Handsome has been named one of Amazon's book reviewers' Best 10 Books of 2008.


Inamorato

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Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Nov 7, 2008 - 11:09am

 

The Plague of Doves - Louise Erdrich

 

Louise Erdrich has been one of my favorite authors since reading her first novel, Love Medicine, 25 years ago. She often draws on her own mixed Ojibwe-German heritage to frame her creations. She does it in such a way to draw the reader into a place where the magical abuts the prosaic, the carnal intersects the spiritual, and history defines the present.

Her tale begins with the slaughter of a white family that leads to the lynching of Natives and the intertwined lives of their descendents. The number of characters is worthy of Tolstoy, and many of those characters narrate the story. The diverse viewpoints of common characters and the asymmetrical paths of the narrations might have led to a hodgepodge tale of confusion, but Erdrich masterfully commands the plot to a logical, forehead-slapping conclusion. She writes with a simple elegance, superfluous words pared away. Here, a mixed blood judge describes the violin-playing of a native acquaintance in a way than might resonate with RP readers:

Here I come to some trouble with words. The inside became the outside when Shamengwa played music. Yet inside to outside does not half sum it up. The music was more than music—at least what we are used to hearing. The music was feeling itself. The sound connected instantly with something deep and joyous. Those powerful moments of true knowledge that we have to paper over with daily life. The music tapped the back of our terrors, too. Things we'd lived through and didn't want to ever repeat. Shredded imaginings, unadmitted longings, fear and also surprising pleasures. No, we can't live at that pitch. But every so often something shatters like ice and we are in the river of our existence. We are aware. And this realization was in the music, somehow, or in the way Shamengwa played it.
 

I believe that Louise Erdrich has become one of the best novelists of my generation. She writes of human tragedy, joy, hope, and hardship in a way that makes her characters and stories believable and engaging. Whether writing from the perspective of a young girl or an old man, her characters ring with authenticity. In The Plague of Doves, her characters contemplating the twilight of life are particularly moving. Recommended.

Louise Erdrich


MrsHobieJoe

MrsHobieJoe Avatar

Location: somewhere in Europe
Gender: Female


Posted: Oct 18, 2008 - 12:31pm

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.


The film is released on the other side of the pond on November 7th.  It's the tale of a German boy growing up in Berlin during WWII.  His Dad is posted to a prison camp and the boy makes friends with one of the Jewish children on the other side of the fence.

My review:  I pretty much knew I was going to cry but made myself read it anyway.  I cried. 


Inamorato

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Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Oct 18, 2008 - 11:03am

The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism 
by Andrew J. Bacevich


Instead of a poll tax, this book should be required reading for every American voter. Although Bacevich considers himself a conservative, few readers of this book would be likely to vote for John McCain. Barack Obama voters would be brought up short in having their expectations adjusted for reality. This slim volume is heavy with substance and filled with graceful writing and profound thinking.

Bacevich cites the theologian-philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) throughout the book, and Neibuhr is shown to be astonishingly prescient about American culture, politics, and the role of the military. Bacevich himself, in the first section of the book he calls The Crisis of Profligacy, shows his own prescience about the house of cards that American financial markets have become. The section amply illustrates that the dominant American trait since the middle of the last century is the acquisition of more. This insatiable desire has defined domestic policies and international strategy and wars alike.

Although The Limits of Power excoriates George W. Bush and his neoconservative cabal for sheer wrongheadedness and ineptitude, it also points to the militarized fear-mongering in various degrees present in every administration since World War II, as created by James Forestal, developed by Paul Nitze, and continued through the findings of the Rumsfeld Commission in the late '90s. That thinking led to the post-9/11 Bush Doctrine or War Without End, as manifested by the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan and constrained only by the depleted resources of the military.

A retired career Army officer and now a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, Bacevich makes some of his most trenchant observations about the use and effectiveness of the American military. He examines the specious thinking that in a post-Soviet world elevated U.S. might to the unbeatable, exceeding the hegemonic capability of the Roman empire and the German Wehrmacht. He examines the poor top leadership in the armed forces since World War II, with particular criticism directed at Gen. Tommy Franks, the architect of the Iraq mess. He also apportions ample blame to "bumbling civilians" and the proponents of preventive war strategy, on both practical and moral grounds.

Bacevich does more than criticize. He assesses what America needs to do to right the listing ship of state. (His article, The Petraeus Doctrine, in the October The Atlantic is worth reading). His prescription for turning things around will be a tough sell to Americans, though, with its calls for reduced consumption and personal sacrifice, a subject he knows something about. His namesake son, a first lieutenant, was killed in Iraq last year. Highly recommended.


Inamorato

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Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Oct 7, 2008 - 4:36pm

Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet Earth, 73rd Edition

 

When I started this book six months ago, I expected The Onion's trademark irreverent parody on what promised to be a fertile subject. That I've just now finished it, and finished it only by skimming the last third, might give you the idea that it's not that good. That's the right idea. I actually laughed out loud a few times but mostly felt alternately bored by the sophomoric humor, put off by the lack of sensible decency, and exasperated by the lameness of this dross.

It might be that middle-aged people like me are simply not the target audience for this book. I began to suspect that possibility after discovering that many of the captions and sidebars are in such tiny typeface that I couldn't read them even with reading glasses. Eventually, though, I didn't bother with the heroics necessary to decipher them. It wasn't worth the bother.

Our Dumb World reads as though it was created by a kids' humor workshop and this might not be too far from the truth. The list of interns who worked on the book is longer than everybody else combined. That would account for the prevailing belief that if you can't be funny, be vulgar, and if you can be vulgar and asinine, so much the better. This one is best left to teenage smart alecks and people who laugh at peepee jokes.


Inamorato

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Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Oct 3, 2008 - 5:08pm

How to Be a (Bad) Birdwatcher - Simon Barnes


I'm a nature lover and wild bird fancier but I seldom read nature books. Compared to being afield, reading about it is usually boring. How to Be a (Bad) Birdwatcher, though, is a lively look at birds and birding, and serves as both a fine introduction for tyros and a reminder for old hands of why we watch birds. Simon Barnes is the chief sports writer for The Times of London and brings an irreverent and salty approach to one of the fastest growing pastimes. He is surely the antithesis of the genteel old lady in a pith helmet that we sometimes imagine as the prototypical birdwatcher.

What makes someone a bad birdwatcher? In Barnes' view, it's someone who simply enjoys watching birds and learning about them. Someone who incorporates watching birds into his day-to-day living. It is not someone who has to have the latest gear or most expensive optics, not someone who jumps on a plane upon hearing of a sighting of a rare bird or a common one in an unusual place, not someone who lives and dies over the splitting and lumping of species by birding organizations that might affect the size of his life list.

Barnes travels the world for his job with The Times so has the opportunity to watch birds everywhere. His passion for it is evident on every page. He reveres the expert birder, the person who understands everything about the appearance, behavior, songs, habitat, and migration patterns of specific species. He scorns the self-proclaimed expert who barges ahead playing recordings of bird calls to stir up nesting birds or holds forth loudly about the fine points of identification. Barnes writing is vivid and eloquent.

Sadly, this book was only briefly in print in the U.S. I found a copy at a Website remainder bin. It's still in print in the U.K. with a different cover from the one above. The links are to the book on Amazon UK.
mem_313

mem_313 Avatar

Location: Beachside, Paradise
Gender: Female


Posted: Sep 22, 2008 - 10:40pm



gave this to my mom to read while she is here helping me. I can hear her laughing from the other roo.


Inamorato

Inamorato Avatar

Location: Twin Cities
Gender: Male


Posted: Sep 5, 2008 - 9:22am

So Brave, Young, and Handsome - Leif Enger

Leif Enger's first novel, Peace Like a River, showed him to be no small talent and I anticipated his next effort, So Brave, Young, and Handsome, which reveals that he suffered no sophomore slump. The author skillfully creates characters, times, and places that ring with authenticity. There is an element of Huckleberry Finn in this tale that covers much of the continent, often by river, and introduces vivid characters that illuminate the variety of the human condition. 

The story is set in the years before the first world war and is told by a novelist who has a half-dozen aborted attempts at recapturing the success of his first book. It begins in Minnesota at a homestead on the Cannon River (coincidentally which forms the southern boundary of the county where I live) where the writer befriends an old-time outlaw still on the lam for crimes committed in the Old West. Monte Becket joins the old bandit and murderer to help him find his long-abandoned wife in Mexico where he hopes to make amends. Their path through Missouri and Kansas introduce them to new companions and an old nemesis who dogs their trail like the grim reaper. The crossing of dreary Oklahoma and Texas reflects the bleakness and regrets of their lives. Continuing west, there is death, hope, and redemption.

Enger's research into history and geography is reflected in the deft description of people and places. The unobtrusive details convey the sounds and smells of a bygone day. The look into the hearts and behaviors of his characters is timeless. Chapters are just two or four pages, yet the novel flows easily from beginning to end. Recommended. 


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