Saturday, March 31, 2018

Fistful of Book Reviews

In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez.  Sobbed my way through this tragic (based on real life events) story of the Mirabal sisters during Trujillo's reign in the Dominican Republic.

Ham on Rye, Charles Bukowski.  The On the Road of the K-12 crowd.  Certain passages sound very much like Bukowski's poetry.  Whether that's good or bad is a question readers must decide for themselves.

Plato & a Platypus Walk into a Bar, Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein.  Explaining philosophical concepts through jokes may sound funny, but the jokes are stale & the relationship to philosophic principles is often strained.  Well, I didn't get it.

Manufacturing Consent, Edward S. Herman & Noam Chomsky.  Great analysis & indictment of the "free press" & its wont to legitimize & enable insidious US foreign policies.

America's Deadliest Export: Democracy, William Blum.  While there's new material, it's basically a rehash of Blum's other, better, more detailed books, Killing Hope & Rogue State, both of which, the former esp., I highly recommend.

This Big Fake WorldAda Limón.  Enjoyable, funny & smart, but I have a complaint.  This "story in verse," as it says on the cover, refers frequently to one character as "our hero" in various titles & poems, which strikes me as neither necessary nor amusing, but rather cliche, esp. in comparison to the creativity Limón demonstrates elsewhere.

You Must Revise Your Life, William Stafford.  S'alright, but I like Writing the Australian Crawl better.

The Route As Briefed, James Tate.  An eclectic selection of interviews, essays, & fiction any Tate fan will enjoy, which I certainly did, despite my copy containing horrendous printing errors.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick.  I'd say that I like Dick, but that might give some of you the wrong idea.  I'd also say the book's better than the Harrison Ford movie supposedly based on the novel, but quite frankly, it's not even the same story.  It's a good movie, but as to its myriad differences, the term "blade runner" isn't used anywhere in the novel.  Re: the movie sequel, I'll probably watch it when it comes to TV, if it hasn't already.

To Have and Have Not, Ernest Hemingway.  OK, the fragmented episodes may not actually contribute to the overriding story arc & it's chock full of gratuitous racial epithets, yet it's surprisingly not as bad as . . .

A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway.  I'd first read this novel as a college freshman, but sweet Felipe, Matty & Jesus Alou, that was in another millennium & I was left (far-left, actually) with only a vague dream-like memory that I didn't enjoy it.  Now I remember why.  Slow pacing & insipid conversations make this, if not Hemingway's worst, potentially his most boring book.

Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck.  May I recommend Tortilla Factory instead?

My Man Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse.  Other than a few scraps here & there, I'd not read much Wodehouse & his comic shtik before.  Yep, he's witty, that's for sure.

Selected Poems, Alfred, Lord Tennyson. What can I say?  I kind of like Tennyson.  He's got a great ear--& awesome beard--though he does go on a bit at times.

A Mercy, Toni Morrison.  Terrific lyrically spun narrative. 

All of Us, Raymond Carver.  He's a great short story writer, but this volume of his collected poems shows Carver's prowess as a poet.  Sure, you may want to overlook those that read more like journal entries than finished poems, but there's an unflinching honesty in these poems that have caused me to read this collection from start to finish again & again.


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