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01/14/09

  07:58:00 pm, by Airycat   , 65 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

The Shanghai Tunnel by Sharan Newman

The Shanghai Tunnel by Sharan Newman was a good mystery. While I was not quite as enthusiastic about the main character as the back cover indicated I would be, she was quite likable. With a suspension of disbelief (I have doubts that such a woman would actually have existed at that time), she was realistically drawn. Good, relaxing fiction. A one or two evening read.

The Shanghai Tunnel

12/19/08

  07:00:00 pm, by Airycat   , 78 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight is a surprisingly good story, despite weak writing. It kept me reading even though I was prepared to leave it unfinished. The characters are, for the most part, very good. It's definitely not literature. Meyer's writing leaves something to be desired, but if you ignore the writing quality, and accept the mythos, it's a fast paced and fun book to read. If you despise bad writing, no matter how good the story, stay away from this one.

Twilight

06/21/08

  12:40:00 am, by Airycat   , 850 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Biography

Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherfurd, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life? by Joseph Persico

 

It was curiosity that made me choose this book. FDR has always been a foggy historical figure in my mind. I couldn't have said more than that he was president and that he created the New Deal. I was delightfully surprised to find this an engrossing biography of a fascinating human being and the equally fascinating women in his life. He was so much more alive and vibrant than I realized.
I probably learned more about FDR's sex life than I cared to know, though it's no competition, in the writing, for a modern novel. Persico gives that information to help complete the portrait of the man.  I appreciated that he would make statements to the effect of <i>We can't know for certain what went on behind closed doors,</i> when pointing out logical speculation.
The primary focus of the book is, as the title suggests, about FDR's affair with Lucy Rutherfurd. While I can't go so far as to condone his affairs, by the end of the book, I'm aware of enough to see FDR as human and to understand him better. Of all the women described in the book, I felt that Lucy perhaps was the most elusive, however. The perspective is more of how this love affair affected the life, marriage and politics of FDR.
The woman most clearly presented, not surprisingly, is Eleanor Roosevelt. I knew only a little more about her than about FDR, prior to reading this book. For the first time I see her as a woman, a human being, rather than just a social figure. Although I came to understand FDR, I felt most for Eleanor (which may or may not be simple gender identification).  The tensions and problems in their marriage were as much her fault as his and any blame comes out so equally that, even though I feel most for her, I can't dislike Franklin, Lucy or any of the other women mentioned. His mother, who tried to be far too involved in his personal life, marriage and even politics (the one area in which she seemed to have the least direct impact) was easier to dislike, but even she was not totally <i>un</i>likable.
This book left me with a desire to read more. I want to know more about Eleanor Roosevelt and more about the first half of the 20th century. I may or may not look specifically for books about FDR, but I certainly won't think "boring" the next time I see one.
<div class="image_block"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400064422?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=airynothingbooks&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1400064422"><img src="http://airynothing.net/Blogs/media/blogs/bookreviews/21jWcd9lgKL._SL160_.jpg" alt="Franklin and Lucy" title="Franklin and Lucy" width="105" height="160" /></a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=airynothingbooks&amp;l=as2&amp;o=1&amp;a=1400064422" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="Franklin and Lucy" title="Franklin and Lucy" /></div>

It was curiosity that made me choose this book. FDR has always been a foggy historical figure in my mind. I couldn't have said more than that he was president and that he created the New Deal. I was delightfully surprised to find this an engrossing biography of a fascinating human being and the equally fascinating women in his life. He was so much more alive and vibrant than I realized. 
I probably learned more about FDR's sex life than I cared to know, though it's no competition, in the writing, for a modern novel. Persico gives that information to help complete the portrait of the man.  I appreciated that he would make statements to the effect of <i>We can't know for certain what went on behind closed doors,</i> when pointing out logical speculation.
The primary focus of the book is, as the title suggests, about FDR's affair with Lucy Rutherfurd. While I can't go so far as to condone his affairs, by the end of the book, I'm aware of enough to see FDR as human and to understand him better. Of all the women described in the book, I felt that Lucy perhaps was the most elusive, however. The perspective is more of how this love affair affected the life, marriage and politics of FDR.
The woman most clearly presented, not surprisingly, is Eleanor Roosevelt. I knew only a little more about her than about FDR, prior to reading this book. For the first time I see her as a woman, a human being, rather than just a social figure. Although I came to understand FDR, I felt most for Eleanor (which may or may not be simple gender identification).  The tensions and problems in their marriage were as much her fault as his and any blame comes out so equally that, even though I feel most for her, I can't dislike Franklin, Lucy or any of the other women mentioned. His mother, who tried to be far too involved in his personal life, marriage and even politics (the one area in which she seemed to have the least direct impact) was easier to dislike, but even she was not totally <i>un</i>likable.
This book left me with a desire to read more. I want to know more about Eleanor Roosevelt and more about the first half of the 20th century. I may or may not look specifically for books about FDR, but I certainly won't think "boring" the next time I see one.

 

 

Franklin and LucyFranklin and Lucy

04/11/08

  02:20:00 am, by Airycat   , 270 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, General Non-fiction, Poetry

Orpheus in the Bronx by Reginald Shepherd

Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry by Reginald Shepherd is undoubtedly one of the more difficult books I have ever read. Shepherd's thinking is a few levels above mine. He's definitely more academic than I. I still enjoyed it. Having an intellectual poet's viewpoint was enlightening, since I'm always looking for a better understanding of poetry.

His first chapter, "Portrait of the Artist," provides a perspective from which to comprehend his discourse. In the following chapters, Shepherd so conscientiously quotes and credits, that by the time I figured out what his point was, I had also learned a lot about what poetry is. (Also it gave me new ideas of my own about how to write poetry.) The section on readings was interesting and provided information about poetry, but since I have not yet read the poems/writings he's writing about, I have no thoughts of my own to compare with his. Shepherd did make me more interested in reading them, however, in particular those by Samuel R. Delaney, because I have read some of his other work. I think he saved the best for the end. There was a lot in his final chapter, "Why I write" -- things to make me think about poetry and about writing in general.

This isn't a book for the average reader. The very quotes and credits I found helpful by the time I understood, were also the stumbling blocks to easy reading. If you love explorations of poetry (in addition to poetry itself) and are at least somewhat intellectually inclined, it is worth the effort to read.

Orpheus in the Bronx

  02:07:00 am, by Airycat   , 567 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

Danny Gospel by David Athey

 

When I first read Danny Gospel by David Athey, I jumped right in and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a ride of theme park proportions with something unexpected at every turn. Although I saw it as lighthearted and humorous, I knew there was something more to it.
On second reading I saw the dark side. The humor I saw on first reading became of the "if I don't laugh, I'll cry" variety. Danny is a lost individual. It's understandable. He lost most of his family and he lost his family farm. He even lost his real name in a sense, since he's still known as Danny Gospel because his family was a gospel singing group, although he no longer sings. There are other losses and the losses of 9/11, though not personal, are perhaps just too much for Danny.
Danny just wants a normal life and, probably without realizing it, he starts out on a journey to find it. He doesn't know where he is or where he's going and he didn't know what to do about it until, in October of 2001, an average, lovely woman appears in his bedroom and kisses him. He still doesn't really know what he should do, only that he has to do something.
Danny Gospel is written in first person, so we get Danny's slightly skewed view of things. There were points in this story when I wondered what was "real" and what was Danny's imagination. It's deftly written so that we are never quite sure. I found nothing in the book predictable, and yet it all makes sense and follows logically, taking into account Danny's state of mind. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from beginning to end.


When I first read Danny Gospel by David Athey, I jumped right in and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a ride of theme park proportions with something unexpected at every turn. Although I saw it as lighthearted and humorous, I knew there was something more to it.

On second reading I saw the dark side. The humor I saw on first reading became of the "if I don't laugh, I'll cry" variety. Danny is a lost individual. It's understandable. He lost most of his family and he lost his family farm. He even lost his real name in a sense, since he's still known as Danny Gospel because his family was a gospel singing group, although he no longer sings. There are other losses and the losses of 9/11, though not personal, are perhaps just too much for Danny.

Danny just wants a normal life and, probably without realizing it, he starts out on a journey to find it. He doesn't know where he is or where he's going and he didn't know what to do about it until, in October of 2001, an average, lovely woman appears in his bedroom and kisses him. He still doesn't really know what he should do, only that he has to do something.

Danny Gospel is written in first person, so we get Danny's slightly skewed view of things. There were points in this story when I wondered what was "real" and what was Danny's imagination. It's deftly written so that we are never quite sure. I found nothing in the book predictable, and yet it all makes sense and follows logically, taking into account Danny's state of mind. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from beginning to end.

Danny Gospel

 

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