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Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

When I read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers it didn't strike me as good or bad so much as extremely depressing.  The book is mainly about John Singer, a deaf man who can't speak and lives in a mill town in 1930s Georgia.  It opens with his best and only friend being sent away to an asylum and gives the reader a window into life in a small town in the deep south as Singer struggles to make a new life alone.

While I would certainly say that the depressing tone of the book is its most notable feature, I would still admit that it is quite good.  McCullers makes the downtrodden, lost, scared, and depressed members of this town feel very real.  I have complained in the past about bizarre characters that I found it impossible to relate to.  For some reason the bizarre acts of the characters in this book didn't bother me at all.  Their actions may not be logical, but it's clear that they are coping with their circumstances loneliness in the only way that they can think to.  They're driven by a desperation that has little consideration for reason.

A good read that I'd recommend, but certainly not a happy one.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Sot-Weed Factor

I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that relatively few of the books that I've read have been so bad that it was painful for me to keep reading.  Unfortunately, I still have had a few of those, and one of them was the Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth.  Like another of my least favorite books, Don Quixote, Barth's novel is a satire.  While Don Quixote was intended as a commentary on orthodoxy, The Sot-Weed Factor intended to make light of the origins of America through the use of licentious and scatological humor.  The full title goes into a little more detail on the subject matter: "The Sot-Weed Factor: Or, a Voyage to Maryland. A Satyr. In which is describ'd, the Laws, Government, Courts and Constitutions of the Country; and also the Buildings, Feats, Frolics, Entertainments and Drunken Humours of the Inhabitants of that Part of America."

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

The latest book I read that I have yet to review is The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro.  This book is not for someone looking for a light read.  It's over 1,300 pages, which made me particularly annoyed that it's not available for Kindle.  It's a highly critical biography of Robert Moses, a man I'd never heard of before reading this book.  He was ostensibly nothing more than a particularly ambitious park builder.  In the author's opinion, he single-handedly fundamentally shaped New York City's infrastructure, pretty much always for the worse, by bulldozing every branch of the municipal and state governments and even occasionally dictated to presidents. 

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