Archive for book review

The Great Gatsby

Posted in City with tags , on Tuesday, June 30 by City

gatsby

Once in awhile you hear whispers of something mentioned over and over until its more like a dull hum in the background and you can’t help but notice it. I think that’s what happened with Gatsby and all these great things he was apparently doing. I will say that Mr. Gatsby is pretty great. He’s a guy that you feel for and understand that he hasn’t done everything the right way, but you aren’t mad at him for it. Even if you do blame him for what’s gone wrong in his little rich neck of Long Island you are mostly proud or envious of him enough to not worry too much about it.

I will say the book does have some good characters and complicated love stories. There’s a kind of noir element to the subtle mafia sub-story and a few deaths thrown in there. There are a few men beatin on their women. But even describing it that way makes it sound much more exciting than it actually is. Basically Gatsby threw a bunch of really great parties in order to get the girl of his dreams. But he was in love with the dream, not the girl.

That’s pretty much all you need to know about the book. There are a bunch of soap opera happenings with the affluent neighborhood that he is in and there is a lot of American Dreaming going on in the head of our narrator and minor character, who is Mr Gatsby’s young neighbor. I’m not sure what to think of this book exactly. F Scott Fitzgeral was an American golden boy of sorts who set the work in a sort of utopian New York Suburb. I don’t mean utopian as in it was a perfect place, I mean it in the sense that it was possibly the best place on Earth. People credit the book for having beautifully described the “Jazz Age” of the US. It was a time before the depression, cars where just getting everywhere, it probably was a fantastical place compared to the rest of the world at the time, but it still seems kind of boring to me. I think everyone is in love with the fact that Fitzgerald wrote a good story and really nailed the American aspect of it. So Fitzgerald wrote the greatest book about America, the greatest place in the world – especially New York in the 20’s, therefore this book is the greatest book in the world. I guess you can’t argue with that logic.

Who am I to doubt a guy who spent the rest of his days palling around Europe with Hemingway. 10/10 greatest book ever.

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Book Review: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on Sunday, June 28 by KevinLHinton

Holy Shit. This book rules. In my experience, if  a book has ever been banned from schools, there is a pretty good chance it is bad ass. Brave New World does not dissapoint.

This is a science fiction novel writtein in 1932 about a futuristic “Utopia” where the society is made up of genetically engineered and brainwashed test-tube babies to happily accept their pre-determined caste. Simply as a Sci Fi book – it is sweet. It reads like it was written today instead of 80 years ago. The style is easy and enjoyable to read, and the book is not that long.

But somehow it packs into its 260 pages about everything I could ask for in an facinating way that makes sense. Drugs. Sex. More sex. Orgys.. Orgys with drugs. Religious fanaticism. Orgys with religious fanatacism and drugs. The ethics of science. High tech simulated pornography, with drugs. Slavery. Racism. Obsession with celebrity. Consumerism. The value of isolation. Obsession with beauty/youth. The meaning of death. Social inequity. Abortion. Government/Corporate manipulation and control. Censorship. Societies sick interest/obsession with violence as entertianment.  Massive orgy with violence. Exploration of God. Debate over values. Truth vs. Happyness.

Huxley identfies in 1932 everthing that is wrong with the world in 2009. The characters are well developed, interesting, and evolve through the story. It is not like there is the generic good guy, bad guy, hot chick. They are all good and evil.

Read this book. I give it a 8 for easyness to read, and 10 for content. If you remain unconvinced, chew on this – the movie Demolition Man was inspired by this book.

Book Review: The Power of One

Posted in Big Dog with tags , , , , , on Friday, August 8 by KevinLHinton

I have noticed that when I write up a book review the main drivers of whether I recommend the book or not are: 1. how difficult it is to read and 2. how enjoyable it is.

There are more good books that exist in this world than any of us will have time to read, so I think it is valuable to understand if a book is worth the investment of time that it takes to read it.

From now on I will try to quanitify both difficulty and enjoyability in all book reviews. I will rate both aspects on a 1:10 scale, and I would think you would want at least a 1:1 ratio for a book to be worth your time.

For example, I recently read “The Road”. It was very short and a very simple read, so I’ll rate it a 3. I thought the book was pretty sweet. I’ll give it an 8. A pretty powerful 8:3 ratio. Probably worth everybody here’s time.

As far as “The Power of One” goes – I can’t say I wildly recommend it. Basically it tackles themes of death/racism/religion/the usuals through the eyes of a very likable and innocent young boy growing up in South Africa during World War II. There are a lot of childhood adventures, kind of Tom Sawyer like, with a lot of well described characters and settings. Definetly a well written book. For me, the problem is that the author makes the main character too good at everything. He is like a super athlete and genious, and everything comes annoyingly easy to him. His adventures become repetative and boring because by about the 2nd or 3rd time through it becomes clear that all will end well.

It definetly was an enjoyable read though. I’ll give it a 5.  (by the way, I am rating on a sliding scale from 1 to 10, where 5 is actually a true average. Not like that ice skating bullshit where 9.4 out of 10 isn’t necessarily a good score. 6 means above average in my world, not 6 like 60% F you fail.) (Also, I am an expert book selector, and very rarely read a shitty book. So a 5 to me is the average book that I have read, comming from a population of exceptional books, so I guess you might have to weight my scores to align with your own poor book selection. This is likely a 7 or an 8 in your world)

This book was pretty long. It wasn’t real hard to read, but it wasn’t necesarrily a quick read either. I will give it 7 in difficulty.

The ratio comes in at 5:7. Don’t read this one. “The Road” though… man, that book ruled. Read it.

Atlas Shrugged

Posted in Big Dog with tags , , , , , , , , , on Saturday, April 19 by KevinLHinton

I’ve spent the last 5 months reading this son of a bitch and have finally conquered it. The dedication required to read this is similar to the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy combined so I do not recommend it if you are a pussy.

The book is half philosophy thesis about how faggy liberals are ruining the world, a quarter mystery novel, and a quarter pornography. So at least 25% of it you should enjoy.

Just given that the book is kind of old, really big, written by a woman, and has a weird cover, I expected that it was going to be incredibly boring and shitty. I still think that is the proper assumption to make given all of those circumstances, but this book rules.

I have never read a book like it. It is an exciting mystery novel, it is science fiction, it has heroes and villains and good vs. evil. At the same time it is philosophy and defines a compelling moral code for all of us to live by.  If it had some traditional fantasy novel characters in it, I would probably proclaim it the best book ever written right now.

Here is a typical exceprt that I enjoyed:

“Rearden heard Bertram Scudder, outside the group, say to a girl who made some sound of indignation, “Don’t let him disturb you. You know, money is the root of all evil – and he’s the typical product of money.”

      Rearden did not think that Francisco could have heard it, but he saw Francisco turning to them with a gravely courteous smile.

      “So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Aconia. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

      “When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor – your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?

      “Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions – and you’ll learn that man’s mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

      “But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made – before it can be looted or mooched – made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.

      “To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except by the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss – the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery – that you must offer them values, not wounds – that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best your money can find. And when men live by trade – with reason, not force, as their final arbiter – it is the best product that wins, the best performance, then man of best judgment and highest ability – and the degree of a man’s productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?  

      “When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, ‘Who is destroying the world?’ You are.  

      “Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns – or dollars. Take your choice – there is no other – and your time is running out.”