My rating: 4 of 5 stars
By far, the best collection on the market before the millennials appeared on the shelves. If you are looking for a good starter reader begin here and then move into either Bradbury, Heinlein, or Asimov next. They are all in the anthology with good core example pieces to read. This was the core text of my SciFi lit class at Marshall. Really opened me view up beyond the 1990s pulp SciFi that I had been reading.
SciFi should be read for both its short stories and novels. Too many people today get caught in the prolonged epics generated by publishing houses and miss all of the great works being published in the magazines of the day.
- How Robert A. Heinlein became one of science fiction’s giants [Book Review] (io9.com)
- ‘Imagining Mars’: A Literary History from Planet Earth (Review) (popmatters.com)
- The Heinlein Biography (volokh.com)
- Enter the Future: The Iconic Asimov’s SF Magazine Turns to E-Books (omnivoracious.com)
I first read this novel in March of 1991. I had to do a book report about a novel I had never read. On a whim, I asked the Librarian, at the County Branch near our house, what was good and she asked me what I liked. I responded with, “Dinosaurs and Dragons.” It was a forgone conclusion. I consumed this book repeatedly, reading it through at least half a dozen times in the ten years following. However, I have not read any of the LOTR cycle since the first movie was shown. Twenty years later, The Hobbit is still one of my favorites and I plan to share it with my daughter for the first time very soon. Hence, I am beginning to look for a new copy that I can read and give to her one day.
This is what I know and why I will buy this addition. Anyone looking to read Tolkien should purchase the Ring books and/or Middle Earth writings in individual trade paperback or hardback form, if at all possible. The Omnibus editions, produced during the movie PR blitz of the LOTR, are so large that the binding does not hold up well over time or multiple readings. Additionally, the dust jackets and book cover illustrations of the larger editions look wonderful on the shelf.
I first purchased copies a mass market paperback anniversary edition box set in 1994. I have never been happy with it. Even though the box looks nice, the font size is small and difficult for lengthy reads. In addition, it is missing some of the illustrations that are found in the larger print copies. What copies of the trade paperbacks and hardback editions I have collected have all been used. I truly enjoy reading an older personally annotated copy. Its like reading the book with an unknown friend.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of the best readings on colonial India. Told from the POV of a village woman from the day of her marriage until late in her life. Students seem to really enjoy the straight forward and simple narrative. I first read this as part of my junior english class in 1995, thanks Mrs. Thomson. It has to be the first female protagonist that I actually like to read about. I read the book in two nights, seven days ahead of schedule. I would also have to say that the relationship between Irrawady and her parents makes for a great discussion about parents with kids who make bad decisions.
I just finished listening to Riot by Walter Dean Myers. I chose to read this Young Adult (YA) novel as part of a graduate class with the only restriction being a book by WD Myers. At first, three different books by him peaked my interests, Sunrise over Fallujah, Fallen Angels and Riot. They are all books about the experience of African-Americans within the constructs of the US military. I chose Riot because it is about a little known event in NYC during the Civil War. Also, I’m a Civil War buff too.
First, the audio version was much better than reading the novel. WD Myers chooses to write the story in the form of a screenplay. As a result the connective narrative between exchanges of dialog, tends to be too much detail and caused me to disengage from the story. During the interview at the end of the audio-book he does explain that this was intentional since he wanted to show the visual changes of the city. Since the audio-book offers a full voiced cast for all characters, including the narrator, the story is much easier to follow and visualize. In addition to the story three extras are given, a Voiced timeline of events leading up to the Draft Riots, WD Myers reads his author’s notes, and an interview with WD Myers that is about twenty minutes. The interview is worth listening to but the timeline and author’s notes add very little. Read the rest of this entry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I first read Hiroshima, as a junior in high school, my thoughts traveled to images of war torn towns. The violence of Saving Private Ryan had not yet been unleashed, but we knew violence as a concept not a whole. I am a child of the Vietnam generation but only watched the limited news snippets and cultural iconography associated with a miss understood war. The amazing aspect of this fact is that John Hersey has created a piece of literature that presents the ideas of civilian suffering during war, in an almost absolute vacuum of frontline violence. Nowhere does he look at the life of the soldier but instead the microcosm of daily life after the destruction of war. In addition, his background in journalism gives him the tools to present a narrative rich in factual reality not diluted by factoids. Thus, as an adolescent, I was exposed to, the once thought to be collateral, damages of total war. By recreating the daily lives Hiroshima citizens, Hersey takes all readers on a journey of sorrowful bewilderment in the chaotic aftermath of the bombing.
Moving backwards in the novel, one can find the resemblance of natural life as we know it today. In fact, the last statement of the novel involves Father Kleinsorge and the other priest, “tak(ing) a relatively detached view, often discussing the ethics of using a bomb.” Since Hersey comes to the city after the attack takes place, one could imagine this is the first introduction of the priests to the journalist, a group of German Jesuits arguing philosophy in the remains of a conquered people. An excerpt is included to show the point of view expressed by those present and associated with the Roman Catholic Church, “does it have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever good may result?” This provokes the reader back to a point of reflection that may have drawn the reader into the novella initially. In addition, the purpose may also be to divert the reader back away from the aspect of chaotic humility expressed by the Father early in the story.
As we meet the characters, Father Kleinsorge is calmly reading but is then violently sent wondering about the mission house in his underwear without explanation. Since the novel generated by interviews after the event and written in third person point of view, we are never told what has happened to the priest. It is simply explained as, “for a few seconds or minuets, he went out of his mind.” This stylistic choice of Hersey shows that the author is not present for the act itself but do to the word choice it is simply overlooked by the reader. It reads almost like watching a video of the events. Each scene is limited to the viewpoint of the main character presented but no further insight or analysis of personal motivations is given. When returning the same character again in the next chapter he presents the shambled remnants of his room with some personal insight but very little. Evidence is seen that during the interviewing process Father Kleinsorge was simply talking about the events but not necessary remembering every emotional detail. His actions, in returning to the room, are explained as precautionary for the collection items but also, “weird and illogical.”
His room contained an unopened first aid kit, even though he was bleeding, no indication of his clothes and a briefcase full of documents and money sitting in his doorway. One can only wonder if he stripped himself of his vestments, after leaving behind the briefcase, in a subconscious way of walking away from his responsibilities before coming to, in the garden dressed only in his aforementioned torn underwear. Not to belabor the point; however, it seems almost odd to think of one in their underwear running about the streets of a war zone. This seems to conjure up images reminiscent of the My Lai massacre photos, another moment of civilian decimation at the hands of total war; yet, still 20 years in the future of the first publication.
A large bulk of the novel is dedicated to the chaos of bringing medical attention to the wounded and the lack of general electronic communication in the aftermath of the bomb. It reads with great sadness but at times an apathy overcomes the reader similar in scope to that experienced by Father Kleinsorge when people begin screaming for help in all directions. Many will have seen the death of this magnitude in contemporary news stories. The shock of the dying has been lost over time but the essence of want and selflessness expressed by the priest is worth reading. The relationship of faith mentioned in the final pages gains redemptive traction quickly, as Miss Sasaki converts to Catholicism in the presence of the priest’s faith and the bomb’s destruction. It is at this point one could assume Hersey arrives to tell the story as his facts become more numerous and we find the quoted passage from the RCC report mentioned only seven paragraphs later.
However, this is a smattering comments of childhood obliqueness. Hersey recalls quotes and observances made by the children saved or protected by the priest in the months following the blast. Almost as if saying in the months following the disaster a small generation of children would forget the moment but remember the shared histories revealed. This look at a singular event, with limited impersonal but overly emotional views is an amazing example of what can be done for moments of tragedy.