Friday, August 8, 2008

Brief Book Blurb

Life has been crazy this past week. In lieu of this and my own psychological need to convince myself I can at least finish ONE thing I started, here are VERY compact reviews of my last three July books.

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
4.5/5 stars
Written before he made his bid for presidential office (at least officially) this book was an uplifting prelude to Obama's official political philosophy ( just in case you have tuned out all news media during the past year and don't already know it). I found most of it to be good reading. His prose is critical without being offensive. He is both unapologetic and extremely honest about his own personal biases. He shows the reader a policy's flaws subjectively while objectively backing it up with facts, personal testimony, and experience. Check out "Opportunity" or "Race" if your undecided as to whether the book is worth reading. The writing will speak for itself.

If you are a fan of Barack I suggest reading the book. Am I being idealistic and naive to like his book as much as I like him? Maybe. Should you read the book if you are neither? Well, if you care anything about the future of this country if Obama is elected, it might be a good idea. Even if you are a Republican ass.

PS I am just kidding. Republicans are..., moral people.
PPS Disregard that last comment if you are not directly related to me. If not, then you probably are an ass.

Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres
4.5/5 stars

This book reminded me a lot of my other July book--Bastard out of Carolina. Both were extremely autobiographical and deal with broken families, abuse, and the child victims. Jesus Land was much less depressing though and in a way, it hit closer to home for me.

The book is about a deeply religious Midwestern family whose children include their white biological daughter Julia, and their two adopted black sons, David and Jerome. Obviously, issues of race come into play (the novel is based in the 70's). More important, however, is the author's understandable belief of the extreme hypocrisy intrinsic to the religious system her parents and community espouse, exemplified by the treatment of her father and mother towards their offspring and by the "Christian" reformatory " school she and her brother David are forced to attend.

The book is disturbing but honest. The "Jesus Land" of the author's childhood is turned into a kind of ironic hell, in a story that has become all too familiar in the modern 'Christian' community.

White Noise by Don DeLillo
3.5/5 stars

I would have given this book a higher rating because DeLillo is a BRILLIANT writer and his concept was very time appropriate (Postmodernist, dark, apocalyptic). But I have to admit, the novel was disappointing on many levels. It took until the airborne-toxic event (or Part 2) for me to even get into it. Sure, I kept reading because I hate giving up on books. But I did finish three separate books while I was still in the middle of this one.

Really though, I can see why it won the National Book Award. Beautiful prose, controversial topic, resonating, philosophic underpinnings blah blah blah. It wasn't as bad as I'm making it sound. But don't expect an easily accessible book because its not. Maybe the summer is making me lazy, brain-dead or both. But I had a hard time with it. If you want to read it by all means be my guest, but I would recommend it more as a book club selection or college required reading. Multiple insights are always a good way to go with text like these.
Side note: If you like technology this is probably not the book for you.

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