I like the idea of doing these quick takes for books for which I won’t be doing a full review. It’s adding up – here’s Quick Takes 1. And this page continues the quick takes on books read or attempted in 2019 – quick takes means I’m not doing a full review but still have a little something-something I want to say.
Collins Caribbean Social Studies 1 (eds. Rob Morris, Bruce Nicholson, Eartha Thomas-Hunte) – I actually didn’t read all of this (it’s a student’s revision book) but I did appreciate the stories re the life of Caribbean notables such as Antigua and Barbuda’s own Nellie Robinson.
Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff – Did not Finish [DNF] – so why am I mentioning this if it was a DNF? Because I did make some notes and might as well share them (abridged though my reading of the books was). All I could think as I read was, how is this real life? Not because it sounds outlandish but because I’m not surprised; and still don’t understand how anyone was taken in, and still feel enraged by the media and the enablers around him. Some thought it was funny but as we say in the Caribbean, where laugh dey, cry dey. It was never funny to me (as someone existing in the world where America casts a large shadow). The ignorance, arrogance, and sycophancy described in the book are appalling, but also presented in such a soapy, gossipy, and self-impressed way, it at times amused me with its snark but ultimately loses me. It’s very inside-baseball and sometimes ties itself up with its insidery-ness. Sometimes the level of fly on the wall detail is amazing and at other times the handwaving vagueness would be frustrating (if I cared). The Russia chapter which was about as far as I got, I think, was oddly tedious – too much detail, too much hypothesizing. Beyond that, it just wasn’t a good read – not least of which because it needed additional editing, proofing (which is saying something in a book that uses showy words like “persiflage”), and possibly fact checking. The biggest reason for the DNF though was I realized at a certain point that I just didn’t want to read about him – he’s tiring and reading about him is tiring.
Ororo: Before the Storm by Mark Sumerak with illustrator Carlo Barberi – My favourite X-Men, the second multiple-comic-arc, Storm-focused shot at her origins story I’ve read recently (here was my take on the first one I read) and here are some observations after the two:, there is always jealousy (a jealous rival) in her origins story, a band of thieves as family, a shady but maybe not shady mentor, and a villainous threat that puts her life and the life of those she loves at risk; one major difference, in one everyone and the world of the story is broadly Africa while in this one, I don’t know, from the art, she seems more middle eastern or north east African.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton (audio book) – I ended up listening to this cover to cover unexpectedly while I worked. That’s one of the reasons I’m not doing a full review (though this is long for a quick take), I wasn’t reading it reading it…but it wasn’t white noise either. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic because The Outsiders is one of those brat pack flicks my sis and I watched as kids but I’d never read the book and it is so good (better than the movie even). I’m biased though. Listening to the book, the movie played in my head – like C. Thomas Howell is Pony Boy Curtis, Rob Lowe is Soda Pop, Emilio Estevez is Two Bit, Matt Damon, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio…all those dudes, they are stamped in my mind and I am of the generation where they were the hotness. So it was a fond walk down memory lane. Eye candy aside, this is a really touching read – it was movie-wise as well between Dally and Johnny’s tragic end, and the emo-ness of Pony Boy whose family is raising itself after his parent’s death. This is all from Pony Boy’s perspective (he narrates throughout what turns out to be the essay he’s writing at the end) and he says things like “Maybe people are younger when they’re asleep.” It was Pony Boy who introduced me to Robert Frost. So we know he’s highly empathetic and going through it through the course of this story, which is about loss, growing up and classism (the line being between the upper crust Sochas and the lower class Greasers of which Pony Boy, Soda Pop, and their big brother Patrick Swayze are a part). ‘Reading’ the book gave me a warm feeling in spite of all the tragedy (and I was just as hyped over the rumble as I was as a kid – in fact it was better rendered in the book). The story holds up and the narration was good except for some of the dialogue work (jarring at times) – the audio not the actual dialogue. Such a good book – I don’t care what snobs have to say about it – and a classic having been written back in the 60s, with the movie coming out in the early 80s. Such a gripping book, such endearing characters, and that ending – it’ll break your heart.