Jim Manis on Most Anything

Jim Manis can formulate an opinion about a good many things, including those about which he has little knowledge. (And some dude named "Lazlo.") Visit The MagicFactory.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Machines Like MeMachines Like Me by Ian McEwan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Of course British scientists would create a robot that is morally superior to humans. So let's examine the implications. Things are a bit topsy turvey in this world. But overall, McEwan is a good story teller.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is EnufFor Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nearly fifty years after it was written, this has become a classic. It's been on my reading list for years.

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Tomboyland: EssaysTomboyland: Essays by Melissa Faliveno
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a hard book to read. Not because of the writing style, which is excellent, poetic, and very clear, but because of the subject matter. Faliveno takes on subjects that can be gut wrenching, especially in the current political climate. Sexuality. Guns. The environment. She makes them all personal. And she's not apologetic about offending either side of an issue, or for that matter, both sides.

For those who are interested in questions of genré, this work challenges the notion of what makes a piece of writing an essay and a memoir. I found myself questioning such notions throughout the book. Of course, there is always the notion of "What difference does it make?"

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Saturday, April 24, 2021

So You Don't Get Lost in the NeighborhoodSo You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Memory, memory, memory. The French seem preoccupied with it at least since Proust. And its difficulties.

I have to confess that Modiano has turned out to be my favorite author. Maybe it's the Irish in me. I do recognize his skill.

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

SassafrassSassafrass by Ntozake Shange
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lyric novel. I've shelved it under poetry although it has many of the qualities of a novella. Published in 1976, it came out at a time when many writers were declare poetry and short story writing dead. And nearly everyone was experimenting with language.

The language is arranged on the page in a format that we usually consider prose. It is also written in heavy dialect more closely associated today with written rap lyrics. Little in the way of punctuation is used, but forward hash-marks appear throughout in the manner usually seen when lyric poetry is rendered in prose within quoted material.

It took me a few pages before I became convinced that I actually enjoyed reading the book, but I knuckled down and came around.

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

TrajectoryTrajectory by Richard Russo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy Russo's writing style even when I'm not thrilled with the particular story he's telling, like the final story in this book. Stories about the shallowness of Hollywood end up just depressing me. On the other hand, the novella that comes second about a retired professor I found more interesting.

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Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Oxford Book of American Verse The Oxford Book of American Verse by F.O. Matthiessen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third of these 1650 to 1950 anthologies that I've read in the past year or so. And the longest. At this point, it's difficult to differentiate between them in quality. Considering when they were published, it shouldn't be surprising that they lack considerable in the area of diversity. The book contains most of the usual suspects from Bradstreet to Lowell.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to PunctuationEats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An absolute delight! The other evening I picked up my eBook reader and looked down the list of books stored there. This one seemed short, and I recalled the interviews and the press the book and the author received when it came out. I opened the book and read the first paragraph. Before I knew it, I was on page thirty-five. And I was laughing out loud. Who knew punctuation could be such fun. A sure joy to read. (Note: I am a retired English professor, so there is that, as they say.)

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