Thursday, October 30, 2003

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

I like Steinbeck’s prose a lot. I also liked the few pages in which he described his drive through Wisconsin. He’s good at capturing natural speech on the page and at making simple things mean so much more. The redwoods in the Northwest also stand out, as well as his wrestling with the south and its racial baggage. To end the problem, more than the whites have to change the way they treat the blacks. The blacks also have to change the way they treat the whites. And will any of that ever really happen before the whites and blacks meld together and become something new?

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
on Amazon
on Wikipedia
National Steinbeck Center
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Fart Proudly by Benjamin Franklin

This is a collection of writings by Benjamin Franklin. I think my parents bought me this book a long time ago, as I said to my wife, in their good-hearted by sometimes uninspired way of trying to understand the things that matter to me. The book itself was a difficult read, with a lot of material written in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way with little or no background as to what was being poked fun of. The best item was probably something Franklin had written to instruct the British Empire on how to lose its colonies, in which he listed as instructions all the things they had already done to alienate the Americans. The editor also had a libertarian slant that was fairly obvious in both his introduction and a final essay that he authored himself and in which he has Franklin espouse his own view about modern America.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Fart Proudly by Benjamin Franklin
on Amazon
on Wikipedia
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I Will Bear Witness, Volume 1 by Victor Klemperer

Finished I Will Bear Witness, Volume 1 yesterday. Actual diary of a Jewish man named Victor Klemperer who survived the Holocaust. It was interesting from a historical point of view, but a little tedious at times as it obviously focused on a lot of day-to-day details and relationships of this man’s life. In fact, one of the most interesting things about the book is that when the Nazis come to power in 1933 and the early years, Victor purposely avoids commenting on the political events of the day, trusting the newspapers to record them, and focusing instead on his own struggles to keep his position as a professor of French literature and write his books of literary criticism. As the years progress, however, and the Nazis tighten their grip, his diary inevitably focuses more and more on the political and social atrocities that are being committed. He does this, of course, because they begin to affect him personally, but also because it’s clear by the end of the book that he can no longer trust what the newspapers say. As he cites, after all, how many times can the Russian Army be annihilated? Volume 2 is somewhere on my “to-read” shelf. It’ll be interesting to see what my reaction is to that and when I get to it.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
I Will Bear Witness, Volume 1 by Victor Klemperer
on Amazon
Victor Klemperer on Wikipedia
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +