Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The newly-formed NAACP was looking for an incident that could move the deteriorating race relations in America towards greater justice for blacks and decided to put most of its resources behind winning an acquittal for the home owners. They hired Clarence Darrow, among others, to take the case and it became a headline-making event.
The story itself is interesting but the book reads almost as if there were two authors. In the first 100 pages or so, Boyle tells the same story repeatedly and speculates way too many times as to what Dr. Sweet must have been thinking or feeling at a particular time. Skim that part. Once past that, the story focuses on the history of the KKK, the NAACP, Clarence Darrow, the major trials of the era, and culminates in a good depiction of the trials that resulted from the incident. All of that was interesting and well told.
This is a worthwhile read, if for no other reason than to better understand forces that are still with us today to varying degrees throughout the country. Those forces are having an impact on current laws and practices, even as we believe the past is the past and no longer relevant. It is.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
In this instance, a rich man kills himself to end the pain of cancer right after making a new will that removes his heirs from any inheritance. To make matters more difficult in this rural Mississippi town, he left most of it to his black house keeper of 3 years. That his family contests the new will is a no-brainer. Jake Brigance is the one picked by the deceased, even though the two never met. The central question of why would the deceased do such a thing is the focus of the trial.
The plot is an excellent follow-up to A Time To Kill and satisfies on a number of levels, from a host of interesting characters, a number of dirty tricks, and an ending believable enough to be satisfying. If you liked ATTK, you'll like this as well.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Basically, the story takes place in the 1980s on a North Dakota reservation and the main character, Joe, learns that his mother has been brutalized. However, she won't retell the story in order to help have the crime solved, so we watch as a family comes near the brink of falling apart while trying desperately to put the pieces back together and figure out who is responsible for the attack.
I don't want to give too much away, but this is a beautifully told story with a few twists and turns that make the hours fly by. I definitely recommend this to pretty much anyone, and owe my mom and dad for recommending it to me!
Posted by Becky at 6:40 AM
Monday, February 03, 2014
He is Louis Zamperini, a man who started out as a troublesome kid and eventually settled into becoming one of the premier distance runners just prior to WWII. He was so good he went to Berlin for the 1936 Olympics and was on pace to break the 4 minute mile by the time of the 1940 games when war broke out and thoughts of international games were put on hold.
He became a flier and his plane crashed in the Pacific. The story thereafter was of his long voyage in a raft, followed by being captured by the Japanese, which in turn spiraled downward into a different long distance story of torture and survival. It takes nothing away from the story to know that he lived through that and his subsequent struggle to adjust once he returned to civilian life. The tale is well told and compelling, one of those books that is read in long sittings. It makes you marvel at Zamperini's accomplishments and endurance and at Hillenbrand's skill to tell the story so well. It should be a heck of a movie when it comes out this year.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
The book is a series of mostly single page explanations for why Mr. Higashida (he is now an adult with a number of published books) does the things he does, such as not answering questions right away, not following directions, spinning for long periods of time, etc. I believe they would help some folks understand why someone with his degree of autism exhibits those behaviors and possibly be better able to positively interact with their autistic loved one. A minor quibble with the book is that after he has often given some insight into the specific question e.g. why do you write letters in the air?, he will expand to say " people with autism feel this or do that." His attainment of a fairly high level of achievement since his diagnosis at age 5 suggests he's on the high end of the autism continuum and his insights may not be as applicable to some others with the condition. His departure at the end of the book from the format of answering questions to presenting a 20 page short story meant to illustrate what it's like to be unable to communicate with others in your family was very nicely done and makes the argument that he is an accomplished person, regardless of his condition.
I recommend the book and suggest also that if you are interested in the subject, there's a post from a couple of years back about an autistic boy who solves a mystery called "The Curious Case of a Dog in the Nighttime." It's a wonderful story with a good mystery that leads to other mysteries and presents a brave boy fighting some pretty tough odds. Mr. Higashida has overcome some tough odds of his own and sounds like a remarkable man.
Monday, January 06, 2014
Friday, December 13, 2013
“I remember saying things, but I have no idea what was said. It was generally a friendly conversation.” —Associated Press reporter Jack Sullivan, attempting to recount a 3 A.M. exchange we had at a dinner party and inadvertently describing the past ten years of my life.”
When I read this book nearly ten years ago, I became an instant fan of writer Chuck Klosterman. While he knows a lot more about music....and movies....and in general, pop culture, than I do, he basically knows about the music and movies and pop culture that I wish I did.
Also, if you grew up in the 1980s or 90s, nearly every single reference he makes is something that will make you say "Oh my God, I remember that!"
He deconstructs "Saved by the Bell" while also making mention of "When Harry Met Sally" - so obviously it spoke to me. And he touches on everything from Billy Joel and Star Wars to basketball and Pamela Anderson.
Basically, this collection of essays is a great book you can pick up and put down as needed. Admittedly, I skipped a few here and there that didn't speak to me, but overall, I've recommended this book to a number of friends, all of whom are still speaking to me. So....that says something, right?
I loaned this to Amanda, who enjoyed it, but likely, since it's somewhat generational, mom and dad will likely skip it.
Either way, though, recommended from anyone 30-45 years old who paid any attention at all to their pop culture surroundings while growing up.
Posted by Becky at 7:18 AM