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412Scott has commented on (12) products.

The Centaur by John Updike
The Centaur

412Scott, January 27, 2014

Would this work today? An allegory about public high school teachers as Roman gods? The blunt, jarring sex scenes with a lecherous principal (Zimmerman/Zeus) forcefully groping high school girls? Updike's prose is deliberate, challenging, and often times bordering on morose. Makes sense, considering the mythological and tragic source material. But I simply couldn't shake how much our modern world had changed since this novel won acclaim in the 1960's. The setting so often seems very distant, even though Updike is aiming for realism at times. A worthwhile read for Updike fans, a curious exercise for writers, but not the best Updike choice for the novice or for most readers simply seeking a rewarding experience with a novel.
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No-No Boy by John Okada
No-No Boy

412Scott, January 27, 2014

At it's best, Okada provides a tragic, wandering tale of post World War II America where 2nd generation Japanese Americans were outsiders facing new integration challenges. The characters echo Lost Generation literature from Fitzgerald and Hemingway, but provide a very early glimpse into the Asian experience in America that moves this novel into unique standing. At times, the narration borders on Steinbeck-esque intrusion/political insight/commentary, and for modern readers the lack of symbolism or more artistic literary efforts might make this a 2 or 3 rating. But for anyone missing knowledge about internment camps, the plausible grind of the protagonist Ichiro stumbling through a newly unfamiliar Pacific Northwest is gripping.
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A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee
A Gesture Life

412Scott, December 15, 2013

Without question, A Gesture Life contains an engrossing plot that unfurls the surprising and often bleak depths of the protagonist's earlier days. What is questionable, though, is how any author can write from Doc Hata's point of view and make the novel engaging from the start. It's a slow start as a reader, but worth plodding through what seems an old man's verbose reflections. Lee has crafted a novel truly guided through his protagonist's voice, a novel to grip and hold readers and writers alike. What seemed like too much in the earlier chapters becomes clearly necessary and meaningful once you finish the novel.
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The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall
The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

412Scott, September 21, 2013

A testimony to the power of storytelling beyond one particular genre, this book provides a fascinating guide through the immense shift readers are experiencing at the beginning of the 21st century. Gottschall's mix of anecdotes, research and Q-magazine style dry humor for the photo captions lend a welcome sense of humor into what easily could have become a meta-cognitive text with only a limited intellectual audience. I recommend this book to anyone interested in stories, regardless of how much they like to read them compared to watch them or see them live.
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The Real Frank Zappa Book by Frank Zappa
The Real Frank Zappa Book

412Scott, September 21, 2013

This book always provides a laugh for me no matter how many times I re-read it. Zappa's amazingly candid anecdotes about playing and performing in the late 60's and early 70's are hilarious, though sometimes extremely vulgar, and yet still also poignant. Even more so, it's the sharp, at times even condescending view he shares about how rock music is so theatrical and vacant that makes this book so appealing. Add in his personal political battles with government-enforced censorship as well as the passages with his philosophical musings about computerized music and you end up with a book that could only have been made by Frank Zappa and likely can not ever be duplicated by anyone after him. Sure, some of the tech references are massively outdated, and actually I'm not even much of a fan of his music, really. But the way he relates his thinking and sense of humor completely win me over in this book and the topper is the very silly use of bold and italic typeface throughout the book.
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