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The Powell's Playlist | August 8, 2014

Peter Mendelsund: IMG The Powell's Playlist: Water Music by Peter Mendelsund

We "see" when we read, and we "see" when we listen. There are many ways in which music can create the cross-sensory experience of this seeing...... Continue »
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Customer Comments

Mentalfloss1 has commented on (20) products.

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Caleb's Crossing

Mentalfloss1, January 1, 2013

Just an all-around well written, well designed tale with fascinating characters and settings. Read it!
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What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
What It Is Like to Go to War

Mentalfloss1, October 20, 2012

I'm not the first to say that I think that this book, as well as Marlantes' first book, "Matterhorn", should be required reading for all who wish to become warriors. As Marlantes himself says, this is not to discourage people from joining the military but it's to provide a broader and deeper view of what they are agreeing to do. Further, this knowledge may well ameliorate the effects of PTSD on those who experience combat, or at least might provide a framework for a reduction of symptoms.

This is not some dry discourse built of trite psychology and stuffy philosophy, though both of those disciplines are woven through the trains of thought presented. There are many real life examples of wartime incidents and situations that Marlantes paints very well for us. Though "Matterhorn" (which is a fictionalization of his time in Vietnam) is perhaps more compelling as a story of war, "What It Is Like to Go to War" is deeper and more thought provoking. My take is that the first 95% of the book was very well done and greatly informative while the last 5% was murky, at least to me. This may well be that I can't make myself completely grasp what he's saying in that last portion. In fact, that's likely.

Marlantes is a Rhodes scholar from the Pacific Northwest. He's a dead honest writer, revealing his innermost self with great courage. I admire him and his family for this. If you, or someone you know and care for, is planning on a life in the military you might consider giving them both of these books. This is not to discourage them, Marlantes seems to cherish his time at war, but to simply inform them of some of the realities of being a warrior.
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Burning Bright: Stories by Ron Rash
Burning Bright: Stories

Mentalfloss1, August 4, 2012

I love a good short story but have had a hard time finding many of late. "Burning Bright" is a fine collection pretty much throughout. It's not terribly uplifting, as the tales concern the effects of meth and prescription drugs on the people and culture of the rural Midwest, but the writing is clear and the characters, good and bad, come alive. Since there are good characters, or at least those who mean well, reading these stories isn't consistently depressing and all are examples of the fine art of the short story. I'd recommend it.
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Rockbridge: A 1930s Childhood by Ann Allen
Rockbridge: A 1930s Childhood

Mentalfloss1, June 27, 2012

This review is somewhat unfair. I grew up in the town in which this book is set. Though it's set in the 1930's and I grew up there in the 1950's, not much had changed. But the reason I bought the book was for my mother, who did grow up there in the 1930's. The town is Bedford, Indiana, the home of limestone, corn, tomatoes, nice people, steamy summers, pretty girls, basketball, and quite a lot of small town pride. If you grew up in a small town in the Midwest then you'll certainly recognize many of the situations, events and sentiments in this book.
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Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
Jayber Crow

Mentalfloss1, January 1, 2012

To me, this is a wonderful book about the beauties of small town life, long friendships, undying love, and the roots of our nation. Jayber is the town barber in the early to mid 1900's in tiny Port William, Kentucky, and as such he hears many voices and opinions from around the town and the county. This leads to discussions among the people of the town and to the philosophical musings of Jayber, who is, deep down, a loner and as such is a good listener and ruminator.
The story watches the town change from a self-sufficient and deeply rooted place into one where local businesses, which were never that strong, dry up while the young move away as the elders die off. Small, well cared for farms are gobbled up by early corporate farmers who then suffer their own fate after believing in the promises of riches through automation and expansion regardless of the land's or the people's ability to bear that load.
Berry is a fine writer and this may be his best of many excellent books.
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