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TKS has commented on (11) products.

The Klamath Knot by David Rains Wallace
The Klamath Knot

TKS, December 21, 2012

Gorgeous writing merges myth, philosophy, and natural science to create what may be the best articulation of what a particular place really MEANS. It's a slim volume, but the content is packed in tight - no fluff here. This is not to say that it's hard to read; the essay(s?) unfurl seamlessly. It's a wonderful read, and a wonderful set of ideas and starting-points to carry around in your mind afterward.
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Vertical by Rex Pickett

TKS, April 28, 2011

I've heard plenty of reviewers laud this book's high standard of writing. I didn't see it, but maybe I was too distracted by the astonishing amount of gratuitous sexual content and unapologetically crude characters. (Not just the main characters - everyone.) From Chapter 1, VERTICAL reads like the script for an inept porn film.

It also feels occasionally like the author opened a dictionary to learn a new word and thought "let's see if I can use that in the next sentence!" That's an admirable way to learn vocabulary, Mr. Pickett, but it makes for some seriously stilted writing.

The plot, such as it is, hangs together alright, but there doesn't seem to be much of a point to it all.

A much-hyped part of the action takes place in the Willamette Valley, focusing around the events of the International Pinot Noir Celebration, or IPNC. As a member of the Willamette Valley wine industry, and an annual IPNC attendee, I can testify that the scale of debauchery author Rex Pickett attributes to the event (and the industry in general) is more than slightly exaggerated -- and, at times, just plain gross. I can testify also to the good character of many of the (real!) people he represents in the book as aiding and abetting his characters' boorish behavior. This sort of "wine writing" gives people the wrong idea. It's embarrassing.

As far as I can tell, this book is a mish-mash of Rex Pickett's life and a fantasy version thereof. The main character (perhaps even both?) is a painfully obvious substitute for the author. (And if I'm at all right about that, well, let me just say that the character is in need of some rehab.) I'm annoyed with the book for plenty of reasons, but this may be the cherry on top of it all: Pickett can't even make up a good character.

Now that I've got all that off my chest, I do have one compliment to offer: good title.
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The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander
The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War

TKS, March 21, 2011

The packaging on this book leads one to suspect that it contains mainly an analysis of the idea of warfare, using The Iliad as a lens. Not so. Perhaps the publisher thought that implication would sell more copies, but the truth of the book is that it's a scholarly (also entirely readable) analysis of The Iliad itself, particularly the character of Achilles.

Ancient epic poetry is tough to approach from our modern perspective, and I found THE WAR THAT KILLED ACHILLES both enlightening and enjoyable. It makes some obscure passages clear, and it provides a helpful springboard for one's own critical thinking. It's not a dry work of literary criticism, by any means, but it is certainly a serious literary discussion, and very enjoyable as such.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

TKS, March 16, 2011

If you're read the Iliad, and especially if you're familiar with the background stories (as Homer's original audience would have been,) you'll either love this vibrant retelling that imagines new depths to the principle characters and their relationships, or you'll hate it because the story itself is nothing new.

I find the Iliad a many-layered tale, and I perceive things differently each time I come to it. This is true of other works too; it doesn't bother me to read the same novels many times over the years. More is always available in the interaction between an intelligent, gifted author and your own thought and experience. Authors willing to take a time-honored story and try to add yet MORE layers are courageous beings. I imagine it's hard to get that kind of thing "right." Lindsay Clarke does it.

THE WAR AT TROY is emotionally moving, beautifully written, and a very good, very accessible synthesis of many potentially confusing stories, back stories, and relationships at the heart of Homer's work. You could read it to deepen your knowledge and enjoyment of the Iliad, or you could enjoy it without coming anywhere near a bunch of long-winded, ancient Greek poetry. I've done both (in reverse order, obviously), and each time it was fresh and compelling.
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The Minister's Daughter by Julie Hearn
The Minister's Daughter

TKS, February 23, 2011

I had no idea this was supposed to be a "young adult" novel until I read the reviews at Powell's. Adults: this book is completely appropriate for your pre-teens, and also completely enthralling for you. It's a good story: solid history woven with a whole lot of (rather modern; sorry) folklore. The last sentence is still haunting me a week after I finished the book. If you're one of those who likes to read the last sentence first, DON'T. Save the shivers it'll give you for the very end. And in the meantime, enjoy a well-told tale.

Note: I particularly enjoyed the audiobook version, read by Heather O'Neil. It really brings the characters to life.
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