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Profil für bill katovsky > Rezensionen

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Beiträge von bill katovsky
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Rezensionen verfasst von
bill katovsky (san francisco, california USA)

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I Dreamed of Africa: Tie In Edition
I Dreamed of Africa: Tie In Edition
von Kuki Gallmann
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 16,67

4.0 von 5 Sternen this book has (homo sapiens) legs, 1. Juli 2000
there are two types of popular books about east africa: thosemacho male memoirs aping the hemingway big bwana mystique, andfeminized memoirs penned by intuitive, thoughtful, grounded women whose affinity to the land and its wildness brings to mind concepts like gaia or 'earth mothers". this book obviously belongs to the second camp--it's powerful in its lyrical and poetic evocation of the life, with her second husband and son, that she created on a huge ranch in a region teeming with black rhino, lions, and elephants. yet impending tragedy hovers over almost every page--her husband dies in a car accident, her son dies from a puff adder snake bite--and though you know beforehand that these deaths will occur, you still can't help but shed a sympathetic tear. she is a survivor, who won't let africa beat her down; her support system includes a large staff of ranchhands, servants, anti-poaching security team, and a tight coterie of well-heeled neighbors who own large ranches and drop by in their airplanes. ms. gallmann has recently created a wildlife conservation reserve on her ranch, and one feels that her efforts to protect the vanishing wildlife and local culture is quite admirable.but there is a question that is never answered--how does a young family from italy come to kenya, and buy a ranch the size of san francisco. with what or whose money? there is definitely a whiff of colonialism here, as if to say, it is up to the european landed gentry, newcomers to a foreign land, to teach the locals proper respect for the region by ironically relying on the locals' time-honored modes of adaptation. ms. gellmann is certainly not a snob, and she does learn swahili and many local customs, and she treats her staff like an extended family, but think about it--wouldn't it be great if one of us can have the ability and means to buy a small country in which to live. out here, in san francisco, it's hard enough to rent a two-bedroom flat.


Six Figures
Six Figures
von Fred Leebron
  Gebundene Ausgabe

2.0 von 5 Sternen lifeless, who cares?, 18. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Six Figures (Gebundene Ausgabe)
an editor should have taken a hammer--the checkovian smoking gun in this flat novel--and smashed apart the manuscript; it reads like a well-crafted exercise from an mfa writers mill grad factory. the characters, the interior dialogue of the main character, who heads a non-profit foundation in the south, and is squeezed from all side--by his wife, job, two kids--is neither likable, or unlikeable. he's inert. this is a who cares kind of book. when his relatives show up and crowd into the story, the air goes out; i enjoy contemporary fiction--jon billman, thom jones, tom paine--but i want the characters to be more than talking heads for an author's attempt to grapple with societal and personal disintegration.


Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians
Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians
von Pierre Clastres
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 35,01

5.0 von 5 Sternen a book sent from heaven, 4. Juni 2000
an anthropological tour de force that breaks your heart as you witness firsthand the cultural and material desecration of this once proud and self-sufficient tribe. their view of life and death seems the direct opposite of our western way of thinking, and one can only hope that they are right in the end. much credit must be given to the author--and novelist/translator paul auster-- who uncovered the lost, sad truths of this forgotten world. the writing is candid, pure,lyrical, incandescent, potent and non-academic. a haunting, haunting book--it literally speaks truth and wisdon from the grave.


The Blue Hour (Hors Catalogue)
The Blue Hour (Hors Catalogue)
von T. Jefferson Parker
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 7,70

4.0 von 5 Sternen taut, very taut, 4. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Blue Hour (Hors Catalogue) (Taschenbuch)
with its careful attention to sleuthing and police procedure regarding homicide cases, i felt as if i had graduated from the police academy after finishing this densely plotted thriller about a confused sex fiend who could be the bad seed offspring of hannibal lechter. the two orange county gumshoes--a semi-retired, cancer plagued by the books detective and his partner, a tough,take no prisoners youngish woman--scream hollywood type casting! but the author allows them to develop naturally and sympathetically. but the hole in this book, which taught me more than i ever cared to know about preserving cadavers, is the bad guy--he's a weirdo with many parallels to the silence of the lambs buffallo bill character, and needed greater character development, despite his appalling sordidness. i will not and can not spoil the ending, but the last 50 pages will leave your fingers tingling in anticipation as you turn the pages. i guess that's the point of a crime thriller, after all.


The Seven Storey Mountain
The Seven Storey Mountain
von Thomas Merton
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 16,61

5.0 von 5 Sternen godly, 31. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Seven Storey Mountain (Taschenbuch)
i have read this book twice in my twenties, and as a jew, i was still swept away by merton's embrace of the spiritual life, and the calling of the church that led him on his quest for a more meaningful existence. how powerful is this book? i will cite an anecdote. at a library of congress talk on american writers by literary critic alfred kazin in 1980, he asked the audience of several hundred rapt listeners a simple question: "what is your favorite book?" he posed this question to 10 random people. two answered, "seven storey mountain." i found this remarkable. as is this memoir that is priceless, timeless, and transcendental in its honest search for truth and piety.


Gone: The Last Days of the New Yorker
Gone: The Last Days of the New Yorker
von Renata Adler
  Gebundene Ausgabe

1.0 von 5 Sternen less than zero, 30. Mai 2000
going, going, gone. i attempted to read this with an open mind, seduced by the prospect of tantalizing morsels of gossip and office intrigue, yet was benumbed and bewildered by the relentless kvetching and whining of this former staff writer. she doesn't have an axe to grind; she has a guillotine at the ready. this memoir spends far too much time replaying the sacking of shawn with as much flair as an autopsy report. this is a charmless rendering of a beloved institution that became too insulated and dysfunctional for its own good. adler's view is like that of a patient in primal scream therapy. slogging through this book with all of its pointless detail made me think of reading those interminable essays by ved mehta. one would read ved as an act of atonement, to see if one could actually read these multipart memoirs from start to finish. what triumphs in adler's memoir is style over substance; she puts together sentences well; it's the content, or rather, discontent that is completely lackluster.


Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker: Profiles from New York
Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker: Profiles from New York
von David Remnick
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 26,11

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen uneven greatness, 30. Mai 2000
this collection is worth the price of admission to two profiles--johnny carson and marlon brando. thoughtfully assembled, this "greatest hits" made me not feel so bad when i threw out old, favorite issues of the new yorker, only to discover some of those much beloved profiles in this collection. yet for some space reasons, many of the multipart profiles (i.e.the schizophrenic "slyvia frumpkin" or the psychiatrist "aaron") don't have a home here. my plea, as a reader, is that the new yorker should annually produce these anthologies. oh yeah, the cover is absolutely brilliant.


Flags of Our Fathers
Flags of Our Fathers
von James Bradley
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 26,68

5.0 von 5 Sternen "real" profiles in courage, 29. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Flags of Our Fathers (Gebundene Ausgabe)
it's one of american's most treasured photographs, the planting of the american flag on "sulfur island" better known as iwo jima in wwii. its composition is perfect, the flag pole acting like a hypotenuse bisecting the frame, the anonymous soldiers straining to firmly plant the flag in rocky, volcanic soil, the one soldier in the rear, his arms outstretched and fingers not quite touching the pole, well, when all added up becomes a serendipitous photographic achievement and is the heart of this amazingly potent, gripping, and unsettling memoir by one of the sons of the soldiers in that famous photo. but here are some facts which won't spoil the story or ending: only three of the soldiers in that photo left the island alive, the flag raising depicted was the second one on mt. suribachi, over 20,000 u.s. marines died in the battle, most of the japanese defenders fought from underground tunnels and caves, and the flag planting did not mean that the island had been captured; far from it. this is a book about heroes, and the american need to rally behind combat heroism in the pacific theater. the american flag in the 40s meant something far different than it does today. this memoir unravels the myths,lives, and history that surround iwo jima and this photo. i give this book my full-salute--it is intense, cinematic, historical, personal, and illuminating in ways that few 'war books" can ever boast of achieving.


An American Album
An American Album
von Anthology
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 48,97

3.0 von 5 Sternen harper's folly, 26. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: An American Album (Gebundene Ausgabe)
though i have been a reader of harper's for only 20 of its 150 years--13 percent of its total publishing history--i welcomed this anthology with great anticipation. Then why was I disappointed when the heavy tome arrived? its size makes it too unwieldly to read, especially in bed where i normally read all my harper's magazines. it's like going to bed with a cement block. granted there are some wonderful essays (read: the history of the magazine parallels the cyclical highs and lows of publishing in this country), some stand out in greater relief, such as trotsky's warning about hitler. there's something to be said about reading journalism as history, and this collection won't disappoint. plus, there are some of my favorite essays of a recent vintage--david foster wallace on the state fair or richard rodriguez on san francisco's new gentilty. in any case, buy this book if you have strong biceps; otherwise, content yourself with the stellar monthly magazine.


The Battle
The Battle
von Patrick Rambaud
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen battle royale, 21. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Battle (Gebundene Ausgabe)
i love a good war film, but this book, a historical recreation of Napolean's defeat near two small towns in Austria, is cinematic in its intensity, drama, excitement, and horror. while it helps to know some prior biographical information about the marshals and generals who lead the troops into battle, you won't be too hard-pressed to keep straight all the details. as vivid and anti-war as "johnny got his gun" or "all quiet on the western front," you will gain a front row seat to what it was like to wage hand-to-hand combat on a warm May day in 1809. you will experience the cannons, the smoke, the blood, the confusion, the terror, the roundshot taking off soldiers' limbs, the bloodlust and anarachy on the battlefield. Napolean was a lucky and brilliant leader, whose quick tactical thinking led to surprising truimphs, but even he acknowlwedges at the end that what had defeated him was not another army or leader but General Danube--the river. A force of nature, Napolean met his match with the Danube. Just wait til he experiences the Russian winter in a few years.


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