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Beiträge von Allen Smalling
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Rezensionen verfasst von
Allen Smalling "Eclectic Reader," (Chicago, Illinois, United States)

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Ross Macdonald: Four Novels of the 1950s: The Way Some People Die / The Barbarous Coast / The Doomsters / The Galton Case: (Library of America #264)
Ross Macdonald: Four Novels of the 1950s: The Way Some People Die / The Barbarous Coast / The Doomsters / The Galton Case: (Library of America #264)
von Tom Nolan
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 32,17

5.0 von 5 Sternen Eine Psychopathologie fuer die Vorstaedten, 30. Mai 2015
Der amerikanische Verlag "Library of America" hat hier vier Romane von Ross Macdonald versammelt. Viele Beobachter finden Ähnlichkeiten in Thema und Stil zu den früheren Meistern der "Kalifornien-Krimi," vor allem Raymond Chandler. Meiner Meinung nach, würde ich eher "The Ivory Grin" statt "Die Doomsters" hier habe. Dennoch ist dies eine gute Sammlung zu einem günstigen Preis. Auf Englisch.
Kommentar Kommentar (1) | Kommentar als Link | Neuester Kommentar: May 30, 2015 7:11 PM MEST


Birds by Charley Harper Book of Postcards AA628 (Books of Postcards)
Birds by Charley Harper Book of Postcards AA628 (Books of Postcards)
von Pomegranate
  Karten
Preis: EUR 7,49

5.0 von 5 Sternen Fantastisch!, 28. Mai 2015
Kuenstlerich: Dies ist eine wunderbare Mischung der Abstraktion und der Liebe der Vögel. Meiner Meinung nach ist dies das beste Buch von Charley Harper Postkarten.

Qualitaet der Karten: Der Cardstock ist von hoher Qualität, sehr gut für Postcrossing. Funktioniert am besten mit Kugelschriber.

Alle Vögel singen "Ja!"


The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization
The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization
von Thomas L. Friedman
  Taschenbuch

3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Wise and Witty, 16. Juli 2000
The impossibility of restricting information in the Internet age, the impracticality of slowing down innovation in the computer age, and the futility of forbidding foreign investment in the international-banking age are the main themes that run through this wise and witty study of globalization and its consequences for our increasingly fast-paced, increasingly smaller planet.
Journalist Thomas L. Friedman's "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" uses a host of metaphors to housebreak international business, finance, culture, technology and the environment for his readers. Flows of capital are controlled by an "Electronic Herd" of investors who flow into lucrative markets (and slosh out just as quickly if they sense trouble, as several southeast Asian countries found to their chagrin in the 1990s). Friedman opines that a country has to have an advanced "operating system" (a predilection to capitalism) to increase its standard of living. The USA and Britian are at the top, followed closely by France and Germany. Korea is just below. These societies can put on the "Golden Straitjacket" of capitalist restraint and watch their economies zoom. But not, say, Russia. They've spend too long under a system by which the success of a bedframe factory is not profit, consumer satisfaction, quality or good shipped but amount of steel consumed, the most absurd, downside-up measure of success possible.
But any society--even one as free-market oriented as the USA's--can't leave tradition behind in the dust. Hence the tension between the "Lexus" (high-tech innovation) and the "olive tree" (tradition, pride, tribalism). Note well the current opposition to the WTO.
Our go-go technological climate even finds living application in this very book. In between the hardcover issue of "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" (1999) and the new paperback (spring 2000), computer maker Compaq lost its innovative edge to upstart Dell--Friedman explains why in the paperback.
This is fun, lively reading. It gives wonk subject matter like business & finance a good name. The amount of research is astonishing, most of it collected on-site, and surely generated enough frequent-flier mileage to get the author a free trip to Mars when the time comes. Friedman is a bit of a true believer--he is SURE that the American way is the right way--but he offers good arguments for his opinions. Time spend on this book will be time well spent.


The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity
The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity
von Daniel Mendelsohn
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 15,20

3.0 von 5 Sternen Well Written But Was It Worth It?, 6. Juli 2000
The Elusive Embrace was well written but was it worth it? This is a memory piece by a fortyish gay male who interweaves his Jewish family's history, his sexual life in New York's Chelsea district, his reminiscences of sexual coming-of-age as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia (the least graphic, and probably the most beautiful and evocative prose), and Greek mythology, at which, as a classics prof, he is expert (useful, but pedantic).
Having achieved a sort of stellar lifestyle compromise--lectureship at Princeton, sexual freedom in Manhattan, and a close relationship mentoring a baby to whom he is almost but not quite a father figure--we wonder why Mendelsohn felt compelled to write about it.
As the song goes, the author is "his own special creation." I guess all gay men are. I have a feeling, though, that Mendelsohn's life story was highly edited to make it more acceptable to a gay readership. We don't hear about what it's like teaching at an Ivy League school, and only passing reference is made to the author's heterosexual experience, or to his life as a graduate student. His life emerges as a coherent work with an awful lot of thimble-rigging, string-pulling and myth-quoting--more than would have been necessary in a more straightforward account. I agree with the earlier reviewer who said the author bit off more than he could chew. Beautifully written, but not too satisfying.


Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
von Robert D. Putnam
  Gebundene Ausgabe

3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen You Don't Have to Be an Expert to Appreciate This Book, 30. Juni 2000
I'm writing this review for non-sociologists and non-policy experts, for people like me who don't generally curl up with a book of sociology. "Bowling Alone" is an important work because it highlights some very disturbing trends at work in America and suggests some solutions.
Author Robert Putnam measures "social capital," which is simply the value of people dealing with people--organization and communication, whether it's formal (church council, the PTA), or informal (the neighborhood tavern, the weekly card game). We have suffered a huge drop in such "social capital" over the past 30-35 years; club attendance has fallen by more than half, church attendance is off, home entertaining is off, even card games are off by half. (Yes, there are people who survey for that!)
Why is this important? Because a society that is rich in social capital is healthier, both for the group and for the individual. The states that have the highest club membership and voter turnouts also have the most income equality and the best schools (and those that have the lowest, have the worst). And according to Putnam, "if you decide to join [a group], you can cut your risk of dying over the next year in half." Younger people are demonstrably less social than their grandparents in the World War II generation. They also feel more malaise. Lack of sociability makes people feel worse.
While "Bowling Alone" is a work of academic sociology, with charts and graphs, Putnam makes it as reader-friendly as possible with a good honest prose style and a straightforward presentation. His message deserves to be heard. He also suggests some ways for us to get out of our current blight of social disconnectedness, including a call for the USA to re-live the organizational renaissance we once experienced at the turn of the last century, the Progressive Era, which spawned so many organizations like the Sierra Club, PTA and Girl Scouts that are still with us and going strong.
If you read only one book of sociology this decade, make it "Bowling Alone." The research is astounding, the presentation is great, and the message is one we need to hear.


Bruiser (Serpent's Tail High Risk Books)
Bruiser (Serpent's Tail High Risk Books)
von Richard House
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Bruiser Is A Pleaser, 30. Juni 2000
"Bruiser" is the sort of book I usually hate but it was so well done I liked it in spite of myself. It is a love story, but very low key, told in that sort of flatfooted tone that some critics call "K-Mart realism." It concerns a British importer living in Chicago who meets a young amateur boxer, who winds up living with him.
The two men struggle through the necessary adaptations of living together such as conflicting schedules and HIV status. They plan (although "plan" is perhaps too firm a verb) a motor trip to South America but don't make it past Texas. The setting for the second half of the book is depressing but what redeems it is the obvious love the men feel for each other even though we never hear "I love you."
In other words, this book is so well told that we readers feel the two men's affection for each other and how it motivates their actions without string-pulling. As a Chicago resident, I can certainly say that the Chicago locales were well rendered. Overall "Bruiser" is a good job, and I look for further works from this author.


The Spell
The Spell
von Alan Hollinghurst
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,38

2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Realistic, With Sympathetic Characters, 20. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Spell (Taschenbuch)
This novel describes the emotional (and occasionally sexual) interplay beween four British gay men: Robin is 45 and has recently lost his long-term lover; Alex is in his late thirties; Justin is 35 and has just left Alex for Robin; and Danny, 22, Robin's son, is also gay.
The readers who found this book boring and the characters unsympathetic didn't read the same book I did. I found the situations believable and the characters quite genuine. Yes, they were a little self-absorbed but if you were mourning the loss of a loved one/relationship/your youth wouldn't you be a little self-absorbed?
The London gay scene is detailed in great relish, as is Alex's maiden trip, with Danny's help, on Ecstasy. People will be reading this book well into the future to find out what middle-class gay British life was like at the turn of the century. And Hollinghurst writes beautifully; I would rather read his prose than that of almost anyone else.
"The Spell" is something of a chamber piece so if you're looking for the thrills and action of "The Swimming Pool Library" you may well be disappointed. But a modest effort to understand the differing emotional makeup of these four men will be paid off in a first-rate round of character development and storytelling.


NoBrow: The Culture of Marketing - the Marketing of Culture
NoBrow: The Culture of Marketing - the Marketing of Culture
von John Seabrook
  Gebundene Ausgabe

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting Thesis Could Use More Detail, 2. Juni 2000
In his peregrinations for the New Yorker magazine, author John Seabrook noticed a curious thing. The old cultural elite's distinction of high, middle and low culture seems to have broken down. (Example: classical music is somehow "better" than jazz, jazz better than rock, rock better than hip-hop, etc.) Instead, opines Seabrook, we live in an age of "Nobrow," in which cultural consumers and cultural providers read each other's needs so acutely that it is marketing that drives the culture and in turn, culture drives the marketing. In other words, the hegemony that cultural critics enjoyed in deciding what was art and wasn't (defining hegemony as "taste as power pretending to be common sense" [p. 53]) has pretty much been blown away.
What do we have now? We have Nobrow. People who pick and choose from all kinds of options without worrying too much whether it used to be considered trashy, egghead, mainsteam, avant-garde, cutting-edge, or declasse. We have saturation of the culture by media to the extent that culture and media--particularly televised media--become synonymous: "MTV has produced a new audience for whom the distinction betwen the market and culture was almost nonexistent." (p. 94)
Since the old distinctions are all but gone, the old venues have changed, too. You don't have to visit a museum to see museum pieces any more. "In Nobrow, paintings by van Gogh and Monet are the headliners at the Bellagio Hotel while the Cirque du Soleil borrows freely from performance art in creating the Las Vegan spectacle inside." (p. 162).
For Seabrook, the consummate example of this culture-marketing-culture interplay is George Lucas: "You could see Lucas as the first . . . appropriator of world culture, which he sold back to the world as Star Wars. Or you would see Lucas as an early sampler, a groundbreaker in which would become the essential Nobrow esthetic: making art out of pop culture." (p. 145).
All of this is interesting, even provocative. Occasionally I felt the journalism overexplained the thesis or was irrelevant to it (especially in the chapter on MTV); many if not most of this material originally appeared in the New Yorker and the magazine origin occasionally shows through. For the sake of good sportsmanship if nothing else, Seabrook should really have dealt with one of the bastions of high culture--a museum or symphony orchestra--to see how they are dealing with the new, allegedly classless, era of cultural distinctions. But he definitely has given me a new yardstick to measure things by. And I finally figured out why The Simpsons is my favorite TV show; it's so Nobrow in its mix of cultural references, everything from flatulence jokes to Eudora Welty and Steven Hawking.


Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (Hors Catalogue)
Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (Hors Catalogue)
von David Brooks
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen An Interesting Book or Two, 29. Mai 2000
"Bobo" is author David Brooks' acronym for a Bourgeois Bohemian, a synthesis of Reaganism and Woodstock, the folks he says are running the country today. Bobos are new money--the meritocracy of smart folk who have become rich as fast-track professionals, clever enterpreneurs, start-up capitalists, or visionaries like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Some Bobos are capitalistic hippies and some are mellowed-out business people; Bobo is their common meeting ground. True to their mixed heritage, Bobos love oxymoronic concepts like "sustainable development," "cooperative individualism" or "liberation management." Reconciliation is their middle name.
Bobos dislike showing off, but of course all rich people do, so they are allowed to show off in discreet ways. Mercedes are out, but SUV's are in. Jewelry is out, but eco-tourism is in. Bobox buy the same things the rest of us do (bread, chicken, coffee) but pay from 3 to 10 times the mass-market price in search of something better, organic, or more planet-friendly. In fact, anything that shows one to be a friend to the planet is fair game, no matter how silly. There's even a toothpaste that encourages germs to leave the mouth.
Needless to say, it takes a huge income to be a true Bobo. Brooks almost had this reviewer feeling sorry for the poor U. of Chicago professor forced to live on a "mere" household income of $180K, barely enough to cover private schools for her kids and a nanny. The wretch suffers from what Brooks calls "status-income disequilibrium" or "SID" because her pay, while handsome, pales before her similarly educated peers in the professions and business, with whom she has to socialize at symposia.
America teems with the newly rich. Bobos are most easily spotted in "Latte Towns" like Madison, Wisconsin or Northampton, Massachusetts. Ideally, such venues have "a Swedish-style government, German-style pedestrian malls, Victorian houses, Native American crafts, Italian coffee, Berkeley human rights groups, and Beverly Hills income levels." That's where you'll see the businessman wearing hiking boots patiently explaining 401(k) plans to the aging hippie who's making a killing selling bicyles, or software, or sandwiches.
Brooks is at his best describing the furbelows and follies of Bobo-dom. But Bobos in Paradise is really two books in one. Massive amounts of this text could have been computer cut-and-pasted from a work called something like American Intellectual History: 1955-2000. Sometimes Brooks maintains a light tone (without being truly funny), sometimes he is merely factual. I really didn't need to hear three times how tendentious the old Partisan Review gang was back in the fifties. I didn't really need to hear how a Bobo should act on a political chat show (smile a lot and be positive). I didn't really need to hear how TV has coopted intellectual life (that process began in the fifties with J. Fred Muggs and Steve-a-reeno, before most Bobos were born, and it was dealt with much better in the book Nobrow, anyway).
Don't get me wrong, the funny parts of this book are quite funny, and for that reason alone I'm giving it four stars. If it had been consistently funny and satiric I would have given it five. I came real close to giving it a three because the slow stretches, while not inaccurate, did little to further the author's thesis. If you intend to write pop sociology, better to write first-rate pop sociology than second-rate academic sociology.
One point to ponder is whether the term "Bobo" will catch on. In 1945 no one had heard of a "Highbrow" and in 1980 no one knew what a "Yuppie" was. And there were plenty of columnists who said that we didn't need such words, yet they became coin of the realm anyway. If it strikes you that your local rich people are starting to act like a fusion of Richard Gere and Bill Gates, or Al Gore and Jerry Garcia, then maybe the Bobo moniker might just cover them all. Hopeless trendoids, take note and read this book before the inevitable paperback edition.


Point of No Return
Point of No Return
von John P. Marquand
  Taschenbuch

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Most Worthwhile Novel, 25. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Point of No Return (Taschenbuch)
Although not a short or easy work, Point of No Return is a novel worth one's time. On one level it is a genial satire of the New York banking scene in 1946 as World War II veteran Charlie Gray sweats out the coming shakeout in his genteel, white-shoe bank: who will get the promotion to vice president, him or his flashier rival Roger? Marquand's eye for detail is very acute, whether it's the layout of a desk blotter or a psychological nuance like whether to first-name a superior.
On another level Point of No Return is a midlife crisis, as Charlie has to return to the town of his childhood on a business trip and confront some demons from his young manhood, specifically the young lady from a wealthy family he was engaged to and almost married. Charlie is haunted by the anthropologist/sociologist who wrote a book called "Yankee Persepolis" about his little town and included his family in it, revealing his town to be as stratified and classbound in its way as any South Sea Island.
So, past a certain point, does anyone have any choice on how far s/he can go in life? And has Charlie reached that "point of no return" by his forties? These are the issues that torment him. In Marquand's telling, Charlie is a very sympathetic character, and the patient reader will find this an engrossing tale. This is my first Marquand novel but it won't be my last.


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