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Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Chapel Hill, Boston, Istanbul, Calgary, Washington DC, Austin, Tunis, Warszawa and counting

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

De la guerre à la liberation

Oui, une de mes meilleures trouvailles. Non, je rigole. Je ai acheté De la guerre à la liberation - La France de 1939 à 1945 de Willard, Joannès, Hincker et Elleinstein seulement parce que j'ai voulu savoir plus sur la France de la guerre, sur Vichy, sur la résistance. Le problème avec ce bouquin ce qu'il est écrit d'une perspective dérisoire communiste. Je n'ai pas de problème avec le communiste (à cette temps en tout cas) et j'ai su déjà que dans tous les pays occupés par les allemands ils étaient très important dans la résistance, mais les auteurs font illusion (ou essaient de faire illusion) comme si ils étaient les historiens quand en fait ils ont les militants communistes incapable de quitter une pointe de vue partisan. Surtout les description de la politique anglo-saxon (à mon avis il y avait même pas quelque chose comme ca) et soviet-union sont complètement ridicule.

En plus, et plus grave pour moi, il n'y a pas d'information dans le livre. Ils racontent les petites histoires sur la résistance ou la politique en général, ils citent quelques journaux ou autres historiens parfois, mais il n'y a pas de rendu connexe, logique ou même détaillé sur un niveau rudimentaire. Alors, il ne faut pas que vous inquiètiez.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever

I read Will Blythe's To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever - A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry on my train ride up to North Carolina. Again one of those books that I just kind of raced through, I think it took me like eight hours (on the train, in a row that means). Anyway, I liked it as an introduction to UNC (where I am now sitting in the graduate library trying to write a paper for one of my classes back home), but I did not find the book all that hot other than that.

I care a lot about basketball, I play as often as I can (my feet look so bad as of right now, just because I have been playing so much the last few days that I think I might have to take a break), I read about the NBA quite regularly (or even religiously if you want), but I am not one to go into these obsessions. I can relate to that to some extent with regard to German football, but even there I simply don't care that much. I don't even really watch anymore because there are seemingly a million things that are more important than sitting in front of the TV at anykind of fixed time. My point is, this book was written by a die-hard UNC-fan and Duke hater, someone who actually comes from Chapel Hill, his father already went to UNC here and it is fun and amusing to read about the antics involving the Duke-UNC rivalry, but Blythe does it over 300 pages and I believe he could have done it as well on 100.

Quite simple, the topic exhausts itself after a while and Blythe still keeps on going on about it for another 200 pages (or 6 hours, whatever you prefer). Thus, do I recommend this book? If you are a basketball fanatic, yes, if you will go to UNC (or Duke) anytime soon, yes. Otherwise? No.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I am not going to write long about this. Either you like Harry Potter or you don't. I doubt anyone does not already have a preformed opinion on this. I enjoyed this last installement of the series as much as I did the earlier six. Maybe the hype surrounding it has hurt the enjoyment of reading it a little bit, just because the way expectations were hyped up is basically impssible to live up to. Nonetheless a very nice read and deserving end for a good children/fantasy book series.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I am Charlotte Simmons

I've been wanting to post this for a while, but hadn't gotten it done because of my busy schedule here (beach, pool, going out, doing nothing, you know busy vacation schedule...). I read Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons in pretty much one sitting while flying to Miami (I literally got out of my seat like twice and only stopped shortly during meals). As a seven-hour read like that implies it is well-written book and an enjoyable read. Yet, I was not all that excited about it in the end, especially the denouement really was a drag and disappointment.

Tom Wolfe, whom I really don't know much about it, is apparently one of the American reporter/writer legends - like Norman Mailer for example. He is old, about 80 if I remember this correctly from one of the reviews of the book I read and for this novel he tried to totally immerse himself in modern American college culture. I will soon be able to pass better judgment on this, but I felt as if his portrayal of this binge-drinking culture centered around sex was greatly exaggerated, excessive and limited in its scope. For some reason Wolfe seemed incapable of developing well-rounded characters, they all stayed on a stock character level. The frat boy with bad grades and only sex and alcohol on his mind. The nerd. The athlete, who actually is the only one that at least limited breaks out of his role type by developing an interest in Socrates.

The main character, Charlotte Simmons, is completely overdrawn as a country girl that comes to the big, bad college world and is corrupted by the appeal of the frat boy upon which her world crumbles around her. All this is fine and dandy but not only is the naivety of Charlotte of a level seemingly impossible after the advent of television, Internet or even radio. Furthermore, the destruction of her world is not understandable. She has sex with the frat boy who does not care about her after having gotten some booty and this turns her world upside down. Now, I understand that a country girl with a religious mom (even if her own beliefs are never discussed, another weak point) might have problem with having gotten drunk for the first time and then wasted her virginity on an undeserving guy with no further interest in her. Yet, her reaction in the end is too strong, she gets relatively bad grades for her first semester because of the depression she gets in after that event, but it is completely inconceivable to describe how she basically stops talking to everyone and keeps on having crying attacks months after her first time took place.

Additionally, it is not clear what she wants or is depressed about. Is the problem that she lost her virginity, lied to her parents and received bad grades? Or is the problem that no 'cool' sorority will now take her because she got laid by some frat boy? Wolfe just does not a good job of describing the problem, of explaining Charlotte.

Lastly, the ridiculous obsession with sex and bodies that dominates the novel was too much for me. Wolfe describes every guy's muscles specifically, uses medical terms for each one most of which I had never even heard (nor bothered to look up I have to admit). Finally, sex. Every one in the book is to some extent obsessed with it. It never becomes quite clear why. Maybe this is an American thing, but I honestly believe that Wolfe in his old age dwelled on that which he misses most of his youth, sex and an athletic body. Thus, I feel like the book is more about what an old man sees in young people than about actual youngsters.

PS: This also will be an age thing but it annoyed me a lot. Wolfe's third-person narrator has super traditional or conservative view of men and women:
"the power that woman can hold over that creature who is as monomaniacally hormonocentric as the beasts of the field, Man" is just one example for this.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard

Ah oui, la Floride. La plage, le soleil. Pas mal. Croyez-moi.

J'ai fini Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard - Membre de l'Institut d'Anatole France dans l'avion avant que je l'eusse lu pendant quelques jours à Berlin. Je dois admettre que je n'ai pas été trop impressionné. Je l'ai acheté par hasard dans une librairie à prix modéré et oui, il le ne faut pas lire. Le bouquin est séparé en deux partie, la première n'a rien avoir avec la deuxième, sauf que le protagoniste ne change pas. Dans la première Bonnard essaie de trouver un texte historique important. Dans la deuxième, il explique comment l'amour de sa vie était une fille qu'il a vu quelques fois quand il avait eu 18 ans (il a presque 80 ans quand il ranconte tous ca). Complètement ridicule que pendant 60 ans il n'a pas rencontré des autres personnes. Je pourrais décrire plusieurs activités ou pensées de lui qui ont aucune logique mais ca serait une perte de temps pour moi et vous. Il faut dire seulement, que l'histoire n'est pas cohérente, il n'y a pas de fil conducteur (la ficelle rouge je trouve plus joli, mais apparemment ca c'est impossible en francais) et parfois on a l'impression que le bouquin est seulement un dénombrement des activities. Il n'y a pas de dé développement de caractère, il n'y pas d'histoire captivante. Lis-le pas!

La seul chose que m'intéresse encore un peu ce que si ca c'est un roman ou pas. Le bouquin est écrit comme un journal et si c'était fictif ca serait nul. En contraire, si c'était la vie de quelqu'un dans la réalité, ca serait différent. Parce que enfin c'est ca la vie, une énumération des activités sans abouchement, sans sens, sans logique, sans cohèrence.