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Z. Blume RSS Feed (St. Louis, MO United States)
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One Hundred Years of Solitude
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Edition: Paperback
289 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Attentive Readers, December 1, 2002
One Hundred Years of Solitude is a very interesting book and a brief synopsis of its plot would involve sex, violence, death, war, and adventure--all topics that usually hold a reader's attention. Unfortunately, it is also a very difficult book to read because of the confusion caused by repetitive names, the reality mixed with fable style of the narrative, and the pace of the novel which jumps around constantly. This poses a problem for someone like myself who often likes to read on the bus or just for a few minutes before I go to sleep--I could not get in a ryhthm and would forget important details so the book did not always make sense. When I had time to concentrate it was beautifully written, intense, and interesting, so I would highly recommend it for someone with the time to really delve into and read it in long stretches. For people who like to read great literature but don't have much time to devote to this book, I would recommend you come back to this one later when you can devote yourself to it.


The Best American Sports Writing of the Century
The Best American Sports Writing of the Century
by Glenn Stout
Edition: Hardcover
45 used & new from $1.10

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Super Sports Stories, November 29, 2002
This is an excellent book for several reasons--it is convenient in that you can quickly read one story and put the book aside without having to go back to get back into the story, it is full of excellent writing, and it gives beautiful glimpses into a very diverse group of sports. The book advertises itself as containing the "best" sports writing of the century and for the most past I would certainly agree, and disagreement has to be expected when you declare something the best, so it is great reading. It is fine journalism, telling captivating stories about people and games, but it is also does an excellent job of showing the importance of sports beyond the fields of play. I would highly recommend the book to sports loves, aspiring journalists, and I would also recommend many of the pieces for people who cannot understand why sports lovers really love sports.


Once a Runner: A Novel
Once a Runner: A Novel
by John L. Parker Jr.
Edition: Paperback
53 used & new from $0.01

37 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gold Standard, November 24, 2002
This review is from: Once a Runner: A Novel (Paperback)
Once a Runner is the best running book I have ever read. Unlike training guides or running stories that spend far too much time explaining the beauty of running and trying to introduce people to the wonders of jogging around, Once A Runner really goes into the life and mind of a runner (though the book uses fictional characters, they are easily recognizable and realistic). It describes the dedication, hard work, and goofiness that is required to be successful and what makes runners a very unique, though cetainly interesting breed. The story itself, of a young college-aged runner and his quest to run the fastest mile he could while in school and after he got kicked out, is extremely well paced and smootly written, just as a good race. It is a fantastic book and I would highly recommend it for beginners, enthusiasts, or someone who just needs a little motivation.


Fall River Dreams: A Team's Quest for Glory, A Town's Search for Its Soul
Fall River Dreams: A Team's Quest for Glory, A Town's Search for Its Soul
by Bill Reynolds
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.14
174 used & new from $0.01

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Basketball Sociology, November 8, 2002
This is a terrific book. It is well written, has good characters, and explores some interesting cultural topics (high school sports, failing mill towns, youths in America, etc.). Fall River is one of the poorest towns in Massachusetts, but its one saving grace in the early 1990's was its successful basketball team. Life in the town revolved around the team, which provided some hope to some but certainly had negative consequences for many of the athletes and possibly the future of the city. It is a very similar tale to Friday Night Lights, which is probably the best sports book I have read, but is different enough that it is well worth reading. It is also fascinating to read about Chris Herren, who happens to be a classic example of a troubled athlete, before he he made headlines in college and joined the NBA. I really appreciated the focus on the town and the people rather than the actual games, which often dominates books of this genre and just distract from the compelling parts of the book. My only complaints about the book are that it wasn't particularly well edited (I caught several spelling errors that are particularly obnoxious in a mass punlished book, though really don't spoil the story in the slightest) and that it is not quite as detailed as it could have been considering the level of access Reynolds had to the kids and coaches. I would highly recommend this story to anyone and particularly sports fans or people who liked Friday Night Lights.


Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln
Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln
by Richard Slotkin
Edition: Paperback
56 used & new from $0.01

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mimicking the Greats, October 17, 2002
I will be quite honest, this is a bad book. The research Slotkin did about many of the often ignored events in Lincoln's formative years and the inclusion of some obscure celebrities of the 1830's is impressive, but attempts to connect the two are ridiculous. There is simply no reason to make up a fictional story about Lincoln's upbringing to make it interesting, unusual, and important to his political beliefs. It is thrown together haphazardly and Slotkin's attempts to occasionally use the vernacular (without rhyme or reason all of the characters and even the narrator go in and out of their unique dialects)do not help the story flow or add anything to the novel. Basically it seems that Slotkin is trying to take elements from Huck Finn, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and The Bible, stir them up and add a little sexual scandal to sell a book. It does not work and really makes for a disappointing read. I think historical novels about famous leaders are great, but there should be a thesis the author goes on to prove in it and the later part of that equation is sorely lacking here--Slotkin wants to show that Lincoln's trip down the Mississippi influenced Lincoln's future politics, but he never really demonstrates it even though he was free to make up any dialogue and events he liked in order to do it. Slotkin tried to do many things with this book, and I appreciate the effort, but it just does not work and going against the general feeling of most reviewers on Amazon, I cannot recommend this to anyone unless it all you have available to read.


The Bonfire of the Vanities
The Bonfire of the Vanities
by Tom Wolfe
Edition: Paperback
414 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up in Flames, October 2, 2002
Tom Wolfe is a great writer. He uses language beautifully, develops characters extremely well, and creates good drama. I would, however, say that he is a better essayist than novelist and I would recommend The Right Stuff or The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test over this book because they are more focussed and he keeps his story together better in them. With that said though, I would highly recommend Bonfire of the Vanities. Wolfe describes the socialites, lowlifes, politicians, reporters, and other various characters who populate the New York scene and all of their particular vanities in great detail. They are believable, whether they are likable or not is really besides the point, and they come to life with their authentic dialogue and charater flaws. It is a satirical book written by a very observant author, so even those who have not been exposed to this culture is able to become caught up in it and find themselves fascinated by the whole scene. I would recommend this book to anyone who like social critiques, interesting characters, good writing, and a fast paced story.


'Tis: A Memoir
'Tis: A Memoir
by Frank McCourt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.73
753 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wanting More, September 27, 2002
This review is from: 'Tis: A Memoir (Paperback)
Frank McCourt's sequel to Angela's Ashes lives up to the high expectations I brought to it after reading his first book. McCourt's rich and colorful stories about his life, presented in descriptive, simple, and direct language are always interesting and certainly eye opening to anyone fortunate enough not to grow up in the slums of New York and Limmerick. This story, which spans from the late 19040's until the mid-1980's, provides an excellent portarait of the cultural changes that took place in New York city during the time and the experience of a young immigrant's growth during this era. It isn't just a history though, it is a beautifully written and fascinating study of one man's life--his troubles and triumphs--that will absorb any reader. I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who wants to read a good book and is not afraid to get caught up in someone else's life.


Picnic, Lightning (Pitt Poetry Series)
Picnic, Lightning (Pitt Poetry Series)
by Billy Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.31
182 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humorously Engaging Poetry, September 25, 2002
All Billy Collins needs is an everyday event and he masterfully creates a beautiful, humorous, inviting scene that anyone would excite anyone. How could you not want to chop parsley while listening to jazz, shovel snow with Buddah, or flip through a Victoria's Secret catalog when he makes it all sound so exotic and wonderful. I am not a huge fan of poetry and I seldom take the time to analyze it deeply, but Collins is the finest and most interesting contemporary poet I know of and would highly recommend his poetry to anyone who likes a good laugh, creative use of language, and something to make them think. This is an excellent collection I am glad was recommended to me and I would certainly urge everyone I know to get at least a taste of Collins.


Danny the Champion of the World
Danny the Champion of the World
by Roald Dahl
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.13
124 used & new from $5.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chamioning Danny, September 24, 2002
Roald Dahl is the best children's story teller I have ever read. His stories are creative, compassionate, well written, and meaningful, which of course isn't nearly as important to young readers as the fact that they are just plain fun. Danny the Champion of the World is the story of a young boy and his widower father trying to poach pheasants from a local aristocrat's property. Their appoach is creative and their adventure is exciting, but their relationship is also touching and very effective. It is very easy book and enjoyable for children, and for adults who know how nice a realtionship with children like the one Danny and his father share, it is a touching story. This book is meant to be read aloud, but it is a wonderful story for anyone to read to themselves as well.


God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of 'Academic Freedom'
God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of 'Academic Freedom'
by William F. Buckley Jr.
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.97
112 used & new from $0.89

17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Provative Criticism, September 24, 2002
Buckley's 1951 conservative critique of higher education remains a viable argument today. Buckley, a recent graduate of Yale University at the time he wrote his book, feared that the mission of the university was being ignored in the name of academic honesty without the knowledge or approval of the alumni who give the Corporation the money it needs to operate. Yale's historical goal was to prepare men to be good Christians and American citizens, religious "individualists" in Buckley's terms, but he felt that professors with personal beliefs opposed to these ideas were diverting students from the path they and their parents were promised by the school's mission statement. It is a provacative argument whether you agree with it or not and is well worth exploring just to think a little deeper about higher education in America. The book is dated and the ample evidence Buckley used to prove his case is now rather meaningless to the contemporary reader, but it is still worth reading. I think most people interested in higher education will find the argument interesting even if they think it is ridiculous and it is well written and easy to understand so it is a good way to get your mind working.


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