Profile for DaLaoHu > Reviews

Browse

DaLaoHu's Profile

Customer Reviews: 70
Top Reviewer Ranking: 25,479
Helpful Votes: 505




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
DaLaoHu RSS Feed (Portland, OR)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
pixel
The Golovlyov Family (Russian Edition)
The Golovlyov Family (Russian Edition)
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, quirky little book, May 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I found this to be one of the oddest, yet at the same time readable and enjoyable novels that I have ever come across. I never was sure whether to take it seriously or as a spoof. It has extended passages of truly heartfelt pathos, interspersed with other passages that read more like a 19th century Russian version of a Saturday Night Live skit. It is still a mystery to me just what the author intended. And yet strangely enough, that is also the book's strength. I think this is because the lives of the book's characters are so incredibly banal (with the exception of Anninka's), that this story could not possibly sustain interest without the tension between these two seemingly opposite points of view. For, yes, this story does grab you as a reader and pull you along, even though you keep asking yourself why? (And what better mark could there be of great literature?) This is definitely thumbs up material. Read it.

Footnote: I did not read this version, but the version recently put out by NYRB Classics. Which seems to be no longer listed by Amazon, though in fact I purchased it through Amazon not too long ago. Must be part of the new book wars that I just read about in the New York Times.


Otogizoshi: The Fairy Tale Book of Dazai Osamu
Otogizoshi: The Fairy Tale Book of Dazai Osamu
by Osamu Dazai
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.00
28 used & new from $9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars clever stories, so-so translation, April 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have no problem with the stories. In fact, I found this book to be a delightful read. (Delightful? I can't believe I keep using these words for Japanese fiction. Only they fit). I found the author's reworking of the characters to be both clever and insightful, especially when you consider that he is supposedly huddled up in a wartime bunker while composing these tales. But I do have a problem with the translation. I have not read the Japanese version, but I imagine the translator was simply trying to mimic a folksy style in the original. So far, so good. But he overdoes it, to the extent that it no longer reads like Japanese but like an only modestly talented British writer trying to imitate Japanese. Perhaps it's just me, but much of the dialogue in this book seems like it could be seamlessly incorporated into a work like, say, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Translators beware: Colloquialisms in one language do not necessarily come off well as colloquialisms in another. Still, this should not dissuade you the reader from picking up this book. It reads fast and is well worth your time.


Lapse of Time (Panda Series)
Lapse of Time (Panda Series)
by An-i Wang
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from $1.95

4.0 out of 5 stars touching portrait of chinese family life, March 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I always approach a book like this with a certain amount of trepidation. First, it is a collection of short stories, and one never knows with such collections whether or not the stories will blend well together. Second, I am a male, and although it may be politically incorrect to make such an observation, the truth is that sometimes works by female authors leave me cold. But I am happy to say that in this case, my trepidation was unwarranted. The stories do blend well together. In fact, it almost reads like one continuous novel that just happens to be segmented into different settings and different points of view. And if you have spent any time at all with short story collections, you know that that is a very high compliment. Also, even for a scruffy old male like me, I found the stories to be quite touching. I wanted to say that they are not overly sentimental, but that is not really true. They are certainly sentimental, but like with the Chinese in general, the sentiment tends to be hidden beneath many layers. It reminds you of the saying: Still Water Runs Deep. The beauty of Wang's prose is that she slowly guides you into the depths of those waters and allows you to view the sentiment as you will, without feeling like you are being forced into any particular point of view. For a reader who is only familiar with Western fiction, these stories might seem to move incredibly slow. But in fact I do not think that I have ever read a better portrait of Chinese family life, as it is, (and I am married into a Chinese family). This book is well worth the time to read, even for us men. Perhaps especially for us men.


Paths of Glory (Penguin Classics)
Paths of Glory (Penguin Classics)
by Humphrey Cobb
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.18
62 used & new from $5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars where has this book been all these years?, February 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Like almost everyone else, I was drawn to this book from first having seen the movie. Which is a shame, in a way, because this is an excellent book, (although the movie is quite good as well). And I couldn't help wondering the entire time I was reading it: Why isn't this book better known? Every one knows about "All Quiet on the Western Front," but in my opinion this book is even better. I have never read such a vivid description of trench warfare, and it would be hard to top the penetrating insights he gives into the minds of the soldiers (officers and enlisted men both) who fought in those trenches. That this is an anti-war statement is obvious, but then so was "All Quiet." So why is the one so popular and well known, while the other is so hidden and obscure? Is it because the one portrays our "enemies" while the other portrays our "allies?" Is it because the message at the end is so bleak? It's a mystery to me. But whatever the reason, if you do happen to stumble upon this book like the rest of us -- pick it up, buy it, read it. Yes, it is that good. You will not be disappointed.


Cat Country
Cat Country
Price: $7.46

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars in the spirit of twain or orwell, January 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Cat Country (Kindle Edition)
I just read in the New York Times where Lao She once spoke at a commemoration of Mark Twain. (For a time Lao She was a resident of the U.S.) It seems only appropriate. Although comparisons of this work with George Orwell are only too obvious, there are definitely strains of Mark Twain lurking in these pages as well. This is a bitingly savage satire of Chinese society, as only a fellow Chinese could have written it. Although some of the particulars will no doubt resonate more strongly with those who have actually spent time in China, the general themes of this novel are such as would be meaningful anywhere. Apparently Lao She disavowed this book and his use of humor and satire in favor of an almost equally bleak realism not long after he wrote it, and certainly such later works as Rickshaw Boy and Crescent Moon are also legitimate classics, but in perhaps the most tragically ironic twist of all, he was later hounded to death during the Cultural Revolution in a scenario that could have been lifted right from these very pages that he had written almost forty years earlier. (A fate which even Orwell and Twain did not have to endure).

In my opinion, this is Lao She's best work. Read it.

Oh, and lest we get too smug, there are aspects of this book (the revery leaves, for instance, or the educational system) which strike home in contempoary America as well.


Tales of Moonlight and Rain (Translations from the Asian Classics)
Tales of Moonlight and Rain (Translations from the Asian Classics)
by Akinari Ueda
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $31.50
54 used & new from $15.11

4.0 out of 5 stars this book is a treasure, October 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
What a marvelous little book! (Marvelous? I can't believe I actually used that term, only in this case it truly does fit). There are so many books I have read that were too long and I wished had been shorter, but this is one of those rare volumes that seemed too short and I wished had been longer. I just wanted to keep reading ... and reading. This is my first foray into classical Japanese fiction, although I am a big fan of Japanese cinema, (and was led here by the movie Ugetsu). Any one have any suggestions for further reading?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 9, 2013 10:45 AM PST


'What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?': Jimmy Carter, America's 'Malaise,' and the Speech That Should Have Changed the Country
'What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?': Jimmy Carter, America's 'Malaise,' and the Speech That Should Have Changed the Country
by Kevin Mattson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.40
39 used & new from $5.82

3.0 out of 5 stars some personal odds and ends, October 5, 2013
As with this author's book about Nixon, I would highly recommend that you google this speech and watch the entire version for yourself. A good time to do this would be between chapters four and five. Like me, you might end up with a slightly different take than the author presents.

First of all, let me state that I was around in 1979, and I have absolutely no memory of this speech. Yes, in the end it is a good speech, but the first seven minutes start out so slowly that I imagine many people, like I must have done, simply tuned out before they ever got to the meat of it. Also, the author implies that the speech left people hanging at the end, but if you watch it yourself you will see that Carter lays out, and quite forcefully, a good half dozen actions he intends to take up in the energy sphere. And indeed he did try to take these up (as, to his credit, the author does eventually portray), only to see a reluctant Congress, his own bungling, and his questionable team of advisers (in addition to the next President) all finally come together to derail his proposals before they could ever get off the ground.

I remember at the time that the consensus opinion on Carter was that he was a good man surrounded by poor advisers, and this book does go to show that this original opinion was probably correct.

A few additional points concerning this time period. Yes, disco was the fad of the hour, but I think most people with any intelligence were fully aware that it was only that, a musical fad. And as we all know, musical fads come and go. I don't think it can be held to be representative of anything beyond that. There was also more serious fare out there: Boston, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Kansas, Billy Joel, etc. And also a burgeoning punk movement. It was not totally a musical graveyard. And trust me, what was important to Andy Warhol had absolutely zero influence on mainstream America.

As to Disco Demolition Night, the author has completely misread that situation. (And I grew up as a White Sox fan, so I am not just flinging darts through the shadows). Bill Veeck was first and foremost a promoter, and had been all his life. Hey, this is the guy who once, in the early 1940's, sent a midget, an actual midget, to the plate in the middle of an official baseball game. This guy was not afraid to take chances. He is also the one who introduced the exploding scoreboard into American sports. Hey, he entitled his own autobiography, years before Disco Demolition Night, "Veeck as in Wreck." This was nothing other than a Bill Veeck promotion that went bad, and nothing more should be read into it. And in fact, those Sox fans who rioted were not jealous that they were not part of the disco scene. Quite the contrary, they hated disco (as did many of us) and were extremely proud to be not part of that scene.

This is already a longer review than I am accustomed to writing, but then again, as I already mentioned, I lived through this era, and in reading this book a lot of points came home to me. So please be patient, and also bear in mind that this is merely my point of view. Others would have other takes on this.

But to me, it seems very unfair that the '70s became labeled as the Me-Generation. Perhaps it was to Tom Wolfe, who labeled the term, and after all was a follower (or rather observer) of Andy Warhol and people like that. But as I look back on it now, the '70s was simply a great shaking out period from the traumas of the '60s. Because we did go through all those assassinations, and we did go through the Vietnam War, and we did go through the race riots, and we did go through Watergate. (I know, I know, Watergate was not in the '60s, but to me it was the exclamation point that finally put an end to the '60s). And these, being all bundled together like they were, were truly traumatic. And this is not even to mention all the profound cultural changes we went through.

And it is only natural that after traumatic events, people tend to step back and look inside themselves to see who they really are. And this is what we were going through in the '70s, both individually and as a nation. Some of the places we looked seem rather ludicrous from this distance, but then again people recovering from traumas do not always make the wisest decisions. But I do not think that the primary emphasis (again, with the possible exception of Andy Warhol and his ilk) in most of this was in the "me" of "what's in it for me?" but in the "me" of "what might make me a better (or rather complete, i.e. emotionally healthy) person again?" There is a big difference.

In conclusion, at least from my point of view, it was not this speech that brought Carter down. It was the Iran hostage crisis that was his undoing, and especially the bungling of our attempt to free those hostages. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Especially in contrast to the Russians' seemingly effortless charge into Afghanistan, (for we did not yet realize that this would finally turn out to be their own Vietnam).

The way I see it now, we left that 1970's almost equally divided as to which direction we wanted to take as a nation. Whether we wanted to become (as George Bush the first would eventually, and somewhat ironically, say) a "kinder and gentler" nation, more geared to solving our own internal problems and taking collective care of ourselves, while backing away somewhat from being the world's policeman. Or whether to return to the gung-ho and never entirely realistic vision of the 1950's in which, by gawd, we were the chosen people, and we could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and wherever we wanted.

And have been paying the price of our decision ever since.

Thanks again for your patience, and understand that this is just one person's point of view.


China: the collapse of a civilization,
China: the collapse of a civilization,
by Nathaniel Peffer
Edition: Hardcover
3 used & new from $20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars timeless piece of analysis, September 28, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I can't believe I am reviewing a title that has been out of print for over fifty years and that probably no one will ever look at, but then again I stumbled upon it and so perhaps you will too. And if you have, let me just say this. This book is a gem. It was published in 1930, just before Mao Zedong rose to prominence (in fact this may be one of the few books about modern China that you will ever read in which his name does not appear even once) and before the Japanese began invading the mainland. So just from that you can see that you will be getting a perspective that you have probably never encountered before. And if that is not enough, this author seems to really know his stuff. Not only does he give you a vivid portrayal of just what China was like during the warlord period of the 1920s, he also provides a perceptive analysis of the situation back then that in many aspects is still relevant to the situation in China today. It turns out, apparently, that many of the problems of modern China that we now attribute to the chaos of the Chairman Mao era were actually already problems before Chairman Mao even arrived on the scene. This is fascinating reading. Hunt down an old library copy like I did or try to find a copy through interlibrary loan. You will be glad that you did.


Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon's Checkers Speech and the "Rocking, Socking" Election of 1952
Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon's Checkers Speech and the "Rocking, Socking" Election of 1952
by Kevin Mattson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.60
47 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars watch the entire speech, September 28, 2013
I don't have much to add beyond what other reviewers have commented upon except to add this: when you get to the end of chapter four and before beginning chapter five, make sure you google the speech and watch the entire version. This is important. You must see it yourself; you will be amazed. I am an admitted Nixon hater from way back (though fortunately not that far back) and I was totally blown away. It really is a powerful performance, and puts the entire book -- indeed, Nixon's entire career -- into a new perspective.


Legends of Guatemala (Spanish and English Edition)
Legends of Guatemala (Spanish and English Edition)
by Miguel Angel Asturias
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.05
40 used & new from $10.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars spanish, si; english, no, September 8, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Of necessity, this will be a review of two separate books: the Spanish version and the English translation.

First, the Spanish version. This is Miguel Asturias, and for that reason alone you can hardly go wrong. That is, you can hardly go wrong if you love rhythmic language and poetic imagery, for this is where Asturias shines. Reading him in his own language truly is like viewing a kaleidoscope. But like all of Asturias' works, once you get past his imagery and try to probe into his intentions, you are suddenly left to navigate through a dense and seemingly impenetrable fog. Sometimes I wonder whether Asturias himself always knew what he was trying to say. Still, for me, the language itself is enough, and I don't (and probably neither should you) worry too much about the meaning.

Which brings us to the English translation. This translator is apparently considered an expert in his field, and I won't dispute that. Even if you were a native Spanish reader (which I am not), I think Asturias would be difficult to follow, and I was very glad to have this translation to keep me on the right track. Technically, he probably does as well as is possible. It's just that he seems to have no ear for poetic rhythm. And poetic rhythm is the very heart of Asturias. Perhaps it's just me, but when I read the Spanish version I feel like I am flowing along in a melodious current, whereas when I read the English version I feel like when I am moving at all, I am only lurching along in fits and starts.

Which is to say that if you can read Spanish, and enjoy poetic language, this book would be well worth your while. But if you can only read English, it would be better to pass. As to the legends themselves, in either case, be prepared to dig hard if you intend to make sense of them.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7