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R. D. Allison (dallison@biochem.med.ufl.edu) RSS Feed (Gainesville, Florida, USA)

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The Light in the Forest
The Light in the Forest
by Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
247 used & new from $0.01

12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A surprising choice for Middle School students!, July 12, 1999
This short novel begins with a 1764 setting in the forests of central Ohio (near present-day Coshocton, Ohio) at the junction of the Muskingum, the Tuscarawas, and the Waldhoning Rivers. The book presents a somewhat romanticized picture of the American Indian at that time. The central character is John Cameron Butler, known as True Son in the Delaware tribe with which he has lived since he was four years old. He is now fifteen and his life is being uprooted once again. The Indians have signed a treaty in which they have to return all white captives to their original families, even those who don't wish to go. All John knows is his life as an Indian and now he has to return to the family (in Paxton, Pennsylvania, on the Susquehanna River) he hasn't seen for eleven years. But, he doesn't fit in there and he finds himself caught between two cultures. Although very well written, it appears that Richter is suggesting that Indian/colonists interactions were doomed from the very beginning. One culture had to win and one had to lose. He presents the case where neither culture appeared willing to tolerate nor to understand the other. And, in more general terms, in my opinion Richter seems to hint that all such cultural conflicts are fated to fail. This is a rather sad commentary on man. I certainly hope it is not true and that there are good chances for Serb/Albanian, Irish/English, Indian/Pakistani, etc., interactions. This book is often used in reading assignments for students ranging from ages eleven through fourteen. I find it also a depressing thought that such a dark vision of man's capacity for tolerance and understanding is being presented to young, impressionable minds. I would have hoped that teachers in the 1990s would have found literary sources with a less negative outlook. It would appear that some of the negative reviews provided by earlier, and much younger, readers have some validity.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2014 8:11 AM PST


Penrod (Library of Indiana Classics)
Penrod (Library of Indiana Classics)
by Booth Tarkington
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.53
94 used & new from $0.01

50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Being a boy!, July 1, 1999
"Penrod" is the humorous story of a twelve-year-old boy, Penrod Schofield, growing up in pre-World War I mid-west. He, with his dog Duke and his friends Sam Williams and the black brothers Herman and Vernon, are constantly getting into scrapes with adults. This is a celebration of the joys of boyhood. But, one wonders what counselors and behavioral psychologists and certain physicians would do today if Penrod Schofield got into their clutches! They might even put him on medication. For just being a boy!!....."They were upon their great theme: 'When I get to be a man!' Being human, though boys, they consider their present estate too commonplace to be dwelt upon. So, when the old men gather, they say: "When I was a boy!" It really is the land of nowadays that we never discover."


The Magnificent Ambersons (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)
The Magnificent Ambersons (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)
by Booth Tarkington
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.80
89 used & new from $0.01

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Tarkington's best novel., July 1, 1999
This novel by Tarkington won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Actually, this is the second novel in a trilogy (the other two being "The Turmoil" (1915) and "The Midlander" (1923)). The novel chronicles three generations of a leading family in Indiana, including their period of decline. Major Amberson, who had earlier acquired a fortune, is the dominating head of a socially prominent family in the midwest U.S. His daughter Isabel is in love with Eugene Morgan but, through a misunderstanding, they break off their relationship. Isabel marries a man with whom she has little feelings and gives birth to a son, George, who grows up conceited and arrogant. Eugene, now a widower, returns to the midwest with his daughter Lucy and starts up an automobile factory. Lucy falls in love with George and Isabel and Eugene begin seeing each other again. But, George is appalled that his mother is considering marrying someone outside of their class. He takes her overseas to prevent the marriage but later brings her back when she is dying. The Amberson's fortune is now depleted, George is forced to start working for a living at a chemical plant, and his old friends appear to applaud his "comeuppance." But, after an automobile accident, George, Eugene, and Lucy, who still is in love with George, are reconciled. The story of the Ambersons represent the changes that U.S. society has undergone, particularly near the turn of the century: those in upper society who earned their places by heredity are slowly being replaced by those who earned their position by their achievements in industry, business, and in finance (that is, by their own labors). George had been unwilling to change. Perhaps it is appropriate that it is an automobile that forces him to realize this. In July of 1998, the editorial board of the Modern Library listed this book as one of the top 100 novels written in the English language for the twentieth century. I do feel that a response is needed to Mr. Ted Ficklen of St. Louis (of Aug. 12, 1998) who gave the book a poor review. I certainly was not an English major yet I read "The Magnificent Ambersons" long before the Modern Library list had come out. And, I knew of Booth Tarkington; the Penrod books were on my shelves when I was a kid. You may not know of Tarkington but others obviously have; there aren't too many authors who have won two Pulitzer Prizes in Fiction.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2009 10:23 AM PDT


These Happy Golden Years (Little House)
These Happy Golden Years (Little House)
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.29
494 used & new from $0.01

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last book in the series published before her death., June 30, 1999
This book, which was a 1944 Newbery Honor Book (that is, a runner-up to the Medal winner), continues the autobiography of Mrs. Wilders (1867-1957) through the years 1883 to 1885 when the author was 15 to 18 years old. It begins immediately after the events described in "Little Town on the Prairie"; she immediately begins her career as a school teacher in a very small schoolhouse about twelve miles to the south of De Smet, South Dakota (although South Dakota doesn't become a state until 1889). Through experimentation, practice, and management, she becomes a good school teacher and is able to keep up with her own studies. And, at the same time, earn enough money to help keep her sister Mary in a college for the blind in Iowa. Almanzo Wilder (1857-1949) continues to court her and drives her home each weekend in a horse-drawn sleigh. As time goes by their friendship turns to love and they are married and Laura goes off to Almanzo's homestead to have her own little house on the prairie. Throughout the book, the author continues to include details of frontier/homesteader life that brings that part of our history to life and shows how people worked hard to overcome difficulties, never giving up. In my opinion, this is the best written of all of the books in the series. It also shows the love that Laura and Almanzo truly had for each other.


The Late George Apley
The Late George Apley
by John P. Marquand
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from $39.00

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb use of understatement., June 29, 1999
This review is from: The Late George Apley (Hardcover)
This novel by Marquand won the 1938 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. In this book, a writer named Willing, an old friend of George Apley, is requested by Apley's son John to collect all of the late Apley's correspondence and use them to form a biography. Although Willing is using them to eulogize Apley and to describe the life of upper-class Bostonians, the reader feels pity at the waste of a life and how a man's class and upbringing can quelch his own desires and thoughts. The book is an excellent example of the use of understatement. However, I am shocked to discover that this fairly well known Pulitzer Prize winner is out-of-print. Surely this is the publisher's fault.


Borders of Infinity (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures)
Borders of Infinity (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures)
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Paperback
71 used & new from $0.01

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A collection of short stories in the Vorkosigan series., June 28, 1999
This is a collection of short-stories in the Miles Vorkosigan space opera series. Each story takes place at a different point in Miles' career. One of these stories, "The Mountains of Mourning" (1989), where Miles has to deal with the prejudices of his own planet, won a Nebula Award for best science fiction short story of the year. If I could, I would probably award the book three-and-a-half stars.


The Vor Game
The Vor Game
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
87 used & new from $0.01

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can Miles survive being a weather officer?, June 28, 1999
This story in the Miles Vorkosigan series takes place about three years after the events described in "The Warrior's Apprentice" (1986). The book won the 1991 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel of the year. {It has been only eight years since this novel won the Hugo Award. How could the publisher be out of stock??} Miles has just graduated from military college and gets his first assignment: as a meteorology officer stationed on an isolated weather station on Barrayar! After a few adventures, he has to regain control of his mercenary troops, save his emperor, and avert an invasion. This series is very popular with fans of space opera, with novels of space battles, and with tales of palace intrigues.


Brothers in Arms
Brothers in Arms
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
107 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are we seeing double; or is Miles split?, June 28, 1999
This is another volume in the Vorkosigan series, a space opera with plenty of action. It follows the events described in the short story "The Borders of Infinity" where there is an amzing escape from prison. Miles and his mercenary troop reach Earth for repairs, find that their payroll is missing, and discover a plot to replace him, apparently by a clone (but, Miles doesn't think that is possible: his fragile bone structure is not genetic disorder).


Ethan of Athos
Ethan of Athos
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
162 used & new from $0.01

4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A planet needing to reproduce but where women are forbidden., June 28, 1999
This novel, which is a part of Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan space opera series, nevertheless does not utilize Miles as a central character. Ethan Urquhart is a physician on the planet Athos, a planet which has no women and only gay men (in fact, women are forbidden to even land on the planet)! A rather unusual story. The planet has purchased certain ova so that new cell cultures can be made (the men on Athos are grown via a cell culture process). A problem in genetics has arisen and fresh ova are needed. However, the viable ova are not delivered and Ethan has to travel off planet to solve the mystery. In so doing, he becomes enmeshed in interplanetary politics and has to interact with one of the "dreaded" females (Elli Quinn, Miles top assistant). But, given the unusual premise, it is still not clear to me why the men of Athos regard women as repellent and evil. That certainly is not the impression that one gets today. Is Ms. Bujold suggesting that the gay community is intolerant? I don't think she is; nevertheless, that is the sense one gets.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2008 12:41 AM PDT


The Warrior's Apprentice
The Warrior's Apprentice
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
39 used & new from $0.01

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miles Vorkosigan begins his legendary career., June 28, 1999
This science fiction novel deals with the start of the military and mercenary career of Miles Vorkosigan, son of Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan of the planet Barrayar. The assassination attempt made at the end of the novel "Barrayar" (1991) has given Miles a stunted growth and very brittle bones. He is now seventeen years old and tries to qualify for Barrayar's military school but fails. Then, during a vacation on another planet, he finds himself involved in an interplanetary war in which he improvises a mercenary force. Later, upon returning to Barrayar, he finds himself the focus of a plot to destroy the political power of his father. The book, as are most of the books in the Vorkosigan series, are very quickly read and most fans of space operas or of science/military fiction really enjoy them.


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