Category Archives: Educational

Does That Make Her Pretentious?

A thick drizzle from the sky, like a curtain’s sudden sweeping. The seabirds stopped their tuning, the ocean went mute. Houselights over the water dimmed to gray.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Goff

It is easy to find a wide range of reactions to this book. Whether you love it, hate it, or somewhere in between, a quick look at Goodreads or Amazon reviews will take you to someone who agrees completely with you.

I moved around a lot as a child, went to a different school every 6 to 18 months. I missed large chunks of educational basics because they were being taught in different grades at the different schools (I’ve never taken a geometry class something I often mention when playing pool or parallel parking). I was a precocious reader, but never studied Shakespeare, mythology, or many literature classics.

I took a long time for me to make the connection between the title and Greek Tragedy, and while reading the book I encountered many references that I only understood as much as you can get from watching Disney’s animated Hercules a few dozen times. My reaction to this was to be reminded that you might not ever need Algebra once you’ve left school, but a good literature class can stay with you forever.

Apparently other readers encountered references they didn’t completely understand either, but their reaction was to call the writing (or even the author) pretentious. I bet there is a myth or a fable that I could use as an analogy to demonstrate why it is wrong to cast aspersions at something just because you don’t understand it – but, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t have that base of knowledge. So I’ll just go with, I think that is a cheap shot.

Otherwise, my brief review: I thought the Fates section would never end and came close to quitting a couple of times, but once I started on Furies, I couldn’t put it down. I would like to read an edited version, I’m betting there are complete paragraphs that could be cut that would only improve the reading experience. One of these days, after I’ve got a bit of Greek Tragedy added to my reading history, I think I’ll pick it up and read it again.


Leave a comment

Filed under Educational, I Need To Read This Again, The New York Times Book Review, Writing

History As It Should Be Taught

On the evening of May 19, 1903, in the University Club in San Francisco, a group of well-to-do men were sharing drinks and conversation. The talk centered on President Theodore Roosevelt’s political fortunes, recent flooding along the Mississippi River, and the changes that the Boston Pilgrims might take the pennant in the brand-new American league. Then the discussion turned to another topic: the future of a new machine that only recently had been showing up on the streets of major American cities – the automobile.

Horatio’s Drive America’s First Road Trip by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns

This is the companion book to the documentary film of the same name. Thanks to Netflix and Amazon prime, I am able to indulge my love of documentaries on almost any topic and that is how I ended up watching the film and then reading the book.

I thought I would end up just skimming the book, after all I had already seen the documentary, but both the story and the writing grabbed my attention and I read every word of it.

Horatio’s Drive took me back 113 years with the adventures of the two men, Horatio Nelson Jackson and Sewall Crocker (Horatio’s mechanic), along with a bulldog named Bud that they picked up early on the trip. Much of the story is told from Jackson’s letters to his wife, which, because I did see the documentary, I read in Tom Hanks’ voice.

A fun and easy read, I only wish all history could be learned with books like this!


Leave a comment

Filed under Educational, See The Movie, Read The Book