Saturday, January 31, 2015


Book:  Group f.64
Author: Mary Street Alinder
Edition: eBook on Overdrive from the Fresno County Public Library
Read: January 31, 2015
745 pages
Rated: 2  out of 5

In 17 chapters, Alinder looks at the lives of the Group f.64. She lays out facts, with some lengthy quotes from some of the principals of the group.

I was disappointed in this book, on several levels. Alinder was an assistant to Ansel Adams so she had access to many of the Group f.64 people. This part shows through. She was able to talk with many of the main people and able to look through their papers and bodies of work. This part shows through well. There is an amazing amount of detail.

But I think that may have been one of the problems. She was too close to the group with too many details. Instead of a book which allows me to understand these outstanding photographers and see the hardships they needed to go through to get recognition for their work, I felt like there was a mass of information, loosely collected around each of the principals of the group. 

Between using first names all the way through, even when there was duplicates, it become hard to understand who she was talking about. Which Edward is this? Weston? Maybe somebody else. Another this is her organization. Most of the chapters are organized around a principal of the f.64 group. This was an OK arrangement. But the problem with it is that a lot of the stories are overlapping, so you are left with trying to figure out, didn't I read this someplace else?  Lastly, as a means of documenting the facts of these lives, she did a wonderful job. But much of what she did could have been reduced to a series of timelines. 

I wish that Alinder would have gone more into who these people were, why and how did they photograph the way they did. I also would have been a lot more interested in her talking about Ansel Adam's love of the Sierra's than what she did-but she probably did in her Adams biography. After reading this book, I am no more inspired to be do good photography than I was before.

New Words:

  • Cognoscenti (128): people who are considered to be especially well informed about a particular subject.
  • Sycophant (263): a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.
  • Fecund (264): producing or capable of producing an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertile.
  • daguerreotype (467):i ntroduced in the early 1840s as the first publicly available and commercially successful photographic process to gain widespread use.

Good Quotes:

  • First Line: In 1932 an energetic alliance of dedicated San Francisco Bay Area photographers burst upon the art world, demanding local attention and looking beyond to the East Coast.
  • Last Line: Christi Yates provided Beaumont with caring companionship until his death from a stroke on February 26, 1993.
  •  Keep all things simple as possible so as not to divert the mind from what is truly important-creative work.(83)

Table of Contents:

Prologue, ix,
1. October 1932, 1,
I. Edward Weston, 1,
II. Sonya Noskowiak, 26,
III. Willard Van Dyke, 30,
IV. Imogen Cunningham, 39,
V. Ansel Adams, 51,
2. The Party, 68,
3. Group f.64, 82,
4. The Exhibition, 92,
5. Unsung Heroes, 111,
6. A Major Loss, 126,
7. The Way of Stieglitz, 135,
8. A Tale of Two Galleries, 145,
9. The Enemy Mortensen, 156,
10. Expansion, 169,
11. Divergence, 181,
12. Reaching Out, 193,
13. Relevance, 200,
14. Moving On, 214,
15. A Time to Soar, 226,
16. We Are Not Alone, 240,
17. Seeing Straight, 257,
Epilogue: After 1940, 273,
Acknowledgments, 294,
Appendix 1. Group f.64 and Closely Related Exhibitions, 1932-1940, 297,
Appendix 2. M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, Photography Exhibitions, 1930-1940, 308,
Appendix 3. 683 Brockhurst, Oakland, California, Exhibitions, 1933-1935, 312,
Appendix 4. Ansel Adams Gallery, 166 Geary Street, San Francisco, Exhibitions and Events, 1933-1934, 314,
Notes, 316,
Photograph credits, 377,
Index, 379,


      Friday, January 23, 2015

      The Distant Land of My Father

      Book: The Distant Land of My Father
      Author:Bo Caldwell
      Edition: _2001 Hardback from Fresno County Public Library
      Read: January 23, 2015
      373 pages
      Rated: 4 out of 5

      Anna is born in China, probably Shanghai and lives her first several years there. Her father is in love with the city and exposes her to the wonders of it. As World War II approaches, her mother takes her away, back to Pasadena and her family. Anna's father finds excuses to stay and is captured by the Japanese and held through internment. When he is repatriated, he finds a way to go back. After the war, he stays. Anna and her mother come back, but find out about her father's infidelities. They return and Anna is estranged from her father. The communists take over China and the father is held again as a prisoner. Several years later he is released and lives in Southern California, apart from his wife and daughter. After Anna's mother dies, he becomes part of her life again until he dies. At this point Anna realizes how what her father is like. There is at the end, a reconciliation of sorts.

      But the real story is Anna's emotions as she goes through all of this. Her love for her father. The hurt she feels from his infidelity. The a-loneness she feels by not having him around. The melancholy once he is gone.

      Landmarks. (8) In the story, this is the contrast between parents. The father knows the city; the mother uses a set of familiar places to get her bearings. This is sort of symbolic of their relationship withe city. Joesph isn't in love with it, the mother tolerates it and is glad to leave. How do you find the things in your life? Also the grandmother tells her to look for the Tarzan Tree-an oak growing on a corner. That way Anna will know her Grandmother is close.

      Father is a fix it man. (8)

      Where did Joseph get his easy charm? From living in China? From his Nazarenne missionary parents? Just a natural characteristic of him?

      Caldwell gives a few subtle, hints to the reader about Joseph's infidelity. At the beginning of the story, he is asked what keeps him in Shanghai. He turns red, but replies business. The turning red says there is something more than just business. Our guilt will find us out. But there was also the caring for his family. While being interned in a Japanese camp, it was a picture of his wife and Anna is what he would turn to.

      Caldwell also talks about the blindness which greed will cause. When foreigners were vacating Shanghai, Joseph Schoene could see nothing but the money he was making. He would rather make his money than return to the States to be with his wife and child.  The same can be said about comfort. When we are comfortable, we become like an ostrich and stick our heads in the sand. He realizes this once the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. But makes the same mistake after the war.

      During World War II, Allied citizens were repatriated. in the story, the first wave were embassy personnel and essentials. But then two years later other Allied citizens were done. About the same time which I was reading this book, NPR had a story on repatriation. It basically said that not all of the Japanese who were swapped wanted to go back to Japan. Not only did they not want to go back, but some had never been to Japan and were American born.

      There is some items Caldwell seems to fixate on, such as teak wood and Morris chairs.

      When you read about the punishments which Caldwell describes the Japanese used on Joseph, you realize they are not too different than what Americans used on the Taliban and Iraqs. Water torture, beatings, sleep deprivation. Did we use any of these on either Japanese prisoners or internees?

      I like the description of Eve and Joseph's reading habits. Eve is to read immediately and then get rid of the magazine. Keep the house from being cluttered. But Joseph is described as a reader, but it was never just one book. (187) He leaves books around wherever he is. The sad thing is tht because of his internment, he cannot concentrate and may not finish or remember a book.

      What makes us content? Anna describes it as not just happy, but something deeper, quieter, as though the three of us had finally landed. (200) This is in  a section where she and her father is working on the backyard. she hears the clinking of ice in a glass and her mother moving inside. Sounds give us the cues we need to know that all is well. Of course, all of this contentment is broken the next moment when her father announces that he is being sent to China as a liasion between Chinese and American forces.

      Some books start with a bang and end in a whimper. This book starts slowly, enough so, I was wondering if it would be worth reading. But I was reading it for my book group, so I preserved and found my reward. So gentle readers, continue on through the first part, it lays the ground work for the story to come. Caldwell has done her research and as such, has laid a foundation for the details of her story. The details is what draws the reader into Anna's world.

      Caldwell talks about a child growing up in China, Shanghai to be more exact. She and her mother left before the World War II invasion by the Japanese. The father stayed to look after business interests and paid the price by being imprisoned. He was not content with staying around Pasadena after the war, so he found a way to become a liaison between the Americans and Chinese forces. Then landing in Shanghai at the end of the war. The daughter found he was not the perfect father as a growing daughter will discover and becomes estranged from him, staying with her mother. When the Communists take over China, the father is captured and imprisoned again for several years. He is expelled from China. But this is not feel good story of Father-daughter-wife reunion, but the story of a long, coming together.

      The real storyline is the story of a daughters love, the hurt of betrayal and the eventual forgiveness and reconciliation. The story is told well, making the reader understand the daughter's hurt and why she cannot forgive, until she see's the father as a broken man, the way her mother saw him.

      There are under-currents in the book as well. Things like the greed of capitalism, the culture of China, and love destroyed. Particularly the background on China is done well. Caldwell has done her research and brings you into the the China of the 1930's, even though at times she gets a bit fixated on things like teak wood and Morris chairs. Still, stick with the book and it will stick with you.

      Notes from my book group:

      Reading Group Guide

      1. What kinds and what degrees of actual and imagined disloyalty, from the political to the personal, occur in the novel? What kinds and what degrees of actual and imagined betrayal? What does the author appear to be saying about disloyalty and betrayal, and about the possibilities of reconciliation and forgiveness?

      2. Anna says of her father, "I had a landmark of my own, a place I always started from to get wherever I was going, a reference point for everything I did." (8) What are the advantages and disadvantages of making one person such a landmark in one's life? What burdens might it place upon that other person, and what dangers might it pose for oneself?

      3. After Joseph's kidnapping, Anna's mother tells her, "Your father is somewhat unpredictable. . . . He has strong ideas and people don't always agree with those ideas, and he does what he wants, whether people like it or not. And sometimes it gets him into trouble." (48) What does get Joseph Schoene into trouble, and how? What are the consequences of his doing what he wants? To what extent is he irresponsible in not thinking through the impact of his actions?

      4. In what ways might the contrast between the street scenes during the Battle of Shanghai and the reception at the Cercle Sportif emphasize the perennial differences between the haves and the have-nots of this world? What other manifestations of this theme occur in the novel? What contemporary or historical parallels might there be with the attitude of the European and American businessmen and the wealthy Chinese in 1937 Shanghai?

      5. What notion and what actuality of home are cherished by each of the Schoenes and the other importantcharacters? How might we explain the differences or attitude and perception among them and the consequences of those differences? How would you define home?

      6. Anna says of her father's refusal to leave Shanghai, "There was too much money to be made, too much opportunity, to just walk away." (133) What are the personal, social, political, and moral consequences of basing one's decisions, values, and actions solely on business and money-making opportunities?

      7. "We were both so good at catering to him, at revolving around him," Anna says of her and her mother's relationship to Joseph. (203) What model of family life does Caldwell present? Is it a model with which you are familiar? Is it a model that seems widespread in the United States today?

      8. After Joseph's "breezy" telegram arrives from Shanghai at the end of September 1945, Anna's grandmother tells her: "Your father is a difficult man. I'm sure he has his good side, and I suspect his heart is sometimes in the right place. But his intentions never become actions . . . It's not a question of love. It's a question of who he is, and what he wants." (216) Do these statements and the observations that follow constitute an accurate assessment of Joseph Schoene and his behavior? Is it, with him, never a question of love? To what extent is it true that "he has no vision . . . and always will be an opportunist"? (216)

      9. What specific capabilities make Genevieve "a master of adaptability" and self-transformation (249) How would you describe Joseph Schoene's skills at adapting? What adaptations and self-transformations does each undertake? What incidents show most dramatically or most convincingly the rea circumstances, and consequences-and the limitations-of their adaptive powers? How and why do others undergo transformations? With what results?

      10. "Anything is possible in these times. There is no limit to what is now possible," says the Russian trustee, Nikolai Petrovich, in Ward Road Jail. (280) In addition to his most immediate reference, what are the possible implications of his statement in the world of the jail and the world of the second half of the twentieth century? What personal implications might the statement have for Joseph Schoene? What limits disappear within the time scope of the novel?

      11. What kinds of love occur in The Distant Land of My Father? Between or among whom? From what circumstances do these loves spring, what circumstances nourish some of them, and what circumstances jeopardize or destroy others?

      12. Two of the old Chinese cook Chu Shih's sayings have later resonance in the novel: Hsin chong yu shei, shei chiu p'iaoliang and His hua hua chiehkuo, ai liu liu ch-êngyin. The first-"Whoever is in your heart is beautiful"-is repeated to Anna by her dying mother as the basis for forgiving her father. Joseph quotes the second-"Love and attention make all things grow"-as he works in the South Pasadena garden. How do these two Shanghai adages apply to each main character and the characters' interrelationships? In what ways might they apply to the novel overall? What instances of unusual love, attention, beauty, and growth are there in the novel, and what instances of their opposites?

      13. Anna recalls that, listening to Dr. Pearson's explanation of Joseph's death, "I wanted causes and events, reasons why, a sense of order." (350) To what might these three desires motivate all the characters? The author herself? All of us?

      14. What does Joseph Schoene's final residence, its furnishings and appliances, the books it contains, and its "decorations" reveal about his life and his character?

      Published by Harcourt, Inc.

      New Words:
      • Cheongsam (3): a body-hugging one-piece Chinese dress for women, also known in Mandarin Chinese as qipao
      • Chignon (9):  a popular type of hairstyle. The word “chignon” comes from the French phrase “chignon du cou,” which means nape of the neck.
      • Extraterritoriality (12): the state of being exempted from the jurisdiction of local law, usually as the result of diplomatic negotiations
      • charnel (73): associated with death
      • chilblains (159):  a medical condition that occurs when a predisposed individual is exposed to cold and humidity, causing tissue damage. It is often confused with frostbite and trench foot. The cold exposure damages capillary beds in the skin, which in turn causes redness, itching, blisters, and inflammation.
      Book References:
      • Revelation of Love by Julian of Norwich
      • Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales
      • Millions of cats
      • The Story About Ping
      • The Velveteen Rabbit
      • The Clue in the Diary
      • The Secret of Red Gate Farm
      • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
      • Guadalcanal Diary
      Good Quotes:
      • First Line: My father was a millionaire in Shanghai in the 1930's.
      • Last Line: And I am ready.
      Table of Contents:


      Wednesday, January 21, 2015

      The Traveller's Pocket Bible

      Book: The Traveller's Pocket Bible
      Author:Paul Jenner and Christine Smith
      Edition:eBook on Overdrive from Fresno Public Library
      Read:January 21, 2015
      268 pages

      Talks about foreign travel and things you should consider-if you are British. Actually, it is pretty comprehensive and there are are a lot of good things to take note of as generalities. But it really is aimed at the English.

      I am not going to rate this book for the most basic of reasons-it was not written for me. I am an American. This book was written for the British. In most cases  it will not matter. In this case, it does as Jenner and Smith are writing about a particular concern: how can a person from Great Britain travel abroad and what do they need to consider?

      Having said that, they do have a lot of good general advice which anybody can take advantage of.  Such as the chapter on security gives some good tips: Try not to look like a tourist; try not to look lost; ... But then they do go on to talk about places which the British government thinks are unsafe to travel to-they also do reference the USA State Departments travel advisories.

      The other thing, the version I read was published in 2008. So the particulars may be dated. My advice: not a bad book to skim through, but try to find something specific to your situation.

      Good Quotes:
      • First Line: Will you be able to plug in your mobile phone charger in Barcelona?
      • Last Line: So please check us out and let us know if you have any comments, questions or suggestions.
      Table of Contents:
      1 Accommodation
      2 Communications
      3 Conversions
      4 Electricity
      5 Emergencies
      6 Health
      7 Insurance
      8 Language problems
      9 Minimising your environmental impact
      10 Money
      11 Motoring
      12 Package holidays
      13 Pets
      14 Researching and exploring
      15 Security
      16 Shopping
      17 Times zones
      18 Transport
      19 Weather
      Glossary of travel industry terms


      Sunday, January 4, 2015


      Book: Night
      Author: Elie Wiesel
      Edition: eBook read on Overdrive from Fresno County Library
      Read: January 4, 2015
      184 pages
      Rated: 4 1/2 out of 5

      Wiesel tells of his home town and the assumption that all will be the same as the war starts to surround Hungry. But gently the noose slips over the Jews head until the Nazi's take control over Hungry. Then all the Jews are shipped off to Germany and their concentration camps. From there, Wiesel tells of his experiences in the camps. He sees what the Germans did and what the Jews did-in other words, he sees the worst which humans inflict on each other and how humans react. We as a species do not shine in either light.

      The last section of the book is Wiesel's Nobel Peace Prize speech.

      Wiesel thinks his survival was not the result of his strength, nor divine intervention, but only because of chance. What results, what thoughts progress from each attribution of his survival? It seems like it makes both him and his story rather mundane rather than special. Mundane because his story is no more than a result of a roll of the dice. How Wiesel tells the story, there is so much death that one sees how everything looks like chance. But really, is it?

      It also seems like a sense of outrage would be dampened. Why get concerned because what happened is no more a thrown of the dice? We're the Nazi's anymore culpable because whey did was by chance? If by chance, where is the moral basis which we are to feel against this kind of barbarity?

      This book is written with an eye towards history. He wants to be one of the voices which describe the pain of the Holocaust. He does say he thinks the word Holocaust is not the right word for the experience. He wants to make sure that the world does not forget what happened. This is with good reason. Today, we have people who say this never happened, even to the point these deniers try to rid voices which speak with authenticity, such as Wiesel. Wiesel himself was the subject of an assassination attempt.

      But even more so, I think he not only writes for us, but for himself. He searches not so much for meaning in the depravity he faced, but for description. Not only this is what happened, but a way to make his hurt real and known. He wants a way to express his hurt, to be able to vocalize it. I think so he does not forget. The tools he has is flat, tone less compared to the emotions he has. This cooresponds the need to conserve energy while in the concentration camp. Hate and you will die; dance and you will die; run and you will die.

      Some critics say that Night is not a form of art. I do not know, but Wiesel's words caused me to think, to feel, and to try to sort out what happened. Through his writing, I understand I cannot comprehend how a Holocaust survivor must feel-there is no connection possible. That is something to establish there is distance between me and him.

      He wonders, will we understand? I am not sure we can. He expresses his same thought that only those who have gone through the horrors of Auschwitz will understand. But at least as a reader, I can try to get a hint of what Wiesel talks about.

      He had mastered the art of rendering himself insignificant, invisible (27)   This was talked about a Jew who was a poor Jew. He was accepted because he did not make trouble or draw attention to himself. Once Wiesel started talking to him, he realized there was spiritual depth to him. He was also one of the first Jews taken. Wiesel met him after this Jew escaped. This man had lost his faith. Why? Because of what he saw. This man was a metaphor for this distance Wiesel wants us to know. As the Jews of Hungry could not relate to what Moishe the Beadle was trying to say, neither could we comprehend the Holocaust.

      The ghetto was ruled by neither German or Jew; it was ruled by delusion. (39) This delusion was that the Nazi's were not as bad as they were made out to be. While they were inconvenienced, this was as bad as it was going to get. It was to be worse, much worse. This is a warning to us that things are neither at a permanent equilibrium. Events will tip one way or another. All it needs is time to set things in motion. I like inertia. Do not change. But everything changes around us.

      It is ironic that on their last night with some from freedom, Wiesel's family decided to stay together through this all. They were offered the chance to escape and hide. But it might mean separation. When they were trained to the concentration camp, they were separated anyway-male and female.

      On the train to Auschwitz, a women starts screaming about a fire she was seeing. There was none in sight, so the other 79 passengers bound and gagged her. Later on Wiesel relates how babies were burnt; thrown in the fire en mass. Was the women being prophetic? Or as Wiesel suggests, was she possessed? This is the way we deal with people who make us uncomfortable. Of course, how do we evaluate when a person is mad, possessed, or prophetic?

      How does a religious person respond to someplace like Auschwitz? How does a person keep their faith when in that place? Does one have to be blind? Does one question the kind of God which would let something like that happen? Some Christian answers seems trite when approaching the question of where is God in Auschwitz? The typical answer is that God is nailed on the tree there. But does that seem like an answer which gives comfort? It sounds more like a God which is weak and not able to stand up to the forces of the evil of the Nazi's.  Before an answer can be given, the answerer needs to have enough depth to understand the sufferings of the Jews.

      In another place, Wiesel talks about Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the last day of the year. How do you celebrate the cursed year, the year which they all have survived horror, but expecting to face more horror? How do you intone how great God is without looking around you and wondering how come God allowed this to happen? Why is God troubling His people? Troubling is too weak of a word-more like slaughtering His own people. These are Wiesel's questions. his answer is to forsake the God of his youth. To view God as being one who is aloof, removed, and is not their for his people.Like Job, Wiesel is the accuser; God the accused.

      A situation can reduce a person. Wiesel tells of a time when a foreman attacked his father for no reason. Rather defending his father or at least feeling angry against his father's tormentor, Wiesel was upset at his father for being in the way. The forces at work turns us from our natural inclinations of love and protection to survival.

      The concentration camp is a place where survival is the only thing which matters. Promises you made are not kept, life-long rituals are forgotten. The goal of the camp is to reduce the person to being a non-human. Towards the end of Night, the Nazi's succeeded. His father's cell mates would beat the father because he was not strong enough to go outside. They would take his food because he was too weak to defend himself. The philosophy of the camp was explained by a block captain: In this place, it is every man for himself and you cannot think of others. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone.

      A fellow prisoner said to Wiesel, I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone had kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.(127) Faithfulness is not enough, faithfullness to that which is true is the determining factor.

      He tells a story about when they were traveling in an open cattle car, 100 people per car. Some Germans would throw scraps of bread into the car, starting a food frenzy among the starving men. During this food frenzy a son kills his father to get at the bread the father found for his son. He says that later on a woman would throw coins at poverty stricken children evoking the same response. Why? Because she likes giving to charity. Even if the women and Germans were trying to do good, which from Wiesel's description, that is questionable, their good was turned to evil by the suffering it incited.

      A few days before liberation, his father dies. A theme throughout the book is this sense of both closeness and abandonment. The closeness is so many times Wiesel and his father would cling together only to be separated. There was times when Wiesel was just trying to survive did he think of abandoning his father, but never did. He felt guilty about those thoughts, guilty that he felt like his father was taking away his own strength. During one harsh march a rabbi came by looking for his son. After the rabbi left, Wiesel realized the son had abandoned his father. Wiesel's prayer was that God give him strength never to do that to his father. Wiesel was true to the prayer, searching for him when lost, giving him food and drink when he could. In the end, Wiesel's father was just too weak to make it. On January 29, 1945, Wiesel felt free-his father had been taken away to the crematorium. After that, nothing mattered until April 11th, when liberation occurred.

      And all which is described in the Night section of the book happened before he reached the age of 17.

      This is the true story of Elie Wiesel's time of horror and transformation as a Jew in Germany's concentration camps during World War II. Wiesel writes of eloquence and honesty about his own experiences. There is much to consider in Night; much to reflect on-how can we humans tolerate what is being described? How can people even do these cruelties? How can God seemingly stand by and let the atrocities happen? Wiesel loses his faith over this and makes you wonder how would I have stood up? He was 16 after all. Read this book and weep.

      New Words:

      • Hasidic (27): It was founded in 18th-century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism. His example began the characteristic veneration of leadership in Hasidism as embodiments and intercessors of Divinity for the followers.
      • Shtick (27): a person's special talent, interest, or area of activity.
      • Shekhinah (27): the English spelling of a grammatically feminine Hebrew language word that means the dwelling or settling, and is used to denote the dwelling or settling presence of God
      • Kabbalah (27): literally "receiving/tradition" (also transliterated Cabala, Qabbālâ etc.; different transliterations now tend to denote alternative traditions)) is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought that originated in Judaism.
      • Zohar (30):  lit. "Splendor" or "Radiance") is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah
      • Kaddish (111): a hymn of praises to God found in the Jewish prayer service. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God's name.
      Table of Contents:
      • Preface
      • Forward
      • Night
      • The Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

      Good Quotes:

      • First Line: They called him Moishe the Beadle, as if his entire life he had never had a surname.
      • Last Line: The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.
      •  Books no longer have the power they once did. (14)
      • Those who kept silent yesterday, will remain silent tomorrow. (14)
      • I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny. Some invite sorrow, others joy, some both. (16)
      • Every question possessed a power that was lost in an answer. (29)
      • As for me, I had ceased to pray. I concurred with Job! I was not denying His existence, but I doubted His absolute justice. (83)
      • As soon as he felt the first chinks in his faith, he lost all incentive to fight and opened the door to death. (123)


          Friday, January 2, 2015

          In A Sunburned Country

          Book: In A Sunburned Country
          Author: Bill Byrson
          Edition: eBook read on Overdrive from Fresno County Library
          Read: January 2, 2015
          561 pages
          Rated: 3  out of 5

          Bill Bryson visits each of the parts and major cities of Australia and gives an idea of what each is like.

          The last couple of sentences pretty much sum up the book: Australia is an interesting place... And that really is all I'm saying. This is a well-written, entertaining, even humorous, book about Bill Bryson's travels through Australia. I got a good flavor of the country, its culture, peoples, and history. You can sum up his observations that Australia is:

          • Really big
          • There is a lot of remote and desolate areas
          • He really enjoys Australia
          • It is a dangerous place
          • Outsiders do not hear too much about it.
          • It is an interesting place
          My rating of three does not indicate a lack of enjoyment-I did enjoy reading it. But it is also a book which I would be just as well off not reading it, sort of like a P.G.Wodehouse book-don't look for something to stir you to action, except for wanting to make a trip to Australia.

          New Words:

          • Vivacity (Chp 10) the quality of being attractively lively and animated.
          • Odium (Chp 10) general or widespread hatred or disgust directed toward someone as a result of their actions.
          • Insalubrious ( Chp 15) Not promoting health; unwholesome
          • Fecund (Chp 18) producing or capable of producing an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertile
          Book References:
          • Bryson has a well documented bibliography at the end of his book, containing65 books. He references most of these throughout the book.

          Good Quotes:

          • First Line: Flying into Australia, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is.
          • Last Line: An that really is all I'm saying.