A Brief History of Time is far more than a science book. It’s one of the renaissance books that is so seminal to the notion of who we are, and where we might be in the next fifty years, that it should be required reading for every person from high school on. If that seems like a big ask you’ve got the wrong idea about this book.
Though it’s only small, this book packs a powerful punch in terms of its striking prose which is no less relevant today than it was 60 years ago, its apt illustrations, and its applicability to the way we choose to live our lives.
All in all, Lewis and O’Sullivan have done a very clever job of distilling just about everything you need to know about life into seven key areas, and then providing three things that you need to know on that topic. If you need more than that, well you probably are too serious a person anyway.
Levy paints a realistic picture of what life is like for this generation of neglected youngsters, and it’s a bleak picture indeed. Bored, promiscuous, and frequently high on drugs and booze, they break into houses in groups to steal and vandalise. They are so disconnected from society that they feel no empathy for their victims, or shame over their actions.
It’s important that we don’t make decisions about our bodies based on what will benefit drug company shareholders. There’s far too much at stake. The Pill is one of those books that has the potential to pull off the smokescreen and show that there’s a lot more to the Pill than most people have been told. If you’re a woman and you’re on the Pill, this is a book you should read.
There are perceptive moments, they are just buried beneath unnecessary detail, and skillful assistance would have helped to bring them out and make this a much more lively memoir. Perhaps a second edition? Despite these problems, Emmanuel Alexion has produced a heartfelt and down-to-earth story of he and his wife’s return to their birthplaces, of particular interest to the Greek community in Australia.
This sense of both the fragility of nature, and the fragility of man within nature, becomes an underlying theme that carries Swimming with Crocodiles (Picador Australia) beyond simply a travelogue. We begin to identify with Chaffey as a character, and his development becomes meaningful, but we also put his experience into our own context, and it therefore becomes meaningful to us.
Kathleen Stewart’s memoir is poetic, courageous, and shocking. She shows how children can be so badly treated, how women can be so badly treated, how the mentally ill can be so inadequately treated, that they can destroy themselves and others and the world continues on, oblivious.
Campbell is very good on Capote and it is the slightly gossipy air of his writing that makes these studies especially interesting. He is even better on James Baldwin, subject of one of his books. He demonstrates how the FBI persecuted Baldwin, drove him into exile, and hampered his life so that after leaving the United States Baldwin’s best years as a writer were over. It would be pleasant to believe that such things are no longer possible, pleasant but, alas, unfortunately naive.
This seems to be a recurring theme for these American writers. In a culture obsessed with money, that judges people’s worth, and even godliness, on their income and possessions, how can a serious writer survive psychologically and continue to produce while knowing those around them often perceive them to be layabouts and losers who should get ‘a proper job’?