Book Summary: The Travels Of The T-Shirt In The Global Economy

Wednesday, March 2, 2022 11:17:53 AM

Book Summary: The Travels Of The T-Shirt In The Global Economy



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Travels of a T-shirt w/ Pietra Rivoli

L And what about Bokononism? You can't deny that the concept and the teachings of this fake religion link every single chapter of the novel. You can't say it's discontinuous while everything in it is so closely-knit! E That's a point of view. Besides I haven't liked the structure of the novel. More than one hundred chapters.. L They're not "chapters" they're more like episodes. E Mmmh L I think you're not in my karass. E Karass? Actually all that you join are granfalloons. L Foma! A pack of foma! Shut up voices! I need a boko-maru right now. Is there anyone who wants to share the soles of her feet? Busy, busy, busy.

View all 42 comments. Mar 28, Danger rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: ugly children, most plant-life, human beings, and members of ABBA. Shelves: my-fucking-favorites. I've read this book four times. It's better than the Bible, because unlike the Bible, this book knows it's fiction. View all 27 comments. Oct 05, Ahmad Sharabiani rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , humor , books , science , 20th-century , united-states. It explores issues of science, technology, and religion, satirizing the arms race and many other targets along the way. After turning down his original thesis in , the University of Chicago awarded Vonnegut his master's degree in anthropology in for Cat's Cradle. At the opening of the book, the narrator, an everyman named John but calling himself Jonah , describes a time when he was planning to write a book about what important Americans did on the day Hiroshima was bombed.

While researching this topic, John becomes involved with the children of Felix Hoenikker, a Nobel laureate physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb. John travels to Ilium, New York, to interview the Hoenikker children and others for his book. View 2 comments. Well, when it became evident that no governmental or economic reform was going to make the people much less miserable, the religion became the one real instrument of hope.

Truth was the enemy of the people, because the truth was so terrible, so Bokonon made it his business to provide the people with better and better lies. There is a little ugly dystopia hidden within every big beautiful utopia… Feb 16, mark monday rated it it was amazing Shelves: alpha-team , unstablenarratives , first-loves , mind-the-gap , these-fragile-lives. Cat's Cradle: it has warmth and anger and wisdom and an almost naive kind of brashness at times. Holden Caulfield came first and Donnie Darko eventually replaced you View all 30 comments.

Jul 20, Lyn rated it really liked it. Vonnegut's best? Many will say that it is and who am I to disagree. It does include all the best elements of Vonnegut in his genius: humor, dark and subtle, and sometimes not subtle at all, irreverence, absurdity blended with realism to create a surrealistic setting where the reader is cautiously intrigued by whatever is going on. And the messages and themes, of love, relationships, responsibility, both internally and globally. Also, like several of his more endearing works, this one remains tho Vonnegut's best? Also, like several of his more endearing works, this one remains thought provoking years after being read, a quasi-morality play that the reader will revisit often and sometimes with little coaxing.

The great takeaway from this one is not so much ice-nine, although that is certainly memorable, but Bokonon and most specifically the beautiful Mona. A treatise on Bokononism and its effect on SF since, both in its facial aspect as well as Vonnegut's use as a satire on religion could and should be explored. I first read this back in HS and several times in college and in the dark days before GoodReads. Back then I thought it was hilarious and outrageous.

Creation, John is led on a journey that winds up on the Caribbean island of San Lorenzo and a discovery of the playfully made up religion of Bokononism and also the end of the world. View all 10 comments. For the most part, the plot is fairly linear and arranged in the classical form of a Swiftian - Voltairian fable. Moby-Dick who is, at the start of the story, doing some research on the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

One thing leading to another, he ends up on a Caribbean island with a group of improbable and bizarre characters Anyway, to hell with the plot and characters, just read the fucking book! Famously, the author further developed this atrocious episode in the quasi-autobiographical sections of Slaughterhouse-Five. Which led him to conclude: Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns. LoA, p. In a word: the cradle of humankind is screwed! View all 8 comments. Jul 04, Michael rated it it was amazing Shelves: recs.

Hasty and jokey, Cat's Cradle begins as a satire about a journalist's attempt to investigate the life of one of the creators of the atomic bomb, but ends as a bleak allegory about the annihilation of life on earth. Vonnegut's irreverent wit and straightforward prose make his work a useful gateway to adult fiction for teens, and this novel ranks amongst his best. Adults who never encountered Vonnegut's books during their youth, by contrast, might find the book's pessimism or its hyper-episodic st Hasty and jokey, Cat's Cradle begins as a satire about a journalist's attempt to investigate the life of one of the creators of the atomic bomb, but ends as a bleak allegory about the annihilation of life on earth.

Adults who never encountered Vonnegut's books during their youth, by contrast, might find the book's pessimism or its hyper-episodic structure to be a bit tedious. View all 14 comments. Jan 16, Steve rated it really liked it. I started out as one of the former conditioned, no doubt, by fear of library fines , but became one of the latter. Part of the reason was that I snagged my copy at a garage sale for a dime — cheap even then. But the real motivation was to highlight this great little rhyme: Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why? That one deserved stars, a yellow marker, and the granddaddy of all desecrations — a dog-ear.

I liked how it was framed as such a natural conclusion to the activity of thinking. We tell ourselves that our efforts to understand have paid off. I remember thinking Vonnegut was one of those cool, sort of counter-cultural writers who wielded his satirical axe well. He may have been a bit darker than Tom Robbins, and less playful with his words, but he was similarly entertaining, incisive and free-wheeling. The book tracks the unusual offspring of the man who invented the A-bomb. They possess a substance called ice-nine that can make water freeze at room temperatures. And you can imagine what might happen if it fell into the wrong hands. The Russians and Americans procured some as did the dictator of a secluded Caribbean island where a religion called Bokononism is practiced despite being illegal and, according to Bokonon himself, based on lies.

Vonnegut would poke fun at religion, politics, and just about any other human institution where our base natures hide in some gussied up form. And he may well have had a point. And it may give us pause. View all 29 comments. Jun 25, Lisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-to-read-before-you-die. I loved this book! It turned out to be one of those easy-to-read stories that leave you thinking, and thinking, and thinking. The science fiction aspect of the plot is not important at all. It is the impact of power, knowledge and ritual on every single individual that made me want to restart reading it as soon as I finished. I absolutely adore the creation of Bokononism and the development of a new language to suit the needs of the religion-in-the-making. Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam experiment I loved this book!

Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam experiments with the same kind of post-apocalyptic scenario and the never-ending question of what humanity needs to survive. Of course Vonnegut's vision is a lot darker than Atwood's. Humanity wiped out completely on a whim, no hope of reproducing our species at all, the only question remaining is how to die and what symbol to carry in your hand to show the hated - and hating - creator above. The experience of being trapped in Dresden as an American prisoner of war during the bombing and destruction of the city might have formed the sense of absurdity that Vonnegut displays in his vision of mankind.

To put it in Bokononist words: the cruel paradox of the heartbreaking necessity of lying about reality combined with the heartbreaking impossibility of lying about it is at the center of the book. View all 16 comments. I never give up on books I start. This book made me re-think that practice. Normally, even if I do not like a book, I can find something about it to keep me going but with Cat's Cradle I just had to quit. I need to feel something - curiousity, irritation, sadness, happiness, love, desire, anger, escapism, like I am learning something new, that I need the lesson this book is offering I need to connect to the book, the story, the characters in some way.

With this book I felt nothing, nada, eh. It was easy reading for sure but it seemed almost like it was a joke. It reminded me of my junior high schools days when the teacher asked us to write stories and read them to the class. You wrote hollow silly things that you thought sounded clever and exciting and then years later when you come across the story in a box of keepsakes you laugh at how stilted and basic it was. I know, Vonnegut is suppose to be speaking to the issues of religion, science, humanity with irony and humour - lots of people love this book. I did not care about any of it, not even the Ice Nine that probably destroyed the world I don't know because I didn't finish the book I decided that to continue would be a waste of life essence.

The good thing I can say about this experience is that it made me realize that I don't have to finish a book. View all 22 comments. May 19, Evgeny rated it liked it Shelves: scifi. A group read with the following wonderful people: Ashley and Erin. Please let me know if I missed somebody. Before I start talking about the plot let me give you a piece of advice. If after you finish reading this one the first question that comes to your mind would be ,"WTF did I just read? You can imagine now how easy is it to discuss the plot. Anyhow, Dr. Felix Hoenikker happened to be one of the founding 'fathers' of the atomic bomb. At this point I have to stop and ask the following question - I am going to do it lots of times here - as everybody and their brother know it took a lot of brilliant scientists to develop the bomb.

How comes in the book Dr. Felix Hoenikker was held solely responsible for it? This is a very serious question as two such bombs were used to kill a lot of civilians - some of them died fast, some slowly and painfully. To continue my serious questions I am quite curious at the moment - were the people who created it able to sleep at night peacefully after they learned how the first couple of their creations were used? I really hope that pesky little thingy called conscience bothered them at least a little and at least sometimes. Anyhow John interviewed relatives, colleagues, and neighbors of the good inventor learning more and more about him.

The guy was weird David Lynch type weird and so is the tale. For the first half I was fascinated by weirdness and mad glimpses at the mind of a genius. In the second half it all went to hell. The weirdness increased tenfold, the tale became disjoint and I can tell exactly the moment it happens: when John arrived to St. And thus I was sure I could rate the book with 4 stars adding my voice to the chorus of countless book fans. It was supposed to be funny; I did not think so but it surely was witty and I loved some of the quotes. How about this one: "Maturity Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything. At least now I know why pseudo-intellectual hipster snobs hold Vonnegut in such high regard.

I have to say that quite a few normal people like it too. From my side I will read other works of Vonnegut; before now I only read some of his short stories that were perfectly normal and thus not as well known. The book is not hopeless by all means and fully deserves 3 stars. I am glad I read it, but I have no desire whatsoever to reread it even if it would be the last book left in the world. What's up with Vonnegut's fascination with midgets? Jan 31, Chris rated it really liked it Shelves: science-fiction. Nothing in this review is true. As much as I enjoy reading Vonnegut, one of the nagging little doubts I always have is that I'm missing something.

That there's a hidden message in there that I'm not picking up on. Or, on the other hand, that I am picking up messages that just aren't there. Which is, perhaps, the point of the whole book. The world is full of lies. Good lies, bad lies and indifferent lies, but lies nonetheless, and we pick and choose the lies that make our lives happiest. The lie tha Nothing in this review is true. The lie that we know more than other people, or that we are chosen by one deity or another. They're all lies, and the acknowledgment of that is So, rather than just write about that, Vonnegut wrapped it in a "religion" known as Bokononism - the indigenous and completely artificial "faith" of the island of San Lorenzo.

And in order to tell us about Bokononism, we need a narrator - and a disaster. Which brings us to Ice-Nine. A variant of water ice which is the final creation of the father of the atom bomb - Dr. Felix Hoenikker - Ice-Nine is solid at temperatures up to A single crystal of Ice-Nine can convert any liquid water it touches, which will in turn convert any other water in contact with that. If Ice-Nine were to come into contact with a natural body of water, the chain reaction would lead to the total freezing of the planet Earth. The narrator's journey to the end of the world is an interesting one, started by a search for the truth and ended with the death of humanity.

As, perhaps, all searches for truth must. When he embarks on a project to write a book about the creators of the atomic bomb, Jonah has no idea what he's going to unearth: Dr Felix Hoenikker and Ice-Nine, a substance that will instantly freeze any water it comes into contact with into more Ice-Nine, a substance capable of destroying all life on earth.

Can Jonah find the missing Hoenikker children and secure their chips of Ice-Nine to safeguard the world? Here we are, my second experience with Kurt Vonnegut and one of his Big Important Bo When he embarks on a project to write a book about the creators of the atomic bomb, Jonah has no idea what he's going to unearth: Dr Felix Hoenikker and Ice-Nine, a substance that will instantly freeze any water it comes into contact with into more Ice-Nine, a substance capable of destroying all life on earth. This time, he takes on science, religion, politics, and man's ability to destroy himself. I didn't enjoy Cat's Cradle as much as Slaughterhouse-Five but they probably shouldn't be compared since they aren't the same kind of book.

Slaughterhouse is experimental and timey-wimey and Cat's Cradle is much more straight-forward and easy to digest. Jonah's project leads him to Felix Hoenikker and his three odd children, and eventually, to San Lorenzo and Bokononism, a new religion. Having been through 12 years of parochial school and a couple decades of weekly doses of church, fiction with a religious bend doesn't need much effort to hook me so I was engaged right away. Bokononism is Vonnegut's way of showing how full of shit most religions are, since Bokonon is pretty open about his religion being a pack of lies. I don't have much else to say about Cat's Cradle.

It was a piece of funny yet thought-provoking satire about science, religion, and mankind destroying itself. Four out of five stars. View all 6 comments. Unfortunately I had to power through this one. This is my fourth Kurt Vonnegut story and I think he's written better books. He does a good job of creating black humor with the use of technology and religion. The overall theme was the fatalistic warning of the misuse of technology. The second theme was the danger of blindly following religious precepts. I am a religious and spiritual person but I interpreted this book as the dangers of fundamentalism when religion goes off the deep end. In the bo Unfortunately I had to power through this one. These books and 'Slaughterhouse Five' are good starting points for someone new to Kurt Vonnegut.

View all 12 comments. I consider it one of the great satirical works of the 20th Century. Often referred to as a modern Mark Twain, Vonnegut's view of American society more fully embraces a society and its group values, while Twain's targets for his biting wit were more specifically aimed, although with the same verve and joy in the revelation of the foibles of l Cat's Cradle: Vonnegut's String Game Cat's Cradle, First Edition,Holt, Rinehart and Winston Published in , "Cat's Cradle" is Kurt Vonnegut's fourth novel. Often referred to as a modern Mark Twain, Vonnegut's view of American society more fully embraces a society and its group values, while Twain's targets for his biting wit were more specifically aimed, although with the same verve and joy in the revelation of the foibles of life.

Kurt Vonnegut circa Placing the central character in a supporting role, Vonnegut opens "Cat's Cradle" with the narrative statement of an otherwise anonymous observer of life. Jonah, as the biblical character was, would prefer to be a neutral observer of life. Jonah's goal is to write a history of the day America dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not what it was like in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but what it was like to be an American. It's been a tenet of the rules of human behavior that it's easier to drop a bomb on somebody.

Paul Tibbets gives a wave from the B he named for his mother. You're never gonna guess what I'm about to do. It's in that dirty, gritty face to face business when you see the face of an enemy disappear in a cloud of red mist, after you've pulled the trigger you may have some problems. What Tibbets and his crew didn't see. To capture the essence of what it was like to be alive on that day, Jonah searches for and finds the children of Felix Hoenekker, a co-inventor of the atomic bomb. Hoenekker has been dead for years.

However,his children, Frank, Angela, and Newt are very much alive. Newt, the youngest Hoenekker is a whimsical character, an oddity, not only on the basis of his parentage, but also that he is a midget. Newt offers information that is critical to one of the central themes of "Cat's Cradle. When fellow scientist, a stand in for Robert Oppenheimer,whom Vonnegut does not name, speaks of the sin he and his fellow scientists have created, Professor Hoenekker's response is stunning. His job was to write about the smartest guys in the room and put a human face on them. The company was known for allowing its scientists free rein in theoretical research. And, remember that wonderful slogan of GE once upon a time. Vonnegut realized that science was capable of wreaking catastrophic results when research led to the development of products capable of being put to destructive use if allowed to fall into the wrong hands.

Hoenekker is modeled on a scientist working for GE at the time Vonnegut was earning his paycheck there. In fact, the man, who shall remain nameless here, joked about creating the very substance which would be the genie let out of the bottle in "Cat's Cradle. For Hoenekker it was an amusement resulting from an exercise of the intellect. However, Ice-9, if allowed to come into contact with moisture of any sort, turned any object into solid ice. The implications are obvious. Frank is next in line to become President of the Island. Monzano is quite ill. Throughout the novel, expounding on the indifference towards the actual results of scientific results, Jonah learns that each Hoenekker heir carries a piece of the deadly Ice Possibly good might triumph over evil.

Perhaps some divine intervention might prevent the release of this deadly substance. Where is God when life hangs in the balance? Why, God is nowhere to be found. Vonnegut's expressions of his opinion of religion have changed throughout his life. He has gone from believer, to agnostic, to atheist, depending which interview you read and the mood in which Vonnegut was found by the particular interviewer at the time. The people I knew, the sick and the dying and the worried well, well not everyone with everything to lose loses their vitality, their sense of humor or love of life. In my experience the certainty of imminent or certain death heightened the life force in some people, which never happens in this book.

It's as if Makkai wrote from a menu: this one is afraid of getting infected, this one is infecting people because he couldn't care less, that one is about to die, this one's an activist, those ones artistic, that one's this and that one's that -- but she forgot to write in emotion and humanity. The Beaux Arts piece could have been folded in nicely too had it been written well.

Three wasted opportunities. A boatload of characters mostly indistinguishable or reduced to a few traits, who all speak with the same sentence structure. Not one entirely healthy family relationship out of all the characters. The deep fear and sorrow before there were AIDS treatments isn't in these pages nor is the beautiful spirit of so many who died. Supposedly some of this is based on real people and events in Chicago. I won't be reading Makkai again. This boring book did me good in one way only: it brought to mind many real people I knew, some I'd forgotten about, brought some back to mind very vividly, as if they were intentionally writing over Makkai's work.

View all 27 comments. What makes this book particularly shocking is that it starts rather slow, but pretty quickly it becomes clear that what propels the story forward is the question who will die next - and as Makkai's characters are brilliantly drawn, psychologically covincing and vivid, it is heart-wrenching to read about their destinies. This main narrative is intersected with a second storyline that takes us and some of the surviving protagonists to Paris in , thus showing how the past is never over and the dead never really vanish, which can be both consoling and haunting.

Makkai's main character is Yale Tishman, a year-old gay man who works at Northwestern's Brigg Gallery. His partner Charlie is the editor-in-chief of a gay magazine and an activist. Soon though, the epidemic starts to ravage their circle of friends and Yale finds himself at the centre of a deadly storm. Throughout her novel, Makkai touches on many topics: There's the spread of fear that erodes human relationships "You get afraid of one thing, and suddenly you're afrid of everything" , the questions of blame and guilt, the judgement and the stigma.

There's also the disillusionment that comes with the fact that the AIDS crisis started when the gay community finally saw a window of opportunity in the fight for equal rights "I thought it was the beginning of something. When it really was the end. I particularly admired how Makkai manages to convey the enduring consequences of trauma and loss: Nico's grandmother Nora was part of the Lost Generation, and she used to be an artist and the muse of famous painters in Paris.

Regarding her memory of those artists who died in or as a consequence of the war and could never develop their full potential, she remarks: "Every time I've gone to the gallery, the rest of my life, I've thought about the works that werent't there. Shadow-paintings, you know, that no one can see but you. The repercussions of such traumatic incidents are carried over generations: While Yale, who is Jewish, is named after his aunt Yael, Nico's sister Fiona names her daughter "Claire Yael", and Claire names her daughter Nicolette, apparently after Nico, the uncle who was taken from her before her birth - the shadows of the dead always remain visible.

One consolation for the characters in the book is art and its ability to preserve, celebrate and commemorate - Nora makes the art work of dead artists visible, and the circle of friends from Chicago is immortalized by their surviving friend Richard, a photographer. And his photos are not the only place where they live on, because the human heart is "a palimpsest View all 5 comments. A good read that threads two timelines together: one follows a group of gay male friends affected by the AIDS epidemic in s Chicago, the second centers Fiona, a mother searching for her estranged daughter in Despite its meandering pace, The Great Believers serves as a powerful story about AIDS and how it devas A good read that threads two timelines together: one follows a group of gay male friends affected by the AIDS epidemic in s Chicago, the second centers Fiona, a mother searching for her estranged daughter in Despite its meandering pace, The Great Believers serves as a powerful story about AIDS and how it devastated the lives of gay men and those who cared about them.

As a gay man who has grown up in an era with more preventative care, treatment options, and overall awareness of HIV and AIDS, sometimes I take for granted the work of the activists who came before me to make my life so much more bearable. Instead of presenting a one-sided image of these gay men, she imbues their relationships with complexity. I most loved the quiet, consistent solidarity between him and Fiona, the power of their friendship throughout so many much suffering and death. As much as I admired Fiona as a compassionate friend and a three-dimensional character, I felt that her storyline in did detract from the pacing and power of the s plot. On one hand, not including her perspective may have made the novel more appropriative, as Makkai identifies as straight.

This issue of pacing and delivery of the story made me feel more lukewarm on The Great Believers on the whole. Still, a decent read that I hope paves the way for more queer books, especially books written by actual queer people, in particular queer people of color and those at the margins of the queer community. The story is told in two timelines.

The first timeline runs from the mid s to the mid s, and it is focused on a group of characters affected by the AIDS epidemic in Chicago. Much of his story focuses on the breakdown of his relationship and an art show that he is 3. Much of his story focuses on the breakdown of his relationship and an art show that he is trying to put together. It was no until the end that I fully understood how the two storylines fit together both thematically and as stories.

Again, I loved the themes. There is much to be written and told about the devastation caused by AIDS in so many communities of gay men — emotionally, socially and politically. Ultimately, running through the book is a suggestion that the trauma of war is a good analogy. Many died, but survivors — including caretakers — suffered devastating trauma. I just wish the delivery in this book was crisper and less meandering. This was a monthly buddy read with Diane and Angela.

As always, many thanks for their helpful and different perspectives. And thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy. View all 32 comments. We get the day off to stay in bed and read big, brave and beautiful books. It will make you fucking furious and it will instil deep faith in our shared humanity. My heart hurts and I feel profoundly altered. View all 4 comments. Oct 26, Philip rated it it was amazing Shelves: author-woman , americana , releases , historical-fiction , pulitzer , top , contemporary. I love the two main characters, Yale and Fiona, so much that I got emotional whiplash from how many times I was hopeful for them, anxious, heartbroken, and hopeful all over again.

Their stories, taking place in s Chicago and Paris, are equally 5ish stars. Their stories, taking place in s Chicago and Paris, are equally gripping and although it takes a while for the connection between the two settings to reveal itself, it eventually becomes clear that they're both vital. Makkai's prose is tidy and precise, prudently telling the story without drawing too much attention to itself. The sense of setting in both timelines, as well as in flashbacks to Paris before and after WWI, is so complete.

This is aided, interestingly, by descriptions of the art scenes in each period. This is a beautiful, gripping, important book without being too Important and is completely deserving of the awards it has earned Makkai. Posted in Mr. Philip's Library View all 7 comments. The carnage of the AIDS epidemic has been often mined by literary writers. I wondered: what would Rebecca Makkai, who is a straight Chicagoan and was very young at the height of the epidemic have to add to the wealth of literature already out there? As it turns out, quite a bit. I was astounded at the power of this novel and at the emotions I felt towards her characters. The story is told from two time frames: the height of the epidemic in Chicago mids and 30 years later in Paris.

In the first narrative, Yale, a Northwestern University museum fundraising director, is dealing with massive losses of friends to AIDS at the same time he is on the precipice of acquiring an art collection that will propel the reputation of his respected but small museum. When one character whom I had grown to love is found to have the AIDS virus, I shed real tears, feeling the impact of the loss. It takes a really great author to accomplish that in a reader. Whenever an author attempts to tell dual stories, he or she runs the risk of one overshadowing the other. Indeed, the s narrative is the more compelling. Even so, Rebecca Makkai integrates her themes. The circle closes in on the Paris excerpts, when we view how the legacy of AIDS has never really left us, despite advances.

I loved this book, which is, ultimately, about the struggle to love and connect amidst the chaos of the height of the AIDS era and in modern times. At a time when many authors are being accused of appropriation, this book should lay to rest that issue; ultimately, it is the voice and the story that matter. The main storyline involves Yale Tishman, his boyfriend Charlie, their social circle, various hangers-on, and the wider gay community in Chicago at the height of the AIDS crisis in the s.

The characters have depth, the story is compelling and achingly sad. This technique is a bit baffling given there are already multiple timelines involved. Why not have a chapter with Nora in the s? Or Fiona in the s? Some narrative choices were odd too. One development was loudly telegraphed early on, but not revealed for ages, leaving me impatient for the characters to catch up.

Then late in the book, the build up to some key dramatic scenes was undermined by characters mentioning things in conversation before we get to see them unfold, thus robbing them of emotional impact. Simple, linear storytelling would have done the job much better. Crucially, The Great Believers gets it right when it matters most, and at those moments it is very moving indeed. View all 6 comments. Jul 03, Lisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. I love this novel. It held me captive from the moment I read the first page until I finished a few days later. Makkai creates the world of a group of gay men - Yale and his friends - so beautifully and with such tenderness that I was caught off guard.

Their community in s Chicago is high stakes and concentrated. Every action, every infidelity, might result in death. I knew this novel couldn't end the way I wanted it to. The end is documented history. But I still hoped I was not disappointe I love this novel. I was not disappointed in the 2nd story line like some reviewers were. Fiona's trip to Paris gave me a respite from the intensity of the AIDs story line. Her story illuminates how the disease has affected the lives of so many people.

This is a novel that I will carry in my heart for a long, long time. Actress Mary-Louise Parker once said So much hopelessness.. I remember this period of my life too They were also fighting to be accepted I had a hard time with this novel. I care about the subject- deeply. I lived through it - as many my age did. One was her voice teacher The other her Theater director. But for whatever reason I kept putting it aside to read other books. Some of it was just slow and a little dull I connected deeper with that show much more than I did this book.

Not sure why - I just did. Maybe because much was in the SF Bay Area? Not sure. I simply had to press myself at times to stay interested engaged. Going with rating up Arty, compelling, moving and superbly well written, The Great Believers is an astonishing and unforgettable piece of literature. Some really impressive character development in here, believe me. So so sad. Heartbreaking and healing at the same time. Thank you very much, Rebecca Makkai. View all 14 comments. The recent debate about American Dirt and cultural appropriation is one that has been going on for a long time. Yes, I know that is a value judgement in and of itself — actors regularly portray people The recent debate about American Dirt and cultural appropriation is one that has been going on for a long time.

Yes, I know that is a value judgement in and of itself — actors regularly portray people and professions they know nothing about, so why should it be different with writers? Are we only guaranteed historical accuracy and emotional honesty if, say, an AIDS novel is written by a gay survivor? My other issue with the book before I began reading it was simply this: We have been there before, got the t-shirt and paid our dues. There are incredible writers exploring new avenues for gay expression at present, particularly regarding issues of gender and heteronormativity. Of course, all of these different books about the same subject become part of a greater literary dialectic that is constantly informed by, and renewed with, each addition. Well, this is precisely what so many gay writers have been doing before and after the AIDS crisis — telling their own stories.

Many of them are no longer with us, swept along in the tide of devastation and loss, with all that remains in their memory being the books and stories they left behind. However, Makkai is well aware of the appropriation minefield. I also believe preemptive judgment of work based on its premise, not its merits, is ridiculous. It has made me a better, more careful writer. Makkai explains that her narrative decisions were informed by two main considerations: Was she reinforcing or combatting stereotypes?

My constant mindfulness of these lived stories kept me vigilant, kept me from taking lightly my responsibility as storyteller. It made me more compassionate. The AIDS crisis is still such a visceral shadow to an entire generation that it seems one cannot even attempt to write dispassionately about it. Once you let emotion into the equation though, how do you prevent it from trivialising the truth? It sounds like such a conundrum. Makkai resolves this seemingly impossible dichotomy in quite a brilliant fashion by the simple way she structures her narrative. It is fractured between two timelines and locations, Chicago in and Paris in the November terrorist attacks form an important backdrop.

Attached to the timeline is a linked story that stretches back to the Second World War, about the decades-long love between a muse and his artist. It seems like a lot is going on, and the reader does have to work rather harder than normal to keep details and places in context. But this disorientation is precisely one of the effects that Makkai wants to evoke in the reader. Despite the fact that the book is rooted so firmly in the dire events that transpired at the AIDS unit at Illinois Masonic Hospital, one of the main concerns here is the impact on the next generation, and the ones thereafter, who have all had to externalise the impact of the crisis to some extent or other.

Not only did she lose her own brother to the ravages of the disease, all of her close circle of gay friends succumb to it slowly one by one. Until she is virtually the only one left standing. As Dr. Anthony Fauci has commented in an entirely different context, but which speaks to so much truth in human experience: The virus knows no boundaries or timelines. The part of the story recounts how Fiona undertakes a desperate trip to Paris to try to find her estranged daughter, born when she lost one of her last, and closest, friends from this period, an event that has startling ramifications in her own life as mother and surrogate to an entire generation of memories and hope.

What is also interesting about The Great Believers is that Makkai does not sugarcoat the lives of the people she portrays. One DEA agent died this week in a shootout. October 09, MLB fan mystery resolved, while slippery convicted swindler still at large October 07, Latest U. Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of officer outside police department Dylan Harrison leaves behind a wife and 6-month-old baby. Aerial footage shows autumn colors in New Hampshire Stunning drone footage captured autumnal colors in full effect in New Hampshire.

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