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41. Embroideries
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42. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
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43. Into the Wild
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44. Dry : A Memoir
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45. Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind
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46. Pope John Paul II: In My Own Words
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47. Dreams from My Father : A Story
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48. Wooden
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49. Take the Cannoli : Stories From
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50. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering
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51. Hey Ranger! : True Tales of Humor
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52. Quicksands: A Memoir
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53. Leaving the Saints : How I Lost
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54. The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's
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55. Mr. China : A Memoir
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56. Tales from the Bed : On Living,
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57. We Thought You Would Be Prettier
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58. Wilt, 1962 : The Night of 100
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59. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures
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60. The Last Season: A Team In Search

41. Embroideries
by MARJANE SATRAPI
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375423052
Catlog: Book (2005-04-19)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 1676
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Women
Embroideries is a short book by the same author who wrote the two part graphic novel memoir "Persepolis"about her childhood in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution. I enjoyed those books because it showed real life in Iran and it wasn't just a scary state of being that is often presented to the American public. (she showed people doing their best to maintain their dignity despite extreme circumstances) I think her latest book is an extension of that. This time the author Marjane Satrapi shares the stories the women in her family tell about love, life, sex, marriage and their place in it all. Many of the stories are absolutely hilarious and others are just plain heart-breaking. The heart-breaking ones make me think of Flannery O'Connor short stories for their slightly macabre tone and people going on with living despite such experiences. It was captivating because if it wasn't for the setting I think some experiences could be universal or common for many women in the world. Again the author shows Western readers that life in Iran isn't all veils and misery as we are often told. Women often get a raw lot there but there is also gentle beauty, broad humour and a close sense of family; where these women share their stories of wild living, love and even the joys of being a mistress. The illustrations are very simple black and white drawings but they reveal much more in subtle moments.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is great
No book made me laugh so much.
It just great; A must read!!! ... Read more


42. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas : A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
by HUNTER S. THOMPSON, Ralph Steadman
list price: $12.00
our price: $9.00
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Asin: 0679785892
Catlog: Book (1998-05-12)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 1684
Average Customer Review: 4.66 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com Reviews

Heralded as the "best book on the dope decade" by the New York Times Book Review, Hunter S. Thompson's documented drug orgy through Las Vegas would no doubt leave Nancy Reagan blushing and D.A.R.E. founders rethinking their motto.Under the pseudonym of Raoul Duke, Thompson travels with his Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in a souped-up convertible dubbed the "Great Red Shark." In its trunk, they stow "two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers.... A quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls," which they manage to consume during their short tour.

On assignment from a sports magazine to cover "the fabulous Mint 400"--a free-for-all biker's race in the heart of the Nevada desert--the drug-a-delic duo stumbles through Vegas in hallucinatory hopes of finding the American dream (two truck-stop waitresses tell them it's nearby, but can't remember if it's on the right or the left). They of course never get the story, but they do commit the only sins in Vegas: "burning the locals, abusing the tourists, terrifying the help." For Thompson to remember and pen his experiences with such clarity and wit is nothing short of a miracle; an impressive feat no matter how one feels about the subject matter. A first-rate sensibility twinger, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a pop-culture classic, an icon of an era past, and a nugget of pure comedic genius. --Rebekah Warren ... Read more

Reviews (292)

5-0 out of 5 stars Grab a fifth and enjoy the ride
This isn't a book for the Disneylandified Vegas crowd. This is for the off-strip, I've been up for 72 hours, get me another beer, the light is too bright, let it ride crowd.

Hunter is at his best covering a race in the desert, attending a drug prevention convention (the irony!) and taking as much alternative substances as his body can handle. And then some. Lost in the world post-60s, he decries (with fear and loathing, of course!) what he sees happening as society backs off of "the high water mark".

It's a book about the falacy of the American Dream. Vegas - land of illusion - is the perfect setting for a story that pops the balloon that is the American Dream. Travel with Hunter, and you are there, parking the boat he calls a car onto the sidewalk. You're there chatting it up with the law enforcement officers from Podunk Illinois. You're hoping your ODing mammoth of a friend is calming down.

Sometimes runny, this gonzo journalism will surprise you with cutting observations of what is happening to society. Awesome read, that will poke holes in your view of Americana.

5-0 out of 5 stars More truer now than it was originally!
I personally live just outside of Las Vegas, and just about everything the good doctor wrote about is still true (especially Circus Circus). I can only imagine what he'd think of the quasi-Disneyland attractions that are there now.

The drug content was to be expected at that era. The world was still in a white picket fence mode and "creative chemistry" was seen as a tool to escape from it (or at least, take a different view).

The stream-of-consciousness writing style is a wonder to behold. You can practically feel your mind bob-sledding through the ether-induced haze, coming to a landing on both feet.

As for weither or not it was real, get over it. Just wallow in the genius of the work; how it dissects the "American Dream" and how we were so rudely woken from it.

And if you've seen the film, READ THE FREAKIN' BOOK AS WELL! You will discover a favorite quote or two that you'll find yourself using over and over again. I laughed so hard reading it the first time, my face hurt!

It's a classic document of the tail end of the "flower power" generation, and the beginning of the narcisism of the 1970's. Classic American literature with sheer outright BALLS that's so dearly lacking in today's pop culture.

I am certain that when Dr. Thompson reaches his final reward, he will have a never-ending orgy held in his honor, just for writing this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing at the very least!
This nonfiction account of Hunter S Thompson's search for the American Dream is a trip you won't soon forget. It is not for the meek or squeamish. The substance abuse is staggering. I imagine there is some degree of exaggeration. Thompson himself has admitted as much in interviews. I must warn that the consumption in this book will be shocking if not scandalous to many.

FEAR & LOATHING rocks with an unerring intensity. This book is written like a typewriter tanked on meth. The road trip, the hitchhiker, the booze and the drugs, spending an employers money destroying hotel rooms. It is a full force assault on the senses. It left me dazed and confused. It is hilarious at times but in that guilty way when you know that you really shouldn't be laughing. Raoul Duke is like Jerry Seinfeld in that you know he's a jerk but you can't help liking him.

Thompson was an extreme individual. He was notorious for missing deadlines. Reading this book makes it easy to see why. He was very absorbed in the moment. He seemed more intent on getting hammered than on writing the book. But in the end, his extraordinary talent allowed him to produce an amazing book.

The description of drug use will be disturbing to many readers. LSD, mescaline, cocaine, ether. Thompson doesn't seem to be very discriminant in what he'll introduce to his bloodstream. His consumption assumes staggering proportions here.

The writing is surprisingly good. Thompson is able to convey the sensation of being there as all this insanity unfolds. He had a fine grasp of the English language and a deftness at cutting a good sentence. The carefree excitement of youthfulness is captured here. I always feel more alive when I finish this book. It is also a book that I refer to a lot. It is fun to read a single paragraph and then put it away.

This book is for students of the 60s and for readers who like an intense, tumultuous trip into madness. It is shocking and even offensive to some but it is a great ride for those that like a bit of shock value in their entertainment. Truly great -- don't miss it! Along with FEAR & LOATHING, I also recommend THE LOSERS CLUB by Richard Perez, a book whose writing was obviously strongly influenced by Thompson

5-0 out of 5 stars OPPOSITES ATTRACT
The beauty of a free country and free artistic expression is that it allows polar opposites to find themselves. Bill "Spaceman" Lee once told a conservative political audience that "I'm so conservative I eat road kill" and "I'm so conservative I'm standing back-to-back with Chairman Mao." Funny? Doesn't seem that way, but you never heard such laughter as responded to Lee's delivery. The same goes for my love affair with the writing of Hunter S. Thompson. You could walk the fruited plain from California to the New York Island and not find somebody more different from Thompson than me. Thompson would read my opinions and pronounce that I am an "enemy of the people." If I spent a weekend at his cabin in Woody Creek, however, we'd find common ground. I'm an absolute Reagan conservative, a total Christian, a flag-waving American patriot, an admirer of the military (particularly George Patton), a devotee of law'n'order...and a giant fan of Jim Morrison and Thompson!

"Fear and Loathing" is so brilliant, so funny, so biting in its commentary, so revolutionary that I cannot do it justice herein. Thompson is just plain awesome. An insane writer, in the admirable as well as the literal sense.

How to describe this book? "The '60s meets the John Birch Society"? "The American Dream meets the American nightmare"? I don't have it in me to analyze Hunter. He's too good, too out there. Just admiration, that's all I have left for him. The only thing left is mystique, because Thompson, despite years of stories and in-depth analyses, is still very much unknown. Can he be the guy he describes and survive? The truth, or the Truth as Hunter might call it, is that he probably is putting on a little act, but it is just questionable enough to leave doubt, or Doubt!

I think Thompson is what Michael Moore wishes he was.

STEVEN TRAVERS
AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"
STWRITES@AOL.COM

5-0 out of 5 stars Unescapble Excursion into the American Aorta
The movie is a good work. Hunter S. Thompson is an interesting man, but the novel is an entirely different world, a world where Don Juan and mysticism mesh with the concrete experience of conservatism.

The world which the protagonist Rauol Duke lives in is one where people are "pigs and creeps" and drugs are an integral part of the daily experience. Fear and Loathing is not a linear tale of reckless abandon in the City of Sin but a convoluted tale of the thin line that exists between sucess and failure in the aftermath of the Acid Culture. Although Thompson claims that this piece of work is non fiction the sheer absurdity and subjective dialogue makes it hard to accept the validity of that claim.

If you are an informant for the DEA, strong Christian, or live in the bible belt this book will only infuse anger in your soul, but if the world of chemical experimentation exposed through the use of masterful english and a corollary to the Great Gatsby expose then you are in for a treat. ... Read more


43. Into the Wild
by JON KRAKAUER
list price: $12.95
our price: $10.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385486804
Catlog: Book (1997-01-20)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 1144
Average Customer Review: 4.03 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

"God, he was a smart kid..." So why did Christopher McCandless trade a brightfuture--a college education, material comfort, uncommon ability and charm--for death by starvation in anabandoned bus in the woods of Alaska? This is the question that Jon Krakauer's book tries to answer. While itdoesn't—cannot—answer the question with certainty, Into the Wild does shed considerable lightalong the way. Not only about McCandless's "Alaskan odyssey," but also the forces that drivepeople to drop out of society and test themselves in other ways. Krakauer quotes Wallace Stegner's writing on a youngman who similarly disappeared in the Utah desert in the 1930s: "At 18, in a dream, he saw himself ...wandering through the romantic waste places of the world. No man with any of the juices of boyhood inhim has forgotten those dreams." Into the Wild shows that McCandless, while extreme, washardly unique; the author makes the hermit into one of us, something McCandless himself could never pulloff. By book's end, McCandless isn't merely a newspaper clipping, but a sympathetic, oddly magneticpersonality. Whether he was "a courageous idealist, or a reckless idiot," you won't soon forgetChristopher McCandless. ... Read more

Reviews (745)

4-0 out of 5 stars Krakauer's story of Chris McCandless
Why would a talented and gifted young man walk away from his life of promise and lead the life of a penniless wanderer? Jon Krakauer, the nature/travel journalist, takes on this question in the story of Chris McCandless, who after two years of coast-to-coast travel, was found dead in the Alaskan wildreness.

Krakauer retraces McCandless's steps from his childhood to his days at Emory and uncovers a smart, compassionate young man who revelled in the works of Tolstoy, Jack London, and other figures who advocated a simple self-sufficient existence, turning away from money, government, etc. He interviews several people that Chris, "Alex Supertramp" as he calls himself, met in his hitch hiking travels and discusses his journal writings. I came upon this book after reading Krakauer's newest book, Under the Banner of Heaven. I appreciated Krakauer's style of being in the story as an author/journalist, but keeping the story in its purest form.
Krakauer first encountered this story after McCandless's death in 1992. He wrote a feature story in Outside magazine, but was very interested in McCandless, so he decided to research the events more. This book is the further research. He provides some insight and answers some of the questions with his own experiences as a mountaineer and outdoor-lover.

5-0 out of 5 stars FINDING CHRIS MCCANDLESS
As the mother of sons and a writer for whom reading is the greatest pleasure, I found "Into the Wild" to be one of the finest and most unexpectedly beautiful books I have read in a very long time.

It is the harrowing story of the death and short life of Chris McCandless, a bright, charming, adventurous young man whose mysterious travels and untimely death left a legacy of heartbreak and confusion to those who loved him.

In returning to the scene of his own admittedly incomplete reportage of the story for :"Outside" magazine, Jon Krakauer reveals his own honesty and decency as a writer and a man.

The book is as beautifully written as it is fascinating. Krakauer and his readers come to know Chris McCandless as our own youthful hopes made flesh. We also come to know this boy -- and love him -- as everyone's son, perhaps even our own.

Late in his troubled adolescence, Chris set out into the American "wilderness" on a journey to adulthood. He did not return.

He didn't return, that is, until Krakauer, who recognized in this story aspects of his own difficult youth, embarked on an odyssey of his own in McCandless' footsteps. .

With almost unbearable detail he pieces together the last year of this young man's life and derives from it a compelling pilgrim's tale of anger, fear and courage. Through those who knew him during his "lost" days, we move from dissatisfaction and yearning to spiritual rebirth that arrives gratefully, but late and despite terrible twists of fate

.Chris McCandless tunneled through Peer Gynt's mountain, punted across the Slough of Despond and into the dark and icy forest. He received boons and encountered spirit guides; listened and learned from scouts and story-tellers All of them later helped the auther piece together the real story, heretofore untold, of a boy who found himself and death in the same process and in the same place. Free at last, he quietly, and even joyously, welcomed the arrival of both with valor and uncommon grace.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
How does a young man leave a comfortable life with an education and well to do parents and just wander into the wild? This is one of the questions that Jon Krakauer tries to answer. At first the reader is given the idea that Chris McCandless read one too many books like "On the Road" or "White Fang", but as the story develops, he becomes more complex a character. This young man was looking for adventure and decided to leave "normal" life behind. Unfortanuatly for him. it cost him his life.

Krakauer does an amazing job of bringing McCandless back to life by trying to show what he was thinking. Krakauer used personal notes, interviews with family and friends and historical experiences to flesh out this person. When the personal notes run out and speculation starts, Krakauer gives a personal tale to explain why McCandless was not an idiot and just had some bad luck. This book is a very good read and is time well spent.

5-0 out of 5 stars The dark side of idealism
Last Christmas I gave this book to my father. I thought he might enjoy the adventures of Alex (though you know from the start his life will end badly), and thought if things went well I might use this to try to explain to him why it is that I spend all my extra money on travel and why I do illogical things in pursuit of my dreams. His reaction, though, was nothing but frustration with Alex's "idiocy."

The difference between my response to the book - that Chris/Alex lived an extreme form of the longing I and many others feel - and my father's response is the same gulf that this story seeks to bridge. Jon Krakauer, who has also sacrificed a great deal and risked his life in pursuit of his dreams, clearly feels some sympathy for Alex's wild decisions. But the result of Alex's tramping is his own death and the heartbreak that ensues, which seems to outweigh any selfish satisfaction Alex may have received from his experiences.

When people create great art or invent something remarkable, society celebrates their achievements in spite of any collateral damage. But Alex is an example of someone whose idealism was far greater than his accomplishments. The art he left behind in his notebooks is unremarkable, and the few friends he made in his travels have not been catalysts for improvement in the world. His one success (or failure) was that he was able to unbind himself from his expected, normal life and give himself wholly to his ideals. So many of us secretly wish that we had the courage to do something similar, and this book forces us to confront that desire. Is the pursuit of a dream a worthwhile end, in and of itself?

There are no clear answers, in this book or in life, but the question is worth asking, no matter whether you see Alex as someone to be admired or throttled.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lonesome pines in snow
This is an excellent read! But more than that, it is one of most moving and human stories you will ever have the pleasure of encountering by an author such as Krakauer, a splendid naturalist with a true ear for epiphany. Krakauer has a style unlike any writer this side of the twentieth century, and makes his way honestly and earnestly into the psyche of the reader, unexpectedly portraying a very real and true, almost unspeakable understanding of the young adventurer, Chris McCandless. If you are American, you absolutely must read this book! It should be cannonized. ... Read more


44. Dry : A Memoir
by Augusten Burroughs
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312423799
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: Picador
Sales Rank: 1952
Average Customer Review: 4.49 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the bestselling author of Running with Scissors comes Dry—the hilarious, moving, and no less bizarre account of what happened next.

You may not know it, but you've met Augusten Burroughs. You've seen him on the street, in bars, on the subway, at restaurants: a twenty-something guy, nice suit, works in advertising. Regular. Ordinary. But when the ordinary person had to drinks, Augusten was circling the drain by having twelve; when the ordinary person went home at midnight, Augusten never went home at all. Loud, distracting ties, automated wake-up calls, and cologne on the tongue could only hide so much for so long. At the request (well, it wasn't really a request) of his employers, Augusten landed in rehab, where his dreams of group therapy with Robert Downey, Jr., are immediately dashed by the grim reality of fluorescent lighting and paper hospital slippers. But when Augusten is forced to examine himself, something actually starts to click, and that's when he finds himself in the worst trouble of all. Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return to his same drunken Manhattan life—and live it sober. What follows is a memoir that's as moving as it is funny, as heartbreaking as it is real. Dry is the story of love, loss, and Starbucks as a higher power.
... Read more

Reviews (92)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Sobering Look At Sobriety
Augusten Burroughs showed how funny dysfunction could be in the excellent biography "Running With Scissors". Anyone who read (and enjoyed) "Running" can't be suprised that the next step for Burroughs would be rehab, which is the core of his new book "Dry".
The cast surrounding Burroughs in this novel comes with its own set of baggage, which gives him new avenues to explore, new failures to ridicule and new situations to extract both humor and pathos. Again, Burroughs makes laughing at his own missteps central to the book's theme, allthough a running second story involving a best friend who is dying of AIDS really turns the reader against Burroughs (until the necessary near-book's end epiphany, which always seems to be a common theme in alcohol-recovery stories).
Burroughs makes a funny, and tragic drunk. His confusion over dates and times, his lying and deceiving friends and co-workers lead to some laugh-out-loud tales. And the long overdue intervention will make a great movie scene someday. But this book hits its stride with Burroughs exiting rehab, and trying to cope in the real world without a drink. Here his yearning for understanding of his own condition, set against a number of incidents (his friend's eventual death, scripting a beer advertising campaign) lead to humor, sadness and understanding, and show us the heart and soul that we suspect is there, but are rarely given a chance to see until the end of the story.
Anyone who has experience with sobriety, or with twelve-step programs will especially enjoy Burrough's experiences in rehab and meetings, but there may be a few too many in-jokes for those not familiar with a sober lifestyle.

5-0 out of 5 stars Depth, reality, humanity
For someone who doesn't fancy himself a memoir reader, I'm glad to find books in the genre such as this which shine. Anyone who read Running with Scissors, Burrough's first memoir, and enjoyed it well past the hilarious "and then there was the antique ECT machine under the stairs" line into the ups and downs of that life...well, you'll also want to read this book. It's not a 'follow up' any more than Time Regained is a follow up to Swann's Way; Dry stands related but on it's own merits. Nor is the book a 'rehab' book because it transcends that kind of labelling as well. The author doesn't have to resort to edgey posturing. Burroughs privileges us with an honest look at his life and so tells us a bit more about what it means to be human. And check out his website...: from his bio you just know there's more to come, which is pretty amazing for someone who isn't 40 yet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Honest Memoir
<br /> He admits hes a drunk, admits he fails to come home...admits that he is basically forced to under go rehab. But deep within the book you understand the reasons why he got to that point. He is honest about the difficulties in returning back to where he once was, only he has to do it sober. This is a moving memoir, funny and at times heartbreaking. More importantly it is real and courageous. Courageous like other books I have read, Nightmares Echo and A Child Called It,including but not limited to his other book, Running With Scissors, Dry is the story of love, loss,and finding your way back when everyone else gave up.<br />

5-0 out of 5 stars Can Get In To The Heart Of It
This was an easy book to get in to the heart of. Excellent style of writing. The author takes you through the painstaking journey of the different forms of abuse and how it drives the adult in to addictions that are so difficult to control. There are many books out on the market that deal with abuse, and yet only a few such as 'Dry','Running With Scissors' and Nightmares Echo' allow the reader to understand without to much of the physical look in to that side of their lives.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Real Story You Can Relate Too
One of the most authentic books I've read on addiction. Never falls into that 'preachy' mode that turned me off to so many before. Tells it how it is: warts and all, but with an entertaining flair. Best addiction book I've read since Rikki Lee Travolta's "My Fractured Life." It's something I can actually relate too. ... Read more


45. Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China
by Rachel DeWoskin
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393059022
Catlog: Book (2005-05-09)
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 636
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A smart, funny, insightful peek into modern China through the eyes of a "foreign babe."

Hoping to improve her Chinese and broaden her cultural horizons, Rachel DeWoskin went to work for an American PR firm in China. Before she knew it, she was not just exploring but making Chinese culture—as the sexy, aggressive, fearless Jexi, star of a wildly successful soap opera. A sort of Chinese counterpart to Sex in the City revolving around Chinese-Western culture clashes, the show was called Foreign Babes in Beijing.

Living the clashes in real life while playing out a parallel version onscreen, Rachel forms a group of friends with whom she witnesses the vast changes sweeping through China as the country pursues the new maxim that "to get rich is glorious." In only a few years, billboards, stylish bars and discos, international restaurants, fashion shows, divorce, foreign visitors, and cross-cultural love affairs transform the face of China's capital. Foreign Babes in Beijing is as astute and informative as it is witty, moving, and entertaining. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Out of the mouths of babes ... come the truest words . . .
This is one of the most entertaining and informative books I have read in a very long time.I have been to Beijing once and I now live in thevery multicultural city of Toronto.The author deftly weaves the scripted story of the soap opera in which she acts with her real story on the streets and clubs and offices of Beijing.In a style of writing that is clear but deeply nuanced and humorous, she relates the lives of young men and women in a rapidly changing China, dealing with their own kind of culture shock, even as she deals with hers.

The chapter "Model workers" talks of the emerging, very non-Maoist profession of runway models.Brief, capsule biographies of the author's friends in China who are both typical and extraordinary, painters, actors, and fellow office workers, provided me insights that I will long carry with me.The story is told in part with quotations from her actual conversations, quotations from the show script, lyrics from popular songs, and brief quips about historical women recorded in the ancient "Lives of Eminent Women." Together these constribute to a fine tapestry that reveals many truths about our complex multicultural lives without judgement and with considerable affection.

5-0 out of 5 stars Crisp, Clever, Fast-paced, and Funny
This book is both smart and fun. On the one hand it is about an American babe who stars in a Chinese TV soap with funny stories to tell; and on the other, a glimpse into China's vast cultural landscape that is shifting as we speak.The seduction by the foreign babe is a metaphor for the impact of the West on the middle kingdom. DeWoskin has a smooth as silk grasp of language that is kind to the reader. Well done.

5-0 out of 5 stars Social Commentary - Served Hot and Spicy
Rachel DeWoskin arrived in Beijing during the mid-90s, among the first wave of Westerners to see the city since the protests and reprisals at Tiananmen Square a few years earlier. During her stay, China relented from rigid socialism, opened up to foreign capital, and incorporated western business practices. On one level, "Foreign Babes" is the story of this process. DeWoskin's descriptions of these cultural convulsions are pithy and delightful. From the introduction of Coke and McDonald's (and the resulting obesity epidemic), to the latest trends in Chinese rock music and performance art, she was a witness and an insider - the perfect guide.

DeWoskin was not just an anonymous tourist, though, she was a pop-sensation. Starring as an American temptress in China's version of Beverly Hills 90210, her weekly seductions were seen by half a billion people each week. Hundreds of fans mobbed her on the streets of Beijing and followed her through stores, buying whatever random products she put in her bag.

But the heart of "Foreign Babes" is not the fascinating backdrop of Beijing in bloom, or the glamorous and sexy soap opera, but the relationships between the characters. Sparring across a huge divide of language, politics, and culture, they must shed stereotypes and find a personal space in which to understand each other - not as American or Chinese, but as individuals and friends. DeWoskin possesses an astute social sensibility, a pitch-perfect ear for conversation, and the gift of spot-lighting the most awkward - and revealing - moment in any interaction.

Just going to China after college was adventurous. Signing on for the TV-show was audacious. Most impressive, however, was DeWoskin's ability to bridge the gaps and surround herself with friends in a foreign country. Impressive, but not surprising, since the author's warmth and grace are apparent on every page.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Telling Look at Late 1990's Beijing
Having lived for much of the period from 2001 - 2004 in Suzhou, (about 50 miles west of Shanghai), I can categorically say that Rachel DeWoskin's new book, FOREIGN BABES IN CHINA, gets nearly everything right when it comes to Chinese culture and interpersonal relations. Her book is a fascinating account of a city, a country, and a culture in transition. The people around her, and she herself, suffer the contradictions of tradition versus modernity, socialism versus entrepreneurial capitalism, blind patriotism versus Westernization, and government control versus individual freedom, yet everyone zooms ahead to find their own way even as the book's timeline approaches the millennium.

Ms. DeWoskin arrives in Beijing on something of a lark, a college grad with an English degree, a little Mandarin, and a desire for something adventurous. She has taken a position with the Beijing office of an international public relations firm (we later learn that "P.R." sounds uncomfortably like the Chinese word for an unflattering body part) but quickly finds the work empty of content. She unexpectedly gets offered a spot as one of the two foreign female leads in a new Chinese soap opera entitled "Yang Niu Zai Beijing," or "Foreign Babes in Beijing." She is duped into signing a contract for far less than she's worth to the producers (there are still relatively few attractive young Western women in Beijing in 1995), and a series of acting misadventures and cast romances ensue. DeWoskin can barely separate her real-life feelings for her hunky co-star Wang Ling from their respective romantic roles in the soap opera. In the end, "Foreign Babes" is a huge success throughout China, and Ms. Dewoskin is recognized everywhere she goes as Jiexi, the "loose" Western woman who steals a married Chinese man (Wang Ling's character, Tianming) from his wife and takes him to America.

The author eventually quits her P.R. job and takes on a series of small acting and spokesperson roles, and even takes a brief turn as a runway model. Along the way, she meets and briefly profiles four young Beijingers (two female and two male, despite oddly labeling their chapters, "Biographies of Model Babes") and describes their lives, beliefs, and aspirations. Each is fiercely independent and nontraditional, seeking to find their own identity and purpose in a newly-opened society. These four people are sometimes misinformed and often obstinate, even foolishly obstreperous, but there's no doubt they are brave, going where relatively few in their country have gone before.

DeWoskin develops close relationships with each of her four Beijingers, including a live-in relationship with the actor/screenwriter Zhao Jun. The last one-third of the book details her post-Jiexi life, which seems to devolve into clubbing and bar-hopping punctuated by occasional vague hints at working. Two tragedies -- the sudden death of a close Chinese friend juxtaposed against the mistaken U.S./NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade -- bring DeWoskin's relationships and her Chinese life to an abrupt end just as the 20th Century is drawing to a close. It is time to go home, to find her place in her native country.

Ms. DeWoskin tells her story in casual prose with easy pacing. Her writing is sometimes poignant and other times humorous. The reader feels her confusion about Chinese life and language; she doesn't even learn until later that her Chinese name, Du Ruiqiu (Du for DeWoskin, Ruiqiu to sound like Rachel), actually means "Bumper Harvest." She finds huge cultural gaps and differences with everyone around her. She makes repeated cultural faux pas, but muddles through nonetheless, just like any American in her place. Interlaced with her story are bits and pieces of Chinese history and language. Ms. DeWoskin also offers a number of surprisingly on-target, passing observations about Chinese life and culture: the importance of face, women covering their mouths when laughing, lack of winter heating, foreigners' prices, women holding hands but not hugging, and a host of others. Combined, these little bits add to a greater whole, creating a "Beijing atmosphere" that effectively complements her personal story.

It is hard not to see FOREIGN BABES IN CHINA as a coming of age story, both for the naïve, young college graduate author and for the country in which she is perpetually an outsider. She uses China and the Chinese for her own adventure story as surely as they use her for her "exotic" foreignness. This book is also a story about cross-cultural personal relationships, about roles assumed and played out, about what is thought and said, and not said, between any two people, complicated a hundredfold by cultural differences and ways of thinking. In the end, Ms. DeWoskin's confused, conflicted, and ultimately lost relationship with Zhao Jun may well serve as a metaphor for the instability, and perhaps the utter hopelessness, of the larger Sino-American relationship.

3-0 out of 5 stars interesting, and impressionistic
A good read, funny at times. In a way, this book is not exactly about the "new new China," but "recent new China," for the described events happened more than 5 years ago, a generational period on the Chinese time scale. DeWoskin is charming, self-deprecating, and going out with interesting people including Cui Jian. Do not look for any substantial, observant description of the capital and its people in this chattery book. She is after all a babe, living a half-real, half-dreamy life in Beijing. Never an insider, she is but a sweet, lovely guest who is invited to watch China and be watched at the same time. ... Read more


46. Pope John Paul II: In My Own Words
by Pope John Paul II
list price: $4.99
our price: $4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0517220849
Catlog: Book (2002-08-06)
Publisher: Gramercy
Sales Rank: 12342
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Book Description

Spiritual father of millions, globally influential leader: Pope John Paul II's words have brought inspiration, solace, and courage to those who have listened. The quotes and prayers collected here are both for the faithful and for those who have been touched by and want to know more about this remarkable man. His words on love, family, truth, freedom, human relationships, the power of God, and the importance of hope and prayer explore what it means to be alive and what we are doing here on Earth, and offer answers to some of life's hardest questions. ... Read more


47. Dreams from My Father : A Story of Race and Inheritance
by Barack Obama
list price: $13.95
our price: $9.76
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Asin: 1400082773
Catlog: Book (2004-08-10)
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Sales Rank: 154
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Obama, the son of a white American mother and a black African father, writes an elegant and compelling biography that powerfully articulates America's racial battleground and tells of his search for his place in black America. 8 pages of photos. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful Book from Political Leader
As a first-time writer, Obama does a wonderful job in relating the stories that affected his life. Obama details his personal reflections on his family, his childhood, race in America, and what it means to be biracial in a multi-ethnic society. Obama is painfully honest in discussing his life, which is not only rare for a politician but requires a tremendous amount of self-understanding and respect for the reading public. This book is a must read for those who are interested in Obama as a politician and for those who have an interest reading first-hand accounts of growing up in America as an "other".

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoy Reading
Obama makes little mention of his white half -- although by his own account he was lovingly brought up by his white mother and her parents, and this might have provided further answers to the questions he raises about himself and where he belongs. Obama, whom I admire as a political leader in Chicago, is young; the book is hard to read. Obama seems to say that people of mixed backgrounds must choose only one of those backgrounds in which to make a spiritual home.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Surprise Find
I highly recommend this book to almost everyone. It should really get more attention!

The writing is thoughtful and interesting, and the subject matter unique. The book follows Barack Obama as he grows up and defines himself and his view of the world, as he finds the community that he wants to count himself a member of. In the end that "community" is really the community of humanity, but this book takes you on Barack's journey.

The author examines his heritage of white, midwesterners on his mother's side and later in the book explores the world of his father, a Kenya of the Luo tribe who came to the U.S. to study. Three parts of the book I found especially well done. First, the evocation of what it was like to be in Barack's head as a young black man with few black role models in his life and the difficult philosophical (internal) conversation of the African-American community defining itself in white America. Second, his work as a community organizer in Chicago really dealt well with the complex problems of declining inner cities. Third, the idealization of his absent father by both himself and his mother and the gradual discovery of the real character of his father and grandfather.

Overall, this book was about his struggle to be true to himself and to figure out what that meant. ... Read more


48. Wooden
by JohnWooden
list price: $18.95
our price: $12.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0809230410
Catlog: Book (1997-04-01)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Sales Rank: 2736
Average Customer Review: 4.98 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Coach Wooden's remarkable 10 national basketball championships in 12 years at UCLA speak for themselves. In Wooden, the coach--quiet, thoughtful, and introspective throughout his distinguished career--finally speaks forhimself, and he's well worth hearing. Wooden is a modern chapbook of inspiration and good sense that reveals the hard-court philosopher behind it as a man of character, conviction, decency, and straightforwardness. There are no complex ideas, just little beams of light filtered through anecdotes that project the kinds of simple, immutable truths that in the end touch nothing but net. ... Read more

Reviews (50)

5-0 out of 5 stars A PYRAMID OF SUCCESS
John was truly a team player no matter what his tasks was. He taught many to understand others, but also understand actions in every different situation.Wooden shares his personal philosophy on family, achievement, success, and excellence on every aspect of life. John shares his teachings to others and guides them with wisdom far beyond sports. This book written by John Wooden himself with Steve Jamison will pull you in, as you read a lifetime of observations and refelctions on and off the court, and how great his success was at U.C.L.A as a basket ball coach.
I mostly enjoyed the man's passion for being a better person in life, but also teaching others. He was a man of integrity with great knowledge and wisdom, he created success. What I like most about the book is that in a way to read about John, it is also a learning experience, because you are still learning about his teachings. I most respect on how John took lessons taught as a child from his parents and continued to take them with him in life. I also like how he had a pyramid of success faith and patience were at the top. He was a man of his word, but also the "word," that being the bible.
I do not dislike anything about this book, because there are many different teachings to value. It makes you want to learn more from life everday and how you can make your work that much better. His benevolence is proudly displayed in all aspects of life, but most importantly he also learned from his players as he coached them everday. This shows that not everyone is here to teach, but many are here to listen. As Wooden did so, he lived his life with wisdom, success, and leading to your capabilities

5-0 out of 5 stars A "Wizard", Yes, But Also Human
Having once coached varsity high school basketball for 13 years and having heard Coach Wooden speak at numerous clinics, I can personally attest to the authenticity of this book's contents. It correctly suggests both the man's wizardry and humanity. Jabbar and Walton have almost nothing in common except their talent to play basketball and their love and respect for Coach Wooden. He is proud of them but probably just as proud of hundreds of other players (most known only to him, their families, and friends) who are physicians, educators, artists, attorneys, public servants, corporate executives, entertainers, etc. He set very high standards, especially for himself. He prepared for each practice and each game with meticulous care. He hated losing for lack of a maximum effort but accepted defeat (after a maximum effort) with exceptional style and grace. Anyone who has any association with children, especially those privileged to coach at any level, should read this book. And may I add, anyone who feels adrift in her or his life should also read this book. The "lessons" provided helped to win so many NCAA national basketball champlionships; they also helped to develop the character of those who played on the U.C.L.A. teams which won them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Wisdom
This is the kind of book I'll go back to again and again. I got it after finding out about Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" from his website ... I think what I got out of it mostly was the value of being as prepared as possible (for whatever's coming up, short and long-term), and of being industrious... but the latter is a lesson *I* need to learn right now, and others might pick up something else... their particular weakness right now.

So I would recommend it as a valuable "life manual," right alongside books like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Power of Positive Thinking, and Think and Grow Rich.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read this book slowly - there's a lot to think about here.
In my business reading this year, I find myself "flying through" the standard business fare, finding the important points and moving on. Very many business books are written that way. Although "Wooden" is not a business book, I expect a lot of the business crowd will be attracted to the book - John Wooden is mentioned in so many other books about leadership and teamwork. When I began reading this book - dare I say treasure - I realized that my brain began recalibrating to a much slower reading speed, because the content is so fresh, so pithy, and so engaging. I felt as though I was sitting in a room with this great man, listening to him talk about life and basketball. I sensed his delicate and understated humor, his love of poetry, his clarity of priorities and purpose, and found myself wrapped up in the text. This is a book that you will want to read slowly, and read again from time to time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for any time of sports fan
I read this book in no time. It constantly brought up different points about Coach Woodens upbringing, work ethic and what he taught the kids at UCLA. The book shows how he was more concerned about bringing the best out of every player instead of the final score. This truly is a great book for any type of person who has in interest in sports. The book is well written and covers all aspects of Coach Woodens life. It talks about how he was just as proud of the teams that won the title in 66'-67' as opposed to the streak of 7 in a row he had because of the circumstances they were dealt with. This is a must read. ... Read more


49. Take the Cannoli : Stories From the New World
by Sarah Vowell
list price: $12.00
our price: $10.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743205405
Catlog: Book (2001-04-03)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 3654
Average Customer Review: 3.88 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Take the Cannoli is a moving and wickedly funny collection of personal stories stretching across the immense landscape of the American scene. Vowell tackles subjects such as identity, politics, religion, art, and history with a biting humor. She searches the streets of Hoboken for traces of the town's favorite son, Frank Sinatra. She goes under cover of heavy makeup in an investigation of goth culture, blasts cannonballs into a hillside on a father-daughter outing, and maps her family's haunted history on a road trip down the Trail of Tears. Vowell has an irresistible voice -- caustic and sympathetic, insightful and double-edged -- that has attracted a loyal following for her magazine writing and radio monologues on This American Life. ... Read more

Reviews (64)

4-0 out of 5 stars I LOVED THIS BOOK...
...but I will caution readers that they MIGHT find it more enjoyable to hear Consigliere Sarah Vowell read them herself. That's what I discovered. Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic book start to finish; my favorite This American Life essayist covers a wide and diverse variety of topics, from the Trail of Tears to growing up a gunsmith's daughter to going Goth for a day. Every essay in this book was a delectable morsel of Sarah Vowell's acid, accurate wit. This wonderful piece of insight made me laugh, made me think, and most of all, made me understand why I should leave the gun and take the cannoli. Thank you, Sarah Vowell, for continuing to grace the world of popular culture with your fresh, cutting perspective.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great, laugh-out-loud funny essays
This is my first experience with Sarah Vowell's work, having seen her on Letterman and Conan O'Brien, and I found it at a used book sale at the local library and decided to get it. I'm glad I did; this is one of the funniest collections of essays I've read in a while. Vowell's unique, almost Gen-X approach to life (though I hate to use the label "Gen-X", as that suggests someone much more mopey than Vowell really is). I'm perplexed by the reviews that cite this as being "boring" or "not funny", I suppose everyone's entitled to their opinion but I couldn't disagree more. Whether knock-down hilarious ("Take The Cannoli", "Shooting Dad", etc) or serious and well-thought historical and emotional ("What I See When I look at The Twenty-Dollar Bill", the Frank Sinatra-Hoboken essay), Vowell is excellent, and I look forward to reading more of her work. I highly recommend this to anyone who's looking for a good laugh, and hopefully I'll get a chance to hear her on NPR sometime. At any rate "Take the Cannoli" is a good primer for Vowell.

5-0 out of 5 stars Partly cloudy patriot
Read everything Sarah Vowell writes but possibly read radio on after partly cloudy patriot and take the cannoli.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fairly Decent
Take the Cannoli serves as a decent introduction to Sarah Vowell's writing, although it is not nearly as good as Partly Cloudy Patriot. The most appealing thing about her is the simple fact that one can disagree with her opinions without feeling argumentative. She has a way of presenting her opinions that does an excellent job of articulating why she feels the way she does without sounding like she is attacking any opposing opinion. Very civilized and enjoyable.

4-0 out of 5 stars Like a lively conversation at a bistro
...and speaking of a bistro, her take on the hidden meaning of your morning mocha is laugh-out-loud funny. This collection of essays deals with her historical, political, religious, and cultural experiences - and who could be more fun to wade through that with than a cynical, lyrical gen-X commentator?!

This book has a little something for everyone. Well, O.K., probably not everyone. If you're a big fan of the Left Behind series, you might not like her take on premillenial dispensationalism. If you have little appreciation for Frank Sinatra, you may need to skip a couple of the essays. It reads like a lively road-trip passenger, full of random opinions and witticisms. Having heard her recently in a live reading, I think we would be well served by an audio version of this book. ... Read more


50. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
by DAVE EGGERS
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375725784
Catlog: Book (2001-02-13)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 791
Average Customer Review: 3.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Well, this was when Bill was sighing a lot. He had decided that after our parents died he just didn't want any more fighting between what was left of us. He was twenty-four, Beth was twenty-three, I was twenty-one, Toph was eight, and all of us were so tried already, from that winter. So when something world come up, any little thing, some bill to pay or decision to make, he would just sigh, his eyes tired, his mouth in a sorry kind of smile. But Beth and I...Jesus, we were fighting with everyone, anyone, each other, with strangers at bars, anywhere -- we were angry people wanting to exact revenge. We came to California and we wanted everything, would take what was ours, anything within reach. And I decided that little Toph and I, he with his backward hat and long hair, living together in our little house in Berkeley, would be world-destroyers. We inherited each other and, we felt, a responsibility to reinvent everything, to scoff and re-create and drive fast while singing loudly and pounding the windows. It was a hopeless sort of exhilaration, a kind of arrogance born of fatalism, I guess, of the feeling that if you could lose a couple of parents in a month, then basically anything could happen, at any time -- all bullets bear your name, all cars are there to crush you, any balcony could give way; more disaster seemed only logical. And then, as in Dorothy's dream, all these people I grew up with were there, too, some of them orphans also, most but not all of us believing that what we had been given was extraordinary, that it was time to tear or break down, ruin, remake, take and devour. This was San Francisco, you know, and everyone had some dumb idea -- I mean, wicca? -- and no one there would tell you yours was doomed. Thus the public nudity, and this ridiculous magazine, and the Real World tryout, all this need, most of it disguised by sneering, but all driven by a hyper-awareness of this window, I guess, a few years when your muscles are taut, coiled up and vibrating. But what to do with the energy? I mean, when we drive, Toph and I, and we drive past people, standing on top of all these hills, part of me wants to stop the car and turn up the radio and have us all dance in formation, and part of me wants to run them all over." ... Read more

Reviews (741)

2-0 out of 5 stars unstaggered
You've got to give Dave Eggers this, if nothing else, he knows how to market himself. First he wrote this memoir, loaded with irony to appeal to Gen-Xers, continually self-referential to appeal to postmodernists, and centered around his efforts to raise his little brother after their parents both died of cancer, a sure chick magnet. Then, having exposed most of his and his family members' lives to public view (at least in theory) he adopted a Pynchonesque/Sallingeresque reclusive pose, and feigned personal agony at having to discuss the book. All this while cashing in big time on the supposedly "tragic" events of his life. For these savvy ploys alone he deserves to be called a "staggering genius."

The book itself uses a host of postmodernist, ironical, satirical, etc., etc., etc...techniques, which are rather hackneyed and, given the ostensible topic of the book (his family tragedy), quite off-putting. A fairly representative passage comes when he's heaving his mother's ashes (or cremains) into Lake Michigan :

Oh this is so plain, disgraceful, pathetic--

Or beautiful and loving and glorious! Yes, beautiful and loving and glorious!

But even if so, even if this is right and beautiful, and she is tearing up while watching, so proud--like what she said to me when I carried her, when she had the nosebleed and I carried her and she said that she was proud of me, that she did not think I could do it, that I would be able to lift her, carry her to the car, and from the car into the hospital, those words run through my head every day, have run through every day since, she did not think I could do it but of course I did it. I knew I would do it, and I know this, I know what I am doing now, that I am doing something both beautiful but gruesome because I am destroying its beauty by knowing that it might be beautiful, know that if I know I am doing something beautiful, that it's no longer beautiful. I fear that even if it is beautiful in the abstract, that my doing it knowing that it's beautiful and worse, knowing that I will very soon be documenting it, that in my pocket is a tape recorder brought for just that purpose--that all this makes this act of potential beauty somehow gruesome. I am a monster. My poor mother. She would do this without the thinking, without the thinking about thinking--

Yeah sure, I get it, the way he's having this discussion shows that he understands what's going on, yadda, yadda, yadda... But unfortunately, the point he's making is more accurate than his style is clever. There simply is something gruesome about this kind of mannered irony and the way, throughout his life, that he seems to interpret his experiences through the filter of the book he plans to write.

At the point where every thought, emotion, and action in your life must be considered for how it will appear in print, you've become a fictional character rather than a real human being. And by creating so much distance between the character of Dave Eggers and the supposedly tragic events of his life, Eggers (the author) makes it really hard for the reader to care much. I finished the book unstaggered and heart unbroken, but grudgingly forced to admit that the literary world has a potential new genius, a writer with a genius for self promotion the likes of which we've not seen since Norman Mailer; and we all know how the Norman Mailer story has gone : badly.

GRADE : C-

3-0 out of 5 stars Bitter, Sad, Self-Obessed, Humorous....but not quite genius
Frankly, I felt this was a heartbreaking work of staggering genius that sputtered and stopped just shy of greatness.

The first half of the book was brilliant. The middle was torturous. The end (being that it followed so closely after the agonizing middle) just didn't feel as captivating anymore.

I disagree, however, with the reviewer who criticized Eggers for not caring about his mother and sister. There is tenderness and profound sadness there, you just have to perceive it underneath the facade Eggers constructs.

His brutal portrayal of the death of a loved one and the complication of family relationships afterward is, perhaps, too much for some readers. I found it to be honest (probably the most honest aspect of the book).

That said, I recommend this book to those with an open mind, an appreciation for ironic humor, and a tolerance for an unconventional approach to writing. It was mad. It was refreshing. But it was just a little too unedited to live up to the title completely.

1-0 out of 5 stars Lies, Lies, Lies, and more Lies
First off, the title is a lie.

The book is boring. The narrator does not care about the deaths of his parents nor the future death of his sister, so how is it heartbreaking?

Einstein was a genius. Shakespeare was a genius. Eggers is incapable of writing a book with a plot and characters.

Then, all the blurbs are lies, as they were all written my people on the McSweeney's payroll.

And then, all the insider tax and tuition snark-fests, held by pomo hipsters on college campuses are lies.

And then, all the creative-writing workshops which assign this book, as well as postmodern english classes which place it on the suggested reading lists are lies.

The sales numbers given by the corporate conglomerates are lies, aimed at bolstering their bottom line while Eggers aims to eradicate literature by spamming the bookstores with his crap, killing trees and displacing quality literature penned by indy presses.

Then, all the positive reviews here are lies, written by Eggers himself, as the New York Times reported.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Heartwrenching Display of Staggering Hubris
There are so many other good books out there, why waste your time with this one? The title is lofty and ambitious and creates expectations for the reader that this work fails to realize (Of course, Dave, you did ask for it). No question to me that Eggers has potential to be a decent writer, but his smug (oh, but I try to be self-deprecating, and I almost mean it, too!), cooler-than-thou, "Are you in on the joke?" style gets in the way of what could have been, if not a work of staggering genius, a well-told coming-of-age story.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Self-Indulgent Work of Staggering Verbosity
Have you ever had a friend who just couldn't stop talking about him or her self? They seem to have no other concern in life but to tell you how great, magnificent and important they are. It's as if they think they're the only ones who exist, or worse yet, matter. And after reading Dave Eggers' "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", I couldn't help but feel that's exactly who I had been listening to.

Alright, perhaps I'm being a bit harsh. Eggers is a very talented writer, with enough quirkiness to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool to brimming. The subject matter he attempts here is very "heartbreaking", and he manages to evoke strong emotions from his readers without becoming overtly sentimental. And in dealing with the tragic loss of two parents to cancer (in the same month), this would be easy to do. Eggers deftly keeps his memoir moving by utilizing humor, anger, and a jarring, schizophrenic leaping from story thread to story thread.

Eggers shows a clever and refreshing playfulness in his writing. Where else are you greeted with directions on how to read a book? Where else do you get the story notes "before" the story actually begins? The book is also filled with various other clever devices, such as diagrams which point out optimal areas on his kitchen's hardwood floor for sock-sliding, a chart which explains all of the symbolism in his book (for his less alert readers), and a number of formatting switches, such as to movie script format or interviews written in italics. Eggers has employed nearly every trick in the book to maintain his reader's attention.

The story, however, even as Eggers states in his "reading directions", is a bit uneven. The heart of the story, that of Eggers' coping with raising his young, orphaned eight-year-old brother, Toph, is rendered with tenderness and honesty. Simple acts such as throwing frisbee and sliding down a hardwood floor in one's socks take on a philosophic poignancy, and the remarkably realistic dialogue between the brothers is captivating.

However, true to his schizophrenic nature, Eggers is not content to merely talk of Toph. The middle of the book he fills with stories of his attempts to start up a (relatively pointless) satirical magazine, Might, and his attempt to get on MTV's even-more-pointless reality show, The Real World. These threads, while somewhat entertaining, tend to wear thin, especially when Eggers continually rants about how great and important he is. The worst part is a nearly fifty page "transcription" of his interview with the producers of The Real World to sell himself onto the show. Pages and pages of where he grew up, what his favorite food was, and why he is so gosh dang vibrant and beautiful and necessary to everyone on the planet. Energy is refreshing. But in Eggers case, it gets self-indulgent at times.

Still, there is something to be read here. The first 100 pages and the last 50 are fantastic, particularly his thoughts on his mother, and Eggers exuberance, as well as his ferocious anger, are marvelous to behold. Staggering? Yes. Masturbatory? Very. Genius? Not quite. Entertaining? You betcha'. ... Read more


51. Hey Ranger! : True Tales of Humor & Misadventure from America's National Parks
by Jim Burnett
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1589791916
Catlog: Book (2005-04-25)
Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing
Sales Rank: 4933
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In his thirty years with the National Park Service, Jim Burnett has seen it all: baotramp mishaps that have sent cars into the water; skunks in the outhouse and bears at the dumpser; visitors looking for the bridge over the Grand Canyon. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book for everyone!
This book is a good read for anyone who enjoys reading about how incredibly dense other people can be!I love the acronyms he uses, and I especially like the chapter titled "Back It Up Right Here!"and "Thousands of Chickens!"Jim Burnett has a great sense of humor and I'm sure he has more stories to tell!I really hope he writes another book - I'll be sure to get it!

5-0 out of 5 stars I haven't read this book....
...quite yet (though I certainly intend to), but, as a former Park Ranger, I'm going to give it 5 stars. I heard the interview on NPR with Mr. Burnett and he sounded like he had some terrific and hilarious stories in the book. I can confirm that I've seen otherwise reasonable people ask incredibly stupid questions or do completely off-the-wall things while on vacation, so I can well believe the veracity of the author. I'm looking forward to reading this. I may be a law student now, but I still bleed gray and green.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fun book for almost anybody
I enjoy travel and visiting parks, and even though I don't consider myself to be an `outdoorsman," I really liked this book. The author is a great, conversational story-teller and has a wonderful sense of humor. If you like Garrison Keillor you'll enjoy this style of writing. He has come up with some really funny acronyms to describe why things often turn out differently that we expect, such as the "oops" factor (outcome outside of planned scenario). My son always thought he wanted to be a park ranger and I'm giving him a copy of the book. Like the previous reviewer I was surprised at some of the things I learned about their jobs. This is a fun read and the short chapters made it easy to enjoy even with my busy schedule.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hey Ranger!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading, Hey Ranger!, especially the amusing style the author uses to tell of the incidents he encountered and the so called fringe benefits a Park Ranger's family endures.The chapter titles grab your attention and relates well to what's told in that chapter."Don't feed the skunks" is one of many hilarious accounts of how people depend on a Park Ranger to solve their mistakes. I really enjoyed the use of abbreviations such as C.U.B.S. (Constitutionally Unable to Behave Sensibly), that adds to the funny explanations of brainless situations people get into. His own personal chapter account of one of his moves in, " Mister, It's not to late" was so funny I found myself laughing out loud.This book proves that a Park Ranger's job is more than just riding around in a truck enjoying National Park scenery as some people think. It's hard to put down and I'm sure you will find it entertaining. ... Read more


52. Quicksands: A Memoir
by Sybille Bedford
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582431698
Catlog: Book (2005-05-10)
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Sales Rank: 9581
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Book Description

Beginning in 1956 with the publication of A Legacy, the highly acclaimed Sybille Bedford has narrated-in fiction and nonfiction-what has been by turns her sensuous, harrowing, altogether remarkable life. In this memoir, her first new book in over ten years, she provides the moving culmination to an epic personal story that takes readers from the Berlin of World War I, to the artists' set on the C™te d'Azur of the 1920s, through lovers, mentors, seducers, and friends, from genteel yet shabby poverty to settled comfort in London's West End. Whether evoking the simple sumptuousness of a home-cooked meal, or tracing the heartrending outline of an intimate betrayal, she offers both "a deliciously evoked return to worlds" (John Fowles), and spellbinding reflections on how history imprints itself on private lives. ... Read more


53. Leaving the Saints : How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith
by MARTHA BECK
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0609609912
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: Crown
Sales Rank: 74568
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54. The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family
by Dave Pelzer
list price: $10.95
our price: $8.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1558745157
Catlog: Book (1997-08-01)
Publisher: HCI
Sales Rank: 1555
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Imagine a young boy who has never had a loving home. His only possesions are the old, torn clothes he carries in a paper bag. The only world he knows is one of isolation and fear. Although others had rescued this boy from his abusive alcoholic mother, his real hurt is just begining -- he has no place to call home.

This is Dave Pelzer's long-awaited sequel to A Child Called "It". In The Lost Boy, he answers questions and reveals new adventures through the compelling story of his life as an adolescent. Now considered an F-Child (Foster Child), Dave is moved in and out of five different homes. He suffers shame and experiences resentment from those who feel that all foster kids are trouble and unworthy of being loved just because they are not part of a "real" family.

Tears, laughter, devastation and hope create the journey of this little lost boy who searches desperately for just one thing -- the love of a family.

... Read more

Reviews (319)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing
After reading A Child Called It, I of course, had to read Lost Boy. Though, I was very happy to see David got away from his mother, I was more compelled to learn that the school system got involved, finally! Being in foster care itself, can't be a easy task, i.e. living out of a paper sack with the only prized possessions he ever owned, but not knowing from moment to moment if you are going to be pulled out of that home. This book is one of those books that you just can't put down, you have to turn the page to see how David pulls through each situation. Don't pick up this book if you don't have a few hours to spend starting and finishing this book. It is a MUST read! I have purchased A Man Named Dave and have begun to read it. This series is compelling!

5-0 out of 5 stars Dave is Inspiring to All
The Lost Boy is the most beautiful book I have ever read. It tells about his life from the ages of 12 to 18 as a foster child. It is the long awaited sequal to the book A Child Called 'It.' A book so intreguing, it was literally impossible to put down. This book is Pelzer's moving sequel. It deals with child abuse and how he survived. He takes you through his five diffrent foster families during his adolesent years. Pelzer tells about his desperate dtermination to find the love of a family and a child's dream of 'fitting-in.' While reading The Lost Boy, you will experiance an uproar of emotions. It will make you cry and at the same time it will make you mad. Then when you least suspect it, you will be crying and cheering for Dave. Dave is living proof that abusive cycles can be broken. He is an inspiration to us all. It would be an honor to hear this wonderful man speak.

1-0 out of 5 stars Peddling bogus melodrama for a profit
This 'memoir' ought to be labeled trash fiction. Hasn't anyone read the New York Times article tracing Dave's childhood and examining the inconsistencies in his books? He peddles these books at 'conferences' in order to keep his name on the NYT Bestseller list - which is NOT an evaluation of the merit and literary value of any particular book, but just shows the general ignorance of today's reader.

I'm embarrassed for the readers who actually believe the pages of rubbish. It's a sad state when books like these continue to garner attention and prey on poor innocent readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I really liked the book "The Lost Boy" and read it after I finished a "Child Called It." I cried in many parts of this book and enjoyed reading it very much. If you have read "A Child Called It" (and enjoyed it) I would highly recommend you read "The Lost Boy." The book was mainly about how Dave Pelzer was moving to different foster homes, his problems fitting in, and his constant fear of his mother.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brought me to tears again
This book was just as good as "A Child Called It"

What David Pelzer went through is unspeakable. I can not even formulate it into words, but to say, no child should go through what he went through.

At the end of the book there was light at the end of the tunnel, he became an adult an enlisted in the Armed Forces. I will read "A Man Called Dave" to see how his life unfolded.

Later.... ... Read more


55. Mr. China : A Memoir
by Tim Clissold
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060761393
Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Sales Rank: 1423
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The idea of China has always exerted a pull on the adventurous type. There is a kind of entrepreneurial Westerner who just can't resist it: red flags, a billion bicycles, and the largest untapped market on earth. What more could they want? After the first few visits, they start to feel more in tune and experience the first stirrings of a fatal ambition: the secret hope of becoming the Mr. China of their time.

In the 1990s, China went through a miraculous transformation from a closed backwater to the workshop of the world. Many smart young men saw this transformation coming and mistook it for their destiny. Not a few rushed East to gain strategic footholds, plant their flags, and prosper. After all, the Chinese had numbers on their side: a seemingly endless population, a thirst for resources, and the tide of history. What they needed was Western knowledge and lots of capital. Or so it seemed ...

Mr. China tells the rollicking story of one man's encounter with the Chinese. Armed with hundreds of millions of dollars and a strong sense that he and his partners were -- like missionaries of capitalism -- descending into the industrial past to bring the Chinese into the modern world, Clissold got the education of a lifetime.

The ordinary Chinese workers, business owners, local bureaucrats, and party cadres Clissold encountered were some of the most committed, resourceful, and creative operators he would ever meet. They were happy to take the foreigner's money but resisted just about anything else. At every turn, the locals seemed one step ahead of Clissold's crew threatening to take the Westerners for all they were worth.

In the end, Mr. China isn't a tale of business or an expatriate's love for his adopted land. It's one man's coming-of-age story where he learns to respect and admire the nation he sought to conquer.

... Read more

Reviews (20)

4-0 out of 5 stars A first-hand look into China's complex business culture

In "Mr. China," we get a genuine look into the, "Now you see it, now you don't," world of foreign investment in China.

You'll laugh, and cry, when you read Clissold's frightening tales.You'll find out first-hand what it's like to be a pioneer in an emerging market, still entrenched in communism, where firing workers is off limits, regulations are deliberately complicated, and property ownership is a moving target.

Much of what has been written about China deals with the economic boom in coastal cities.Clissold takes us out into the hinterlands, some areas of which have only recently been opened to westerners.Out in China's badlands, they can be trying to destroy you one day, and the next day they're your best buddies, staying up with you all night, sloshing down baijiu.Lucky for us (and for the author), he lived to tell about it.

This book is full of valuable lessons, not just about China, but which are relevant to any emerging market.Even if you're not looking to invest in China, this book is still worth reading.Because, like it or not, China is here to stay.And the more we understand their complex culture, the better we'll be able to deal with them as an economic superpower.

We should be thankful to pioneers like Clissold, who pave the way and take the arrows.Yet despite the extreme hardships, and tens of millions in losses, Clissold leaves us with hope that, some day, we'll be able to make this work."Mr. China" is definitely a step in that direction.


4-0 out of 5 stars Unusual stories about investments in China that went wrong
For every success story that we hear about China investments, there must be many which have gone awry. Yet there are not many books that depict such tales from the first narrator viewpoint. Many are dry textbook-like, how-to narrations. Thus, Mr China provides a refreshing look into the realities of doing business in this vast land of 1.3 billion. I particularly enjoyed the story on the investment in Five Star Brewery- perhaps because it is a tale about a consumer product which makes it easier to grasp.

However, I do not understand why Mr Clissord kept using "arrived back from " when he could have used "returned from". Perhaps, it is due to his long stay in China that he started formulating his thoughts in Chinese?

It would also help if Mr Clissold could explain in greater detail the hierarchial structure of the Chinese governmental bodies.

On the whole, this is book worth your time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone wants to understand modern China
As a person who was born in Taiwan and came of age in the States, I marvel at Tim's in-depth understanding of Chinese culture.All those proverbs he quoted at the beginning of each chapter are old sayings that are known for almost all Chinese and capture much essence of Chinese view of life and world through ages.His sincerity and truthful portrait of the Chinese that he encountered makes this book truly educational for anyone who wants to do business in China, like many reviews have already mentioned. What makes this book so special is Tim's compassion toward fellow human beings, in the instance of this book, toward people who live in the land that European happened to call "China."Scratching the surface difference of customs or language, people everywhere are pretty similar--they all long for a better live, try to do the best of what they are given and want to be treated respectfully.Being a member of this exclusive five-thousand year old club, I admire and appreciate Tim's efforts to put a humane face of Chinese people and try to build deeper understanding between two great nations.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must Reading Before Business Travel to China
Several days ago, I learned of the book Mr. China by Tim Clissold. I started reading it last night and finished it early this morning - only 252 pages. It is an absolutely mesmerizing chronicle of the investing in China in the 90's, and of the challenge to traveling out into the hinterlands of that enormous nation.

To a great extent it explains to me the situation I was actually in during my trip to Humen China last November - the balance between the Party and the private sector there, the role of the press, the work ethic and entrepreneurial drive of the Chinese, the intrigue of their nefarious rules/regulations and the balance between Beijing and the provinces. It reinforces the wisdom of our non-profit trade group having over 30 members with offices in China, a resouce we can draw from in our network. But this book is what individuals must read and come to grips with prior to travel to China.

I almost can not imagine what our members went through in opening factoriesthere. After you read this book, neither will you. And the same holds true for our many members there or soon to be in one form or another.

Simply amazing and an important, informative, moving and almost visceral read for those of us in this global game.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Emerging Market Lessons
I have worked extensively in Russia, rather than China, but most of the author's experiences and lessons are just as applicable to Russia or any other emerging market.

Other than describing some common pitfalls and challenges, the author does a great job of explaining with insight, humor, and feeling why people are attracted to invest and live in emerging markets.

A good, fun, quick, read that might actually teach you something.Highly recommended!

TMR ... Read more


56. Tales from the Bed : On Living, Dying, and Having It All
by Jenifer Estess
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743476824
Catlog: Book (2004-05-18)
Publisher: Atria
Sales Rank: 320
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Jenifer Estess is a woman on the verge: She's about to launch her own company; she's looking buff and dating vigorously; she's driving in the fast lane -- with the top down. At the age of thirty-five, Jenifer dreams of falling in love and starting a family. Then she notices muscle twitches in her legs. Walking down a city block feels exhausting. At first, doctors write off Jenifer's symptoms to stress, but she is quickly diagnosed with ALS, a fatal brain disease that is absolutely untreatable.

Max out your credit cards and see Paris, suggests one doctor. Instead of preparing to die, Jenifer gets busy. She dreams deeper, works harder, and loves endlessly. For Jenifer, being fatally ill is not about letting go. It's about holding on and reaching -- for family, friends, goals.

Jenifer's girlhood pact with her sisters Valerie and Meredith -- nothing will ever break us apart -- guides them as Jenifer faces down one of the most devastating illnesses known to humankind. That same enduring pact inspires the creation of Project A.L.S., a movement started by the sisters that changes the way science and medicine approach research for ALS and the related diseases Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and which has already raised more than $18 million. Will Project A.L.S. help scientists discover medicine in time for her?

Jenifer answers these questions and others in this beautifully written and wholly inspiring memoir that celebrates a life fuelled by memory. Tales from the Bed forces us to reconsider society's notion of "having it all," and illustrates, more than anything, the importance of endurance, hope, and, most of all, love. ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars I've found a new hero (or heroes)
I have seen the HBO documentary, "Three Sisters," with which this book is associated, and also read this book. Both were amazing and powerful, yet different. I walked away from the book, looking to do something more meaningful with my life, whereas the film was more educational as far as ALS is concerned.

The book kept me up, reading all night long, in a rush to continue with Jenifer on her journey to the end. When I read the final pages, I didn't want to close the book, in fear that the connection I established with Jenifer, Valerie and Meredith would disappear. The writing flowed like a familiar memory and the humor made me smile between the tears that dropped. I feel like I've known the Estess family for my entire life, even though I was introduced to them by mere text in the pages of the book. I recommend this book highly to everyone--not just those who have ALS or know someone with ALS. After all,like Jenifer, ALS could happen to anyone of us.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful
This was such a great read that revealed a woman with a lot of class who even though she was dying inch by inch continued to live and fight for the hope of a cure for ALS. Through the writing you can feel her struggle, but her sense of humor comes through so just when you are about to cry over the inhumanity of the disease you crack a smile or even laugh out loud at something Jenifer said. The love she and her sisters had for one another and their determination to help Jenifer is awe inspiring. This book makes you forget about your troubles and makes you want to do something to find a cure for ALS. I'd recommend it for anyone who has a heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars A moving story of courage
I picked up this book on the way home from a trip for some airplane reading and could not put it down. I was somewhat familiar with Jenifer's story from seeing her and her sisters on the Today Show and other news programs when they started Project ALS. But her courageous story of life and love and what it means to be family really touched my heart - and gave me some much needed perspective in my life. I highly recommend it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Indomitable spirit an encouragement to all
I deeply admire Jenifer's courage and indomitable spirit. Her sisters' commitment to love, care, and find a cure is also very admirable.

My husband has ALS and I am very glad I read this book. I am challenged to love others more and do my best to make a positive difference in spite of daunting odds.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful summer read - inspiring and filled with love!
I just read Jenifer's wonderful memoir, TALES FROM THE BED and thought it was one of the most beautiful stories I've read in years. With all that was changing in Jenifer's life, she had her sisters and still had hope, and remained funny, heartwarming, and inspiring you can feel the love that she had for life pouring through the pages. I hope that you'll give yourself the gift of reading Jenifer's wonderful story and the legacy she left behind. ... Read more


57. We Thought You Would Be Prettier : True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive
by LAURIE NOTARO
list price: $12.95
our price: $10.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812969014
Catlog: Book (2005-04-19)
Publisher: Villard
Sales Rank: 2404
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars The funniest woman alive
I'm appalled at the reviewers who have the audacity to say Laurie's work isn't hilarious. One clearly has no sense of humor if she fails to make you laugh. Sure Laurie pokes mean spirited fun at Camaros, morons in line at Fedex and kids with stupid hairdos but she also thoroughly makes fun of herself which you've got to respect. And you're kidding yourself if you can't relate to some of her tales - we all lose patience with strangers and do idiotic things.

My respect for Laurie doubled when I met her a B&N book signing. She is a great person - as funny and sarcastic as you'd expect from her writing but also genuinely nice - the kind of person who makes a really fun friend. She clearly cares about her readers and delights in meeting the people she has touched with her stories. She also shared the chocolate Twizzlers someone brought her with everyone at the book signing. You gotta love generosity when it comes to candy! ;o)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another humorus home run from Laurie!
I was so happy to get this book, I've been a huge fan of Laurie Notaro for years. She speaks for all of us who are less than perfect but make the most of it. These books keep getting better and better. I can relate to so many of the situations, but could never find the right way to express the details. Laurie not only captures the moment, but makes a hilarious sitcom out of it - in fact I think she deserves a prime time sitcom! Now it's time to wait for the next book. Until then, I'll read this one again! Go buy this book, you'll love it!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Notaro rocks
In this latest collection of short stories, Laurie Notaro works her comedic yet magic again. From start to finish, I was cracking up with each new page. Laurie Notaro rocks!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but not as good as the others
This book is funny - it is a good read but I enjoyed her previous books more. Autobiography of a Fat Bride : True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood is probably my favorite. That aside, this is still an entertaining read - it is broken up into short chapters so you can read a bit here and there. Notaro has some really witty observations on life and a sarcastic sense of humor.

2-0 out of 5 stars Alright??
I had just finished a few thoughtful books. I really wanted something light hearted and would make me laugh. This certainly was NOT the right book.

I hate to admit this but I chose this book because of the cover and its title. I thought it would remind me of my life in someway and I could easily identify with it. SO not the case.

Most of the humor is forced. She tries to get us to see what she experienced without realizing we didn't grow up with her. She had a few moments especially in her surgery story but other than that...The worst story (many would most likely disagree with me on this) was her fedex story. Although many of us have been there: stuck in line with a stupid customer in front of us, it doesn't mean that would ruin an entire day. She almost has no compassion on the woman...it seems like everyone is an idiot, a paris hilton or something to that degree...it's like a constant pity party.

What makes me sad is that I forced myself to finish this book. I hate quitting on a book so I forced myself. One should never force yourself to read a book. But I must admit, there were some decent stories hidden in this book. But the bad far out ways the good. ... Read more


58. Wilt, 1962 : The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era
by GARY M. POMERANTZ
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400051606
Catlog: Book (2005-04-26)
Publisher: Crown
Sales Rank: 1189
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Hershey Native Reviews Wilt, 1962
I was born and raised in Hershey, Pa., and worked as an usher at the Hershey Arena all through high school. I saw every sporting event in that remarkable little town throughout my life. But I missed that game. I was away at college, Wake Forest University, and missed the greatest night in the history of my hometown.
Obviously, the story of this game, this player (the Warriors trained in Hershey as did the Eagles) and this town is very personal for me.
Gary Pomerantz did an eloquent job of capturing the times, the player, the game and the town. He grasps the sensitivity of the social issues of the time (remember JFK's New Frontier was in full bloom) and the hearts and the minds of the people who lived. He describes with brilliance this innocent period and the bigger than life presence of Wilt Chamberlain, who dominated it and bent it to his will.
This is a book of history, of sport and the civil rights movement and of a man who captured all of our imaginations until the day he left us.

Ernie Accorsi
General Manager
New York Giants

5-0 out of 5 stars Wilts As a Cultural Phenomenon
Wilt Chamberlain was a true athletic phenomenon, as special to his sport as Babe Ruth had been to his 40 years earlier, and author Gary Pomerantz, who started his professional career as a sportswriter, does an excellent job of showing why Chamberlain was so important to the NBA.

But Pomerantz does much more than that. He takes the reader on a tour of Chamberlain's multi-layered life, showing how he rose above, literally and figuratively, the prejudice of the time. When he played at Kansas, restaurants were racially segregated - but not for Wilt. He dated many women, and wasn't particular whether they were black, tan or white. The NBA had informal quotas but with Chamberlain's dominance, the quotas became irrelevant and fell away.

Pomerantz uses the framework of the game itself, an otherwise obscure event between the Philadelphia Warriors in Hershey, Pa. that wasn't even covered by the New York press, to weave in his social messages.

One of the most evocative passages describes Wilt striding through the Harlem nightclub he had a small part of, "Big Wilt's Small Paradise," among the black icons of the time and the white patrons, comfortable in both worlds but somehow apart from both as well.

The book captures beautifully an era when life and basketball were so much different than they are today, and I recommend it highly.

Glenn Dickey
(...) ... Read more


59. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
by Anthony Bourdain
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060934913
Catlog: Book (2001-05-01)
Publisher: Ecco
Sales Rank: 1035
Average Customer Review: 4.09 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Most diners believe that their sublime sliver of seared foie gras, topped with an ethereal buckwheat blini and a drizzle of piquant huckleberry sauce, was created by a culinary artist of the highest order, a sensitive, highly refined executive chef. The truth is more brutal. More likely, writes Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential, that elegant three-star concoction is the collaborative effort of a team of "wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts, and psychopaths," in all likelihood pierced or tattooed and incapable of uttering a sentence without an expletive or a foreign phrase. Such is the muscular view of the culinary trenches from one who's been groveling in them, with obvious sadomasochistic pleasure, for more than 20 years. CIA-trained Bourdain, currently the executive chef of the celebrated Les Halles, wrote two culinary mysteries before his first (and infamous) New Yorker essay launched this frank confessional about the lusty and larcenous real lives of cooks and restaurateurs. He is obscenely eloquent, unapologetically opinionated, and a damn fine storyteller--a Jack Kerouac of the kitchen. Those without the stomach for this kind of joyride should note his opening caveat: "There will be horror stories. Heavy drinking, drugs, screwing in the dry-goods area, unappetizing industry-wide practices. Talking about why you probably shouldn't order fish on a Monday, why those who favor well-done get the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel, and why seafood frittata is not a wise brunch selection.... But I'm simply not going to deceive anybody about the life as I've seen it." --Sumi Hahn ... Read more

Reviews (390)

4-0 out of 5 stars He's become what he disdains
I enjoyed most of KC, including the childhood reminisces, the cooking tips, and the dining hints. As with other reviewers, I know when not to order fish, what kitchen tools are truly essential, and, most importantly, what goes on behind the kitchen doors (at least at some restaurants).

Two things grated on me, however (pun sort of intended). First, Bourdain has obviously read a lot of Hunter S. Thompson, and tries to style his writing after the original Gonzo journalist, but it's very difficult to mimic Thompson. The references to whacked-out, drug abusing, thieving kitchen staff were entertaining for awhile but began to wear thin 2/3 of the way through the book.

Second, Bourdain expresses contempt for a particular celebrity chef. Although he never mentions Emeril Lagasse's name, we know who he's talking about. He never gives a basis for such contempt, however, and fails to give credit where it is due. Before they were celebrity chefs, Lagasse and a few of the other Food TV folks spent years and years honing their craft and doing perfectly legitimate and respectable work.

The kicker, however, comes when I see advertisements for -- you guessed it -- Anthony Bourdain on Food TV! I saw the first of his Cook's Tour series. It was mildly interesting. But the irony was more than delicious -- the Emeril-basher doing a 22-part celebrity chef series on television!

4-0 out of 5 stars Marvellously informative, hysterically witty!
I laughed out loud at least ten times while reading this book. Tony Bourdain is SO very witty and has such an amazingly conversational style of writing, it's like sitting around having drinks and swapping anecdotes with a very funny old friend. I have a friend who is a chef in San Francisco and I always thought that it was just *him*, but now I realize that most, if not all cooks are like him! I can't wait to give him this book. He's a filthy-mouthed pervert who speaks constantly of sex and drugs, dishes out the crudest Spanish slang I've ever heard from a white guy, works six days a week, changes restaurants every few months, dresses like a pirate, has a shaved head, usually *stinks* of onions and body odor, and makes the most wonderful food I've ever tasted. He has more knowledge of, and passion for good food, than anyone I've ever met. So it was with him in mind that I read Tony Bourdain's account of his life, the kitchens he's worked in, the characters he's met along the way, how things *really* work behind the kitchen doors of most restaurants. Absolutely fascinating read. I give the book 4 stars, not 5, simply because the chapters are kind of schizophrenic at times, though all are good. One is about a friend of his, the next will be about kitchen slang, the next about some other seemingly unrelated subject. It's all kind of thrown together hodge-podge, but it never annoys,and it all does work quite well in the end. A definite recommendation.

3-0 out of 5 stars those crazy cooks
I just finished this book and really couldn't put it down, but at the same time I thought the author came off as really pompous: 'I've had the most interesting life and I just feel like talking about myself.'
I've worked in restaurants before and to tell you the truth, I really wasn't all that shocked by the behavior of his degenerate kitchen staff. Guess what? Kitchens all over the world are plagued by these oddball screw-ups, so tell me something I don't know! And it was rather annoying how the author kept throwing out names all over the place. I got the feeling he was trying to make me feel inadequate because I have never heard of some of the famous chefs he refered to. Well, mission accomplished. I wonder who this book is directed at? It obviously is an ode to the restaurant industry. But I think people who haven't worked in the industry will no doubt pick it up and be lost at sea.
At times I could not ignore the Lou Reed-ishness of this guy: A bad, don't-mess-with-me attitude but at the same time he's hoping people will read his book and propel him to greatness... but it was well-written and interesting, just like any Lou Reed song.
A pet peeve: Pay a good editor to weed some of your commas out; there are only so many of them in the earth's atmosphere.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great stuff!
This book recapitulates the life of Anthony Bourdain, a New York City chef. Bourdain describes how he decided to become a chef, and his training, from washing dishes for a Provincetown surf-and-turf, to studying at the Culinary Institute of America, to boot camp with Bigfoot, an unnamed New York City restaurateur from whom he learned how to survive in the big leagues. He introduces us to the backrooms of a busy restaurant kitchen, where we meet the people who prepare the fabulous food, learn about their tools and slang, and begin to get an inkling about the daily responsibilities of a head chef.

Thanks to his French heritage, Bourdain had learned to appreciate superb food as a youngster, and his parents had the resources to send him to any college he chose. Bourdain, however, likes to live on the edge, and his desire to live life to the fullest and push the limits soon led to multiple drug dependencies and heavy alcohol usage that kept steady employment difficult to maintain for a time. Remarkably, though not detailed exactly how in this book, Bourdain managed to beat his addictions, and has gone on to become not only a talented executive chef, but also a successful novelist and writer in his spare time. How anyone could even find spare time in a chef's life as he describes it is unfathomable- -Bourdain obviously thrives on stress and challenges.

The pace of the book is relentless- -it's one of those volumes that you can race through in a single day, not allowing anyone to interrupt you. Bourdain's language is not for everyone though- -he accurately records the words that are said behind the kitchen doors, so if you are squeamish about sex or take offense easily, this book is not for you.

This book confirms the importance of knowing who is cooking your food. After all, food is something you put inside your body, so it is a real act of trust to consume something that someone else has prepared. It's remarkable that many people are quite content to let total strangers prepare their food. Why would anyone frequent fast food restaurants where most of the cooks are teenagers with no talent or interest in food preparation, doing it all for minimum wage? At least in kitchens like Bourdain's, although some of the cooks may be oversexed drug addicts with filthy mouths, only those who can consistently achieve high cooking standards manage to stay on. Bourdain also reminds us to use our heads when placing our orders. After all, when you tell the waiter what you want, the food isn't just going to appear on the plate out of thin air when the cook snaps his fingers. If the fish market isn't open on the weekend, then Monday isn't a great day for ordering fish. Today's luncheon special may indeed contain leftovers from last night's menu. Some items take longer than others to prepare- -hence shouldn't be ordered at five minutes before closing. This book provides a fascinating perspective on what it's like to study at the CIA, how an executive chef spends his time, and what may be happening behind those closed doors at your favorite restaurant.

5-0 out of 5 stars Much more than "No Fish on Mondays"
Reading Tony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" for restaurant tips is like reading Hemingway for travel pointers---by focusing on the mundane, you'd be missing a lot. Bourdain is not only a fascinating character, he is also one hell of a writer, and maintains a delicate balance between outrage and outrageousness at all times. He's one of my favorite writers, period, and I've never paid more than $50 for a meal in my life. Not that Bourdain doesn't write expertly about food and especially the emotional and sensual joys of eating-he's among top modern food writers like Ruth Reichl and Jonathan Reynolds in combining expertise and literary skill. But unlike many upper-crusty food journalists, he also gets into the polyglot and hedonistic culture of the kitchen, an often hysterical portrayal that rings true to this former dishwasher. If you've ever spent time in a restaurant in any capacity, you owe yourself this book. ... Read more


60. The Last Season: A Team In Search of Its Soul
by Phil Jackson, Michael Arkush
list price: $24.95
our price: $14.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1594200351
Catlog: Book (2004-10)
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Sales Rank: 120
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Nine-time NBA Champion coach Phil Jackson knows all about being in the spotlight-about high-profile, high-pressure seasons coaching gigantic personalities through adversity and controversy in the middle of a media hothouse in which every move is another headline, another installment in the soap opera. But nothing-not six championships with the Bulls of Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen, not three previous championships with the Lakers of Shaq and Kobe-had quite prepared him for the only-in-Hollywood high-wire act of the Lakers' 2003-2004 season.

In The Last Season, Jackson tells the full inside story of the season that proved to be the final ride for this great Lakers dynasty. From its beginnings in the off-season-with the signing of the future Hall-of-Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton and the enormous expectations it created, and the bombshell news of the felony sexual assault charges against Kobe Bryant, one of the league's marquee superstars-Jackson describes the many challenges that arose during this turbulent season. Juggling enormous egos with enormous sums at stake, managing difficult relationships and public feuds, facing injuries, contract disputes, and team meltdowns, all in the shadow of the Kobe Bryant trial-slash-media circus, Phil Jackson somehow guided his team through to its fourth NBA Finals in his five years as its coach. There, finally, his team ran out of road, a failure Jackson examines with the same deep honesty and wisdom he brings to bear on the rest of this amazing season.

Few seasons in memory can rival this one for drama, and fewer coaches rival Phil Jackson in the ability to write about it with such wisdom and clarity. The combination has produced, in The Last Season, a book of tremendous human drama and timeless appeal, rich in lessons about coaching and about life.

With the honesty and insight that are his hallmarks, one of the most successful coaches in the history of basketball offers his personal account of a season like no other-the extraordinary ride of the 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers
... Read more


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