The Gull Reef Club

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9/17/2019 · 2:03 am· Trouble · Good Bye Blue Sky
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9/1/2019 · 1:30 pm· Jaime · Good Bye Blue Sky
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7/19/2005

The Iron Heel and Buttered Side Down

Filed under: — Jaime @ 10:29 pm

I recently finished two books (ebooks if you’re going to make me be specific). The first one, Jack London’s The Iron Heel, took me at least a month, likely longer, to complete.

The Iron Heel is one of those books I so wanted to like and just couldn’t. The basic storyline could be a good one – political upheaval in the U.S., class warfare, yada yada. The plot details surrounding the merciless, mercenary oligarchy and the terrorist acts of the proletarians, at times, were eerily metaphoric of life as we know it. Even the way the story was told was rather clever and unique – it had a double narration. It begins with the unseen/unnamed Narrator Of The Far Off Future who is reflecting on the distant past. NOTFOF hands over the narration to one of the main characters, who tells of her recent past involving her rise as a leader of the proletariat struggle. NOTFOF chimes in from time to time to fill in details. This could be so good. But it’s not.

The Iron Heel is dreadfully predictable and there is little to no character development. Therein lies the worst part of this book. I could have gotten past the predictability if I could have at least liked the characters. Unfortunately, the characters were hideous, especially the wholly unlikable Ernest Everhardt, whom I wouldn’t let led me into 7-11, much less a proletariat revolution. I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief that others would follow the unlikable and unrealistic proletariat leaders that London created, which led to my ultimate distaste for this book.

After The Iron Heel, I was looking for something a little lighter. I was not disappointed with my choice for this, Buttered Side Down by Edna Ferber.

I confess, being an Chicago ‘burbs expatriate I really should have been familiar with Ferber before now. A had a number of old school feminist teachers in high school and college that raved about Ferber. I disregarded their ravings. Old school feminist teachers always seem to be raving about something.

Funny thing is, in her day, Ferber was considered quite the feminist. While I understand this is reflected more in some of her other works, I certainly did glean a bit of this from the short stories collected in Buttered Side Down. Where London failed in character development, Ferber is a master. Most of her stories were 10 pages or less and yet, she artfully created characters that were instantly real, lovable and detestable. Her women characters were untimely headstrong, focused, and often pert and sassy.

This was just a tiny little book and I knocked it out in a day. Ferber made it easy. Buttered Side Down was well worth my time.

Last night, not having enough of Ferber yet, I started into another short story collection, Cheerful – By Request. I’m a little over a 1/3 of the way through. I’ll try post a review when I’m done – if only for my edification. The old brain ain’t what it used to be and I need to record this stuff so I don’t reread something I didn’t like.

No Offense

Filed under: — Jaime @ 9:13 am

No offense but…When the conversation starts this way, you know you are about to be on the receiving end of an offense; unless, of course, it is you who is initiating the conversation in this way. This friendly qualifying phrase gives us license to deride and insult others under the guise of constructive criticism.

No offense but that dress makes you look fat.
No offense but your take on (pick an issue) is patently absurd.
No offense but your kids are brats.
No offense but your house needs some work.
No offense but your dog smells.

The English language, the only one with which I am intimately familiar, is full of such qualifying phrases. In our efforts to be courteous and well-mannered we’ve mastered the art of the polite insult.

No offense but this blog entry sucks.

The Gull Reef Club