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About Binker

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    Dallas, Texas

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  • Location
    Dallas, Texas
  • Current Book
    A Strangeness in my Mind by Orhan Pamuk

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  1. This is one of those books that everyone has to read in school in the U.S. and we were probably all too young to understand the themes. I always thought it was just another book that punished women for having sex.
  2. Just downloaded it on my Kindle. Sounds excellent.
  3. Clavain, I look forward to hearing what you think. I have always liked everything I have read on Mr. HG's recommendation and he always gives his reasons for not liking a book. They are usually ones that would make me not like it, too. So that's why I take the risk. Also, I'm impressed that he finishes these books he doesn't end up liking. I have a friend who has to finish every book she starts and my mother was like that, too. I admire that quality, but do not emulate it.
  4. Mary Trump is Donald Trump's niece, the only daughter of his older brother Freddy. The epigraph for this book is from Les Miserables: "If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness." It is clear that Mary believes that the guilty one, above all, is her grandfather, Fred Trump, and he does seem to have been a terribly cruel man, prone to casual dehumanization of others, including his oldest son, Freddy (Mary's father) who drank himself to death at a young age. He was, indeed, very rich, and he used his money to prop up Donald, who was by far the favored child. She describes Donald as constantly needing to be propped up because he knows that he hasn't had the successes he says he has. His father did have them, but Donald has never done anything successful in real estate. Mary faults the national media for treating "his pathologies (his mendacity, his delusional grandiosity), as well as his racism and misogyny, as if they were entertaining idiosyncrasies beneath which lurked maturity and seriousness of purpose," when in reality, nothing mature or serious lurks anyplace in Donald Trump. She also observes that many of the men that Trump is drawn to are similar to his father psychologically, which is why Trump finds them so irresistible. I found most of her insights good. I think one has to be careful with analyzing people in the public eye. There were all sorts of "Daddy complex" explanations for George Bush going into Iraq, when I really think he just had very similar politics to his father, but without his father's skills in international diplomacy. But Mary is part of that family, poor thing, and her insights seem more valid.
  5. As I've mentioned before, I grew up in Miami. I left for college in 1977, but came home for holidays and summers until I moved to Dallas in 1985. I remember all of these "dangerous days." The book opens in late 1979, with a shootout by cocaine cowboys that took place about a mile from my home, leaving 2 cars, one with a body in trunk, stranded in the intersection. I remember this event vividly because my best friend, her brother, and I used to walk to that intersection to watch cowboy movies on Saturday mornings when we were little. I just didn't realize it would be the opening scene in this book or, at the time, that it was the opening scene for a very difficult time in Miami's history. The next year (1980), Castro released many political prisoners plus criminals and inmates of Cuban mental asylums to make the short crossing to the Florida Keys, flooding Miami with Cuban refugees. The refugees all left from the harbor at Mariel and therefore are referred to as Marielitos. Castro came to power the year I was born, so Cuban refugees had always been in Miami, but this increased their numbers substantially. We sold my mother's car to a Marielito and I, the only one who spoke Spanish, had to handle the negotiations. And finally, 40 years ago, also in 1980, a black man was beaten to death by the police for driving a motorcycle aggressively and then...giving up, neither of which is an executable offense. His attackers were found innocent in a trial on the other side of the state (because the defense argued that it couldn't get a fair trial in Miami) in 1981 and one of the black neighborhoods in Miami, Liberty City, went up in flames. I accidentally drove into that neighborhood not long after the riots and the extent and severity of the destruction were sobering. Griffin ties all of these stories together perfectly so that it is possible to see how these 3 events changed Miami forever and in many, but not all, ways for the better. Still none of that improvement seemed likely at the time. In fact, Miami had such a bad reputation at that time that I went to the airport and sat next to a couple who had been there on a long layover. It has been so long that I asked if they got out and saw any of the sights and they said no, they had been too scared. I was saddened by that because there is so much beautiful to see in Miami. Even without the local knowledge, this is an excellent book. Highly recommend.
  6. I just finished it and thought it was terrific. My favorite character, after the much-maligned mother, was her brother, Bartholomew. Would that we all had a brother like that.
  7. As usual, I thank you for reviewing the books you didn't really like, too, so I can avoid them.
  8. I just started reading this on my Kindle and came back to confirm that it was on your recommendation that I bought it. You are right. This is an amazing book. I have already recommended it to people and I usually don't do that until I have finished a book.
  9. I read Hopscotch by Julia Cortazar in page order, intending to go back, but never did, so I'm glad to hear you did the same thing here.
  10. I think that happens a lot and I find it very frustrating. Everyone needs a good editor, but successful writers just don't seem to recognize it.
  11. My IRL book group is reading News of the World about a retired Texas Ranger who is hired to return a girl who had been kidnapped by Indians from her point of "rescue" in North Texas to her family in San Antonio, Texas (about 300 miles). The book takes place in 1870, but almost exactly follows the "back way" that I take when I drive to San Antonio. I read the book a couple of years ago and really liked it, but wasn't inclined to read it again. Instead, I focused on our "extra credit" book, The Captured, which is a non-fiction account of the lives of these kidnapped children. This is a fascinating book. The author had a great uncle who was one of these children, as, apparently, did many of the German families that settled in Central Texas (generally referred to as the Texas Hill Country), around Austin and San Antonio. The Germans settled on the frontier, which is why it feels like they are targeted, but it also ended up inhibiting their interaction with the U.S. Government, where everyone speaks English and these children and their families did not. But what is the most interesting is how quickly the kidnapped children integrated into Indian life and did not want to come "home." The most famous of all is a woman named Cynthia Ann Parker, who was "rescued," but essentially died of a broken heart. The author does not spend a lot of time on her because all Texans know her story (she was the mother of Quanah Parker, the last great Comanche chief), but goes into great detail about many of the other children who were kidnapped. The most interesting part for me was why they didn't want to come home and what characteristics they all displayed during the remainder of their lives that they had essentially learned during their time with the Indians (the one who lived the longest just died in 1950). This was very thought-provoking for me since I am adopted and I thought about what it would feel like to be taken from my family and returned to strangers whose only connection to me was genetic (most of the children barely recognized anyone they were returned to). It is excruciating to contemplate and I felt very sorry for these children, sometimes young adults when they were "rescued." It's easy to understand why their families, so heartbroken by their loss, wanted them back, but they almost never really adjusted and some of their family members realized that they should have just been left where they were. I have recommended this to all of my friends, but especially those I know who are descendants of the German settlers in the Texas Hill Country (also a friend whose family were German settlers in Oklahoma). Sidebar: most of the early settlers in Texas were Czech and German and their influence is obvious everywhere you go, but especially in Central Texas (Wurzfests everywhere, kolache shopes, etc.). And boy did they have hard lives!
  12. Oh dear, this sounded right up my alley until the description of the second part. Thank you for being so honest in your reviews.
  13. This was my top read last year. I didn't post a review, I guess, because I was recovering at home and couldn't manage to get on BGO. I thought this was one of her best outings. I have a much younger brother, with a combination older sister/mother relationship, so a lot of that felt very familiar to me, although we didn't have the split family that Danny and Maeve do. I loved this book!
  14. I have just stopped a book like that. Rave reviews in the NYT, etc. for Such a Fun Age and I just could not get through it.
  15. I want to thank you again for posting your honest reviews of books you didn't like. I usually just stop reading and so it's hard to give a true review. Now I know to give this a miss.
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