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Content by Christopher Weaver
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Reviews Written by
Christopher Weaver "weaverc" (Wayne, NJ)

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by Willard F. Jr. Harley
Edition: Hardcover
100 used & new from CDN$ 0.62

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Very Shallow Look at Relationships, July 18 2002
I picked this book up because my wife and I were spending a weekend with my siter-in-law and she'd brought it along but wasn't reading it. I picked it up and read through it all that weekend with the same fascination that one might have while passing a traffic accident. It's horrible, but you can't help but look.
The book is nothing if not practical. The author says that men have a few basic needs which are different from women. He doesn't discuss whether these needs are moral or even healthy--he just accepts that they are there and that a successful marriage will need to recognize them and negotiate them--with women learning how to fulfill men's needs (whehter they want to or not) in return for men fulfilling women's needs (whether THEY want to or not). Of course, there's been a great deal written about gender differences, and I don't know if the different needs in this book have any basis in reality. The author hasn't done any studies to prove his assumptions; they're only based on his experiences as a counselor--something that's a little troubling.
Still--even if he is right about these different sets of needs, there's something pretty shallow about saying that we need to accept our own and each other's needs whehter they're healthy for us or not. For example, one of the trade offs that the book suggests is between sex and money. The author says that men rely on women for sex and that women rely on men for financial security. Even if this is true, (and I think that's debatable), are we really willing to make this trade-off? As a man, am I really willing to say to myself, I'm only worth something in a marriage if I can keep making enough money to keep my wife from leaving me? And is my wife's value in our relationship really to fulfill me need for sex? Accepting this arrangement would seem to limit our ability to grow and to be vulnerable and intimate with each other. The author's advice is to "cement" the relationship by submitting to each other's needs. It seems to me that to really grow together as a couple and as individuals, we would need to question these needs and to find other things in each other to value.

Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature
Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature
by Janice A. Radway
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.27
38 used & new from CDN$ 1.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Conflict of Interest Makes it Interesting, July 18 2002
An interesting book and a pretty good read. With the exception of the first chapter, which is an enlightening but pretty dry history of book publishing, the author writes with an enganging and personable style that's highly unusual for an "academic" book. I picked it up thinking that I'd browse through it and found myself reading it cover to cover. There's a bit of the usual feminist/critical studies rhetoric but it's neither bombastic enough nor pervasive enough to dampen the book's accessibility nor its credibility.
What keeps the book interesting is the author's ongoing engagement with a smallish group of midwestern romance readers. The group makes up the core of her study and she cites interviews with these readers as well as statistical results from a questionnaire. An undercurrent which runs through this book but which Radway doesn't directly address is her conflicted relationship with this group. On the one hand, she is seems to respect them a great deal and doesn't want to dismiss them the way many romance readers have been dismissed as mindless and passive women. Indeed, part of her analysis is that the romance novel is a complex response to power relations between men and women and that it does not simply reinforce the status quo. On the other hand, she seems to suggest that the readers she's interviewed aren't entirely aware of this agenda--that they simply read to escape.
Radway refers over and over again to the idea that the women she's interviewed read romances in order to experience vicariously what they are missing in their lives. She makes a pretty interesting case, but it's significant, I think, that she never asks the women about whether or not they think they are missing anything in their lives. Thus, though interesting, the book takes a sort of, "I know what you really need and why you really read these books even if you don't" mentality. She cares about and respects these women and she listens closely to their experiences and opinions. But she still thinks she knows their motivations better than the readers themselves. I'm not sure it's really so much condescending as conflicted.
It would have been interesting to have Radway actually address this issue with the readers she interviewed or at least in an afterword to the book. I wonder if the women she interviewed read the book and what they thought about it if they did.

University: An Owners Mannual
University: An Owners Mannual
by Henry Rosovsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.00
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Breezy style is both readable and irritating, April 12 2001
The best thing that I can say about this book is that it's highly readable. Rosovsky has written what is essentially a defense of higher education in the face of increasing impatience over everything from curriculum to tenure. He takes the reader through a Dean's eye view of higher education and he concludes that criticisms are mostly a matter of misunderstandings and that things in the academy are mostly humming along fine.
I agree with Rosovsky that much criticism of higher education is based on misinformation; however, he never really turns a critical eye on his own institution. For instance, he dismisses questions about the emphasis on publishing over teaching by blithely saying, nobody who isn't a good teacher would get tenure. This is a startling statement--one that Rosovsky never backs up, and one that, frankly, just isn't true. Nor does he examine deeper questions about publishing--like whether the pressure to publish doesn't produce a lot of garbage--articles that are driven not by the urge to say anything but by the fear that the writer won't get tenure if he doesn't find something to say. Rosovsky's complaceny on these and other issues turns what might have been a searching, intelligent book into a collection of easy reflections. The book is certainly not empty but neither is it entirely satisfying.

Lucky Bucky in Oz
Lucky Bucky in Oz
by John R. Neill
Edition: Hardcover
12 used & new from CDN$ 59.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Some Memorable Scenes, March 20 2001
This review is from: Lucky Bucky in Oz (Hardcover)
This is the only Oz book I've ever read, so, unlike some of the reviewers, I can't compare it to either Baum's or the other authors'. I remember picking up an old tattered hardback from my Grandmothers' shelves when I was about twelve. The book itself wasn't that memorable, and I seem to recall that it ran out of steam by the time the travelers actually reached the Emerald City. Still, I recall reading in facination how Bucky got to Oz (blown through the air by and exploding boiler) and in creepy horror as he and Davy Jones were swept down the underground river and into the kingdom of the gnomes. For these scenes alone. The version I read was also wonderfully illustrated. For these reasons alone, this book has a special place in my heart.

Winnie the Pooh [Import]
Winnie the Pooh [Import]

2.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment, Nov. 27 2000
I bought this video for my son, hoping that it would be an alternative to the Disney version--something truer to the A.A. Milne classic. It was very true to the original--it's just a man on camera reading the stories. While this would work quite well as an audio tape, it doesn't work at all as a video--there's just nothing to look at! The storyteller gives an animated reading, but it's not enough to save the video. I couldn't help but think it might have been a splendid tape if they'd just done it as a voice over while showing illustrations. Rabbit Ears Videos uses this technique. In fact, I wish Rabbit Ears would do a version of Winne The Pooh. Oh well, . . . .

Pigs Ahoy
Pigs Ahoy
by David Mcphail
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun to read and look at, July 26 2000
This review is from: Pigs Ahoy (Paperback)
When you're a parent and you read 3 or 4 books before bedtime, finding books which are fun to read is a priority (especially when you read the same book over and over again.) This is one that my son and I both enjoy--about a man who goes on a cruise and finds that he's sharing his cabin with a group of mischievous and misbehaving pigs. Though they get in everyone's way, he comes to love them. Great fun to read (it's written in verse) and fun illustrations as well.

by Thomas Harris
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.39
145 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars This Time, Harris Loses his Balance, July 25 2000
This review is from: Hannibal (Mass Market Paperback)
Of all Harris's novels, this is probably the most gripping read. I enjoyed both RED DRAGON and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Neither of those books are as absorbed with the Hannibal Lecter character as this one. They both dealt with the idea of a serial killer trying to transform himself. (Incidentally, there's a really fascinating analysis of these characters in a book about American horror fiction called A DARK NIGHT'S DREAMING for anyone interested in this kind of thing.)
This latest novel focuses on Hannibal Lecter's relationship with Clarice Starling. Lecter is typical of great horror villains in that the reader identifies with him as a sensitive (and even romantic) genius as much as he/she is repelled by Lecter's violence and his sociopathic behavior. In some ways, Lecter is not unlike certain depictions of Dracula. This balance is fascinating, both for the readers and for Starling, but while Harris managed to walk the line in earlier novels where Lecter is in the background, he can't pull it off here where Lecter IS the story.
A big issue of debate in the readers' reviews here is whether the ending works. I won't give anything away, except to say that I don't think it does. In the end, Lecter has to go one way or the other--we either end up having to sympathize and identify with him or deplore him. As I said, I won't tell you which way Harris goes, but it doesn't really matter. Neither way can work, and the second half (or at least the last third) of the book is a disappointment. It is a good read, though.

Schoolhouse. America
Schoolhouse. America
4 used & new from CDN$ 16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Songs + Nostalgia Value, July 24 2000
This review is from: Schoolhouse. America (VHS Tape)
I certainly wouldn't know the preamble to the Constitution if it weren't for seeing "School House Rock" on Saturday Mornings. I guess it's a testament to these videos that I could sing it on demand, though I probably haven't heard it for 25 years. I'm sure nostalgia value is a big seller for parents who buy these. (Did anyone see the wonderful parody they did of "I'm Just A Bill" on The Simpsons? It was about adding a flag burning amendment to the Consitition: "They're a buch of damn hippies, and I want to defeat 'em. I want to make it legal for policemen to beat 'em. Oh I want to be a law someday!)
Anyway, some people have questioned the idea of teaching something as complex as history by catchy songs. They're probably right, but that doesn't mean that these videos aren't worthwhile as far as they go. They're certainly a lot of fun!

The Story about Ping
The Story about Ping
by Marjorie Flack
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.99
63 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Provokes Young Readers' Imaginations Without Oversimplifying, July 24 2000
This review is from: The Story about Ping (Paperback)
Like many of the reviewers, this is a book I loved as a child and that I've returned to now that I'm a parent. While it has a moral--that many times, simply accepting an umpleasant consequence is better than trying to avoid it--it's not preachy about it. In fact, what's really nice about the storyis that it's not Ping's fault that he will be the last duck to board the boat (and thus get a whack upon his back). His head was below the water at the time, and he couldn't have heard the boat master's call. I think this is what gave me a thrill as a boy. I knew that the world wasn't fair and that sometimes punishments were unjust. This is what made me identify with Ping.
And the book really taps into a young child's fears. I remember being thrilled that Ping ran away instead of accepting his punishment--what small child hasn't fantasized about running away? And I remember thinking how terrifying to wake up and find that you were totally lost in the wide world--what child's greatest fear isn't that sort of separation?
I think that's the greatest thing about this story. It's not a tidy, pat treatment of issues like children's anxieties or the value of accepting the consequences of your actions. Rather, it's a tale that provokes imagination--that taps into those fears and ideas without simplifying them. And there are too few books that do this well.
Incidentally, in terms of age, I've just begun reading this book to my four year old, and I think that's been a good age for him to start appreciating it. But I can imagine a much older child enjoying it as well.

by Stephen King
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
52 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Richly readable but ultimately unsatisfying, June 28 2000
Even the worst of Stephen King's novels are engrossing reads. That's probably the best description of this one. King wastes little time setting up the action or providing any depth to his characters. (In fact most of the characters in this novel are "types" recycled from his earlier work. There's the "cynical artist struggling for redemption"--see THE STAND or MISERY. There's the "ordinary boy with the special gift"--see, well, any number of King's books. You get the idea.) I think his true genius is that his books are gripping in spite of these shortcomings.
Still, this one really feels hollow after it's done. King has an interesting idea. Maybe the worst "monster" or all is really God. It's not a new idea for him--there's a line in THE STAND where one of the characters talks about God always requiring a sacrifice. "His hands are bloody with it." And the idea of the Old Testament God as a monster has real possibilites. But it's an idea that's raised here rather than really explored. And what's worse, King ACTS like he's explored it--acts like he's really said something. So you wind up at the end of the book feeling, "Huh--did I miss something?"
As is the case with so much of King's writing, the ending is a disappointment. It's rather like King gets these wonderful ideas for fiction, and he spends all his time and energy getting into these ideas and working them out. But they don't actually go anywhere.
Still other questions remain unanswered in the novel. Who is "Tak" (the demon/monster that God wants destroyed)? How did he wind up in Desperation? The whole thing is richly readable but ultimately unsatisfying.
Oh--one more thing. There's this odd overlap with the characters from THE REGULATORS. DESPERATION has some of the same characters--except they're not the same. In DESPERATION,the cop who terrorizes desperation has the same name as the cop who tries to fight the evil in THE REGULATORS. And the Carver family is in both novels--except that the names of the kids in one book are the names of the parents in another. And the monster, Tak, appears in both novels, except that its powers are slightly different in each.
I'm not sure what the point of all this is. King is working out two slightly different versions of the same fantasy? Like much else in the novel, this is a tantalizing idea, but not much is made of it. (I'd be interested to read about what other readers think about this.)

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