Dependent Origination

Posts Tagged ‘books


I like the first half, which is like five stars. It feels like the author loses his grip on the characters and plots in the second half of the book. For one thing, the architect showed up and ate dinner and were just gone, without any other splashes. For another thing, the great namesake of the fictional bible for a shortstop in the book showed up and ate dinner with the team and were just gone too, when I totally expected he would be cruicial in helping Henry to regain his confidence.

The build up to the climax is exceptional — fully developed characters (with very familiar cliche’s, sometimes) which draws you in. However, the climax is nowhere to be found. Don’t get me wrong — I love the premise of the book: self-doubt and its eradication. Who never has any doubts about themselves? Who never think of the question whether they are right or not? Or how did they do what they do? I was expecting quite some soul-searching, introspection on the way to confidence again but the book didn’t deliver on the solution, thought it describes the problem very well.

I think the author has potential. The book is full of literary references. Having not read Moby Dick, or the books or poems they were citing, I am sure I missed lots of the references. Had it had a better second half, I might go back to read the book once I finish reading all the classics 🙂


I am spending less time on an airplane to read so the amount of reading is dropping significantly — it used to be a plane ride = a book read. I came across this guide on weibo about how you should kill the however many hours of flight between China and US — i cannot stop feeling fidgetting after reading it — do people lose their capabilities of spending sometime with themselves??? I don’t understand why you need a guide to kill time and I don’t understand why that ten, twelve, fifteen hours can be so intolerable to some people that after reading what they write i feel as if i was spending some intolerable time myself.

Anyway, back to the novel. The first chapter or so was a bit dragging, with a young hand at writing — I think this gotta be an early work in Murdoch’s career that you can sense the naivety with which she wrote and planted plot devices. However, everything changed a few chapters into the book and it became a page turner, plot wise. I don’t exactly like the ending, since it is too much, too impossible for a person to be in such position. All in all, I like the Bell a lot better but I will keep on reading Murdoch since she appears to be writing about our weaknesses more frequent than other people.


I came across this book through this article from New Yorker: Late Boomers. It is an article on why we think genius has to equate to precocity. I find it ringing so many bells with lots of things I want to say for a while. It is especially true with Chinese people: every time I talked to someone newly met, they would check up on your schools, years, then estimate your net worth, and how far you have made milestones in life such as house and kids. It is miserable talking with these people. They usually end their inquiries with a look that says oh so you are normal, even a bit behind schedule (in terms of kids), so no big shots. Sometimes they would launch into this talk on which big shots they know, and why they are big shots. The “big shots” are usually younger, or at least younger than their class/generation, reached money, or kids earlier than everyone else, and kept that step ahead until last time they heard of them (which is more likely through a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend …). It is as if there is a single race in life, and you not only are evaluated by it singlehandedly, you have to reach finish a lot earlier than other people. Otherwise you are doomed, or at least not worth discussion, or worth getting to know as a person.

I feel so confused by all those underlying assumptions. Isn’t life expectancy reaching 80’s? Shouldn’t our generation be expecting to live into old age with much better life quality than our previous generations? Doesn’t that mean you have to keep inventing yourself until the end? Even if life is a race with everyone shooting for the same finish line, isn’t it more like marathon that you have to keep at it for a LONG time? Those people made you feel as long you are get out of the start line faster than other people, and reached the first mile marker earlier, you will be good for life. How wrong.

Enough lashing out. That is why I like that article. It says most people reach their personal best, no matter what they are, through hard working, through years of practicing. That is more like me. The article named a writer, Ben Fountain, who started writing after law school and stayed at home and did nothing for the next ten or fifteen years and finally having his work published recently, which is the book we are reviewing here. Of the ten or fifteen years, his wife (they met in law school) took on the lawyer job in a small town so a single salary can have them live rather comfortably. His wife lets him do what he wants to do most and never gave him anything about money, not a single time. It is another Lee Ang story, essentially.

I like the article (it is from author of Blink btw) so I picked up the book before our Japan trip. Unfortunately I have to report, writing is something that needs talent. The stories feel a bit flat. I might remember one thing or the other of a tiny detail of a story, but not enough to be really impressed by it. Characters are distant people, except the title story with the hero probably writer himself. It is only when the writer writes about himself that I feel a somewhat draw. In other words, he is not that successful in constructing a believable world inhabited by lovable people. So despite I have lamented so much about hardworking, the book just says the opposite: at least in artistic expression, talent probably comes foremost.

This is not to say the people of less talent should stop practicing their craft in the hope of perfecting it along the way. But we should set realistic expectations on what we can achieve in the end, with the cost in mind.

去日本的飞机上看了大半 回来的飞机上睡了很多觉 最近才看完 总算是今年看完的第一本书 //擦汗啊 今年的读书数量一定是今年来最低的大概是没跑儿了 这本是行前到图书馆去挑书 偶然发现除了fiction non-fiction mystery 图书馆里还有一部分是short stories’ collection 逡巡之中看到一下子想起小的时候看过的无数类似题目的各种集子 虽然说没什么名气 但是很多故事时至今日仍然在我的心里 但是真的没办法找到原著了 比如小的时候看过一大本书 都是在东北采人参的故事 说经年的人参成了精是会跑掉的 要想办法接近 然后最后关头大叫 棒子棒子哪里走 它就不能跑了 我一直到现在都觉得自己拥有超过常人的采摘人参的能力 时刻准备着 不定什么时候就能用上!:)

这本也是类似的格式 选了从1600到最近的小故事 都是spanish literature上面的大家的作品 多半是编馔的人翻译的 我觉得翻译的水平相当的高 这个人(Harriet De Onis)绝对是英文和西文两大语言的绝顶高手 故事很有意思 里面能看出当时的人都是怎么过日子的 也能看出spanish独有的文化特色 比如honor啦 特别有礼貌的calling来calling去啦 比如天主教的盛行啦 等等 不知道二十年后我是不是也能记住其中的某个故事或者细节 那要到时候才知道了:)







今年写得早哈 还有一个多星期这一年才真正完呢 想到比方说2009的时候 12/31号花了一天时间看完的shutter island 所以说不定今年总结写完了还能看完东西呢 🙂

2011是the year of Patrick O’brian, he is SO good. 这个系列二十本看了十八本,最喜欢的the reverse of the medal, master and commander, h.m.s. surprise, desolation island, the far side of the world, 这几本都非常有印象 — 其他都非常好看,不然也看不下来这么多。

另外对the reader印象非常深刻。德国作家的坚硬和深刻。

本年度读的多是fiction, 明年要多读些nonfiction。本年度可能也是第一年一本中文都没读,时间都紧着赶着的给了patrick o’brian,明年要多读些中文的。


27. Many Lives Many Masters

26. My Favorite Ingredients

25. The Yellow Admiral

24. The Commodore

23. The Wine-dark Sea

22. One Hundred Years of Solitude

21. Love in the Time of Cholera

20. The Reader

19. The Truelove

18. The Nutmeg of Consolation

17. The Letter of Marque

16. The Reverse of the Medal

15. The Far Side of the World

14. Treason’s Harbour

13. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriages:Short Stories

12. The Ionian Mission

11. The Surgeon’s Mate

10. Predictably Irrational

9. The Pleasures of Cooking for One

8. Life and Death in Shanghai

7. The Fortune of War

6. Desolation Island

5. The Mauritius Command

4. H.M.S. Surprise

3. Post Captain

2. Master and Commander

1. Dying Well

不好看。第一本joyce carol oates, 在图书馆找其他书的时候顺手拿的。原则还是一样,拿了一本最薄的。对于这么多产的作家来说,不能随便拿书啊:)

前天晚上看完的。还可以吧,但是故事的重复性太强了。觉得这些华尔街的人好像就这么三板斧可用。自家的股票疯狂下跌,自家的assets有好多都没有价钱,(因为太烂了连市场都没有了,所以不知道值多少钱),跟别家trade的呢,交保(是这个中文词儿吧?)了一些assets。股价下跌,对方就要你更多的assets当担保(collateral),没有你的名声信誉就完蛋了,股价就更加下跌,然后资不抵债,只能破产了事儿。所以呢,从股价开始下跌开始,你就得满世界的找人invest, 给你现金。方法无外乎两个,I sell you a stake in my company (based on current stock price), 或者let’s do a deal (意思是两家合并,或者健康的买不健康的)。

所以整本书,一半的篇幅就在写雷曼同学的这个过程,还有一半,同样的故事,讲merill lynch, morgan stanley, wachovia, citigroup等同学是怎么经历这个过程的。和雷曼不同的是,他们都找到了下家,所以避免了破产的下场。

当然,其中政府的事情也不少。但是怎么看怎么觉得雷曼亏啊。财长Paulson同学说了我们政府就是不出钱。所以barclays capital谈到最后一个门槛儿上了,英国财长发话了we are not comfortable  for barclays to do the deal alone. the american government needs to provide some guarantee. Paulson就是不干。于是barclays上午退出,雷曼run out of options, 当天夜里file for chapter 11。

但是神奇的是,三天还没有过完,Paulson就在AIG的deal谈判过程中发话了,说可以考虑政府的资助。理由是AIG和华尔街上每个财团都有业务往来,倒掉牵扯的伤亡太大。可是雷曼倒掉伤亡也很大,导致股票市场狂跌,造成对merill lynch和morgan stanley的压力啊。总之,雷曼很倒霉,哪怕多上10个billion的现金多撑两天呢,说不定就赶上政府救济,今天还在华尔街混呢。

政府的另外一个功能呢,就是match maker。左边打个电话说谁谁谁你们和谁谁谁2来个deal吧。我已经跟谁谁谁2打过招呼了。毕竟是regulator发话,不想听也得听,电话先打打吧,一百人的due diligence team先派驻过去,查查账再说了。当然也有那早就郎有情妹有意的,麻利儿利儿的就成了。

总之我很同意作者最后的总结,事件的发展过程,和当事人的性格习惯工作风格关系太大了。所以才有这样一本书,full of juicy details,仿佛一个financial soup opera,你方唱罢我登场, 从a few weeks before lehman filed for bankrupcy开始,到tarp money is signed and accepted by the ceo’s of the biggest nine investment and regular banks。 如果你想看一些关于危机的成因,和前因后果的比较理性的内容,对不起,you pick up the wrong book.

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