My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sid and Chip are African American jazz musicians in 1930s Berlin. After the war begins they flee to France with a Black German trumpet prodigy named Hiero. Because Hiero is a minority from the Rhineland he is considered stateless by the Nazis. Hours after recording a song that will eventually make them all famous, Hiero is arrested and sent to a labor camp. Now, 50 years later, Sid and Chip are going back to Germany for a music and film festival named for Hiero. They will have to face the realities of what happened between them in the lead up to Hiero’s arrest and what role their actions played in his fate.
This was the best novel I’ve read in describing in uncertainty of life in the days before a war. Should you try to run or ride it out in place? What if you can’t get out? What are you willing to do to survive? How honest are you able to be when looking at the actions in your past?
When I saw on the cover that this book was a Booker Prize nominee I wasn’t too sure about reading it. I don’t usually like literary fiction but this book grabbed me from the first page.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The author spent nine years working in an inner-city Baltimore funeral home, starting as a teenager. She went from answering phones and opening doors to running the business side of the company. Along the way she learned to deal with the strong personalities surrounding her and the families whose shattered lives they were suddenly a part of.
This was a nice insight into the workings of a funeral home, especially one who had a lot of gang involved customers. Shoot outs might start at the viewings. The book focused mostly on the owner who was not a very likeable person. Ultimately, it seemed like a fairly superficial view of the funeral business.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What will the restaurant meal of 2035 look like? That’s the guiding principle of this book. The author looks at farmers trying to market the next big lettuce. He meets businessmen trying to raise saltwater fish in landlocked areas of the U.S. He talks to people involved in genetic engineering of food and people trying to grow meat in labs.
I’m a pretty dedicated whole food using, organic buying, crunchy hippie vegetarian type. The future envisioned in this book isn’t one that I’d like. He visits fish factories where the fish are basically in aquatic feedlots with no room to move around. He acknowledges this but says it doesn’t bother him as much because they aren’t mammals or birds. They are just fish so it is ok.
He also becomes a fan of genetically modified foods because they have the power to do a lot of good. Call me a pessimist but I believe in the wholehearted stupidity of people. Someone will do something stupid that causes massive harm because they didn’t think through the consequences. We are the species that introduced rabbits to Australia and cats to islands and ended up causing extinctions and environmental damage. That’s without the power to manipulate genes to make new organisms rapidly.