Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Condibook Non-Reviews Come Trickling In


How does Condi elicit such charity? That, Pony Pals, is one of the central mysteries behind this blog's Condicoverage, and one I've never been able to solve.

And so it is with the first major review, in the New York Times, natch, of "Things and Stuff about My Parents" or whatever her book is called. This is certainly the type of review I expected: lukewarm and descriptive rather than actually analytical. Does the book have any literary merits (I've heard that book reviewers often ponder this question)? NYT's Dwight Garner simply doesn't address the issue, opting instead to merely summarize the book's contents. "The memoir is teeming with fascinating detail," he writes, but nevertheless his frustration with its feather-lightness becomes clear soon enough:

For all this, “Extraordinary, Ordinary People” is often aloof. There are few unguarded moments, little humor. There’s rarely a hair out of place. (She does talk about several of her boyfriends over the years, including, in the mid-1970s, the Denver Broncos kick returner Rick Upchurch.) Like so many public figures and those in government and politics especially, Ms. Rice is not especially reflective. Her energy is directed out, not in.

It’s frustrating. Here’s a woman, you think, who has been secretary of state and provost of Stanford University. During the fall of the Berlin Wall, she was George H. W. Bush’s adviser on Soviet policy. Her doctoral dissertation was published by Princeton University Press. Surely there’s a keen and kaleidoscopic mind in there. But that mind is rarely apparent in this softly flowing book. Reading it, from the perspective of ideas and intellect, is like watching a Toyota Prius compete in the Indianapolis 500.

By the end of the review, though, Garner admits that "the takeaway from Extraordinary, Ordinary People is the image of a confident woman — “Young, Gifted and Black,” as the Nina Simone single put it — who owed everything to her parents, whom she spoke with every night on the telephone until their deaths."

I'm sure that's enough for Oprah. Moving along.

How about the Amazon reviews? Not much there: two suspicious raves, a third rave by somebody who is reviewing Condi's life ("inspirational!") rather than the book, a complaint about the Kindle price, and this, my favorite:

3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good memoir, October 12, 2010
By Stevie - See all my reviews
This review is from: Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family (Hardcover)
Lots of photos (one of her as a kid in front of the White House!) and Rice presents her own sometimes painful recollections of her childhood and early adult years! The part of the book I found the most interesting is when she describes her meeting with President George H.W.Bush and how his administration did a good job in 1991 in ousting bad Saddam from Kuwait but how, as Saddam was allowed to stay in power, the Iraqi stayed a menace to his neighbors! Rice didn't elborate but that menmace bit was because in 1994 Saddam tried to reinvade Kuwait but he was stopped by Bill Clinton in the White House at the time!

This review was helpful to me!

7 comments:

Maddiane said...

Comparing Condi to a Prius was really mean, and I can't sort out how I feel about it. In context it's really apt, yet Condi associated with anything environmentally sensitive does not compute.

Untimately, I say FTW.

Matty Boy said...

It would be more helpful with more exclamation points!

Aunt Snow said...

Comparing Condi to a Prius was really mean,

To the Prius.

I just saw her interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

She just embraced the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement and the trauma of the Birmingham bombing - the things she had earlier distanced herself from while in the Bush Adminstration, saying she hadn't been "touched" by them, that she had been cloistered from them.

Ho hum. So now she's rewriting her history - again!

z7q2 said...

She talked on those same topics on Morning Joe just now. Lost one of her kindergarten classmates to home-grown terrorism.

Her hair is looking good!

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Sharkbabe said...

That's our Condi, bringin the bland, now with added blahness!

Love the photoshop.

Lulu Maude said...

"The memoir is teeming with fascinating detail."

Teeming!