I’d picked up the book “Space” by Michener at my local second hand book store, over on Markham Rd:
Google says the store is called “Alfsen House Books“, but I don’t remember ever seeing a sign.
I’m pretty sure I’ve read a few Michener books over the years, including (I think) Mexico, the Covenant, and the Source. Of these, “the Source” I remember most. All of these I probably read it in my late teens, which was way too long ago, so I have only vague recollections of them, but I definitely found all of them amazing at the time of reading. When I grabbed Space at the bookstore, using up whatever credit I had from bringing in books, I didn’t remember having read it.
However, with each page I read, it was like deja-vu. This was a book I’d definitely read, and hard to believe that I’d forgotten doing so. Michener books, if you haven’t read any, are all elaborately constructed histories, full of amazing backstory, and the interleaved lives of the characters that make up the stories. This particular book interleaves the stories of rocket engineers, test pilots, politicians, and their families, as well as the history of the US space program. It was really fun, ~25 years later, to read it a second time. This story covers older aspects of the space program (even compared to when I read it), but it has aged really well.
Years from now, if I see another copy of this book (my current copy is pretty mangled now as I read large chunks of it in the hot tub), hopefully I’ll remember having read twice before, and opt for something new instead.
My brother was tearing through this book when I saw him last, enjoying it thoroughly. It’s a book about the relationship of the author (Justin) with his Estonian girlfriend and eventually wife, as well as anecdotes about Estonia itself and some of the people encountered by Justin along the way.
My brother was amused by the characterization of Estonians as unfeeling and emotionless, and said that he saw aspects of that in Dad and himself. I don’t see that in him, nor in myself. I’m also not really sure how much of that characterization of Dad is due to Estonian heritage vs. having had a rather hard life as a refugee, having had an absentee father, and having that topped off with an abusive drunk of a stepfather. Dad left Estonia at age 2, so there was limited cultural exposure available to him. I’m inclined to believe that the emotionless aspect of Estonians portrayed in this book is more nurture than nature, so I’m not sure how much of Dad’s personality can really be ascribed to being Estonian.
Having grown up with blood sausage as a special treat at Vanaema’s* house, I really can’t understand how Justin can object to it. Who wouldn’t like bloodsausage – it’s so good!
I was amused that the Finns were aiming to take over the world one Sauna at a time. I wonder if the Sauna at Vanaema’s old house is still there? The Finns never took over that Sauna.
I don’t speak, nor understand Estonian. I always imagined that it would make a super code language, and I love the sound of it. We never spoke it in the house, with only one half of mom and dad knowing the language. Dad was not terribly encouraging about the idea of learning the language, saying that it’s almost impossible for somebody to learn if they didn’t grow up with it. It was encouraging to hear of Justin learning Estonian, so maybe there’s hope for me in the long run.
This was an amusing book, and I’d like to read the followup stories. I just hope that now that Justin is both married, has had his child, and has valid immigration papers, he manages to shelf his anxiety.
(*) Vanaema == grandmother, literally, old mother.
Why a review here.
Despite posting 86 prior reviews on amazon.com (mostly books) I apparently no longer meet the “community guidelines” acceptable for posting amazon reviews, so I’ll switch to posting reviews on my blog. I’d previously used my review list on amazon as a way of listing books I’d read, and used that successfully a couple times to avoid borrowing library books that I’d already read (to make that more foolproof I would have had to be more thorough reviewing all the books I’ve read, which I haven’t).
I listened to this book in it’s audiobook version using my lifetime Listen-and-think membership, which I obtained as a side effect to donating to the Scott Horton show.
The primary focus of this book is the story of how the US Patriot Act was used to silence an intelligence asset that had information that was inconvenient to the politicians attempting to use 9/11 as a justification for the Iraq war. This was quite interesting, but equally disturbing.
It was also interesting to read the chronicle of how psychiatry and drugs are used as weapons by the US “justice” department to attempt to chemically lobotomize the author (unsuccessfully), and how drugs were used against many of the other inmates she met (successfully).
This book requires severe editing and has excessive redundancy. I think that the audio version minimized the horror of some of that redundancy since one doesn’t necessarily expect speech to be as refined and concise as a good book. There were a number of times, after listening to the same material for perhaps the fifth time, I wondered if the book would ever end. It took a long time to get through, even at 2x playback speed.