This week I finished one book, The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I found the book to be hard to read. Not so much because of the subject matter but because of the way the book was written. I found myself having to read parts of it out loud in order to "hear" the characters talking, especially where Cecie is the narrator. I now have the movie version queued up on Netflix.
After finishing that, I also finished reading the diary of a Teenage girl which I can't say I enjoyed but I was a big fan of the illustrations. For much of the book I felt like shaking Minnie and screaming in her face because she annoyed me so much, although to be honest, the adults in her life were total sleaze bags so it is not surprising how fucking awful Minnie was.
Now I made the mistake of starting four books at once. I started The Jungle, but immediately realized I needed a more modern book to balance things out and I stared Career of Evil Then on my Kindle I started Packing for Mars, only to immediately get informed that the electronic hold I had on Being Mortal came in so I downloaded and started reading that. So in the space of like a day I had four books going.
I think that next week I'll be on vacation, and aside from cleaning I'm going to be doing a lot of reading.
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Title: The Jungle
Author: Upton Sinclair
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
A family and friends group from Europe come to the United States to earn their fortune. In the big city, working for the meat packers. And we the reader get to see 'everything'.
This was a brutal look at the working conditions back in the day. It was heart rending and painful to see people take advantage of each other and deceive each other, on so many levels.
And that is why I couldn't finish this. It broke my heart and I couldn't complete this. Fantastic writing, engaging, like I was right there. Poignant but ultimately full of despair.
This book would have been a 5 star read, but, alas, the last 10% of the book turned into a lecture about the utopian world as visualized by a Socialist.
I found the book fascinating in a macabre way as the author explores the world of the immigrant worker in America. The working conditions of our ancestors should not be viewed through the shiny lenses of the "good old days." Farmers had it tough, but the working conditions of the mines and factories was horrific. Although it is hard to believe that one man could suffer all the horrible things our hero suffered, the depictions are probably more accurate than we want to believe. The working conditions of the meat plant were revolting. The food contamination worse. The corruption of politicians...hasn't changed. The tricking of foreigners...hasn't changed. The sexual abuse of women...hasn't changed. However, working conditions have changed, at least for now. This book is MUST reading for all those people who believe that corporations can regulate themselves. Many babble about how deregulation is good for our country. As long as making money is the main goal of a business, there is little or no incentive to care about workers.
The last part of the book I found boring. I see the appeal for socialism during that time period, but to lecture the reader about the philosophy ruined the ending.
The author wrote this book to show the horrible working and living conditions of immigrants and how they were tricked and defrauded by almost everyone around them, including politicians and business owners. He hoped to improve the lot of the working family. There were changes after its publication, but not because there was sympathy for the working class. People were horrified about the filth in the meat packing industry and how their food was contaminated. Changes were made because society is basically selfish. This was the analysis of Sinclair himself who admitted his celebrity arose "not because the public cared anything about the workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef."