Friday, October 19, 2007

A Reasonable Life

Yesterday I finished reading A Reasonable Life. Basically, I didn't really like it very much. I found the overall tone to be depressing & negative & I should have stopped reading it in the middle. (I have a book problem in that I find it incredibly difficult to stop reading something once I start it--I feel compelled to finish it, like I "owe" the book the chance of a complete "hearing"). The subtitle is "toward a simpler, secure, more humane existence," which appeals to my interest in simple living. I found the author to be excessively sentimental about the "simple life on the farm," which I think in many ways is a myth (nothing wrong with being self-sufficient as possible, but to romanticize life on the farm or in the "good old days" as superior, neglects the fact that farming is HARD WORK, relentless, and wears you out). He also claims that early America was the "ideal" village culture, which to me proves that this book was written by a man--he overlooks the fact that women were not considered worthy of educations, were considered property, could not own their own land, couldn't vote, had very restricted opportunities, were burned at the stake, etc. Yeah. Ideal.

Anyway, this book was a critique of American culture--particularly consumerism, but also of television, education, friendships, cities, lifestyle, etc. The author had a consistently histrionic tone and doomsday attitude that I found to be a turnoff. He also interjects lots of "humor," but I found it to be of the belittling, scornful type. His shrill and critical tone really began to wear quickly. Considering that I'm part of the simple living "choir," I can only imagine what an "unconverted" reader would respond to his tone!

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