Category Archives: 2-Star Reviews
A fun little Kindle Single (originally published on The Atavist) by Joe Kloc, “The Case of the Missing Moon Rocks” follows one man’s obsession with accounting for all of the moon rock samples given out to foreign governments, and to each of the fifty states by Richard Nixon, following the end of the Apollo program. It turns out a substantial number of these samples have gone missing, and remain so to this day.
After Apollo 17 made its way back to Earth part of one of the rock samples it returned, known by NASA as Sample 70017, was divided into pebble sized pieces, encased in Lucite, affixed to a commemorative plaque along with a national flag that had flown to the moon, and was presented to leaders of all the countries in the world as a gesture of peace and goodwill. Pieces were also distributed to each of the fifty states. Many of those countries apparently weren’t all that impressed as most of them have apparently lost, sold, or misplaced their piece of the moon. Occasionally some have popped up on the black market. One man made it his personal mission to track down as many of these missing pieces as possible.
In the United States it is illegal to sell or buy Apollo moon rocks, pieces of Apollo 1, or pieces of the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. Special NASA agent Joseph Gutheinz made it his personal mission to stop and to prosecute anyone attempting to do so. He had a fair amount of success, recovering one of the commemorative pieces given to the Honduras that ended up sold to an American collector and another lost in a museum fire in Alaska. As this little single reads like a detective story (which in fact it is), I won’t go further.
I enjoyed this as far as it went. I hadn’t really read anything about this before so this was new information to me. It is well enough written though it ends very abruptly. It took me 45 minutes to read, so well worth the diversion!
Bucket Source (Personal Addition – Kindle Single)
Purchase at Amazon.com Here
Reading the reviews of this book I see most praise it for the way it is written, for its ability to evoke local colloquialisms, for its exceptional character development (even though it is largely non-fiction), and as “wickedly funny.” It is this last description I take issue with. I didn’t find it funny at all, in fact I found it thoroughly unpleasant.
I’m not usually one to wallow in the dysfunction of others, particularly when it has no resonance for my own life. While I do agree with the humorous observation that the definition of a dysfunctional family is any family with more than one member, I don’t find experiencing that dysfunction at all enjoyable. The only reason I read it is because it was next on my list of books to read. It didn’t really make me want to read the sequel, or to see the movie that is in production.
This work is an autobiographical-“ish” description of the childhood of the author, Mary Karr. As we move from one unpleasant event to another we are introduced to her alcoholic parents – a loving but sometimes inattentive father, an oversexed, mentally ill mother, a controlling, somewhat bossy sister – and other supporting characters. The whole work is beautifully written, really well organized in a sort of linear, non-linear way (best way I can describe it), and in fact, I agree with most of the praise it is getting….except that I did not find it funny, or enjoyable.
My skeptic-alarm went off in a few instances while I was reading this. First, the author is recounting events that occurred when she was a small child. While she does note places where her memory is not exact, she remembered an awful lot of detail for being an 8 year old kid…hyper resolved descriptions of scenes, and verbatim descriptions of conversations. I certainly don’t have that kind of recall. I’m not saying the author is deliberately making things up, but I can’t help but believe there is some exaggerating going on. Second, with the exception of a couple of vignettes she seems to go out of her way to gloss over anything pleasant or uplifting that might have happened to her. And those instances where she did you just knew it was a prelude to something horrific.
I can see why writing this book would be cathartic for Mary Karr, and I can see why it would be popular with those that might have had some of the same experiences, which I think probably accounts for its popularity. As a work of literature it deserves the praise it received. Since my life resembles nothing like what she experienced I mainly found it an unpleasant trip through the dysfunction of another family.
Bucket Source (Amazon.com list of 100 books to read before you die)
Purchase at Amazon.com Here
Moonshot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon by Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton
Well, I love books about space and space travel. But, I am sorry to say I wasn’t all that enamored with this one. It really was pretty poorly written, full of cliches and didn’t really reveal much that wasn’t already known. Actually, the video they made to accompany this was more entertaining!
I hate to be a downer on this because Shepard and Slayton were genuine heroes, and I really wanted to like it, but it is what it is I’m afraid