The Short Version: Henry Adams, in the twilight of his days, reflects on his life through the lens of his ‘education’ – both in schools and in social scenes – as the 19th Century crashed into the 20th.
The Review: I really hate to do this. And in this instance, I know I’ll be back. But I just can’t finish this book right now.
I got it as a gift from a man I’ve come to look up to like an older brother. He gave it to me at the end of last year, saying that while he found Adams a difficult and ornery man to read, he learned so much from the book. And Adams certainly has a hell of a wit – he’s funny and he’s smart and there’s certainly a parallel between the young Adams and myself. Perhaps that’s what’s giving me grief right now.
See, education – as Adams makes clear – has nothing to do with schooling. Adams hated school (I actually quite enjoyed it but that’s irrelevant) and found that much of his ‘education’ came from real-world experiences. Well, isn’t that damn true. I’ve learned more in the year and a half (approaching two… whoa…) since matriculation than I did in arguably all four years of college and the 12 grades before it. It’s actually an issue I’ve thought about quite a bit: we learn stats and stories but we don’t learn how to live, how to exist in this world. That’s what Adams’ book is all about.
Unfortunately, the book is a little dry. Adams writes in third person, which is interesting and entertaining for the first little bit… but I just found myself snoozing through most of the first 200 pages. And I’m sorry but that’s just not going to fly right now. I’m looking forward to taking a run at this book again (unlike Tristram Shandy….), perhaps this summer – and I’ll re-evaluate/grade then. But for now, I have to give a…
Rating: Incomplete. Putting it down. I’m sorry. I want some Terry Pratchett in my life and then a run at the Tournament of Books. Life’s too short and my life is too hectic.