Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Love Times Three

A real life account of Joe and his three wives. They try to bring to light the life of a modern polygamous family; from their fears of social and legal punishments to their daily challenges raising a big family.

This book attempts to erase the stereotype of a polygamous. You know? The ultra conservative, high necked dress wearin', child abusin', male dominated, oppressive, backwoods, cult. The Dargers (Joe, Vicki, Alina, & Val) tell stories about their modern life, which sounds very middle class - they live in the suburbs, have cell phones, go shopping at the mall and Costco, and have jobs (yes, even the women). If you've watched the HBO show Big Love, a show about Bill and his three wives, you'll get a pretty good idea of what the Darger's life is like...well, without all the overdramatized 'compound' stuff.

In my mind there were three parts to this book. The first part was the Darger family explaining why they wanted to 'go public' on this semi-illegal socially shunned lifestyle. What sorts of things they have done so far, like radio shows and Oprah (yes, Oprah!). And, what they hope to achieve by coming out. Already being a liberal minded person, it was like preaching to choir.

The second part of this book is Joe and his wives all telling the story of how they met and became the family they are. This part is a little repetitive; Joe tells the story, Alina tells the story, Vicki tells the story, then Val tells the story. Interesting in a way, BUT, could have been condensed a bit to save on trees.

The next part of the book is what I found the most interesting. Tales of their day to day life, mostly the logistics of a huge family of 24 (or more)! The stats are mind boggling - Ten loads of laundry a day, 5 dozen eggs at brunch, ten cars, kids of all shapes and sizes ranging from the age of two to twenty two! Poor Joe's Sunday 'to-do' list was pages long, ranging from changing lightbulbs to small construction projects. There are also accounts from the children telling their stories on how 'normal' their life is. All of the kids seemed to love their huge family, but, surprisingly not all of them intended to pursue a polygamous life.

I found this book was great to read in conjunction with watching Big Love. There is a bit of jargon used in the book and on the TV show that we don't hear much in life - righteous, priesthood holder, LDS, Fundamentalist. I found since I've watched most of Big Love I already had a good idea what these words meant. So, strangely, I'd recommend watching TV over reading in this case - to really be able to put the jargon into context.

I did not find the writing in this book to be all that wonderful. The stories were not that dramatic and didn't leave that big of an impression on my mind. But, I think it would be a great book to read in a book club. It brings up so many issues that could be discussed.

  1. Should Polygamy still be considered illegal? Should it be legalized?

  2. Is it even ethical?

  3. Have your views on Polygamy changed after reading this book?

  4. Compare and contrast the gains and losses of polygamy for the husband and wife(ives).

  5. Large families, like this one of 20 odd members. Beneficial or a hindrance for children?

  6. How would you deal with one of your children coming to you one day and saying they are marrying into a polygamous family?

  7. Compare and contract this book with Big Love.

Even though I'd recommend this book for a book club, I wouldn't say it's a 'read'. There are many books out there that are a better read than this one.

Rating: Do not read

Tuesday, October 4, 2011



If you want a book that is written well, by a full-of-himself jackass, with some heavy New York city crass...well, this is your book. The writing style is wonderful. You can't argue that Bourdain has a way with words (and uses the four letter ones more than most) and can pull you into a story, even if the contents is worlds away. But, when the content is just Tony griping about 'sell out' celebrity chefs and cream of the crop food critics it makes for less than appetizing reading.

In my mind the book was split into three parts. The first dozen or two dozen pages were great. A quick story about eating an Ortolan Bunting (read the wikipedia link, it's very interesting). It's a 'meal' where you shove an entire bird in your mouth and eat it all except the feet, which is kind of used like a handle to put the bird in. You cover your head with a napkin, b/c I'm sure it is disgusting to watch. Anthony writes in graphic detail about the tastes and the textures and the brains. His attitude is bang on Bourdain - I'm part of this elite club of 'chefs' who eat endangered birds in the most disgusting way possible and I think I'm so cool about it. The kind of content that makes your blood boil, but, keeps your eyes glued to the page to see what other egotistical things Tony is going to say.

He then opens up a bit and loses his elitist attitude. He talks about his struggles with drugs and the breakdown of his marriage. It is raw writing, not medium raw (if you'll forgive the pun). I actually felt a bit of compassion for the guy and was drawn in. Then you flip a page and boom the attitude hits you.

The second part of the book, the next two hundred or so pages (about 95% of the book) were pretty raw too. But, this kind of writing was not baring your soul raw, it was ripping someone's arm off raw...with a lot of swearing in the process. Bourdain bashes countless people, with extreme overuse of profanity - just to prove he is a bad boy I suppose? He fries up The Food Network. He burns celebrity chefs. He cuts up chefs I've never heard of, but, probably would know if I were in the food business. He broils up a pan full of food critics. He even hacks a piece off of the meat slaughtering industry. Two hundred pages of his rantings. He is mad at the world for some unknown reason and his misplaced anger leads to the bulk of this book. Sum it up, the content is bland...but, the prose is excellent. If you get past the lack of a story or any sense of purpose (and that 'I'm a badboy' attitude) the actual writing is wonderful. Bourdain makes great analogies, and his descriptions of places and food is hard to beat.

The last dozen pages or so are also wonderful. Again, Anthony drops the attitude and the anger and just shares a couple of memories. I love his stories of strange things that happen in the kitchen or even stranger people that work them - that is what made Kitchen Confidential so great to read. This 'sequel' was another book I've thrown on the sequels-that-sucked bookshelf.


*Actually, just read the first few pages and the last few pages.

I think this link will give you at least an attempt at understanding Bourdain's attitude LINK