I never would have looked twice at this book, had I not heard the author speak at MPIBA. Her speech, though it had nothing to do with the book, was imI never would have looked twice at this book, had I not heard the author speak at MPIBA. Her speech, though it had nothing to do with the book, was impressive enough (and I heard enough people saying they couldn't put the book down) that I had to give it a chance. If the following description doesn't sound like your normal cup of tea, just know that it isn't mine, either. And yet.
The story takes place in the American West at the beginning of the first World War, when the young men were just starting to be sent away from the farms. The main character is a woman who makes her living moving from town to town breaking horses. The back of the galley copy says that the book is about "a woman trying to make her way in a man's world," or something, but it isn't about that at all. It is about the simple strength and courage of the families and individuals living in that very particular place and time. The story is quiet and unassuming, no fireworks, just people trying to get by. It's like a less dramatic John Steinbeck. Sort of. (No offense to Steinbeck, whom I love.)
I know that doesn't sound very exciting, but, as I said, I was very much taken by surprise and felt compelled to read the entirety of this book that is completely outside of my normal reading habits. And that, I think, says a good deal for the story, the characters, and the author.
Just reissued in a striking new (and slightly cheaper!) paperback edition, this novel took me utterly by surprise. It grabbed me and pushed me down anJust reissued in a striking new (and slightly cheaper!) paperback edition, this novel took me utterly by surprise. It grabbed me and pushed me down and walked all over me. It gave me a deeper appreciation of what a truly great novelist really is, what he or she can do with any subject or theme he or she happens to choose to write about. It may be the first book about which I thought, with real clarity and certainty, "That was perfect."
As for the plot: an increasingly large group of religious fanatics builds a town in Brazil, and ends up waging war against the Brazilian government (and putting up a pretty good fight). Perhaps the most amazing thing about the situation, as you read it, is that it is based on actual historical events. But the most amazing thing about the book itself, about Vargas Llosa's writing, is how endlessly, fascinatingly compelling is each and every one of his characters, no matter how strange or morally questionable (and we're talking about some pretty darn strange and morally divergent people here). The author refuses to allow us the luxury of thinking of people as "good" or "bad," and those terms seem increasingly irrelevant as you read and get to know people on all sides of the conflict, people with very human, and therefore not very easy to categorize, motives and interests.
It's epic, tragic, ambitious fiction. Salman Rushdie called it "a modern tragedy on a grand scale...as dark as spilled blood." Harold Bloom considers it part of the Western Canon. These are people whose literary opinions, unlike mine, carry actual weight!
Finally, I'll just add that if you have not yet read Mario Vargas Llosa, you've just gotta, even if this particular book doesn't sound like your cup of tea. As I said above, he can take just about anything and make it into one of the most memorable reading experiences of your life.
My current favorite picture book, and the perfect remedy for the grumpy bird in your house. (Got a 3-year-old? Then you know what I'm talking about.)My current favorite picture book, and the perfect remedy for the grumpy bird in your house. (Got a 3-year-old? Then you know what I'm talking about.) I have a great time reading it, but watching my son act it out is absolutely priceless.
Joe said: "Now You See Him" is a nuanced, intelligent novel. The story is told from the point-of-view of Nick, a mTattered Cover staff LOVED this book!
Joe said: "Now You See Him" is a nuanced, intelligent novel. The story is told from the point-of-view of Nick, a man in his 30's whose marriage, and then everything on which he's based his life, falls apart. Nick's best friend from high school, Rob Castor, a famous writer, has killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide. These events profoundly affect Nick, and send him on completely new road in life. Richly written, this thrilling novel reveals its twists and revelations to gloriously delve into the nature of truth, of friendship, marriage, and our own perceptions of ourselves. What is it that may drive us to do things we've never dreamed of?
I loved reading every page of this novel; and feel, days after finishing it, as if a shot just rang out with the whole story reverberating in my ears."
Chris C said: " I agree 100% with Joe. This book was really unlike anything I've read before. Everyone should read it. Everyone."
Jackie said: "This is a haunting story of how the people in our lives help to form us and our perceptions of the world. It's about love in just about every form and what we'll do for it. The story itself is mesmerizing--the fact that it is so beautifully written makes it unforgettable.
Christine said: "Add me for a fourth! A riveting read!"
Molly M said: "Include me in on this one. I could not put it down. The writing is like flowing silk, smooth and captivating. I'd be in for a book club chat -it's the kind of book that, after finishing it, I wanted to talk to someone about it."
The title of this one pretty much sums it up: it's an argument for the possibility of spirituality without the involvement of a god. And it's little.
I aThe title of this one pretty much sums it up: it's an argument for the possibility of spirituality without the involvement of a god. And it's little.
I appreciated this book largely due to the ways in which it differs from much of the recent atheist literature out there. The author's intention was to present and argue for a position, rather than merely to attack someone else's. He is well acquainted with the history and philosophy of religion, Eastern and Western, and therefore less often ends up sounding naive or confused. He is genuinely sympathetic to the religious impulse, despite his disagreements with, and dismay at, many of its manifestations.
He comes across as a normal person, who has felt a longing most of us have felt, who has thought a lot about these things, and who would like to present his conclusions. Those conclusions aren't exactly startling, especially to anyone who's read anything on Taoism or Zen Buddhism, but they are sincere. It is this sincerity, more than anything else, that makes Andre Comte-Sponville's book worth reading.
Whether you loved The God Delusion or hated it (few people felt anything in between), you really ought to read this book. (If you didn't read The GodWhether you loved The God Delusion or hated it (few people felt anything in between), you really ought to read this book. (If you didn't read The God Delusion, then there's not much point in reading this one either.) In 97 pages, the McGraths lay out clearly and concisely the many points in Dawkins's book that are exaggerated, misguided, or just plain false. Though we keep the book in Theology, it does not in fact propose any religious stance or system, but rather defends the legitimacy (rather than the truth or falsity) of "the religious" against Dawkins's ultimately uninformed attack. If you support Dawkins's message, you should know where he misrepresents the details; if you oppose it (or just kind of thought Dawkins was a jerk about the whole thing), The Dawkins Delusion will help you to clarify that opposition.
The Dawkins Delusion? is quite possibly the longest ad hominem argument I have ever come across. When McGrath is not directly attacking Dawkins for not being greatly skilled in theology (a dubious skill), then he is accusing him of making arguments which he claims (and wants you to believe) are unsophisticated (Silly Dawkins apparently those are not proofs offered by Aquinas, they are only meant to show internal consistency with a belief in god). Not to mention McGrath is creating a vast army of straw men to take over the debate. All the while misquoting, misrepresenting, and misunderstanding what is actually said by Dawkins.
It may well be that your first Murakami is always the best, but in any case, this one really blew my lid off. My wife was reading it for her book groIt may well be that your first Murakami is always the best, but in any case, this one really blew my lid off. My wife was reading it for her book group and I got sucked in while reading it over her shoulder, and had to go get a copy of my own so I wouldn't have to wait for her to finish (or keep reading over her shoulder, which she found a bit annoying). Not only is it now one of my all-time favorites (and hers), but it was good enough that I joined the book group, and it made for fantastic discussion.
And beyond my own personal feelings: Murakami has a rabid cult following, and his name is popping up more and more as a potential Nobel laureate. This is a bandwagon you don't want to miss.
You can read the synopsis to see what it's about. I will just tell you that the Raj Quartet is a marvel, and Paul Scott is the single greatest authorYou can read the synopsis to see what it's about. I will just tell you that the Raj Quartet is a marvel, and Paul Scott is the single greatest author you've never heard of.