Within the circular maze of black-and-white-striped tents, and against a midnight canvas of stars and white fOriginally posted on Across the Litoverse
Within the circular maze of black-and-white-striped tents, and against a midnight canvas of stars and white fire, circus patrons lose themselves in the unmatched wonder of Le Cirque des Rêves. But behind the smoke and mirrors lies a fierce competition waged between two illusionists, bound to the contest by their teachers' on-going gentleman's agreement. Celia and Marco have trained since childhood to compete in a "game" with no clear timeframe and no concrete rules. Unbeknownst to the players, this game allows for only one victor, and the circus will be the venue for a remarkable battle of imagination and endurance.
As the circus travels through Europe and then on to the world, the feats of magic spiral to fantastic new heights at each location. But the game absorbs the lives of all those involved in its waking dream—from the eccentric circus owner and the elusive contortionist, to the forlorn fortune-teller and the red-headed twins born into the venue. When Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, the duo transform the competition into a collaborative effort without knowing that the game must end in sacrifice…
Erin Morgenstern hypnotizes with her prose and offers a bright window into a world where mystery pervades and magic is entirely real. The Night Circus is comprised of short, quick chapters that are ideal for commuting readers, though the non-linear movement through the narrative might disorient at times (re: near the end where we jump between 1901 and 1902 in quick succession). Though, being a fan of Doctor Who, I enjoy those breaks from an "A to B" novel structure. I understand now why fashion designers and graphic artists have been captured by The Night Circus, given the lush attention to clothing and the overall style of the circus proper. An excellent book for October in particular, with a steaming cup of tea at hand.
Ideal for: All the kids who ever dreamed of running away with the circus; Readers who love modern fairytales and magic realism blended with a nice bit of tea; Romance junkies who crave an extra bit of magic in their stories; Folks with a soft spot for Halloween and the otherwordly....more
Jonathan Safran Foer (the fictitious character, not the author) is a young American Jew who travels to UkrOriginally published on Across the Litoverse
Jonathan Safran Foer (the fictitious character, not the author) is a young American Jew who travels to Ukraine in search of Augustine, a woman who may have saved his grandfather during the Nazi liquidation of the small family shtetl of Trachimbrod. Armed with an old map, several packs of Marlboro cigarettes, and endless reproductions of his grandfather's photo of Augustine, Jonathan sets out across Ukraine's countryside with a motley crew of Heritage Tour guides—his translator and soon-to-be comrade, Alexander ("Alex" or "Sasha") Perchov, Alex's "blind" Grandfather (who is also the driver on their trek), and the Grandfather's "seeing-eye bitch" (Sammy Davis Junior, Junior)—to uncover Jonathan's lost roots and to discover his own grandfather's salvation from the Holocaust.
I admit, any attempt to recap the general plot of Everything is Illuminated is almost impossible to write—Jonathan Safran Foer creates a narrative timeline that flows both forward and backward in time, and even quickens or slows in pace depending on the events of a given scene. He references and cross-references small moments or details throughout the text, all of which could easily be missed on a first reading of the book. In addition, Foer balances his text between deeply humorous scenes (i.e. the infamous vegetarian confrontation, Trachimbrod's town records, LIFE, AND THE LIFE OF LIFE), meditations on the difference between actual love and the misguided love of love, reflections on writing and the active construction of memory, and descriptions of those heartbreaking, sob-inducing moments (i.e. Yankel's protection of the young orphan, Brod, and his efforts to remember her in his old age; the creeping revelations regarding the abuse in Alex's family; and the Grandfather's tragic decision during the war that brought both evil and good into his world, etc.)—and while it seems like a broad spectrum of topics to tussle with, Foer does so with great care and an obsessive eye for telling details. I can only imagine how an undergraduate seminar might tease out the meaning of this novel, especially in the cases where a class would dedicate an entire semester to studying a single book. I would have loved to explore these pages in those excitable undergrad years, and I feel a reader could spend countless hours navigating this text with highlighter in tow, all in the hopes of uncovering new insights and missed layers of meaning…
Ideal for: Book club members who need to shake up their same ol' picks; Readers who are not afraid to weep in public (because you most certainly will, folks); Fans of experimental fiction, magic realism, and nonlinear narratives; Readers who gravitate toward historical fiction, especially relating to the Second World War....more