I've read My Antonia, O Pioneers, and Neighbor Rosicky. I mistakenly thought that what I loved so much about Cather are her prairie/pioneer/struggling...moreI've read My Antonia, O Pioneers, and Neighbor Rosicky. I mistakenly thought that what I loved so much about Cather are her prairie/pioneer/struggling to make a living off the earth/work ethic themes. I've long avoided reading One of Ours, because I feared the WWI setting would lull me to sleep. The truth is, Willa Cather could write banking manuals and make me fall in love with the characters. She's just a truly great writer. I so enjoyed this story. I love stories, and Willa Cather is one of few truly great story tellers. (less)
I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of this story. I loved his hunger for knowledge and his wonder early on, but felt his wonder dried up and the story shi...moreI really enjoyed the first 2/3 of this story. I loved his hunger for knowledge and his wonder early on, but felt his wonder dried up and the story shifted towards more of a romance than I was expecting. Buck's writing deserves four stars, but I keep waffling, wondering if it deserves 3 for the ending. It just felt like two different stories. Like when you see a great movie with a disappointing sequel. I just feel like the book I started and the book I finished were two separate books. All in all, I enjoyed reading it, and never found myself bored, so that has to be worth something. 3 stars? 3.5 stars? 4 stars? I'm not sure where this one will land in the long run.(less)
It's official. The label "Pulitzer Winner" no longer has meaning in my criteria for finding my next great read. How is this an award winning book? How...moreIt's official. The label "Pulitzer Winner" no longer has meaning in my criteria for finding my next great read. How is this an award winning book? How? HOW?
It's a trap. The first 300 pages or so are so good. Like "Oh my goodness! This may be a 5 star book!" kind of good. Then, it's as if the initial author got bored and handed it off to her 16 year old nephew who's super-duper into trying to write his own crime thriller, peppered with all the "deep thoughts" and bad "poetic" musings you'd expect from said high-schooler. I'm not complaining about the drugs, or the bad choices, or the flippant attitude of the main character. It's fitting that one would suffer from PTSD and have a really tough time under such circumstances. What I have a problem with, are cliches, blathering, cliches, tedium, cliches.
Did I mention cliches? At what point might Boris, who came from Russia as a child and attended public school in the U.S., stop speaking in such broken English? How is it possible that his favorite Russian, cabbag-y/boiled meat-y foods are available wherever he goes? Deadbeat dad with gambling addiction automatically equals bleach blonde bimbo girlfriend, cocaine, and mafia trying to bust your kneecaps? If you live in an apartment in NYC, even if you are the child of a struggling single mom, it automatically means you have extremely wealthy friends on Park Avenue, that sail and invite literal princes to their soirées, and would attend the same private school as said filthy rich family's son. The main character will always have to choose between the vapid, shallow blonde or the loving, down-homey redhead.
I heard it took almost 11 years to write. That explains so much. The book feels like she started one really great book, worked on that great book for about 6 months, set it aside, lived life for about ten years, forgot about the book. One day, when rifling through a box of keepsakes, she found her old manuscript and thought, "Well, darnit. I'd forgotten all about this old thing. Guess I'll finish it real quick. Also, I've just spent the weekend watching a marathon of cliche thriller movies." Either that, or she handed it over to her 16 year old nephew to finish writing (see above).
If you read one or two books a year, do not waste your precious reading minutes on this one. Read The Grapes of Wrath or To Kill a Mockingbird or Huck Finn or A Prayer For Owen Meany instead, I beg you. Life is too short to miss the greats and waste your time on such excruciating tedium. If you read 20+ books a year, go ahead and see what all the fuss is about. Get back to me when you're ready for a passionate discussion about everything that could have been so great about this book, and where it went wrong. For that reason, it's a perfect book-club book. Plenty of opportunity for ranting the evening away over a bottle of red, a bottle of white, and some spinach-artichoke dip. I mean, we're all about cliches with this one. (Oh. Em. Gee! You could have a cliche themed book club!) P.S. We're discussing this one at book club tonight. I'm in charge of bringing an appetizer or dip.