In keeping with some other reviewers, I think that this could have been a disaster in less capable hands...Calvino is witty and delightful...What a we...moreIn keeping with some other reviewers, I think that this could have been a disaster in less capable hands...Calvino is witty and delightful...What a weirdo, too!
This is now one of my favorite books, by virtue of its high quality oddities...What an excellent way for an author to establish a connection with the reader...
Calvino has such an unabashed passion for reading and writing!
"If On A Winter's Night A Traveler " is many stories within a story...a farce, an intellectual discussion, a seduction, and a tease...this book is one that will glow from within its little slice of space upon your beloved shelves...
This book will probably grow pretty eyeballs and start winking at you as well, since it seems powerful enough to do something as demented and amazing as that...(less)
This is another book that reaffirms my belief in books having the uncanny power of choosing their readers when the time is just right.
My gaze has ling...moreThis is another book that reaffirms my belief in books having the uncanny power of choosing their readers when the time is just right.
My gaze has lingered on the tattered spine of A Woman of Independent Means for many months now; I've been perusing my shelf and consistently pausing there, hearing an echo of my sister's voice saying, "I think you'd like it. Here, take my copy." Still, it wasn't until a few days ago that I actually heeded its call.
Mortality is a topic every thing and one can relate to. I've been meditating on the subject-- not too morbidly --for the past several weeks. It's interesting that this book happens to be rife with themes of life and its many deaths.
Fortunately our heroine, Bess, is the conduit for all of these themes, addressing them in this epistolary novel with a gentle wit and vivacity that is simultaneously encouraging and entertaining. One could view this novel as an out-dated glimpse into the twentieth century American experience, but that is only a cursory explanation.
The beauty of this book involves its masterful characterization and well-intended, graciously executed premise.
Arguably, an author is successful if readers are compelled to truly feel invested in the characters rendered-- it means that the reader has bonded and become invested in a genuinely intense way. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried at this book's conclusion...The tears were verging on a deluge when my sister lovingly suggested that I drink some iced raspberry-lime seltzer and wash my face. If anything, I sheepishly regard my tears as a testament to the quality of this work.
The love that grew almost unexpectedly for Bess-- this character that simultaneously seemed as foreign and familiar as the bygone days depicted in her life-- made me realize that life, with all of its trauma and loss, impossible beauty and joy, is absolutely an adventure that must be honored to the fullest.
If anything, it made me feel thrilled that there are many more books waiting to be discovered, and even more that will call out to me when the time is right. (less)
Pamuk has an astonishing ability to manipulate perspectives. Like some authors before him, Pamuk will shift voices after only a few pages. The story i...morePamuk has an astonishing ability to manipulate perspectives. Like some authors before him, Pamuk will shift voices after only a few pages. The story is told by these frequently alternating characters, yet no substance is lost in the process.
Prepare yourself to feel frustrated with effusive descriptions/rants regarding the artistic skill and devotion that is required of a master miniaturist. It can be tedious at times, interesting at others.
This novel is at once a murder mystery, love story and an exploration of the conflicts between art and Islamic culture. the novel is set in 16th century Istanbul, which will surely provide lovers of historical fiction with a little thrill.
You'll never forget Henry Smart. Roddy Doyle has created one of the most raucous, sexy, sharp and delightful narrators I've ever had the pleasure to m...moreYou'll never forget Henry Smart. Roddy Doyle has created one of the most raucous, sexy, sharp and delightful narrators I've ever had the pleasure to meet. This is Henry's story, told in a completely, uniquely Irish voice...the adventures of Henry Smart will leave you shining, laughing & crying. The gravity of the poor economic situation that faced the Irish people during the beginning of the 19th century is perfectly juxtaposed with the wry, biting wit of Doyle's vivid characters. Surprisingly lyrical passages seamlessly slip in beside bloody battle scenes and bawdy sexual romps. This is not one to be missed. It is to be read and adored.(less)
Although it didn't match the hype that surrounded its release, it's a good "potato chip" book for a rainy day when you have nothing else better to rea...moreAlthough it didn't match the hype that surrounded its release, it's a good "potato chip" book for a rainy day when you have nothing else better to read.
It's not poorly written. It just lacks something.(less)
So what if Helprin's political views make me want to spew in the nearest barf receptacle? He created Peter Lake, and I don't care about much else.
Thi...moreSo what if Helprin's political views make me want to spew in the nearest barf receptacle? He created Peter Lake, and I don't care about much else.
This is an intense example of magical realism. At times, the reader must willingly suspend his or her disbelief until the very notion of disbelief is shot straight to hell. Still, it is about the journey Helprin takes us on--not the destination we anticipate at the beginning of the story.
Meet Peter Lake: a middle aged, exceedingly clever burglar who is brought into the world under extraordinary circumstances...the rest of his unimaginably incredible life is, in essence, comprised of one miracle after another, until your brain is dangerously close to bursting and your eyes are brimming at the mere thought of him. He's kind of a riot, and possesses an Irish (you'll come to find that while he's not an authentic Irishman, he owns the title for a reason) wit that is inexhaustible, though not overstated.
Peter falls madly in love with Beverly Penn, a beautiful, frail young woman who (despite her few years on Earth) displays the wisdom and sensitivity of someone five times her age...She's almost unearthly, and her love for Peter Lake is like an infinitely blazing star, or rather, a universe of infinitesimal blazing stars that are perpetually waltzing about to a piano...playing softly. Their love story, which is the focus of the first half of this beast of a book, will undoubtedly consume you, much like Life consumed Beverly Penn.
Throughout the majority of the book, Peter Lake is running from the relentless pursuits of the morally corrupt, vacuous band of thieves known as the Short Tails. Lead by the infamous, electric, Pearly Soames, the Short Tails will stop at nothing to end Peter Lake. Fortunately, Peter Lake has a sort of guardian angel in the form of Athansor, the white horse. I’ll save more explanation and mention only that many of the scenes that feature Athansor made me cry–not from sadness, but from appreciation for his sheer beauty.
The rest of the story is far too complex to attempt to explain. Helprin is certainly erudite, among other things...At times, I actually began to shake my head while reading, thinking: “Well, now this bastard is just showing off!” His prose is dense and lyrical, and at times it seems almost magical. How a person so stubbornly conservative can produce work like this is beyond me. Forgive me. I’m prejudiced against conservatives (although I was in a rather intense relationship with one at one time...opposites attract, I guess). I do not mean to suggest that conservatives can’t make first rate artists...or do I?
I just don’t understand how 748 pages of passion could come pouring out of Helprin like some crazy love lava...if the source is, well...So stuffy!
Still, I’m making assumptions, which always makes an ass of me. Here are some of my favorite excerpts from "Winter’s Tale" (aptly named after Shakespeare's play "The Winter's Tale", in which people disappear for long stretches of time and later reveal themselves to be bursting with life). I’ll let the words work their own magic, and quit blundering about with my own clumsy, ham-fisted words.
"There were small shrines and forgotten places that were for Peter Lake like the roadside altars of the Alps---an old doorway lost in shadow and peeling paint, a cemetery tucked between monstrous buildings (though a hundred thousand people might pass in a day, very likely not one turned his head to look in, or hesitated to read an inscription or a name), hidden gardens, house fronts, meaningful views down strangely crooked streets, places that seemed to harbor an invisible presence."
"It was something that he could understand only with the gifts that come of early morning--- one of those things, like a dream, that one cannot always piece together again to remember and feel in sunlight and day. And yet enough early risings and enough work of heart and memory will bring it, half alive, from unfamiliar depths, like a slowly panting fish, hauled on deck, with fading eyes that beg for the sea."
This one is great for a myriad of reasons. It's got a great atmosphere, superior, well rendered characters, wit, a ton of philosophy, magic, friendshi...moreThis one is great for a myriad of reasons. It's got a great atmosphere, superior, well rendered characters, wit, a ton of philosophy, magic, friendship and love.
This is one of the most enjoyable reads I've ever experienced!(less)
This book is essential. I still find myself thinking of this one. It changed the wiring in my brain and understanding of things...I'm so glad Hurston...moreThis book is essential. I still find myself thinking of this one. It changed the wiring in my brain and understanding of things...I'm so glad Hurston wrote this. What a powerful, intelligent woman. What an excellent writer!(less)