**spoiler alert** I never knew I would give a Rushdie book 3 stars.
This book is wonderful fantasy, reminded me of Michael Chabon's recent book Gentlem...more**spoiler alert** I never knew I would give a Rushdie book 3 stars.
This book is wonderful fantasy, reminded me of Michael Chabon's recent book Gentlemen of the Road, only Enchantress is far more authentic and more adult.
Places and empires have ancient, beautiful names; some discernible into modern names and territories, some not. Rushdie's bibliography shows that 90% of his references are in regard to Florence, not to Akbar or Persia or the Ottoman Empire. Since the book is hardly 90% Florence, I wonder how much of the extra-Italy action is memory/knowledge that Rushdie carries around and delivers so fluently. This is why I (we) love to read him - he brings us a vivid perspective, truth, and body of historical/cultural knowledge to which we are not otherwise exposed.
Three reasons for three stars: - Trying to do too much. I think I groaned/hollered out loud each time the book tried to fit another historical figure into the narrative. The point, I think, is to show the commonality of these great people - at one late point Niccolo "Mogor" says as much and I immediately highlighted it as the theme of the book. Worthwhile, but really - Elizabeth I, Machiavelli, Amerigo Vespucci, Akbar the Great, Mehmed II, Vlad the Impaler... some are obviously connected, but otherwise this feels like a reach.
- The theme. We are all the same, all nationalities and faiths. Only we are not asked to examine whether emperors and commoners (rich/poor) are the same. The only "commoners" are brilliant men (Dashwanth, Birbal, Tansen) with incredible talents, or slaves to emperors. Ago is the closest sub for a common person. He has no birthright or talent other than being in the right place at the right time, and his total submission to carrying royalty on his back.
- The answer/twist in the last 20 pages. We are all the same, and this is proven because the brilliant foreigner and the emperor are both the victims/perpetrators of incest. Whoa. What?
I am not sure how to think about Beauty in this book.
We bought and read this book because the guy at the comics store melted when he recommended it. And, having little background in graphic novels or sel...moreWe bought and read this book because the guy at the comics store melted when he recommended it. And, having little background in graphic novels or self-realization of artistic process, I wasn't in any way tired or comparative on the subject matter. Just wholly wrapped up in the constant beaming warmth of being a sympathetic accomplice to the story: from being set down *gently* by the Thing in the Chest at the beginning of the book to the amazing imaginary tea gnome blessings I can optionally enjoy for the rest of my life. And I won't soon forget the laugh-out-loud Commercial Breaks, the motorcycling giraffe, the opening compositions that are always on the precipice of action, or my favorite - the deer princess decorated in eyes on p.98. I hope sometime that I do feel like that's my true self, if only others could see me properly. Hooray, Theo! Wonderful work. And thanks to the comics guy for giving us such a heart-magnificent recommendation.(less)
I have to agree with many other goodreads reviewers: this book is way too long and underedited. For each witticism there are ten flat metaphors and fo...moreI have to agree with many other goodreads reviewers: this book is way too long and underedited. For each witticism there are ten flat metaphors and fourteen tired phrases. I also agree with the reviewer who pointed out that a better job of telling the story of a secretive group of private school teenagers has been done better in Donna Tartt's The Secret History.
But, to truth, I didn't love that book either, because I am not a fan of moneyed teenage intellectualism. And this narrating sixteen year old genius was particularly uninteresting, because (a) she was a very reliable narrator, which no sixteen year old outcast would be, and (b) had such an extreme puffed up self-concept of brilliance that she was absolutely annoying.
The constant notations were also really gimmicky.
Credit goes to Marisha for prolific work and certainly skill with the pen.(less)
Well, this book is a classic. I wish I could have read it in 1950 when all the imagination about the future was before us. But today, it is challengin...moreWell, this book is a classic. I wish I could have read it in 1950 when all the imagination about the future was before us. But today, it is challenging to imagine because his guesses are so far from the known. Scientifically, we know Mars is uninhabitable and that computers - not radio - are a primary form of communication (!). Socially, we know that (legal) civil rights came only twenty years after the book's publishing, and that women and ethnic minorities are no longer in the background of our history.
With this, his stories were strange to read, some kind of limbo past/future that never happened.
Recommend reading this book differently, then. More as a social critique of America, a conversation about xenophobia and "otherness," and thoughtful about how we invade and recreate landscape. One can't help but sympathize with Spender in the end. If there were a real Mars and native, advanced Martian population today, would it play out much the same as it does in Bradbury's imagination?(less)
The stars are for the whimsy of this book, its occasional poetry in prose: the magic of a man living in trees, having lovers, battling pirates, foster...moreThe stars are for the whimsy of this book, its occasional poetry in prose: the magic of a man living in trees, having lovers, battling pirates, fostering revolutions. I loved passages of this book immensely. But the words and stitching together in what appeared to be a plot was not as charming or interesting. Calvino is a tremendous writer, but I would not recommend this book among his other works.(less)
This book is full and big, a wonderful book. My main complaint is that the pace goes from 400 pages of crawling through a woman's young life to skippi...moreThis book is full and big, a wonderful book. My main complaint is that the pace goes from 400 pages of crawling through a woman's young life to skipping her last 50 years and wrapping up key events without much explanation. I also reject the idea that you should find a heroine in Iris. She is sympathetic but I do not feel responsible for liking her. I did feel very sad when I finished, the book is so sad. Don't look for redemption at the end.(less)