Above and beyond any opinions formed, Carolyn Parkhurst takes an incredible risk in her debut novel: a series of risks that in and of itself sets this...moreAbove and beyond any opinions formed, Carolyn Parkhurst takes an incredible risk in her debut novel: a series of risks that in and of itself sets this book apart from others, in this reader's experience. And while the risks the author took worked for my reading preferences, for some they won't. While this book is by no means a difficult read as far as word choice and literature goes, even the most sensitive of readers upon turning the last page will have missed at least one thing that makes this book so beautiful. I say this not to insult anyone, but only because this book respects its subjects, characters, and devices so earnestly that the full spectrum of just how delicately each aspect of its organization is created can not be fully reached in just one read. And yet, despite this (or perhaps because of it), the book is deeply satisfying and whole if the reader chooses to visit it once.
After scanning the first page of reviews, I find it vastly important to address how a book can be received so well by some and shunned by others. The best way I know how to put it is approach. Those who have been spared the struggle of deep grief, or have never felt so deeply about something to find rationality in the irrational, or have been taught that the world of mental illness is a lesson in histrionics and manipulation rather than a physiological complication that can not be cured but managed ... well, they would find this book almost childish and even repulsive. And what I find tragic about that is that the very essence and substance of the novel told through its bulls-eye messages some just simply not wont hear but can't.
And is that a failure for that person? Absolutely not. There is no innate personality or intellectual problem with the readers who hit the one star.
But for those lucky (and unfortunately simultaneously unlucky) readers who are able to humbly give this 5 stars, this is the signature of a person who can not imagine giving it anything less. Simply because it's that good. I couldn't possibly know for sure, but I'd guess maybe they were wowed by the simple poetry of the writing, the use of symbolism pulled off, the careful decisions to make the experience not too heavy in emotion for the reader but not so intellectual that it's flat. Or maybe they will be amazed by the author's uncanny ability to pull off first person POV in a way that doesn't even seem to read as first person. Or maybe it's the nuances of the characters, how they develop and why they must develop and how naked and vulnerable they are in their humanity or how true to life even the simplest thing they do is. Or maybe the light, and at some times profound layers upon layers that this book offers will delight a reader who loves to read between the lines for hidden truths, at times more profound than the ones that are right in front of them in the story.
There is another theory - perhaps people will simply love this book because they will catch a subtle (or not so subtle) glimpse at themselves in the characters. And yet, some may be repulsed by this notion: we don't want these characters to be real. We beg that they aren't because there's a bit of them in us, too. We are breakable and strong. We are all joined together by this ridiculous and hideous and miraculous thing we call "life" and its horrors and dreams and beauty. And we wish that this book could be something else; perhaps something that promises that we can escape our humanity some how. But this book will not waiver in speaking its truth no matter how much we might not want to face it. No, it will grab the reader by the shoulders, show them strange haunting suffering of its characters and command the reader to become a little bit more aware of what it means to exist in this world.
Lastly, I do not take it upon myself to review this book simply because I read it. I must review it instead because (and I say this with the upmost respect and honesty) it is the most brilliant piece of work I've ever read. Enjoyable, tragically beautiful and real and strangely compelling and hauntingly familiar. The brightest gem I've read and one that I'd recommend to anyone.(less)
The classic true crime book written by the famed Truman Capote earned its place in history as the first book of its nature - an attempt to combine jou...moreThe classic true crime book written by the famed Truman Capote earned its place in history as the first book of its nature - an attempt to combine journalism with storytelling for the purpose of creating a compelling tale. In this sense, the book doesn't disappoint at all. It was well chronicled and sometimes even overly inclusive of the facts, testimonies, and articles published from various accounts surrounding the murder that this book covered.
I was greatly interested in the pyschological picture painted of the two men who were guilty of the murder and I was also equally interested in the way the book was organized. From the beginning, the reader not only knows exactly who was to be killed, but also who was to do it.
On the other hand, the way the story was told was through what seemed to this reader to be long winded paragraphs portraying things such as the architecture, weather, or setting which didn't seem to add to the story in any way for me (though, in his favor, I must say that it also didn't take away from the story either).
Also, while I am someone who is 100 percent against the death penalty, it was somewhat off-putting that the last half of the 4th part seemed to be nothing but propaganda against the death penalty. I did feel that this took away from the author's intent which I understand to be to tell the story, as objectively as possible, presented as factual while still making it compelling. Besides the death penalty propaganda, this was achieved.
Since his writing of this book, more true crime stories have followed, some in which this reader even prefers. However, one must take into account while reading this book the risk Capote took while undertaking such a risk in writing and appreciate and respect him as an author for making that risk work.(less)
This book is a wonderful read; engaging and well written. What is remarkable about it is that the writer is able to depict men so well; how they think...moreThis book is a wonderful read; engaging and well written. What is remarkable about it is that the writer is able to depict men so well; how they think, how they behave. All the motivations and emotions are covered with each male character which was especially appealing to me because I actually believe that after reading this book not only had I felt a sense of accomplishment in reading such a wonderful story, but I had a sense that I understood men better, too. Highly recommended.(less)
Due to unlikely circumstances, I found myself reading this book. I have never seen the movie and I have a history of scaring easily, so that's importa...moreDue to unlikely circumstances, I found myself reading this book. I have never seen the movie and I have a history of scaring easily, so that's important to note.
Reading the book was a truly unique experience. I was more than impressed by the literary devices used, the tone and language - there are sentences in this book that are so fluidly written with a delicate sensitivity to language that this reader believes to be extremely hard to find so it was a real treat to read a book written by a person who was obviously knowing what he was doing.
This book was nothing that I expected it to be. It was extremely well researched. I think that this book would appeal mostly to people who are well versed in psychology and people who are interested in the question of faith and good vs evil. However, as a horror story, I'd imagine that it would be a hit or miss for people interested in that genre. It didn't particularly scare me. Certain passages were sacrilegious and would definitely be disturbing to the reader - Christian or non, but besides the disturbing part of what was written to make the story be believable, there wasn't much scary about it from my perspective.
I actually found the ending very surprising - not anything like I thought it would be like.
It's an odd look at it, but I even found the whole story beautiful and it certainly served to strengthen my faith.(less)
This is a masterpiece, well written, extremely well organized contemporary style book. It is often compared to The Catcher in the Rye, while I think t...moreThis is a masterpiece, well written, extremely well organized contemporary style book. It is often compared to The Catcher in the Rye, while I think that the angst in this book isn't so apparent.
For anyone who has suffered through a mental disorder or knows someone else who has, this is a must read as it is very articulate in how it describes the process of slipping into depression.(less)
In this future society happiness has been calculated as bliss divided by envy. An incredible look at over-rationalization and the pressure to be perfe...moreIn this future society happiness has been calculated as bliss divided by envy. An incredible look at over-rationalization and the pressure to be perfect and precise. Incredible read with gorgeous prose, the book that set the bar for dystopian literature, as this was written before such classics like 1984 and Brave New World. Don't be intimidated by its Russian roots; this book doesn't read like Tolstoy. Its style was more comparable to Kundera. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in dystopia or science fiction.
I read the version translated by Natasha Randall.(less)
This is a brilliant piece of work. What I find most compelling about it is that it's one of those books that is such a simple read that one might thin...moreThis is a brilliant piece of work. What I find most compelling about it is that it's one of those books that is such a simple read that one might think that there's not much to it, but upon completion, the author has brought the reader through a series of gripping plot devices with rich characters and an even richer existential-esque conclusion. However, unlike some books that have existential endings, this one feels complete upon turning the last page.
Characterization was perfect - I believed all of the characters existed. Book was written in a way where it didn't matter if you liked or disliked one character or another; it didn't try to make the reader form any opinions and remained neutral which is another reason why I thought it was such an excellent work of fiction; the detachment of this crime book made the read feel as though it was a documentation of events, except it had brilliant dialogue, vivid characters, and accurate psychological reactions.
Highly recommended. One of the best books I've read in 6 months.(less)
Easily one of the most profound books I've read. It'll stay with me for a long time. Incredibly well-written, psychological accuracy that is chilling...moreEasily one of the most profound books I've read. It'll stay with me for a long time. Incredibly well-written, psychological accuracy that is chilling and a unique look into the human mind and gender relations. One of those books that upon finishing one wants to start reading again. A unique gem, couldn't praise it enough. (less)
This book seizes the reader with an exquisite voice and plunges them into the mind of a 19-20 year old soldier during World War 1, exploring his thoug...moreThis book seizes the reader with an exquisite voice and plunges them into the mind of a 19-20 year old soldier during World War 1, exploring his thoughts and experiences without romanticizing or conveying the typical angst that can be hard to avoid while talking about that age group. It is nearly impossible not to feel an intimacy with the main character and the events that surround him. While this might not help anyone understand the vastness that is World War 1, it will help anyone to understand better what it means to be human, the psychology involved in war, and those indescribable enormous forces that we face in our humanity; the things that are overwhelming to be described in mere words, both beautiful and ugly.
This book will leave the reader both haunted and stunned.(less)
What an absolutely horrifying and amazing book. Definitely something that is going to stay with me for a while. It is a rare thing when a book leaves...moreWhat an absolutely horrifying and amazing book. Definitely something that is going to stay with me for a while. It is a rare thing when a book leaves me wordless in response.(less)