The book considered by many to be the greatest novel of the 20th Century, is, so far, the most awe-inspiring work of fiction I have read. For anyone i...moreThe book considered by many to be the greatest novel of the 20th Century, is, so far, the most awe-inspiring work of fiction I have read. For anyone interested in English Literature and the art of writing, this is a book that must be read.
Now, one must remember when beginning this book that one should not be looking for some adventuresome, edge-of-your-seat, thrilling plot. The story itself is quite ordinary, but the way in which the story is told transcends the ordinary and gives one a vision of the sublime. The form in which the content is given, the amazing attention to the detail of the craft of writing, the use of every form of written art imaginable (poetry, drama [in the form of a play], even mathematical equations [there's one nobody could have expected to see play a major role in a serious work of art]) - all this and so much more make this one of the most groundbreaking novels of all time. It is fresh even today as we approach almost 100 years after its initial publication. This is what the art of writing is all about. And although many have imitated Joyce's stylistic innovation, none that I have seen have yet to produce such a masterful command of language.
As an aspiring writer, this book both humbled and inspired me. I do not want to imitate Joyce, except in my grand scope of taking the old and gleening from it the new. Worn out writing conventions (many of which are imitations of Joyce's techniques) are due for an update, and that is my goal just as it was Joyce's. Not an easy task, but we must aspire for our highest vision of what life can be if we are to make our dreams a reality. (less)
This book initiated in me a transformation of consciousness that is still very much in process to this day, over two years later. I had no idea at the...moreThis book initiated in me a transformation of consciousness that is still very much in process to this day, over two years later. I had no idea at the time a mistakenly found it that it would change my life forever, but I am thankful for the clarity of its simplicity. (less)
This was a very entertaining and inspiring fictional account of the life of the Buddha. Most of the characters and events of the novel are from the pa...moreThis was a very entertaining and inspiring fictional account of the life of the Buddha. Most of the characters and events of the novel are from the passed down story of Buddha, but it is the depiction of his inner experience that is imagined. The scope of the novel is wonderful in that it starts with his life as Prince Siddartha, moves next into his years as Gautama the monk, then to his enlightenment and subsequent transformation into the Buddha. He was truly an Everyman, and his story demonstrates that of which we are all capable. (less)
Ah, nature. That lovely, peaceful place where we go for a few minutes or hours during a hike in the mountains or for a day or two during a camping tri...moreAh, nature. That lovely, peaceful place where we go for a few minutes or hours during a hike in the mountains or for a day or two during a camping trip. Just driving by the forests on the mountains of Utah, I so long to pull over on the side of the road, leave my car just as Chris McCandless did in Nevada, and journey into the wild.
After reading this book, I realize that I have much to learn. I do believe that nature is gentle and yet the consequences of taking it lightly are predictable and fatal. I have thought much over the past year about leaving behind the painfully stifling existence we have created for ourselves in American cities, corporations, and in our own homes. My first choice would be to live closer to nature, to work in nature, to sustain myself in nature. That is pretty funny when I think about it because I see little chance of surviving as a vegan in nature. Hmmm.
So this book, needless to say, was a real eye-opener for me. Chris McCandless was a fascinating young man in my humble opinion, and I do believe that those who criticized him for what they labelled his "hubris" for believing that he could wonder off on his own and survive in the barren wilds of Alaska are only projecting onto him the repressed longing within their own hearts for a more intimate relationship with the movements of our planet and the ecosystems it so wonderfully supports. Yet, this book was downright creepy to me in that Chris was a man who had excellent survival skills in the outdoors. He had been surviving on the road on his own for several years with brief interludes into town to work to make money for his next foray into the wilderness. He was no novice, and he was very intelligent and instinctual when it came to nature.
Still, he died.
I won't go into what brought about his end because Krakauer, in this narrative at his gripping best, weaves a dramatic piece of nonfiction that takes off running with the reader breathlessly following from one page to the next as we (reader and author) together attempt to comprehend the tragic conclusion of the life (in this form) of Christopher McCandless. But it revealed to me just how much I have to learn and understand about the wilderness if I expect to survive (in this form) out there on my own.
As for the work itself, as I said this is Krakauer at his best. His knack for using history to inform the present and putting together a complex and unflinching rendering of the lives of real people is, in my small experience with nonfiction, unmatched. In fact, before reading his work "Under the Banner of Heaven" last year, I had almost no use for nonfiction. Not anymore. His books are as good and as suspenseful and as real as any fiction I have read. (I know some may call say that phrase "real as any fiction" is oxymoronic, but true lovers of fiction know that it has produced some of the most honest expressions of reality - namely that all reality is subjective - of which humanity is capable.) If you love nonfiction, read this book. If your thing has always been fiction (like me), read this book. It will haunt you and it will inspire you.