I caught a radio program of CBC Radio the other day. It was on the state of books and publishing. Apparently, last year 200,000 books were published iI caught a radio program of CBC Radio the other day. It was on the state of books and publishing. Apparently, last year 200,000 books were published in the U.S. alone, and 20,000 in Canada. And here in Canada, for every book accepted for publishing, 100 were refused. Those are discouraging figures for writers, but also adds anxiety for readers. There are so many books to chose from, and so little time. And apparently, this reader anxiety is widespread. I can relate!
I didn't like this story, so technically speaking, I should be giving this 1 star. But Carey writes so well, and this looong love story will certainly appeal to many readers, but I didn't care for it much (I was expecting somehing edgier), nor could I connect with the characters. And, I feel guilty for not finishing the novel! But who knows, maybe I'll try again some day. And I'll certainly be trying out his collection of short stories. ...more
This book does a remarkable job of taking us back to the big bang then forward to today, showing how we came to be. We're reminded of how unlikely theThis book does a remarkable job of taking us back to the big bang then forward to today, showing how we came to be. We're reminded of how unlikely the odds have always been for life to have developed as it has, how the planet itself is a living, fragile entity, and how easily, and naturally (forgetting even how our ways can influence things) our planet can transform itself into a world that could no longer sustain us.
We are introduced to the many exuberant people who explored and hypothesized and theorized and spent their lives obsessed with how things work and how we came to be. And of course, this book reminds us how miraculous life is, and how fortunate we are to even be playing part in this world's history. A Short History Of Nearly Everything is a good read with lots of fascinating details....more
This story takes place in one day, in what could be considered a banal or usual setting, involving common, lackluster characters, for the most part. MThis story takes place in one day, in what could be considered a banal or usual setting, involving common, lackluster characters, for the most part. Most of the prose is filled with the protagonist's inner thoughts. His way of viewing the world, the arts, his children, his job. His expectations of the future. The author gets a little authorial on his reader, too. Yet it all works. The read gets a little tiring at times, given all the details, yet this reader was drawn into the story, all the way. The few incidents that did occur, and the characters, felt real and engaging. Kudos to McEwan for pulling this one off.
(I wish I hadn't seen the movie, Atonement. It's one of those stories where once you know the ending, you can't experience the story again the same way. So now I can't read the novel and it's no doubt a great one. Damn it. But I will look for another McEwan novel.)...more
'Tis a story soaked in mysticism with bizarre, yet real and fascinating characters. Murakami's prose is simple and to the point, with smart descriptio'Tis a story soaked in mysticism with bizarre, yet real and fascinating characters. Murakami's prose is simple and to the point, with smart descriptions and interesting subplots. And beware! Even if mysticism and surrealism is not your cup of tea, you WILL be pulled into this story and it will hold you in its tentacles for a long, dreamy ride. This novel is a great read....more
With 660 small font pages to play with, I felt the author could/should have delved deeper into his characters and their relationships, especially thatWith 660 small font pages to play with, I felt the author could/should have delved deeper into his characters and their relationships, especially that of one of his main characters, Sammy Clay.
But still, this a fun, well written, feel good story. At the end I went ahhhh......more
I read this little gem at the cottage in two sittings. First in the screened-in porch, then on the dock with the odd dive in the lake to cool off. It'I read this little gem at the cottage in two sittings. First in the screened-in porch, then on the dock with the odd dive in the lake to cool off. It's a perfect cottage read! Quick, charming and entrancing.
I enjoyed the book. The characters are colourful and varied. The man's contentment, yearning, and nostalgia of happy times passed and love lost, it's all shown well and as a result the mood that's been created is a pleasant one. Plus, these are universal themes and I can certainly relate.
Another reason I liked the book, and this one's tougher to articulate (and relate to, probably) is because I'm reminded of Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The Dubervilles. I was young (16?) and barely remember the story, but the mood and characters feel similar. It was the first time I'd been introduced to characters that seemed smart and charming, yet so staid (pretty hard not to be when you're English, maybe) with yearnings and passions that were restrained but dying to burst out. And it's interesting that in Carr's novel, the only character (including the women) that comes off as outwardly exuberant is the character that is gay. A cliché? Maybe not. (Another trivial observation is that in telling his story the narrator often uses exclamation marks and shows a level of excitement or lightheartedness that contradicts, a little, his younger self. This threw me a little as this, in my mind, made the older Birkin seem content and excited (more excitable than his younger self), and yet, he's recounting lost happiness and lost love, and my overall take is that he is now regretful and not so happy. Hmmm... Maybe I'm making too much of it.)
I do have a couple nitpicks. More than nitpicks, really, more like a couple spots where I found Carr to have chickened out in his storytelling. A couple scenes where more should have been given to better flesh out the protagonist, Tom Birkin.
*** The rest of this review contains spoilers! ****
. . . . . . .
The first scene in question is when Birkin learns that his friend, Moon, is a homosexual. Early on, Birkin recollects this...
I liked him from that first encounter: he was his own man. And he liked me (which always helps).
They become good friends, then later, this...
Knowing Moon was homosexual didn't upset me, though of course it wasn't something I could forget. It was the idea of an independent man, a proud spirit, being shut up like an animal in a military prison and having to put up with the ghastly crew who always seemed to grope their way in to run those places -- that's what appalled me.
Of course, it didn't end there. Don't ask how but, from that day, Moon knew that I knew. Next day, for no reason at all, he said, 'Sex! It's the very devil. Quite merciless! It betrays our manhood, rots our integrity. Isn't it, perhaps, the hell you were asking about, Birkin?'
And from that time on, things were never quite the same between us.
As I type this passage, I see that I'm possibly wrong. At first I thought Carr chickened out of saying that it was Birkin who had an issue, (and according to the Intro, a whole lot of this story is autobiographical) and didn't want to admit it. But maybe Moon is truly embarrassed (this was the 20s, after all) and that nothing is really lacking here. Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, which is that these two kindred souls should still be good friends, regardless. In any case, that passage is important in showing part of the hell that Moon was going through. And his would surely not be quashed by spending a month in the country.
Here's the next scene that had me wanting more...
So I told her what he'd been doing and leaned forward to point out the site of the Anglo-Saxon chapel. She also turned so that her breasts were pressing against me. And, although we both looked outwards across the meadow, she didn't draw away as quite easily she could have done.
I should have lifted an arm and taken her shoulder, turned her face and kissed her. It was that kind of day. It was why she'd come. Then everything would have been different. ... My heart was racing. I was breathless. She leaned on me, waiting. And I did nothing and said nothing. ... Then she was gone.
The next day he goes calling on her, to make up for his mistake. And of course, he doesn't find her. So, this is his lost love of bygone days, and yes, the reader can make somewhat satisfying, overall speculations on why Birkin did nothing (they were both married, etc). But, Carr should have delved into his character's feelings right there, and give reasons or at least show us specifically how he felt so that we could clearly see (and no doubt relate!) why he froze....more
This one really pulled at me from opposite sides. I became frustrated at times and anxious to finish the damn memoir. The frustration was with the poeThis one really pulled at me from opposite sides. I became frustrated at times and anxious to finish the damn memoir. The frustration was with the poeple surrounding young Frank McCourt's life. His alcoholic father, his cruel, ignorant relatives, the seemingly uncompassionate social workers who care for the young and the poor, and the religious zealots who do nothing but inflame bigotry, nourish stupidity, and help keep the masses downtrodden. (Phew. I think it's out of my system, now.)
But what was interesting to witness was how, even in the most impoverished and hellish surroundings, it takes a whole lot to shake a child's natural exuberance and love for life.
The sequel to Angela's Ashes is McCourt's novel, 'Tis. And of course I'm way too curious to pass it by.
This memoir (and I'd like to label it, creative non-fiction, for various reasons) is a tough read, at times, but if you read it with the ebullience that went into its telling, you'll likely enjoy it, too. ...more