I read Mary Karr for the first time in a senior seminar on American Lit in college. I was so enthralled by The Liar's Club that I focused my independeI read Mary Karr for the first time in a senior seminar on American Lit in college. I was so enthralled by The Liar's Club that I focused my independent study on her specifically and her method of writing. I've been a devout fan every since.
Just completed my third reading of this book, though it had been at least 10 years. Still incredible - Mary Karr's imagery is admirable. You can tell she took the time to sculpt every sentence....more
The Road is the story about a father and son in a post-apocalyptic world trying to survive in near-impossible circumstances. Imagine the epic, powerfuThe Road is the story about a father and son in a post-apocalyptic world trying to survive in near-impossible circumstances. Imagine the epic, powerful journey of Everyman with the grit of Clint Eastwood and you'll get a feel for this incredible audio version. At times, jaw-droppingly creepy, McCarthy's words are just as haunting and resonant to listen to as I'm sure they are to read. The author does an incredible job of capturing the essence of his characters -- "the boy" and "the man" -- without providing many details at all about them, including names. Innocence, loyalty, trust, growth, survival and faith -- all themes addressed in this fascinating novel. The deep, gritty voice of the reader really brings this story to life and stays with you throughout the day....more
I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book earlier this year. It had been years since I read any Hemingway but it ended up being one of tI had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book earlier this year. It had been years since I read any Hemingway but it ended up being one of the most powerful, fantastic books I've read in a long time....more
This is one of the most incredible books I've ever read, solely for the feat Perec accomplished. Writing just one paragraph sans "e" seems impossible,This is one of the most incredible books I've ever read, solely for the feat Perec accomplished. Writing just one paragraph sans "e" seems impossible, let alone an entire novel! The absurdist tone of the book is fantastic and had me chuckling the entire time.
Apparently, the author was drinking with a friend when he got challenged to write an "e-less" story, and he wrote an entire novel! This guy is amazing....more
I got on this kick that I love reading world literature and learning about other cultures, but I know very little about our neighbors to the north. AfI got on this kick that I love reading world literature and learning about other cultures, but I know very little about our neighbors to the north. After doing a search at my local library for Canadian literature I stumbled upon this book, which received pretty decent reviews. What I found was an enthralling and incredible tale, and this soon became one of my favorites....more
Bill Walsh offers a witty and opinionated perspective in this AP Stylebook companion. Although funny and well-written, this book isn't for everyone. IBill Walsh offers a witty and opinionated perspective in this AP Stylebook companion. Although funny and well-written, this book isn't for everyone. It is indeed a style book, but is handy for anyone interested in improving their writing skills while getting a few laughs at the same time....more
What an engaging, incredible experience. Reading this as my first graphic novel has opened up new doors for me. The subject matter is dark, psychologiWhat an engaging, incredible experience. Reading this as my first graphic novel has opened up new doors for me. The subject matter is dark, psychological but it's hard not to appreciate this spectacular artistic and literary achievement. I was most impressed by the movement of the story, how easily from one frame to another the artist and author could traverse different lines of thought of different characters, different scenes, etc. Amazing....more
What an incredible book! It took me forever to finish because I kept interrupting it with other things, but that shouldn't discourage anyone because iWhat an incredible book! It took me forever to finish because I kept interrupting it with other things, but that shouldn't discourage anyone because it's fantastic. In normal circumstances this would be a quick read. I think next time I'll read it just to see if the narration in book form is as powerful as this reader was passionate.
The point of view is refreshing -- written in first person as a letter from an Indian entrepreneur to a Chinese diplomat, the main character shares his life story, including all the sights, sounds and smells of modern Deli. Adiga really captures your imagination with his descriptive prose, and it's easy to get sucked into this likable protagonist's story as he expounds on revelations that define his life's path.
A great read for anyone fascinated with Middle Eastern culture, social commentary or complex characters....more
This novel had me completely transported. David Mitchell created a world so far removed in time and space and yet so easy to access in the depths of iThis novel had me completely transported. David Mitchell created a world so far removed in time and space and yet so easy to access in the depths of imagination. The complexity of his characters and the world he creates make this novel tough to put down. The characters, the descriptions, the twists and turns of plot, the themes of birth, death, love, greed - amazing. Mitchell has become one of my favorite new writers....more
Mysteries of Pittsburgh is Chabon's first of many fantastic novels. Chabon covers issues like love, sexuality, society and family through characters tMysteries of Pittsburgh is Chabon's first of many fantastic novels. Chabon covers issues like love, sexuality, society and family through characters that are easy to relate to -- though they're a quirky bunch. This was his first novel, yet it may be my favorite of his -- even more than his Pulitzer-winning novel Kavalier and Clay. ...more
A fantastic book about one family's tragedy and their struggle to relate to one another after their worlds are flipped upside down. Judith Guest captuA fantastic book about one family's tragedy and their struggle to relate to one another after their worlds are flipped upside down. Judith Guest captures the individual struggles of each character with depth and power -- offering a glimpse of how different people deal with pain and love....more
The Motorcycle Diaries gives a fresh view of the famous revolutionary Che Guevara by relating the Latin American adventure of Guevara and his friend AThe Motorcycle Diaries gives a fresh view of the famous revolutionary Che Guevara by relating the Latin American adventure of Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado on the motorcycle aptly named "Comeback." As someone who knew little about Guevara and his revolution – and who still has much to learn – this was an excellent way to begin learning about Latin American history and Guevara’s role. It has sparked in me a desire to learn more about this revolutionary leader. But this travel diary is more than just an historical account. It is also a beautifully written story easy to relate to. The longing for adventure and the drive to gain more from life is something many of us feel.
The diaries are a composition of notes Guevara wrote along his trek through Latin America. After the conclusion of his trip, he went back and put all his notes together, adding and subtracting as he saw fit. There are so many passages that left me wondering if they were composed in the passion of the moment or after careful deliberation while pouring over the notes. One such passage was included during Guevara and Granado’s stop in Miramar to visit Guevara’s love. He describes his struggle to leave the place, feeling tied to his girl. Granado starts to think he’ll be traveling alone. But Guevara eventually pulls himself away and calls it a victory. But then he writes: “Yet afterwards I doubted whether driftwood has the right to say, ‘I win,’ when the tide throws it on to the beach it seeks.”
The pride Guevara and his companion feel for Argentina and its neighboring countries is prevalent throughout the diary entries. It truly feels like Guevara is becoming the man he will eventually be. His insight and understanding that he was still learning about the world is honest and sincere. The following was included in the chapter “San Martin de los Andes”:
I now know, by an almost fatalistic conformity with the facts, that my destiny is to travel, or perhaps it’s better to say that traveling is our destiny, because Alberto feels the same. Still, there are moments when I think with profound longing of those wonderful areas in our south. Perhaps one day, tired of circling the world, I’ll return to Argentina and settle in the Andean lakes, if not indefinitely then at least for a pause while I shift from one understanding of the world to another.
I admire Guevara’s ability to recognize this experience will have an impact on his life, and also his understanding that world views continue to change with experience.
Guevara carefully details the people the two young men encounter along their journey. He is affected by the oppression and the poverty he sees. Time and again he relates how difficult it is for people to understanding the point of their journey. The two men beg for food, shelter and transportation. But they created their own circumstances. Others they come across are also begging, but because of circumstances out of their control.
Guevara and Granado encounter a migrant couple who’ve been outcast because they are communists. The couple describes their hardships and their plan to attempt to find work at the sulfur mines. Guevara writes:
It’s a great pity that they repress people like this. Apart from whether collectivism, the “communist vermin,” is a danger to decent life, the communism gnawing at his entrails was no more than a natural longing for something better, a protest against persistent hunger transformed into a love for this strange doctrine, whose essence he could never grasp but whose translation, “bread for the poor,” was something which he understood and, more importantly, filled him with hope.
From this passage the reader gets a sense for Guevara’s skill at putting himself in others’ shoes. Communism is such a dirty word in our own country, but Guevara is able to look past the stereotypes and understand why these people believe what they believe. And he does this without prejudice, which is rare as much in Latin America as it is in our own country.
In 1960, eight years after Guevara wrote The Motorcycle Diaries, he addressed a group of Cuban medical students and workers. The speech is partially printed in the appendix of this edition. Guevara discusses his development from medical student to revolutionary doctor.
Then I realized one fundamental thing: to be a revolutionary doctor, or to be a revolutionary, there must first be a revolution. The isolated effort, the individual effort, the purity of ideals, the desire to sacrifice an entire lifetime to the noblest of ideals means naught if that effort is made alone, solitary, in some corner of Latin America, fighting against hostile governments and social conditions that do not permit progress.
Guevara goes on to talk about the importance of weapons in a revolution, which I’ve decided to exclude here. But what I find interesting in this piece is his emphasis on unity. He tells these students that their cause and effort is worthless if it is done alone. If there is no revolution, there is no power behind what you might be working towards. This theory can easily be applied to certain events in this U.S., especially now with the war in Iraq and the horrible response to the hurricane disaster.
For years I’ve seen Che’s dark silhouette adorn T-shirts, posters and even tattoos in this country. But I never had a full understanding of why. And I still have much to learn. But what I’ve gained from this book is that Guevara cared for his people, and all people. He believed that everyone had the right to work and be paid, to have food if they’re hungry, and believe whatever it is they want to believe. Although he became a famous, powerful revolutionary, he was a human being first, and that’s what this book reminds us....more
While reading this book, I often found myself catching my breath; it actually made me breathe differently. Jon Krakauer's account of his personal EverWhile reading this book, I often found myself catching my breath; it actually made me breathe differently. Jon Krakauer's account of his personal Everest expedition is riveting, to say the least. It is well written, but the story itself makes this a page-turner. Although you somewhat know the ending before you even open the book -- disaster -- the details of events leading up to the tragedies high on the world's tallest mountain are well displayed.
This is an amazing adventure, filled with twists and turns. But many people lost their lives, and this is a heart-wrenching and guilt-ridden account. Into Thin Air offers an incredible reminder of how small and insignificant we are in the face of Mother Nature and her elements....more
Trust. This book is about trust. The characters must trust each other. They must also trust themselves. But mostly, they must trust the writer in an uTrust. This book is about trust. The characters must trust each other. They must also trust themselves. But mostly, they must trust the writer in an unspoken character/author way. These characters are driven by something otherworldly and unexplainable. They are asked to believe the unbelievable. But Murakami writes in such a natural tone, the reader buys into it too, even at times when the characters are second-guessing themselves. As a review in Publishers Weekly explains, "...his [Murakami's] readers, like his characters, will go just about anywhere Murakami wants them to, whether they 'get' it or not."
Kafka on the Shore tells parallel tales. One of a fifteen-year-old runaway, the other of a sixty-five-year-old man who's not running away, but running towards something even he cannot describe. The young man is wise beyond his years; the old man is "not so bright." Both characters have mysterious pasts that have made them who they are, pushing them in the direction they're both going until finally their paths cross.
Murakami's entire cast is rich with detail and very likable. The philosophical overtones entertwine with the plot, at times giving explanations to the characters of the events around them that seem unexplainable. One of the most influential individuals in the novel is Oshima, a friend to the young boy Kafka. Through Oshima Kafka learns about philosophy and literature. These lessons help Kafka understand the world around him: love, loss, adolescent confusion. Many times, it appears the writer is talking through Oshima. In one instance, Oshima is explaining to Kafka his dislike of people with limited imaginations: "... intolerant, narrow minds with no imagination are like parasites that transform the host, change form, and continue to thrive." As the reader later finds, this is a metaphor for other events that occur in the novel. And with the vivid imagination of the author, it is not surprising these sentiments are shared with the reader.
Kafka on the Shore requires a certain amount of trust from the reader as well, but it is not difficult to give oneself to the stories Murakami tells. The writing is superb, even when he's describing men talking to cats and leeches and makarel falling from the sky. This is a book you carry around with you all day long, even when you're not reading it. That is a sure sign of an excellent novel....more
On Writing is King's memoir about how he became a writer and describes his writing process and how it's evolved over his long, successful career. YetOn Writing is King's memoir about how he became a writer and describes his writing process and how it's evolved over his long, successful career. Yet this isn't just a book "on writing." His personal story is just as compelling as his encouragement to budding writers is inspiring. For beginning fiction writers this is a must, but even non-writers will appreciate this book....more