Mr. Smith has set himself a high bar, creating the character of a young Indian immigrant plunked down in the Midwest USA. A tough objective that he acMr. Smith has set himself a high bar, creating the character of a young Indian immigrant plunked down in the Midwest USA. A tough objective that he accomplishes with wit, humor, and insight into the idiosyncrasies of human nature. Accolades....more
My wife and I were vacationing in the Hudson Valley recently and stopped at a quintessential northeastern town for lunch. Afterwards we browsed an antMy wife and I were vacationing in the Hudson Valley recently and stopped at a quintessential northeastern town for lunch. Afterwards we browsed an antique store where we bought a very old and heavy wooden rolling pin. I thought at the time, what fascinating stories and recipes this antique must hold. Now I've some idea. "Stir, Laugh, Repeat" is a cookbook that delivers not only delicious snacks, meals and desserts, but stories behind them--real life events that contribute as much to the experience of preparing the meals as the recipes themselves. Martha Cheves has a refreshing sense of humor, a sweet lady--like having a favorite relative in the kitchen advising you. ("Chuck's Fruit Salad" is a quick fix and a favorite). "Stir, Lauch, Repeat" would make a nice stocking stuffer for anyone you know who'd enjoy a warm and friendly hand in the kitchen. ...more
Let me say upfront, it's not your conventional novel. In fact, it breaks about every standard rule of writing there is--which may bI liked this book.
Let me say upfront, it's not your conventional novel. In fact, it breaks about every standard rule of writing there is--which may be one of the reasons it appeals to me. A literary work that's not readily pigeonholed. I won't detail the storyline, that's been covered well in other reviews. I'd rather focus on Mr. Hanson's style, which is most unusual. Almost "experimental."
Consider the characters. There are a plethora of them. So many, the author provides a cast list in the appendix. Then there are nicknames/alternate names applied to some characters. Moreover, Hanson often identifies characters only once at the beginning of a chapter, leaving you to keep track of who's who as you go. Tough unless you're paying close attention. Made worse if you read the story piecemeal, like my haphazard schedule required. (BTW, avoid the eBook edition. It's formatting is seriously awry, muddling things further. The print version is apparently free of glitches). Hanson gives most characters only the barest of physical descriptions. An interesting technique. It forces you to identify them by their psychologies (after all, the story concerns asylum inmates). The reader must envision characters less for what they look like than who they are, placed inside their skins, looking out. The story is also very fragmented, broken into disjointed, seemingly unrelated segments--not unlike the broken minds of the inmates themselves. Another interesting technique. Form follows characterization.
Dialogue is also a treat. Real, natural, rolling along effortlessly, no false notes. Hanson has the soul of a poet, and in fact large chunks of the story cite poetry, either original or borrowing lines both familiar and obscure--from Rock 'n Roll anthems to minor Zen philosophers such as Sant Kirpal Singh Ji. (I suspect that much of the book's inspiration flows from a parable by Sant Kirpal Singh Ji that Hanson references in the appendix--an article called "Out of Bondage" published in the January, 1970 edition of Sat Sandesh Magazine.)
If all this sounds a bit outlandish and esoteric, that's the charm of the book. If you're unsure whether it fits your tastes, I suggest you use Amazon's "Look Inside" option and take the story for a spin. For my tastes, Song of George is a winner....more