I found this to be a genuinely funny book, a very rare thing indeed. It sometimes even managed to convey the sense of loss and desperation to me. In t...moreI found this to be a genuinely funny book, a very rare thing indeed. It sometimes even managed to convey the sense of loss and desperation to me. In the end however, the constant absurdity was just too much, highlighted by the scenes between Yossarian and Nately's whore. Seriously, what was the point of that?
Through the use of absurd characters and situations, Heller aims to condemn the adsurdity of war and its resultant bureaucracy, and I applaud him for it, since he actually manages to pull it off. The non-chronological nature of the chapters in the first part of the book, though extremely hard to follow, does add to the general feelings of confusion and desperation in Yossarian.
Yossarian, by the way, is the only person in the entire book who turns out to be more than a caricature. The other characters all have a specific quirk or character trait, and that's all there is to them. They keep doing or saying the same things over and over again. Perhaps Heller did this on purpose. Perhaps he did this to emphasize that war itself is a caricature of real life. Or perhaps there is some deeper hidden meaning I didn't get. But after a while, I found it to be very annoying. I could not relate to any of them, as I perceived them to be little more than cardboard figures.
I can't help but think that perhaps this book would have had more of a lasting impact on me if it was 150 pages shorter. (less)
**spoiler alert** I have a story that will make you believe in God.
Though not entirely true in the most literal sense, it does illustrate nicely what...more**spoiler alert** I have a story that will make you believe in God.
Though not entirely true in the most literal sense, it does illustrate nicely what this book is about. On the surface, this is a story about a boy trying to survive the ocean with a tiger in a lifeboat. A story about despair and struggle, hope and survival wrapped in a magical package. That in itself is already quite a feat. Read through to the end however, and you'll realize this is about something even larger. What story do you believe in, or perhaps more accurately, what story do you choose to believe in? The answer will tell you a lot about yourself, about you own personal beliefs and faith. And based on your convictions, everyone may get his or her own personal message out of this story.
For me personally, I choose to believe in the 'normal' story. I regard the one with the tiger as largely symbolic, although a part of me wants to believe in the more fantastic story (except the island with all the meerkats, that one was just too weird for my taste). That pretty much sums up my view on religion and the world in general. The following excerpt sums it up pretty nicely for me:
A part of me did not Richard Parker to die at all, because if it died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker... He pushed me to go on living. I hated him for it, yet at the same time I was grateful.
I believe we all have our own Richard Parker within us, whatever form and strength it may take. When the going gets tough, we need to dig within ourselves to seek this inner entity and draw strength from it, which is the true source of any faith rather than any external deity. It's not a coincidence that Pi explores several religions instead of limiting himself to any one doctrine. This, for me, is the message I choose to take from this wonderful book. (less)
After reading The Shadow of the Wind, I was left with somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand, this is such a beautifully written book, and is in ess...moreAfter reading The Shadow of the Wind, I was left with somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand, this is such a beautifully written book, and is in essence an ode to literature. On the other hand, there are some serious flaws which distracts from the whole experience.
The best thing about the book, in my opinion, is Zafon's skill in artistic writing. It reminds me of why I love to read in the first place, and makes me wish I could write as beautiful as this. The book contains lots of memorable quotes as well, definitely a good thing as far as I'm concerned.
So after about 50 pages in, I was ready to love this book as I seldom loved another book before. But as the story progressed, that resolution started to diminish slowly but surely. Ironically, one the more obvious flaws is Zafon's overuse of stylistic writing. It seems like everyone acts or talks in a very elaborate manner, even in the simplest of situations, and this can really become tiresome after a while.
The plot also isn't as ingenious as the hype would make you believe. Zafon does a good job creating a sense of mystery early on, and there are obvious parallels between the main character Daniel Sempere, and Julian Carax, the writer whose past he is trying to uncover. But ultimately, the stories of Daniel and Julian are seperate ones, and they just happen to interconnect with one another more by chance than by design.
By far the most troublesome flaw is the way the mysteries are "resolved". All too often, answers are given by having some side character or another tell his or her story for pages. Nowhere is this more evident than at the end of the book, where literally every single detail is revealed in the form of a (very) long letter, even details which the writer of the letter never could have known, since she wasn't even involved in those events. It's as if Zafon did not have a clue or the motivation to write a logical conclusion, and decided to just dump all the information in one place.
With a bit more attention to actual plot and character development, this could have been one of my favourite books. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed reading the Shadow of the Wind. It's just a shame that it falls some way short of its potential.(less)