I’m not a fan of the stream of consciousness novel, less so when that stream jumps around in time. Despite my personal taste in books, I must admit thI’m not a fan of the stream of consciousness novel, less so when that stream jumps around in time. Despite my personal taste in books, I must admit that this is an excellently written novel. The protagonist, who spent time as a POW in Dresden at the time of the fire bombings suffers from PTSD 25 years later. His mind travels spontaneously between past, present and a fantasy realm. So it goes. ...more
This classic novel, which brought its author literary fame and eventually a Nobel Prize in Literature, is often credited with launching the literary f This classic novel, which brought its author literary fame and eventually a Nobel Prize in Literature, is often credited with launching the literary form of “magical realism”. The seven generations of the family at the heart of this book serve as a loose allegory of Columbia. The City of Mirrors founded by the family patriarch is also a city of mirages. Reality is a function of perception. The past haunts the present in a deterministic fashion. In the final lines we are told that the entire history of humanity begins with an old man tied to a tree and ends with a baby consumed by ants.
In all honesty, I have to confess that I do not understand “magical realism”. This book required more work than I was willing to give it and therefore, I was confused for most of its pages. I suspect that, if I were to give it a second read, I would gain much more from the experience. I also would benefit from a guide to help me orient in this alien landscape. ...more
This is a 5* story of human redemption, a novel that challenges the reader to greater commitment to social justice and compassion for all people. UnfoThis is a 5* story of human redemption, a novel that challenges the reader to greater commitment to social justice and compassion for all people. Unfortunately, the writing style which was in vogue in mid-19 century Europe diluted the power of that message for me. By the time I waded through detailed analyses of the battle of Waterloo, the history of Parisian sewer system, detailed descriptions of 19 century cloister convent life, essays on the appropriate place of slang in literature and those lengthy melodramatic speeches, I no longer felt connected to the characters or moved by the narrative....more
I have to admit that I did not enjoy reading this book at all. To me, this felt like pornography. I don’t care how erudite the author, how literary thI have to admit that I did not enjoy reading this book at all. To me, this felt like pornography. I don’t care how erudite the author, how literary the style, how fresh the use of language, how well crafted the characters, it still met my definition of pornography and I simply do not enjoy reading porn. This book depicted the sexual exploitation of a young adolescent by her step father. The only purpose for this graphic depiction seemed to be to entertain. Depicting sex for entertainment purposes is my definition of porn.
I tried to separate the writing from the subject to determine if I could understand its high regard in the literary canon. The narrator uses a pompous, verbose voice that became grating rather quickly into the novel. I suppose that, had this been a short story, or had this voice been assumed by a character who did not narrate, it might have worked. However, before the rape began, I wanted to tell this man to “put a sock in it”. However, I was impressed at the ability to capture the interior workings of such a depraved mind. Humbert knows that he is engaging in illegal, immoral and ultimately harmful behavior. Yet, his impulses prevent him from stopping. Humbert is sexually arrested at the time of his first adolescent sexual encounter and can not distinguish between love and lust, can not see the world from any vantage point except his own juvenile passions. I did not realize how well the pedophile was understood more than 50 years ago. And, Lolita’s ambiguity is also skillfully and credibly depicted. I can not imagine how Nabakov could have lived inside this character for the time it would take to complete this novel. I felt tarnished in the relatively few hours it took me to read it.
The stories of four Chinese women who migrated to California in the 1940s and their now adult daughters who were raised in America are woven together.The stories of four Chinese women who migrated to California in the 1940s and their now adult daughters who were raised in America are woven together. We learn of the cultural forces that shaped these women and the reason for the tension and misunderstandings with their daughters. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and got lost over and over as each new bit of personal history opened and invited me in. ...more
If you eagerly await your friend’s vacation pictures, are absorbed in every detail of their adventures, than you may find this book a sheer delight. BIf you eagerly await your friend’s vacation pictures, are absorbed in every detail of their adventures, than you may find this book a sheer delight. But, if your eyes glaze over and your mind wanders after the tenth picture and the tenth story, then you may be less engrossed by this book. Frances and her husband who both teach at California colleges, purchase an old Tuscan farm house and small olive grove. Every summer and Christmas semester break they spend remodeling the house, restoring the 5 acre farm and exploring the local sights and culture. This book is filled with menus, renovation adventures, wine sampling and sight-seeing. ...more
I read this for a group discussion thread here on GR. Anne’s words give the reader a unique view of the stress, deprivations and compromises experiencI read this for a group discussion thread here on GR. Anne’s words give the reader a unique view of the stress, deprivations and compromises experienced by those confined to a small apartment for 2 years, hiding from an occupying army in a city devastated by war. Anne expresses insights with clarity and maturity far beyond the expectations of a 14 year old. At the same time, it is the diary of an adolescent, filled with the tedious thoughts inherent to any diary. I found myself wondering why this has achieved the status of a classic, a must read. Certainly there are many more immediate stories of oppression, fear and stubborn hope, from the degrading poverty of a Haitian slum to a Palestinian neighborhood, from Afghani children terrorized by drones and religious zealots to Sudanese mothers hiding from armed militia. Do we cling to this diary because it is safe; the bad guys are clear, the Nazi forces defeated and the reader can safely sympathized while not having to face any moral dilemma or demand to act? ...more