The author asks on page four of the Introduction, "why had I wanted to read these books in this way," referring, of course, to Harvard Classics Five F...moreThe author asks on page four of the Introduction, "why had I wanted to read these books in this way," referring, of course, to Harvard Classics Five Foot Shelf. While Mr. Beha states a number of reasons for his decision, the most compelling one for me was there were already two complete sets of the books in his life.
Apparently the Introduction to the Five Foot Shelf of Books a volume at the end of the shelf, captivated the authors imagination through multiple readings over many years, until at last, without a job, recovering from cancer, he makes the commitment to read the entire five feet in one year, and cracks open volume one. It is only after reading the entire set that he realizes there was a guide for reading, and that reading from start to finish was never the intention of the publisher or compiler.
What is interesting in this book, in spite of the fact that he went about the reading rather wrong headed, is the way Beha framed the events of his life by the volume he was currently reading. I do not mean to say that he found the answers to his particular problem du jour, but it did help to frame the death of a beloved aunt; a round with lime disease, a knee surgery, shame, doubt, and the discovery that the sperm he'd put in safe keeping for future possible use, was "unviable."
The Whole Five Feet was a pleasure to read, and life affirming.
How? What Mr. Beha discovered, and masterfully showed, was that the discussion of the big questions in life has been going on for a very a long time, well before our time. We add our bit, we die, and then the discussion goes on long after us. Still, the fact that comfort can be found in a book, any book, and especially a book written 1000 to 500 to as little a fifity years ago, that speaks directly to your situation today, is life affirming.
People come to mystery novels for different reasons, which explains why there is such a wide variety of sub-genres. When we read a mystery we are conf...morePeople come to mystery novels for different reasons, which explains why there is such a wide variety of sub-genres. When we read a mystery we are confronted with our own fears, desires, and those less than pleasant parts of our personality that we work to prevent seeing the light of day. Louise Penny deals with exactly that uglier part of our natures in this novel, The Brutal Telling.
I have read all five of the Chief Inspector Gamache novels. After reading Ms Penny's second novel I caught on to her formula for telling us who the killer is. I will not share it here, because some people may not have noticed, and some may have yet to read her books. You might ask why, if I discovered the formula, did I keep reading the books? It's very simple, merely knowing the formula does not tell you the how, or the why, the killer did the ghastly deed.
Gamache is not going to be every mystery readers cup of tea, as I believe this quote will show. He tells his team:
This case didn't being with the blow to the head. It started years ago, with another sort of blow. Something happened to our murderer, something we might consider insignifcant, trivial even, but was devastating to him. And those resentments grow. Murders are about emotions. emotions gone bad, and gone wild. Remember that. And don't ever think you know what someone else is thinking, never mind feeling.
For some people that will come across as a ho-hum platitude, and for those people, this is not the series for you.
Three Pines is the village in Quebec, not on any road map, in and around which, all five of Penny's books are set. They are a community of people whom the reader of all five books knows very well. They are full bodied characters, eccentric, and sometimes very funny.
He watched through the window as Myrna, Peter, Clara, Ruth and the duck Rosa got in the Morrow's car.
Clearly, this is not your everyday village.
This is Ms. Penny's fifth Chief Inspector Gamache novel, and some leeway should be given to any author who can go for five book in one general locale without becoming a great, crashing bore. So, I was willing to forgive her when the following line made me wince.
"Every Quebec village has a vocation," said Clara. "Some make cheese, some wine, some pots. We produce bodies."
Now that the throat clearing is done, here are my thoughts on this book. Louise Penny had better pick up in the next book exactly where this one left off, because while the "murderer" is arrested, I didn't believe the real murderer was put in jail. It ended with too much vagueness left in the air, questions unanswered, and no sense of true closure was brought to the end of this book.
That is why I gave the book four stars instead of five. I love how Penny writes: her characters, the Chief Inspector, the denizens of the village, the beauty of deep forests of Canada, all of it, but her books up to now have ended with a clear murderer in custody. With [Book:The Brutal Telling] she stumbled at the end. If I, an avid reader and fan of her books felt cheated at the end, then what would be the reaction of the reader coming to her books for the first time through [Book: The Brutal Telling](less)
I am a great fan of Christopher Marlowe, both of his poetry and his plays. The Everyman edition that I own has held up under some pretty heavy usage,...moreI am a great fan of Christopher Marlowe, both of his poetry and his plays. The Everyman edition that I own has held up under some pretty heavy usage, as I tend to mark up a book until it vomits pages. Good thing I own this one.
Marlowe's choice of subjects for plays always dumbfounded me. He went for the most unpleasant subjects possible. Tamburlaine, not just one, but two of those. The Jew of Malta, sheesh what a horrible title. Edward II, we all know he died as a result of a hot poker stuck up his ass. The ever unpleasant The Massacre at Paris where Huguenots get killed by the hundreds, and Catherine the Queen is blamed for the whole thing.
But! We also have Dido,Queen of Carthage a very lovely telling of that very sad tale. It's also a bit snarky in places, especially where the gods are involved. Doctor Faustus which is his greatest work.
Marlowe was part of the University educated dramatists. Shakespeare had no real University education, so we might say that the subject matter chosen by Marlowe was that of the classical world, and heavily influenced by Protestant thinking, The Massacre at Paris. Shakespeare took his from English history, and therein lay a world of difference.
Overall, I prefer Shakespeare to Marlowe, but it has to be said that there was Marlowe, Jonson and Shakespeare that are really worth remembering today, the rest just wrote plays. Oh, now I have set the hordes of dramaturges on me like the furies of old. (less)
You must be a fan of the police procedural genre of mystery fiction to read Hakan Nesser. I'll go one further and say you have to be a fan of Scandina...moreYou must be a fan of the police procedural genre of mystery fiction to read Hakan Nesser. I'll go one further and say you have to be a fan of Scandinavian gloom as it effects the characters and the plot. If you read and enjoyed Henning Mankell, then you know exactly what I mean. The atmosphere is somehting altogether different from a book set almost anywhere else on the planet.
Also, you are reading in translation. Yes, I know, all translators are traitors, but without them we wouldn't have half the good books we do have, and hardly anyone in America would ever read Proust. The translator, Laurie Thompson, does a very good job with this book, because it doesn't sound like a job done by a new graduate of ESL.
The mystery is good, but when reviewing mysteries one doesn't want to give away too much. All I will say is that it is a revenge and the reader will have very little trouble putting together what the revenge is avenging. The killer is very clever, and I'm not sure but what the moral ground might be more under the killer than under the victims.
What goes around, comes around. If we all remember that, there might be fewer murder mysteries.(less)
This was my first Grisham, and I admit to loving it. I was sucked in by the increasing claustrophobia that the firm closed around the main characters....moreThis was my first Grisham, and I admit to loving it. I was sucked in by the increasing claustrophobia that the firm closed around the main characters. It made me leery of offers that are too good to be true. Unfortunately, I don't like legal thrillers, so after The Firm I stopped with Grisham.(less)