Up in the Air is not a novel that I would have picked up, had it not been for my desire to see the movie. I seem to cling to an OCDish need to read th...moreUp in the Air is not a novel that I would have picked up, had it not been for my desire to see the movie. I seem to cling to an OCDish need to read the book that the movie is based upon before I will allow myself to see it. I can only assume that this is a story preservation tactic, as I trust my imagination and interpretation over some Hollywood producer, and have witnessed the butchering of one too many great books. That being said, I have heard from countless people that in this case, the movie has very little to do with Walter Kirn’s book. Be that as it may, I held steadfast to my regular routine.
In the novel we are met with Ryan Bingham, a career transition counselor/business consultant, who sidelines as a motivational speaker. Seeing him walk through the doors of your firm is not a welcome sight, as this usually means that people will be losing their jobs. After you’ve been fired, he is the hired muscle that will teach you the skills needed to move on, as he walks you out the door to new opportunities, instead of blatantly throwing you and your box filled with 25 years worth of personal effects, through a plate-glass window. Due to a mounting dissatisfaction with his career, and an assumption that he is being scouted-out for a coveted position in a stealth marketing firm, MythTech, he has left a letter of resignation waiting for his vacationing boss.
Ryan has spent the majority of his time traveling on airplanes back and forth between failing companies, and as a consequence has racked up nearly one million frequent flyer miles. In fact, he is excitedly preparing to ascend into the ‘million dollar club’ before his job ends, and throughout the novel we observe this obsessive need consume his thoughts and even dictate changes to his erratic itinerary. He whittles away his time focusing on his ‘Airworld’ status instead of looking at what is really important in his life, things that will give him the self-satisfaction that he so desperately craves.
While at one moment it would appear that Ryan is enjoying his busy life on the road, staying in hotels all over the country, meeting all sorts of interesting people, in the next moment it becomes apparent that he has been kidding himself, and is not healthy, nor of sound mind. Outside of his family that he rarely sees, his relationships consist of acquaintances and random travelers. He is increasingly paranoid and distrustful of his employer as well as the airline that he flies with. We watch him unravel and mentally deteriorate as he fixates on those that he perceives are out to get him, coping by gambling and abusing alcohol and drugs. Things just start to catch up with him.
The ending sheds a lot of light into the lives of some of the mentor-like, omnipotent and successful people that Ryan looks up to throughout the novel. He learns that his illusions are grand and misplaced, as their truths become clear. Everything he believed in appears to be turning into an extravagant myth. These realizations offer him the honesty to look at himself, and his truths, with acceptance.
Walter Kirn has an engaging, clever and subtle writing style that requires you to think, so don’t attempt this one unless you’re in the mood. As with any great writer he doesn’t tell the reader, he shows them. Throughout the novel I felt like a fellow passenger on one of Ryan’s flights, as he intimately shared his goals, his fears and his eventual realizations.
Now, I look forward to seeing what the movie has to offer!
I had already written a review for this novel yesterday, but after watching the film today I thought better of the opinions I shared, and have decided...moreI had already written a review for this novel yesterday, but after watching the film today I thought better of the opinions I shared, and have decided to start afresh. I suppose I was a bit stubborn in my dislike of the tale originally because I was so profoundly insulted by John Boyne’s one dimensional characters and their contrived circumstances. However, if it weren’t for his creativity in writing this fable, however flawed and in need of amending, we would not have the deeply moving motion picture that Mark Herman has presented us with.
Boyne’s fable left me shocked at the naivety of the commandants family members, as it is my understanding that children of the Reich were raised in the thick of propaganda, where manipulation started early by learning hate through the "Jungvolk” movement, followed by the Hitler Youth at 14, this all in order to properly groom them to eventually fight for the fatherland. The writing style he used of repeating phraseology was also a drain, and I’m not quite sure what the point was. Grammatically speaking, his inability to stick to either the American (pajamas) spellings, or the British (pyjamas) ones, I found to be annoying, but I may just be nitpicking there.
Ultimately, this is a story about the sincere kindness found in innocence, how we aren’t born with hatred, we are taught it, and unfortunately, how the sins of the father fall upon the son. In my opinion, and I doubt that you’ll read these words from me in regards to any other story, skip the book and just rent the film. Just don’t forget the Kleenex… (less)
**spoiler alert** As I always try to do, I read the book Precious (or Push, as it was originally titled) before watching the movie. This is one of the...more**spoiler alert** As I always try to do, I read the book Precious (or Push, as it was originally titled) before watching the movie. This is one of the rare times where I can say that I enjoyed the movie more than the book, but this is only because of the outstanding acting by Mo'nique and some of the directing effects.
Sapphire's ability to portray Precious' voice through the use of Ebonics, grammatical errors, and phonetically spelled words that improved and changed as her literacy progressed, was very affective. I also found the description of Precious' disassociations that she would lapse into due to her severe circumstances to be very telling and accurate, as this is often a form of escapism victims of abuse encounter.
Despite these strong aspects of the story, I found myself at odds with the glowing praise that I had heard about Precious over the last year, and was overall disappointed, as I ultimately felt it was lacking closure. At the end of both the book and the movie I found myself wanting more, needing to know what happened next. Does Precious make it through her education? Does she get Mongo back? Does she go on to live a long life despite her illness? I realize her resilience in order to have come as far as she had with such an abusive and heinous upbringing, that is inspiring, but from what do I draw my conclusions on her eventual outcome?
It is clear that Sapphire is showing how knowledge is power, and if you work hard and push through your misfortunes you can have redemption, but was that really the case for Precious? I wouldn't expect a perfect ending, or even a tragic one, just not one so anti-climactic and stagnant.
None the less, whatever portion was told of Precious' story is still important and deserved to be shared, if for nothing else, to inspire other disenfranchised and struggling girls in similar circumstances to push through. (less)
Tobacco Road is set in the southern US after the Great Depression, and as such we are met with some very deplorable characters living in utter destitu...moreTobacco Road is set in the southern US after the Great Depression, and as such we are met with some very deplorable characters living in utter destitution, that can barely seem to scrape by. There is no doubt that Caldwell was intending to be satirical when shaping these wretched misfits, as the humour and ridiculous exaggeration is not subtle, and if you can wrap your mind around this fact you may find yourself laughing out loud throughout. Every single character will no doubt make your skin crawl, and you may be tempted to bang your head against a brick wall with their unbelievable actions and asinine commentary. In order to elicit such disgust and revolt from an audience, there is no disputing that Caldwell was adept at his craft. This book is probably not for everyone, but if you are going to give it a shot, don't take it too seriously. I was able to find some clips on YouTube from the black and white movie of the same name, directed by John Ford, and had a real laugh.(less)
Highly disturbing yet realistic account of a young girls struggle for survival throughout her loss of innocence, abandonment and the resulting confusi...moreHighly disturbing yet realistic account of a young girls struggle for survival throughout her loss of innocence, abandonment and the resulting confusion and discord these events provided. Racism, war and paedophilia are but a few of the hard hitting topics that emanate from Erian's bold tale written through the eyes of thirteen year old Jazeera. Hard to read, but important none the less.(less)
The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic tale about children from different class systems being pitted against each other in a fight-to-the-death compet...moreThe Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic tale about children from different class systems being pitted against each other in a fight-to-the-death competition, whilst everyone watches the bloody and sadistic battle on their television sets and roots for their districts appointed players. The reason for this battle? To remind the people of the various districts that ‘the capitol’, the governing and all-ruling body, has the power to pluck their children out of safety and into the pit of danger, and that the rules must be obeyed at all costs, so as to prevent an incident like the uprising that took place in the past, which resulted in the extinction of the thirteenth district.
I found this story to be utterly fascinating in its reality TV meets Orwell fashion, and must admit it certainly is not just for a YA audience. It focuses on the strength of the less fortunate or unpopular, the importance of love and loyalty, and ultimately, survival of the fittest.
The surreal existence Collins offers us at first seems like a fantasy world, but it doesn't take long to realize the parallels and similarities to our current society. It is well written, suspenseful and although when reading the dust jacket I was concerned that it would be inappropriate content for its target audience, the story’s violence never once felt gratuitous or out of line with a teen reader's capacity.
Not much to say about this one. Your basic fluff read, I suppose, but not even praticularly enjoyable fluff at that. The ending left much to be desire...moreNot much to say about this one. Your basic fluff read, I suppose, but not even praticularly enjoyable fluff at that. The ending left much to be desired. Not something I would recommend to others. There was something interesting to Ira Levin's style though, so I will give him another shot.
Believable and lovable characters, my favourites being Glen Bateman of the good side, and Julie Lawry of the evil side. Definitely my favourite of Kin...moreBelievable and lovable characters, my favourites being Glen Bateman of the good side, and Julie Lawry of the evil side. Definitely my favourite of King's work and worth the long read.
A haunting and tragic tale of a dystopic existence under a totalitarian regime, told by one of the best political writers of our time. This is a class...moreA haunting and tragic tale of a dystopic existence under a totalitarian regime, told by one of the best political writers of our time. This is a classic that is quoted in everyday popular culture, from 'Big Brother' to NewSpeak. It's a timeless work of 'Fiction,' and is a must have for all bookshelves. I'm left pondering how Orwell would reflect on Facebook if he were here to see it?
Excruciatingly painful to read, but proves to be very inspiring when you see where she ends up after spending her life in the face of sheer torture an...moreExcruciatingly painful to read, but proves to be very inspiring when you see where she ends up after spending her life in the face of sheer torture and adversity. The movie appears to be impossible to find, at least in Toronto.
For those who haven’t read anything from Maya Angelou, then there’s a chance that you’ve at l...more**Spoiler Alert
Oprah’s hero is a hero to many, to be sure
For those who haven’t read anything from Maya Angelou, then there’s a chance that you’ve at least seen her on Oprah sharing her eloquence and inspiration. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a memoir detailing her struggles bouncing back and forth between her lackadaisical parents in California, and her strict, god-fearing grandmother in the south.
Angelou’s descriptive prowess conjures up images which clarify feelings immaculately. “…seeing him in the flesh shredded my inventions like a hard yank on a paper chain.” And it is this very skill of hers that has had some people arguing that some of the scenes in the novel are too graphic or disgusting to be provided to teenage readers in school. I personally do not find the telling of her story as inappropriate in any way. It hurts to read these things, and you’ll of course be disgusted, but this is life. There is nothing gratuitous about her words. Countless young victims will take solace in knowing that someone as respected as Maya Angelou was able to endure such atrocities and still make it through life as a successful and inspirational woman. I think any typical young woman over sixteen is emotionally capable of hearing these types of truths in a reverent way.
There is one aspect of the story that has me a little concerned. The descriptions of Maya’s completely natural, yet harmful and damaging responses to the sexual abuse that she encountered – feeling guilty, shameful, pitying the abuser for his being punished, partaking in her silencing that was initiated by the adults in her life - leave me a little perplexed as to whether this book will help young people to realize that she is wrong in her feelings, and thus not feel that way about their own situations, or collude with Maya’s thoughts and feel the same way.
“There was an army of adults, whose motives and movements I just couldn't understand and who made no effort to understand mine.”
How damaging it must have been to Maya to be sent back to Stamps, as though she were being punished for the trauma yet again. All because these adults felt guilty about not protecting her, yet instead blamed her for making them feel uncomfortable because she would not speak to anyone but her brother. They were in fact the ones that encouraged the silencing of Maya when it was said that the incident should never be mentioned again. These types of responses to sexual traumas are the complete opposite of what is healthy for the victim, and I can only hope that any teens that are issued this book to read in school are properly informed of the truth. Children need to know - and Maya Angelou needed to know herself as a child - what happened to them is not their fault. I feel as though the end of the book needed to have a letter from Angelou to the reader outlining how she views the tragic events of her life now, as an adult.
Angelou’s understanding of the bigotry realized in her lifetime is admirable, and in my opinion the following quotation that takes place after her being snubbed by a white receptionist regarding a job inquiry at the transportation office in San Francisco, is one of the most accurate explanations for the ridiculous hatred black people had, and often still do have, to endure.
“The miserable little encounter had nothing to do with me, the ‘me’ of me, any more than it had to do with that silly clerk. The incident was a recurring dream, concocted years before by stupid whites and it eternally came back to haunt us all. The secretary and I were like Hamlet and Laertes in the final scene, where, because of harm done by one ancestor to another, we were bound to duel to the death. Also because the play must end somewhere.
I went further than forgiving the clerk, I accepted her as a fellow victim of the same puppeteer.”
If the haters of the world would acquiesce to this philosophy and move on with life instead of being so stubborn, then things would be a lot more peaceful and loving for us all.
Abandonment, molestation, family, and racism are but a few of the emotionally charged topics that Maya Angelou shares with us in this intimate, courageous and truly uplifting story of survival.
Some of Maya Angelou’s wise words:
"The world had taken a deep breath and was having doubts about continuing to revolve."
"I was a loose kite in a gentle wind floating with only my will for an anchor."
"She [mother] comprehended the perversity of life, that in the struggle lies the joy."