While sifting through the fiction shelves at the library, I noticed the headline on the back cover of Little Stranger, which state...moreA quick read at best
While sifting through the fiction shelves at the library, I noticed the headline on the back cover of Little Stranger, which stated that it was a must read for anyone considering having children. This compelled me to read the synopsis, since having children has been important to me for a long time. As was the case with my deciding to read We Need To Talk About Kevin, I was intrigued by a mother who loses her motherly instinct.
These two novels are nothing alike, and the latter is without a doubt the better read. Little Stranger is about a mother who feeling unfulfilled, and even trapped, finds herself in a daze at the airport trying to escape her life, baby included. We Need To Talk About Kevin shares a view into the mind of a mother who feels little love or emotion towards her child, and (debatably) how this eventually affects him.
Kate Pullinger has a lot of plot lines going on in Little Stranger, whose interconnectedness often felt under developed and mostly contrived. I didn't find myself carrying about any of the characters, and felt little sympathy for their plights. It's apparent to me that if Pullinger had of directed her focus to a few storylines, and put more emphasis on the character development of her main characters, this could have been a far better book. (less)
Billy is a haunting, suspense novel that tackles the terrifying topic of stranger abduction. I tore through this book under the perception that it was...moreBilly is a haunting, suspense novel that tackles the terrifying topic of stranger abduction. I tore through this book under the perception that it was based on a true story. After reading it I found it hard to believe that the sequence of events outlined could possibly be factual, especially based on the statistics surrounding abductions by psychopaths. I come to find out that it is, if anything, loosely based on John Wayne Gacy, and that it is in no way an accurate depiction of his gruesome crimes.
Regardless of whether it was a little hard to believe at times, it was still a captivating read, and although this is not a genre that I usually pick up, I enjoyed the writing and its quick pace. (less)
The Saskiad is an extraordinary tale of fantasy and reality melded by a young girl’s awakening into adulthood. Saskia - said young girl - is a lonely...more The Saskiad is an extraordinary tale of fantasy and reality melded by a young girl’s awakening into adulthood. Saskia - said young girl - is a lonely outcast at her school, as she lives on a commune and uses any free time that is not spent rearing the wild bunch of children that live there with her, idolising and reading about epic adventurers. In fact, after I’ve read Homer and Melville I will have to reread the novel just so that I can understand the countless references made to such classic writers and their genius works. I won’t deny that I felt very poorly-read as compared to this girl of fourteen who had such illustrious novels under her belt. At any rate, Saskia’s reality gets turned upside down as she befriends the new girl, Jane, and suddenly experiences every young girl’s dream... to have a best friend.
The book is a delicious exploration of their obsessive friendship, and how they relate with others around their unwavering love. They laugh, cry and grow together, and it is with this growth that eventually their relationship takes new forms, and veers off in countless directions. I often had to remind myself that the novel was written by a male, as Brian Hall’s depictions of teenage girls and the intricacies of their relationships was often eerily accurate and familiar. I’m left wondering if he had any help with character development through either his wife or a sister or something.
The Saskiad is also a story about the relationships (or a lack there of) between children and their parents. Thomas, Saskia’s father is deplorable, as are his inappropriate relationships with the ladies in his life, and you may have to restrain yourself from throwing the book at the wall when faced with some of his antics throughout.
I have heard some other readers complain that the last quarter of the novel is not as beautifully written as the first three parts, that there is a shift, in that Saskia’s fantasies are no longer intertwined in her realities. For me this merely showcases that she has matured into adulthood, lost her innocence and sees the world through newly jaded eyes; often a sad but true consequence of growing up.
This glorious story seems to go on forever, until it finally ends and you are left wondering what to do with yourself now that the eccentric and lovable Saskia is no longer there to watch over. Sadly, I was tortured with melancholy over the last lines of this great book. (less)
Horrifying, disgusting and harrowing tale of two paedophiles with a pen-pal relationship, where the incarcerated fifty-something plays the ever encour...moreHorrifying, disgusting and harrowing tale of two paedophiles with a pen-pal relationship, where the incarcerated fifty-something plays the ever encouraging teacher to his nineteen year old pupil, who finds herself lusting after a twelve year old neighbourhood boy. The various descriptions of rape, child molestation and sadomasochistic perversions make it almost unbearable at times, especially when realising that these types of situations happen every day.
It pains me to hear this novel being compared to Nabokov's Lolita, as I revere it as one of my favourite pieces of literature. There were definitely times where I felt that Homes was trying very hard to recreate this masterpiece, and I can clearly say that regardless of her clever wordplay she was severely lacking in this respect. I did find her writing to be captivating at times, and for this I will try more of her work. Hopefully it will be just that, of her own creation and not a poor attempt at revisiting someone else's.
Ultimately I feel that this book sensationalizes the sexual abuse of minors, and could probably serve as pornography for the sexual psychopaths that need no encouragement. I'm all for shock value and how it forces us to think, I just don't see how thinking about these atrocities in their gory details helps the issue, and feel that in fact it may just recruit more perverts along the way.
With Linden MacIntyre being one of my favourite journalists, I was thrilled to hear of his novel being honoured as the winner of the Scotiabank Giller...moreWith Linden MacIntyre being one of my favourite journalists, I was thrilled to hear of his novel being honoured as the winner of the Scotiabank Giller prize for 2009. After reading the synopsis of the story, I knew it would be an uncomfortable read, but trusted in MacIntyre’s reverence and honesty to make it through. I was not disappointed.
The Bishop’s man is a story told in spirals, as we twist and turn through past and present fluidly, giving us a clearer picture of the events that can become cloudy through space and time. It is by way of these happenings that we are presented with brutally honest characters living lives of deceit and despair. These tragically flawed people are human in their beastliness, conflicted, damaged, and eternally struggling to break the vicious cycle of pain and suffering.
At times my anger was palpable as the Bishop insisted on covering up the harsh realities of the evil-doings administered by the hands of his precious and misunderstood brotherhood, where ‘victims’ were only the creations of over-active imaginations and troubled youth.
On more than one occasion I wrestled with my understanding of good and evil, and what faith means in today’s modern world. I am of the mind that Catholicism and its primitive structures are in need of a revamp in respect to how the world has changed, and what we’ve learned about humanity along the way. For the sake of the Catholics out there, I pray that they will make the changes that are needed to gain back so many members that they have lost due to their closed-mindedness and denial. As naïve as some may consider it, I will always believe that faith is an important and necessary part of a happy, moral and fulfilling life.
Amidst the madness and injustice, we pause to take in the haunting and beautiful descriptions of small towns, where you can hear the fiddle and smell the sea salt lifting off the page. Linden MacIntyre has proven to be an adoring poet in his love of the East coast and of the Gaelic and English languages. His words are profound and emotive, and I look forward to picking up his other novels in the hopes of more of the same.
Just a couple of his affecting offerings…
“The future has no substance until it turns the corner into history.”
“The bay is flat, endless pewter beneath the rising moon.”
**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)