This was suggested by a contact as being one of the best short story collections in existence. It did not let me down.
I read Catcher In the Rye years...moreThis was suggested by a contact as being one of the best short story collections in existence. It did not let me down.
I read Catcher In the Rye years ago, and havent given much thought to Salinger since. But after reading these stories, I intend to read his other two popular novels as well.
I won't say every short story in here is the best short story ever, but they nearly all reflect his uniquely great writing style. What this is, to me, is his ability to "show" instead of "tell". Often written in third person limited, he does not tell us that the character has gone borderline crazy; he limits this POV. Instead he shows us such facts, with concrete physical descriptions, that leave no question to the inference.
I don't want to include spoilers in my little review here, but I will say that "Teddy", followed closely by "A Perfect Day for Bananna Fish", are two of the best short stories, and best written stories, that I have ever read.
Ok, I just have to add (and this is not a complete spoiler, but unveils part of the story to some extent) that I love when brilliant metaphysical and spiritual philosophy is worked into a story. And, I often think that some of the most profound metaphysical/spiritual philosophy is the kind that is expressed simply, and when understood, it is in fact a very simple idea in one sense, and yet infinitely complex in another. The child "Teddy" is able to convey a complete spectrum of such ideas in a short conversation, and, just like in our own ideas of what lies beyond this life, Salinger leaves us perfectly wondering if Teddy is right or not.(less)
**spoiler alert** I'll save some space, and simply acknowledge that my feelings mirror most of the other reviews here on GR, with the underlying theme...more**spoiler alert** I'll save some space, and simply acknowledge that my feelings mirror most of the other reviews here on GR, with the underlying theme being that the book was fantastic, but leaves even the most astute readers scratching their heads.
So how to describe the book...
Ever had a very strange dream that left you with a distinctly mysterious, yet utterly meaningful, sense of being when you awoke? Yet, when you review the series of events that happened in the dream, they just seeem strange, and do not seem to justify why you have this profound feeling? This is the environment that is created throughout this book.
I start to make connections, but before the idea completes itself, things become even more strange, and snuff my previous idea, while new connections begin again. Much like the instable nature of a dream.
This "dancing on the edge of absractness" is where I feel the greatness of the book truly lies. We all want some definite resolution at the end, questions answered, yet we don't get it. But even Toru wanted this for himself, as he often asks for a "concrete" answer to a question, but rarely gets one. There is of course an ending, but it lacks the clarifying answers I was hoping for, which I found frustrating at first. But the more I think about it, a definitive ending that provided an absolute explanation for all the strange events would have killed the open-ended wonder and unlimited subjective interpretation that make the story feel so great. Maybe this is why such an ending isn't offered.
Anyone up for discussing or theorizing the events of this book, send me a message and I would love to discuss further.
I listened to this as my first audio book. As an aspiring writer I was late to the game in getting to this, because I was never really a huge King fan...moreI listened to this as my first audio book. As an aspiring writer I was late to the game in getting to this, because I was never really a huge King fan. My loss. The information in here is extremely valuable to any writer. Some of it must be filtered through because he presents his preferences for for writing, but the fact is, you get the complete picture of him as a writer. For a nonfiction book, it held my attention just as much as a fiction book would have - maybe more. (less)
After having thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of Vonnegut with Slaughterhouse Five earlier this year, I thought I couldn't go wrong with any of his b...moreAfter having thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of Vonnegut with Slaughterhouse Five earlier this year, I thought I couldn't go wrong with any of his books. But I was mistaken, and Galapagos didn't do a lot for me.
This book had the tone of an instruction manual, which was its biggest turn off. More specifically, it kept an "introductory" type of tone throughout the book, by constantly referring to what "would happen", but never getting to the actual story. I know Vonnegut is appreciated for his unique forms of writing, but this just didn't work for me. I think I would have enjoyed it more if told as a straighforward story.
The narrator, and his perspective and curcumstance, was really the only thing about the book that I did like. He didn't really come to life until the end, though, and without his part this book would have only gotten a rating of 1-2 stars from me.
In summary, I had to force myself to read most of this book starting at about page 20, and it didn't become interesting until about the last 30 pages. I think even the best authors have works that aren't going to do it for everybody; pehraps this is one of those. I will certainly be reading more Vonnegut to find out. (less)
I'm short on time for this review, but man, this is the closest thing to "a perfect story" as anything I've ever read.
***I'm back a few days later to...moreI'm short on time for this review, but man, this is the closest thing to "a perfect story" as anything I've ever read.
***I'm back a few days later to edit my review, because I can't stop thinking about this book. It might be my favorite. I might be in love with this story. As the first sentence of the story starts out, "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice...", well, I am, too.
***SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON IN THE REVEIW***
I think I fell in love with book as I read one specific sentence. It's at the end of the story, when Owen and Johnny are in the "temporary bathroom" with the children, and his dream is starting to unfold.
I thought I had it all figured out - the lunatic kid has the grenade and he's going to try and blow them up. But then I read the sentence when Owen looks to Johnny and says something along the lines of "WE'LL HAVE ABOUT FOUR SECONDS". Maybe I was a little slow to catch on, but it was right then that I realized the reason they had always practiced "the shot". It blindsighted me and I loved it. Irving had made their routine practice of "the shot" so commonplace in their time together, that I forgot about even asking what purpose it served being in the story.
But the sentence carries so much more power than that. At the same time I realized the purpose of "the shot", it also hit home how Owen had lived his entire life for that momemt. He had known his fate, his moment, and not only did he embrace it, he had prepared for it. And when it came time to act and live this moment, he didn't flinch. Just as Owen had lived his life for one specific point and time, the power of this story was revealed to me in one perfect sentence.
Just finished today, and I'm glad that I can now claim to have read this mammoth. Loved the story, but didn't love the philosophy intertwined within.
H...moreJust finished today, and I'm glad that I can now claim to have read this mammoth. Loved the story, but didn't love the philosophy intertwined within.
Here's a few freeform thoughts, both good and bad, after reading:
- The socalist policies presented in the book are scairly relevant to today. In the book, a handful of people with unclear agendas decide who will benefit from social programs based on need, which has become the highest value to claim anything. Could only think about the government bailout, where a handful of people gave hundreds of billions of taxpayer money to bail out companies like AIG, who are partly responsible for the current economic crisis, because they were "too big to fail".
- Francisco D'Anconia's speech about "the root of money" was awesome. In an HONEST sense, it is also very correct and insiteful. In a nutshell, money is a claim on the product of someone eles's mind, earned by a production of your own mind.
- Rand paints the characters extremely black and white in terms of good and evil - the good people live by her philosophy, and the evil, dont. Those who don't are also made to be really, really evil...soulless, as in they live for the sake of death. It makes for a good story, and helps make her case, but it fails to make her case on a practical, real-life level.
- If I had a chance to ask Rand one question, it would be "what do you think about people who have kids!". A core of the philosophy is to live life for your self, your own selfish interests and your own profit, in an honest way. Constantly work hard, with your mind and your ability to think, to produce, and earn more. Put nothing else above this. BUT - not one character in the story has kids, and those of us who DO have kids often feel they are the most important thing in our life, and as a result spend a lot of our lives providing for them, instead of profiting and always being concerned about our own selfish interests. Not one character in her story has children, and I feel if they did, it would take away from her case of how appropriate her philosophy is.
- In the end, her philosophy does shed a lot of positive light on hard work and profiting in this capitalist society. But it is too one sided. In my life, I've come to the conclusion that there is no "one side", or "one view" that will act as a catch-all and make life perfect. It's a balance, part of which includes hard work, selfishiness, and profiting, but not all of it.
- She appears to shun any sort of spiritual element to being human. Any. So, if I could ask her a follow-up question, I would ask "if your characters have no element of the spiritual, no feeling of something greater or something after this life, what is the point of their hard work? They will profit for the material gain in this world, and everything they gain will be for not in the end. Wouldn't these intelligent people realize this, and then realize the futile efforts of their hard work and end up doing nothing instead? Ok, maybe I'm going a little too deep here, but disregarding anything greater than the materialistic reality of our society and logic seems, well, stiff and too one-dimensional.
- I bet Dagny Taggart is wicked hot. I think a movie is being produced based on this book, and I keep thinking who will play her. Someone BLAZINGLY attractive and the ability to at least appear remarkably intelligent on screen - maybe Angelina Jolie??
- Lastly, Rand had a nasty habit of PREACHING the same idea over and over, almost like she was trying to drill an idea into your head through hyptonization or something. The text in my copy of this book was very small, I could only read 20 pages an hour at full speed, and can do twice this in a book of larger font, and some ideas were repeated over 5, 10, or in the case of Galt's radio speech at the end, nearly 50 pages. And its the same damn thing being said, just using a slightly different example, or a slightly different scenario, over and over. The length of Galt's speech almost ruined this book for me, because it was a summary of all the ideas and philosophies presented within the characters and their actions throughout the book. After I came to the conclusion that I agree with some of her philosophy, I then had to ask myself if I really do, or if I was just tricked into THINKING that I do...(less)
Murakami is (on most days) my favorite author, thus my review is likely biased. But nonetheless, this is one of the few short story collections where...moreMurakami is (on most days) my favorite author, thus my review is likely biased. But nonetheless, this is one of the few short story collections where I truly enjoyed every story. Some were better than others, but all made an impact and all were enjoyable to read.
Murakami tells a story beautifully. Each story, while dancing on the edge between reality and the surreal, is told very concretely, very solidly. At the same time, the nature of the story itself draws emotions that (you may find as I did) are often considered in times of introspective thoughts, but never completely identified or explored.
It's almost magic, what he does in some of these stories. Murakami fan or not, I would suggest this as a book for anyone who is interested in the power and potential of words.(less)