Even for a short novel, Hesse's Siddhartha flew past. The writing was gripping; and while I disagree with much of the core ideology espoused by the prEven for a short novel, Hesse's Siddhartha flew past. The writing was gripping; and while I disagree with much of the core ideology espoused by the protagonist(s), the novel had one morsel of wisdom that was painfully true:
**spoiler alert** I would rate this 3.5 stars if I could.
The main problem I had with the book as a whole was the inconsistency of Jack's language skil**spoiler alert** I would rate this 3.5 stars if I could.
The main problem I had with the book as a whole was the inconsistency of Jack's language skills. A lot of his mannerisms/limitations make good sense (e.g. how to know when someone's talking specifically to you in a group of people, the existence of multiple 'copies' of items that there were only one of in Room, fear of speaking to strangers, the concept of individual ownership, etc.); however, given that Jack was clearly intelligent, had a well developed vocabulary, and had been exposed to normal speech patterns daily by both his mother and t.v., there was no reason that his speech should have been so overwhelmed by colloquialisms.
My other big problem with the book was some of the actions that Donoghue attributes to the adults around Jack, especially after the escape/during his recovery (i.e. the trip to the mall). They just seemed completely outside the realm of responsibility. I did feel that Jack's fear and confusion in the outside world were very well portrayed, but the huge number of idiosyncrasies Donoghue peppered his language with annoyed me through the whole book. Especially given all of his understandable mannerisms, it just wasn't necessary to introduce a whole second layer of abnormality into his speech and thought patterns to make it completely clear that his perception of reality had been significantly skewed by his growing up the way he did...
Over all, Room was an enthralling read, but those two aspects of the book were discordant enough that they kept me from feeling completely immersed....more
Wow... I just finished the book, and I'm definitely gonna have to let it settle for a few days before I can wrap my head around it - brutal and masterWow... I just finished the book, and I'm definitely gonna have to let it settle for a few days before I can wrap my head around it - brutal and masterful (and massive) and eminently enjoyable!...more
After trudging through Madame Bovary in school (and emerging with a deep appreciation of Flaubert's masterpiece and an equally deep loathing of Emma BAfter trudging through Madame Bovary in school (and emerging with a deep appreciation of Flaubert's masterpiece and an equally deep loathing of Emma Bovary), I was surprised to find myself engrossed by this similarly honest and revealing look behind the idyllic facade of 19th century provincial French life.
Jeanne was believably, brilliantly rendered by Maupassant - as relatable as she was flawed; and while Une Vie undoubtedly stands as an indictment of the society and people of its time, the authentically moderate actions and interactions of the majority of its characters - their commonplace shortcomings, simple desires, and ultimate acceptance of the disappointments of life - were believable.
I found it a more compelling, less fatalistic, and essentially truer example of literary realism than many similar works from the same movement....more
**spoiler alert** After a few days, I still can't decide what I think about this book. The prose was absolutely gorgeous, but I kept expecting some so**spoiler alert** After a few days, I still can't decide what I think about this book. The prose was absolutely gorgeous, but I kept expecting some sort of hint that Florentino's 'love' for Fermina and its affect on the way he relates to every other woman in his life was meant to serve as a counterpoint to basically every other relationship between any other characters in the novel.
Even his "I've remained a virgin for you" line just seemed to point an accusing finger back at the previous ~50 years of Florentino's life as if to say that by holding himself back for something that had never existed, he negated any true love he could have experienced with any of the hundreds of women he'd known. He only ever allowed himself a legitimate relationship with Fermina, and that he only achieved after Juvenal died. In essence, he exchanged a lifetime of potential love of many different kinds for a few months of correspondence, a two week boat trip, and the certainly not particularly long remainder of their lives together.
Florentino spent half a century focusing on the perceived tragedy of being separated from his 'love' and remained completely blind to the true tragedy of how much of his own life he wasted and invalidated by focusing on an obsessive desire for something that never existed in the first place. Again, beautifully written, but for me that just couldn't make up for the book's twisted ideology.
[As for the America incident, it bothered me much more than anything else Florentino did - his lack of awareness of what he was doing to himself by not moving on from his obsession with Fermina was tragic, but the way he treated America was despicable. I can see Marquez intending her age to be morally 'borderline' considering the time and place. What I can't overlook is the fact that Florentino took someone who's welfare he was supposed to be actively protecting and remorselessly drove them to suicide; and with her (as with every other woman in his life up to that point) he never even committed himself to the relationship because he was too busy allowing himself to be engrossed in his non-relationship 'with Fermina'). For me, America's death was the last nail in the coffin for Florentino's character. Afterwards, I couldn't even be happy or relieved that he'd finally developed an authentic devotion to Fermina.]...more
I picked up The Art of Racing in the Rain for a book club, and to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed it. While the story is extremely moving, Stein steeI picked up The Art of Racing in the Rain for a book club, and to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed it. While the story is extremely moving, Stein steers well clear of the brand of saccharin storytelling I expected from a book with a dog on the cover.
The characters were (for the most part) completely believable, especially Enzo, and while I could have done without the epilogue the book overall was well paced, and despite many opportunities the pace didn't get bogged down.
It was an absorbing (and very quick!) read - definitely recommended even if you aren't a 'dog person'....more
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline was my introduction to George Saunders, and overall it's an impressive collection - with the short stories definitely provCivilWarLand in Bad Decline was my introduction to George Saunders, and overall it's an impressive collection - with the short stories definitely proving the highlight. The closing novella "Bounty" is also strong, but Saunders' distopia is at its most disturbingly evocative when he includes only the barest hints of its soul-crushing logistics.
My rating would be 4 stars for "Bounty" alone, but for everything else that's brilliant about it, this collection is well worthy of 5 stars....more