Picked this up at the Brookline Booksmith in the used books section. The title caught my eye, but the precision and velocity of the first paragraph ha...morePicked this up at the Brookline Booksmith in the used books section. The title caught my eye, but the precision and velocity of the first paragraph had me pulling all three titles from the shelf by Camus:
"Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: 'Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.' That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday."
In L'Etranger, we follow the protagonist Meursault as he wanders indifferently from his mother's funeral to a day at the beach. Not trying to feel anything, or rather, build expectations of what's to come. Meursault lives without attaching himself to anyone or anything, becoming a bit like the ocean itself - swayed by the primal and intuitive nature of the moon, neither good nor evil - so indifferent to the feelings beneath the physical realm that he murders "The Arab" character without any remorse. Death, whether 20 years from now, or just tomorrow, even as he waits for his own execution, is the final thing that he detaches from - giving up any Hope that our existence is more than a series of random events strung along helter skelter; a long, painful unravelling of a pointless cosmic event without any universal answer by the end.
If you pick this up, get the translation by Matthew Ward. Although, "The Outsider" may be a more apt title. Meursault doesn't fit into this world where he's told at every corner how he's supposed to feel, react, love, and die. His honesty, his complete amoral faith to the senses, is so striking - because these are coping mechanisms that soldiers use to survive; and so at times, the prose read like lessons on how to live and die on your own terms, without any kind of expectations that you're entitled to anything more than a warm, beautiful day, chasing and briefly catching a quick glimpse at happiness.(less)
Picked up this book off-hand out of curiosity, but couldn't put it down. Many of the books in this genre are full of fluff, but this one is filled wit...morePicked up this book off-hand out of curiosity, but couldn't put it down. Many of the books in this genre are full of fluff, but this one is filled with theory and insight. This evening, I was reading an article on Google moving into the netbook arena next year with its mobile-based Android operating system. Steve Ballmer has repeatedly dismissed the idea of Android/Chrome being any threat to Microsoft Office, but Google is doing exactly what this book warns, positioning itself in a seemingly non-threatening space ripe for upward expansion.
A week after putting this down, I'm still thinking about the content. (less)
There was a time when I was Jurgis. The difference is that I live in the 21st century; and he, the late 1800's. The rules of justice are different in...moreThere was a time when I was Jurgis. The difference is that I live in the 21st century; and he, the late 1800's. The rules of justice are different in each era, but the principles of the American dream are the same. Jurgis working in the slaughter-house becomes part of the machine that deals in death - to the unsuspecting swine ravaged and then grinded into sausages, as well as to the people who are killed, "inch by inch" until there's nothing left.
The story's major flaw is the final chapter, when Upton Sinclair completely forgets his characters and lectures on socialism. He even prominently mentions the magazine that paid him the advance to write the book. After such a sweeping journey, Jurgis and the reader deserve more. Still, a powerful book that left me thinking for a long while after. (less)
What an awesome story for Hosseini to write after the success of The Kite Runner. This time the reader isn't spared from the main events in Kabul as i...moreWhat an awesome story for Hosseini to write after the success of The Kite Runner. This time the reader isn't spared from the main events in Kabul as it becomes fractured by the Mujahadeen and then the Taliban. Through the worst of it, an amazing set of characters emerge. I held my breath when Laila and Mariam attempt to escape Rasheed, and my heart breaks for them at the ending. Sometimes, I felt like the story was perhaps too harsh, too unfair, but Mariam's final scene alone - filled with courage and even joy despite the circumstances - is worth reading all the hardship endured to get her there. (less)
It's been a while since I enjoyed a contemporary book as much as this one. Well-written, at times almost too fantastic to believe, what can I say - it...moreIt's been a while since I enjoyed a contemporary book as much as this one. Well-written, at times almost too fantastic to believe, what can I say - it had me from beginning to end. Not a how-to, but more of a story about one guy's journey to find self-acceptance and love. It reads like fiction, and I'd recommend it to all my friends, even the ones who may disagree with some of the theory and behavior. In the end, Neil took a lot of risks living and writing this story, and it opens him up to a fair amount of criticism; but still, you got to respect that.(less)