**spoiler alert** Read the first time when I was 13, read it again now @ 25. Between then I've got a much sharper appreciation and much higher literar...more**spoiler alert** Read the first time when I was 13, read it again now @ 25. Between then I've got a much sharper appreciation and much higher literary standards. I knew King can deliver because I've read 2 other works by him in the past 2 years, his last short story collection and then THE SHINING which I read in French.
The last 500 pages sucked me in. Another reviewer said this is one of the rare 1000 pagers that you wish would keep going another 1000. Literally there's a hundred pages left and you tell yourself that it feels like the story is halfway done. It's similar to what my friend said about the plot of every short Sherlock Holmes story. The first 90 percent is exposition and then the last 10 percent everything is solved way too abruptly.
Looking at the story with more experienced eyes, I noticed the character arcs much more strongly. Everyone undergoes major transformations. Even the bad guy is round, not flat (its funny when he falls apart, but in a way that makes him even more scary and believable, which is hard to do when you've already sold him as the henchman of Satan).
I also empathized more strongly with the rationale and the actions that the characters take, having to take difficult decisions that hurt other people. One time I was brought to tears, and close to it several other times. These are things that I would have glossed over when I first read it.
I had the english version nearby -- I'd open it every now and then just to get a sense of King's writing in English. He likes to make up words like ''everf*cking'' and I would have missed that reading the translation.
I never felt like the story dragged on-- though I can see how the story is sold as being an epic battle of good vs evil and that hardly happens until about page 900. And when it does it's over fast. But if you're interested in how people would rebuild after a seriously epic epidemic, this is the thing to read. What surprises me is how rapidly he moves the story along (sounds ironic or sarcastic about such a big book, but it's true and its always been the case with him). Each page really does have a lot of info and major things happen all of the time. Every few pages is important, even if its just the small inbetween moments shared among characters that to me matter as much
I've read similar works recently-- the survival genre-- BLINDNESS especially, and to compare them, I'd say the uniqueness of this book is his willingness to go BIG. Blindness touched mostly the same stuff, but was much more pinpoint on the lives of people in one small, unnamed area.
There's very clearly the opportunity for a sequel here, and I'd likely eagerly devour it. Probably the biggest strength is believable characters, an epic biblical story but one that revolves around personal decisions that are applicable to normal lives.
In some ways, compared with his other works, there is much less of the supernatural... way WAY less than something like INSOMNIA or IT. And that was intentional -- keep it down to Earth as much as possible to make is as scary as can be. A flu epidemic is headline material that is brought up and rattled before us every year.
My favorite reviews from other GoodReads people:
''The author is cleverly ambiguous - not allowing bursts of rage against God to set the agenda and noting Job as exemplar. Not what Europeans - outside the Celtic Calvinists - find naturally comprehensible but this book will be a more useful guide to America than reading Henry James.''
''The Lost writers have certainly paid attention to the themes of 'The Stand.' Claire, Charlie, Jack, even Vincent have models in this book. Yet, they've managed to create a completely different story, and I admire them immensely for it. ''
''King has always been good at "country" types, but here he shows a sure hand with such disparate people as a deaf-mute, a rock star, a garage worker, a pregnant teenager and her admirer-from-afar neighbour Harold (a gentleman so slimy you'll feel like taking a shower after just reading about him)
You feel rapport with these characters, and are soon cheering them on, and King has managed to reel in his propensity for "bloat", and doesn't let any one character take over.''
''Lastly, I definately picked up on how American this book is. Before when I would read Stephen King books I noticed how New England they were. He usually always keeps his stories in Maine somehow. But this was my first S. King I've read out of the USA and I realized how American his stories are. ''
If this book were closer to a 3 average, I would have given it a 4, but since it's closer to 4 already then I gave it a 3. I feel it is a gret 3.5 rea...moreIf this book were closer to a 3 average, I would have given it a 4, but since it's closer to 4 already then I gave it a 3. I feel it is a gret 3.5 read, and what it does it does pretty well. Not sure how much I enjoyed the
The great thing about this book is that it allowed me on the eve of a hard race--it's been several years since I've done one and I needed a confidence booster--this book helped me relive all the different kinds of races that I'd done before. Visualization is a huge important skill and going up against this tough race soon, a 35 miler in the Alps, after such a great length of time away from that was really important.
I read the book in 2 sittings, in the same day. This writer has filled up my top 10 books with his writings, and this was an interesting way to get to know him. He doesnt veer off his course, he's pretty solidly attached to his two subjects, writing and running and how it's basically the same challenges, the same rewards and the same expectations he has of himself. Something that's done religiously each day, with small daily goals that lead to a big finish, keeping the fly-wheel spinning, something that evolves with the more experience you have, both of which are like poison in the short term but that are both therpeutic in the long term.
No point dragging this out too long. It's nice, if you like him and you like running, then have at it. It can be very superficial... not a lot of philosophy, and the parts that he does have usually are spent linking writing and running together. He doesnt spend much time contempating them singly, apart from the influence of the other. But this is ok, since he started both of them together at the same time in his life.
One intersting thing is how it seems there was a large period of time where he took for granted that he ran every day, then he became disillusioned with it. In a way, the main story is where he falls in love with it again, only to find it a difficut, turbulent path back to where he was before. (less)
Where to begin. This took me ages to read, despite the fact that every time I picked it up I was hooked and would read great swaths of it at a time. I...moreWhere to begin. This took me ages to read, despite the fact that every time I picked it up I was hooked and would read great swaths of it at a time. I was telling a friend that Dickens is amazing, but people pigeonhole him as a poverty crusader that also told stories.
No. He's so extremely versatile and talented and cares much more about a wide variety of the states of existence people go through,and this novel is a glorious example of that. For me, he's not showing poverty even necessarily as a bad thing. This novel in particular shows the problem is more with the corrosive influence of money. It's the difference between a commercial with a hungry child (think 'Oliver' and that's all Dickens is capable of) versus a deeply felt exploration of humanity and its inherent nobility, with money being the Apple introduced into Eden. That includes many characters that are poor but they are often the ones with the fewest limitations, especially when you get to the final chapter and you see the most childish characters of all are those moneyed people who are decrying the events that had transpired thus far. But Dickens refuses even to let those people remain flat for very long, since even then he has people that are able to step outside of their petty concerns and not be so overconfident and blinded from being part of the moneyed class.
I feel I took so long to read this only because it was on my Kindle and so it felt more massive than the book really is. First sixty percent took 6 months, the last 40 percent took one week, but reading it on the Kindle I'd read for two hours and the tracker would have moved maybe 4 percent.
Maybe these characters in this novel are the most fully 3-D, the most alive and breathing people in any book I've read. And it doesnt seem like that until you get to the final third, but WOW, when you get to those moments where their humanity is at its most revealed, Dickens leaves you groveling in wonderment at what he was able to do.
Reading the Wikipedia article on the novel, and yes the way Jewish people are portrayed in this novel is courageous for the times, 'revolutionary'.
Here's an interesting part: In his 1940 article "Dickens: Two Scrooges", Edmund Wilson states, "Our Mutual Friend, like all these later books of Dickens, is more interesting to us today than it was to Dickens’s public. Certainly the subtleties and profundities that are now discovered in it were not noticed by the reviewers."[88:]
A lot of harsh reviewers from his time are on the Wikipedia article-- I wonder how much of it is the fact that it was written 35 pages at a time and sold each month like that.
A lot to think about. What Dickens novel should I read next? And to me this novel could hardly be better, even if there is a part right at the halfway mark where he seems to clear away the excess 'mystery' baggage and move forward to a more streamlined narrative. If this is the best, will the others just disappoint me? Now on to Proust volume 2!(less)
This is Middlemarch, written in modern times, that happens to be gloriously in Brazil and in some ways is even better. Add to that his censorship issu...moreThis is Middlemarch, written in modern times, that happens to be gloriously in Brazil and in some ways is even better. Add to that his censorship issues and exile, and its a compelling work of art. To contrast this with Middlemarch, I got more out of this because the social conventions and issues are not as dated, the conclusions are still scandalous and it feels like this could still happen now, while Middlemarch is stuck in its age . One of my new, top favorites. It's the same level of quality as 100 Years, but a great deal more accessible. It's got a great deal of repetition, it seems, but really it's about subtle changes over time. So it seems to be the same, nearly is the same, but by the end of the book a lot has changed. Awesome, not too high flying, the characters are believable and you begin to really feel affection for them. People have their vices but are presented as three-dimensional. In other words, they dont just have vices. Highly recommended, long but written with a speedy, fluid style that takes you through 100 pages in very little time.(less)
Very similar to HENDERSON THE RAIN KING in that I completely was unable to judge where the plot might be heading. Recommended, worth reading, if only...moreVery similar to HENDERSON THE RAIN KING in that I completely was unable to judge where the plot might be heading. Recommended, worth reading, if only for that. But Julia Alvarez is capable and it's important
Before I review, I like to see what other people have said, their likes and dislikes with the book. Did I like Alma? Not particularly. Doesn't mean I didnt appreciate following her. I feel like its easy to point to the dual narratives being didactic, and maybe it was, and I found myself skimming parts. But the wealth here is in the nuance. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she hits all of the critiques of development squarely, while still pointing out the need to do it in a better way. That said, she also skewers the picture of the brave rebel that desires to make a proclamation to the world.
At the beginning, I had difficulty taking the book seriously, but I felt this wa
My Dominican friend is reading the book now, and Im curious about what she will say. It is refreshing to see a picture of a jaded Latina woman, who is so far from the stereotype. Also, I think having some knowledge of first generation immigrants is important to appreciate the nuance that makes the book worth reading. I could definitely relate to her comments about earning street-cred by being in the field, but choosing not to do that as she felt the bonus points for her reputation were not worth being something she wasn't 'living life based on other people's expectations'. Another such thing, as well, is the disdain expressed by her character for having so many people need her to know everything about her country of origin, then deride her and accuse her of not being authentic enough because she doesn't. For this, the book seemed at times like a list of grievances and explanations, but like with Martin Luther or something, they seemed necessary and I got a lot from them.
Equally good were the subtexts around the two idealistic men. The extent to which they are able to sell their souls to corporations and potentially give their lives in order to make a positive difference. The ability of Richard to convince himself that the community center would be a boon to the community even while being financed and used by an AIDS company, one with shady practices and which skirts around the US laws on first human trials. (less)
This is one I liked from the first page till the last 90percent. Its rightfully famous for presenting a realistic depiction of the events that occurre...moreThis is one I liked from the first page till the last 90percent. Its rightfully famous for presenting a realistic depiction of the events that occurred, showing both the mistakes and the good things that the leaders do (especially commendable since the writer is the hero of the work). There's a solid emphasis on the victory always going to the person that honors the gods and keeps his word--though this is not every explicitly mentioned.
It reads like a movie script even though its millenia old. I got a free version from Gutenberg and it had helpful notes. The battles come unceasingly but there's good individual portraits and a good balance of explanation and action. I especially like the moments when the battles are over and he describes the people doing olympics-style contests. At several points Xenophon is accused and must justify and explain himself. These moments are as tense as the battle scenes.
The only thing that could have helped is a map but my version was free and i can probably find this on Wikipedia. (less)