It's mind boggling that this almost perfect novel was written by a 21 year-old Zadie Smith. This has to be the best thing ever written by someone undeIt's mind boggling that this almost perfect novel was written by a 21 year-old Zadie Smith. This has to be the best thing ever written by someone under 25. The only thing keeping it from being one of my favorites of all time is the lack of emotional depth and character development. I've read other reviewers make similar observations. I didn't really attach to the characters on an emotional level. The plot alludes to a climactic death in the end (which may or may not happen), but I found at the end it really didn't matter to me who may or may not die. I didn't necessarily root for the salvation of a single character. That said, I have to give this five stars based on the sheer accomplishment as a piece of art, a novel that brilliantly weaves history, culture, race, and gracefully reveals a neglected glimpse of everyday London and Londoners. The plot is exceptional and throughout the book I had to pause at the sheer genius of Smith. I can't wait to read her other works. ...more
I'm almost at a loss for words. I can only say, you must read this. More than any book in my recent memory, this one deposited me into its world, andI'm almost at a loss for words. I can only say, you must read this. More than any book in my recent memory, this one deposited me into its world, and like the characters, I will have a hard time leaving it. Not because I don't want to, but because I can't. It's haunting to say the least.
I don't want to give away any plot points. Like most Americans, besides the Beslan tragedy, I don't know anything about the conflict in Chechnya, it's reasons, duration, or apparent resolution. After reading this account, I plan to find out. One great thing about this novel, Marra's Author's Notes at the end detail his sources and inspiration for the novel. I highly recommend reviewing these first. Like Sonja, one of the main characters, these last pages could really help the reading. This is one you may have to read again. I plan on it, just as soon as I escape long enough to recover. ...more
I wavered between a 3 and 4. I think what made it difficult for me is I've heard all these stories before. Apparently, one of my great ancestors was kI wavered between a 3 and 4. I think what made it difficult for me is I've heard all these stories before. Apparently, one of my great ancestors was kidnapped by Cherokees and lived on a reservation. I also grew up with close ties to ranching and farming. This whole story, the mineral rights, land battles, cattle, oil, Texas and US History, it was all a rehash of everything I grew up learning and living. I know Meyer is an excellent writer. I doubt I could write a story this succinct, but at the end of the day, the ideas presented were old hat for me.
One other thing that bothered me was the vernacular used by the 19th Century Comanches. Apparently, they used the f word frequently, and their put downs seemed eerily similar to how junior high students might talk today. That was difficult to reconcile. That's where I feel the research faltered a bit. Speaking of research, you could tell it was well researched. In fact, it read like a research report in many parts. That also made parts of it a bit of a slog.
Had this not been so close to home, I might've found it more compelling and thrilling, as other reviewers have....more
I've decided that Philip Roth will be my Christmas present to myself each year. I've noticed that this wasn't the favorite of some Roth fans. I had noI've decided that Philip Roth will be my Christmas present to myself each year. I've noticed that this wasn't the favorite of some Roth fans. I had no expectations from this book other than, like the blurbs suggested, to be horrified and disturbed by the alternate history and how plausible it was during WWII for Charles Lindbergh to become President of the U.S.
In this book, Roth shows what would've likely happened if a known Nazi sympathizer (Lindbergh) had become President during the reign of Hitler. It's shocking, horrific, scary, but also timely, prophetic, and a sort of ticker-tape of the now.
Here's the beauty of this book. One could replace the name of Lindbergh with any number of our past great leaders, and change the oppressed from Jews to any number of other people groups, and instead of alternative history, you have actual history. Some of the fiction in this book has actually happened, and some of it, you could argue is happening even now.
I don't know why, but since I was a young child, I've always hated racial inequality and prejudice of any kind. I grew up in a small town in an area of the country known for its bigotry. So, since I thought thought this way and hated this kind of thinking, was I an outcast? Absolutely. I payed dearly for it. But, did I truly know what it was like to be hated because of my race or perceived differences? Absolutely not, as I would later learn.
What struck me while reading this book was that I need to not just agree and proclaim, "Yeah, this book could be about now", and then go about my business. No. That's not enough. I need to take action as well, and I think that's what Roth is trying to say as well. The Jews were oppressed in this book, but there were also people that stood up for the Jews and people in the majority that fought for the minority.
Being a white male, I was absolutely struck with the sense that I need to do more. To put my money where my mouth is. I've never really known what it's like to go through oppression, racism, or hate to this degree. Tables always turn, though, so it's possible for this to change in my lifetime. And even if it did, admittedly, any oppression I might suffer would never make up for history. Not in my lifetime.
I love the "By the Book" series in The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/column/by-the-...). They interview famous writers about their favorite books. One question they often ask is, "If you could pick one book for the President to read, what would it be?"
I can't think of a better one to recommend than Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. In fact, I can't think of a book I'd recommend more to anyone right now. ...more