I should preface this review by stating that I am a big fan of Coetzee. I cannot say that I always 'love' everything I read by him but what I can say...moreI should preface this review by stating that I am a big fan of Coetzee. I cannot say that I always 'love' everything I read by him but what I can say is that it stays with me whether I like it or not - his writing makes me think and, to me, that is the sign of good writing.
I was intrigued by this autobiographical fiction the he wrote about himself after he has supposedly died, told through a series of interviews by an English biographer. Coetzee moves easily between voices, the writer and his interviewees both male and female, and gives each one a disticnt identity. He paints a picture of himself that seems objective and thorough. There are many of the recurring themes that one finds throughout his body of work - women, relationships, politics, race issues, utopian ideals, the treatment of animals, etc. - but this time all of these themes are used to peel back the layers of a writer who we seem to know so much about already but through the eyes of those who knew him personally and professionally.
I like that Coetzee pushes the envelope with intelligence and creativity all the while staying true to himself as a writer. What can I say other than I really enjoyed this curious and very original novel - I'm a big fan.(less)
This was chosen for our book club and I was a little excited to read it. Well....I couldn't decide whether this was a 2.5 or a 3 for me. It seems like...moreThis was chosen for our book club and I was a little excited to read it. Well....I couldn't decide whether this was a 2.5 or a 3 for me. It seems like most books I read these days are just an average 3 star.
There was nothing earth shattering or enlightening here and the metaphor of the toxic lake was "piqueing" to my interest but it just didn't do that much for me. I think the author was trying to cover too many bases here and it read a little bit like a soap opera.
Lake Overtun is an easy read but it just teetered a tiny bit too far over to the area that I consider "contrived". A small town, damaged characters, divorce, death, secrets, lies, drugs...it's all here in 443 pages. I did enjoy the science fair story line and thought that it could have really added some depth had it been more developed. I also liked the 80s references and they did seem authentic. This book reminds me of something that John Hughes could have made into a good movie if it had been written 25 years ago and John Hughes was still making movies.
For me, not great but also not the worst book I ever read. My friend and I agree that "readability" is not always a bad thing.(less)
I bought into the hype and I am SO glad I did!! A great thriller, intelligently plotted, kept me up at night and on the edge of my seat. Great, great,...moreI bought into the hype and I am SO glad I did!! A great thriller, intelligently plotted, kept me up at night and on the edge of my seat. Great, great, awesome, fun book to read - LOVED IT!!!(less)
I am a fan of historical fiction, just not historical fiction about early American History or the Revolutionay War but I am, however, a huge fan of Th...moreI am a fan of historical fiction, just not historical fiction about early American History or the Revolutionay War but I am, however, a huge fan of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. I didn't know that this was young adult fiction when I picked it up and was a little surprised to learn such. M.T. Anderson has creatively crafted an engrossing story that is based in fact that drew me in a kept a choke hold on me until I finished the last word on the last page.
The way that the story unfolds is one that surprised me as much as it did Octavian. Some of the scenes almost seemed like science fiction, like "what the....." and "could that really have happened?". The first part of the book is written from young Octavian's perspective of wonder and innocence, silk waist coats and powdered wigs. Then everything starts to change and the Revolutionary War takes over and, well, you can only imagine.
The latter mid-half of the story is a series of letters written by a soldier to his mother and sister telling them about his life in the trenches. Then the voice returns to Ocatvian and there is a surprise ending. It's not all happy sappy but the ending provides a nice entree to the sequel which I cannot wait to get my hands on.(less)
July 29, 2012 - I have been trying and TRYING to really get into Wolf Hall....trying for 5 months. I'm struggling with Mantel's style and I'm not conn...moreJuly 29, 2012 - I have been trying and TRYING to really get into Wolf Hall....trying for 5 months. I'm struggling with Mantel's style and I'm not connecting with it at all but my friends who have read this book tell me that the reward will come. I've put it down again - will pick it up after some other reading and see if the third time is the charm for me and Hilary.
November 2012 - this just ain't doing it for me. I can't believe that EVERY SINGLE PERSON i know who read this book just friggin' raved about it. I must be drunk or something because I can't see what all the fuss and Man Booker Madness is all about. Maybe I'll give it another try in the future but, for now, forget it.(less)
Nabokov's first was very enticing for me. The story is told in the third person which, I think, is always a nice twist as if it is a little voyeuristi...moreNabokov's first was very enticing for me. The story is told in the third person which, I think, is always a nice twist as if it is a little voyeuristic, an unbiased portrait. This never really drew me in.
The writing is classic Nabokov, beautiful almost poetic words filling the pages. There are flashbacks to times of young love, which I enjoyed the most, and present time portraits of a sad group of elderly immigrants living in Berlin. As de riguer with Nabokov someone is trying to escape, to get away, to find a better life. There is the theme of damaged love, the bleary-eyed lover and the harsh reality.
Yeah, I liked it but I didn't love it. Not sure if it will remain on the shelf so that I can give it another go....we'll see.(less)
This is real classical yoga contained in these pages. If you want to know how old school yoga goes then this is the book to read. This is a very strai...moreThis is real classical yoga contained in these pages. If you want to know how old school yoga goes then this is the book to read. This is a very straight forward, pragmatic approach to yoga for the yogi who is looking for the way that yoga things used to be done. There are a few pages that might make the contemporary yogi a little squeamish but the overall message is about how to purify oneself to prepare for the yogic path.(less)
I can't help but compare books 2 and 3 to the first in this series. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo just sucked me in and held me by the cojones until...moreI can't help but compare books 2 and 3 to the first in this series. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo just sucked me in and held me by the cojones until I read the last page. The Girl Who Played With Fire dragged along too much. All I seemed to find on the majority of the pages of this book was filler and mroe filler. I feel like this book could have been about 200 pages shorter and probably would have been better.
In the third installment, as was my problem with the second, is that there is too much focus on the investigation, the peripheral characters, journalists and police investigators, distracting side plots and not nearly enough on The Girl. Also, I feel it is a little contrived that Blomkvist always sleeps with the hot women. The Girl is the most compelling character in these books and there wasn't enough of her in this one for me to really enjoy it. Barely three stars but at least I know how it all ends. I am irritated that we never found out what happened to her sister - does this mean that there was supposed to be a fourth? Bored now with the Swedish crime mystery novel.(less)
I wanted to give this one 3.75 stars which for all intended purposes is really a 4, I guess. I approached this book imagining that I was reading it wh...moreI wanted to give this one 3.75 stars which for all intended purposes is really a 4, I guess. I approached this book imagining that I was reading it when it was published. For today's reader I don' think that this is going to shatter their world but I can imagine at the time that it was pretty amazing.
For one, it is a story about a girl born into a poor immigrant family living in Brooklyn with an alcoholic father. The mother has to work, scrimp and save to care for her children; life is hard, people are cruel and the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be a freight train coming at full speed.
Secondly, Betty Smith writes about things that I imagine to have been taboo - child molestation, rape, contraception, premarital sex, politics, religious oppression, bastard children. It was pretty raw and brutal at times.
For me, this is a precursor to Steel Magnolias. This is a story about generations of women who know how to survive in the face a very harsh adversity and pass these life tools along to the other female members of their family. Of course, there is a happy ending but much deservedly so for these gals - God knows they needed a break.(less)
It's just not as good as the first one but it rarely is ever as good as the first one. I read this book and enjoyed it but I found it to d...moreWelllll.....
It's just not as good as the first one but it rarely is ever as good as the first one. I read this book and enjoyed it but I found it to drag and get bogged down. There are some really great "WHOA!" moments but I found it a bit contrived and tedious. Where is the mystery in this story?
I got a little bored with the three parallel investigations and all of the characters arguing amongst themselves and all of their in-fighting. Snore. There was too much filler on the secondary characters and all their personal dramas and issues. After about page 400 I started thinking, "Is this ever going to end? Come on!"
I do have to say that when Lisbeth and Blonkvist were center stage that I was voarciously reading with purpose and intent.
It seems like every book I read these days is a 3 and this one is no exception....i could only muster 2. I think that Harding put every idea he had in...moreIt seems like every book I read these days is a 3 and this one is no exception....i could only muster 2. I think that Harding put every idea he had in his head into this book resulting in wayyyyy too much filler.
Generally speaking I liked it but it was a little long and the end was predictable. There are cliches galore but the ideas of culture and the impacts of colonization are air apparent in this book.
This is the story of a male attorney riddled with OCD who goes to an nameless island in the South Pacific to make right what the U.S. did wrong to these people. The reason that the U.S. and Britain both occupied this island is a little vague and this detail is completely unimportant. He represents modern American culture and the idea that our way of life is better, that modernization of primitive people is our duty. He is on a quest to redeem not only himself but to also clean up the mess his country left in this island paradise. There is a counterview in the form of a British ethnographer who wants to preserve the ways of the native people.
These are age old themes but the way that Harding examines them is funny, touching, sad and readable.
I didn't learn anything new about the effects (usage?) of one's cultural influence over another but it was a reasonably enjoyable 489 pages.(less)
I was hoping that there would be more about yoga and how it developed in America but it is all about "The Great Oom" and his antics. It reads more lik...moreI was hoping that there would be more about yoga and how it developed in America but it is all about "The Great Oom" and his antics. It reads more like a history book that chronicles his relationships, business ventures and run-ins with the law. There are some really interesting and fun facts here, like his relationship with the Vanderbilts and how people have been doing yoga since the turn of the century but at the end of the last page, it is mostly about him and not the yoga. Fun to read and meticulously written but not for someone who is looking to read about yoga.(less)
The story of Rebecca unfolds like the mist rolling back off the moors. Love, mystery, murder, lies, coverup - it's all here. This is very enjoyable re...moreThe story of Rebecca unfolds like the mist rolling back off the moors. Love, mystery, murder, lies, coverup - it's all here. This is very enjoyable read and quite the page turner; slow turning of the pages but you still want to see what happens next and find the motivation of the characters.(less)
I'm not quite sure what to say about my experience with "Tinkers". Maybe it is too soon since finishing to write my impression of what happened. I say...moreI'm not quite sure what to say about my experience with "Tinkers". Maybe it is too soon since finishing to write my impression of what happened. I say "impression" because I am not quite sure. It is BEAUTIFULLY composed, words put together creating something engrossing, beautiful, sad, touching and, for me, a tiny bit confusing.
This is a non-linear narrative of a man who lies dying in his bed surrounded by his family. He drifts in and out of the past as we learn the stories of his father and grandfather, their lives and their families and their mistakes. There are a lot of descriptions of nature, how to build a bird's nest, how lightning works, how clocks are made and work, observations of rivers and how they freeze then unfreeze and the silt that swirls around your feet as you step into the unfrozen river.
There are so many beautiful passages in this little book but I think that the construction of it is either outside of my realm of comprehension or a little explaining by someone more literary than me would help. After finishing this book I felt the same way that I did when I walked out of the theater after seeing the movie "Mulholland Drive" by David Lynch.
Elizabeth McCracken wrote "Tinkers is not just a novel - though it is a brilliant novel. It's an instruction manual on how to look at nearly everything. Harding takes the back off to show you the miraculous ticking of the natural world, the world of clocks, generations of family, an epileptic brain, the human soul. Im astounding languagesometimes seemingly struck by lightning, sometimes as tight and comlicated as clockwork, Harding show how enormous fiction can be, and how economical. Read this book and marvel."
Couldn't have said it better if I tried or if I were more educated.(less)