Thank you King Stephen for a great and unforgettable story.
We all know that "life can turn on a dime." Small, seemingly insignificant, events or actioThank you King Stephen for a great and unforgettable story.
We all know that "life can turn on a dime." Small, seemingly insignificant, events or actions sometimes turn out to directly effect pivotal turning points in history. This is the so-called butterfly effect. Well, in this novel we learn that the past is also obdurate -- it does not want to change, it even actively resists change. But then, when the past is actively diverted from its decreed course the spread of the metaphorical butterfly's wings turns out to be even greater than would ever seem possible.
At the beginning of this novel Jake Epping, the narrator, states that he is not a crying man. Unfortunately, I, on the other hand, am. So the last 20 pages or so of this terrific story did a number on me comparable to the endings of A River Runs Through It and A Tale of Two Cities. Suffice it to say that this is a story that demonstrates that love transcends space and time and age and physical beauty -- because, "to the loving eye even smallpox scars are beautiful."
But "brevity makes sweetness" (another great quote from this book), and although this book itself is not brief (it's 850 pages long!), it really hits home the point that our own time is fleeting and that it behooves each of us to cherish and make the most of those sweet moments it has to offer us, swift and transitory as those moments may be. And most importantly:
Accept and appreciate the past just the way it is.
What an unbelievably good book. I just finished it minutes ago and I know that I will carry pieces of this story with me for the rest of my life. TherWhat an unbelievably good book. I just finished it minutes ago and I know that I will carry pieces of this story with me for the rest of my life. There were so many good and interesting stories woven into the larger story that I actually fear that I might forget some parts or some of the memorable and fascinating characters: Cory the Narrator, The Demon, The Lady, Rocket, The Monster, Triceratops, the Preacher, Lucifer the monkey, Down in the Dark Dr. Lezander, Davy Ray, Johnny, Ben, Vernon Thaxter, Chile Willow, Mayor Strope, Mr. Lightfoot, Gordo and Gotha Branlin, the Glass Sisters, the Blaylocks, Nemo Curliss, the zombie dog, and Leatherlungs. Great stories revolve around all of these characters, all set in a small town in racially charged southern Alabama in 1964.
I am not a reader of fantasy. Normally I avoid it completely, so I was more than a little hesitant to read this since it is so labeled. But the extremely high ratings of its reviews, along with some assurances that the magic/fantasy is minimal and integral to everyone's story of childhood convinced me to read it. I'm so glad I did....more
This is not a book that will be ruined or diminished in any way by the spoilers below. Readers will read this book for its beautifulWarning: Spoilers.
This is not a book that will be ruined or diminished in any way by the spoilers below. Readers will read this book for its beautiful words and not for the story itself which can be summarized quite well in a single paragraph similar to this one:
Stoner is the story of William Stoner - an only child raised by poor Missouri farmers. He receives a grant to go to college to learn agriculture. While there he discovers his love for language and literature. He abandons his plans to return to the farm and instead becomes a professor at the same university which granted him his degrees. Because of his innocent awkwardness and backwardness he ends up in a horrible marriage that unfortunately produces a daughter who is used by her mother as a weapon against him. He suffers setbacks in his career due to a spiteful and unforgiving boss. He finds love with a female instructor at the university, only to have that relationship destroyed by the same hateful boss. He has only a few friends throughout his life, one of whom dies in war. He never reconciles with his wife or with his boss. Yet through all his trials, he remains true to himself and his love for teaching language arts. Eventually he develops cancer and dies.
I love books that describe real, believable people, relationships, settings, and situations. Stoner, The Great Gatsby, and Revolutionary Road all fit into this same category. I can understand why some people may call these books "boring". They lack the excitement and the rapid pace that many readers today expect. But, for me, a book like Stoner seems far more relevant and meaningful, and therefore better, than those more "exciting" books.
I found many passages that really touched me. Here is just one, which describes Stoner's transition into a person who yearns to constantly learn:
Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know.
How did I not know about this book until so recently? It's about as close as I can imagine to being the perfect novel for me. Young Will Andrews folloHow did I not know about this book until so recently? It's about as close as I can imagine to being the perfect novel for me. Young Will Andrews follows his inner yearnings to discover the West, the wilderness, and his self in the early 1870's. After dropping out of Harvard University he makes his way to the small Kansas town of Butcher's Crossing, where nearby buffalo herds have attracted scores of hunters hoping to cash in on the slaughter and the high demand and high prices for buffalo hides. Andrews has little interest in the lucrative hunting business -- until he strikes up a friendship with an experienced hunter who convinces Andrews to join him on a great adventure to a remote and hidden valley in the Colorado Rockies where he claims a large herd of buffalo roams free and undiscovered, just waiting for a profiteering hunting party to capitalize on it.
For Andrews, this is the opportunity he has been seeking:
He felt that wherever he lived, and wherever he would live hereafter, he was leaving the city more and more, withdrawing into the wilderness. He felt that that was the central meaning he could find in all his life, and it seemed to him then that all the events of his childhood and his youth had led him unknowingly to this moment upon which he poised, as if before flight. He looked at the river again. On this side is the city, he thought, and on that the wilderness; and though I must return, even that return is only another means I have of leaving it, more and more.
Four men leave on the adventure, and as often occurs in stories like this many things do not go as planned. The party is forced to over-winter in the wilderness. Returning to Butcher's Crossing the following Spring they encounter a city much transformed from the one they left. The return actually resembles a script from The Twilight Zone. Each man is changed by the hardships they have endured and by the changes they have encountered in Butcher's Crossing. But only Will Andrews appears to really survive and recover and, perhaps, even rejuvenate himself from the experience. In a closing discussion with a financially-ruined hide trader, Will is taught:
Young people. You always think there's something to find out . . . Well, there's nothing. You get born, and you nurse on lies, and you get weaned on lies, and you learn fancier lies in school. You live all your life on lies, and then maybe when you're ready to die, it comes to you -- that there's nothing, nothing but yourself and what you could have done. Only you ain't done it, because the lies told you there was something else. Then you know you could of had the world, because you're the only one that knows the secret; only then it's too late. You're too old.
For me this was such a thought-provoking book. So well written and so full of deep, meaningful passages intermixed with beautiful descriptions of people and their personalities, human nature, landscapes, and psychology. As someone who has always felt the desire to really discover myself, and being a lover of wilderness, nature, and adventure, I felt completely connected to Will Andrews. I will always remember this book.
Without a doubt this is the best book I have read in several years. Its interweaving story of hope, despair, and misery is firmly imprinted on my braiWithout a doubt this is the best book I have read in several years. Its interweaving story of hope, despair, and misery is firmly imprinted on my brain. I will never forget it. Near the end, the chapter entitled Family Planning was the most heart-wrenching series of pages I have ever read. This is not a book that will be enjoyed or appreciated by people who expect plots in which justice always eventually prevails and where good works bring about good consequences and evil doers are properly punished. But it is a story that develops very believable and realistic characters who struggle in very believable and realistic situations all set in a historic period called The Emergency in 1975 India....more
This is a book that I predict will be a classic 100 years from now. So strange and mysterious, so difficult to read, so violent, so allegorical, so opThis is a book that I predict will be a classic 100 years from now. So strange and mysterious, so difficult to read, so violent, so allegorical, so open to interpretation. Many reviewers have compared Blood Meridian to Moby Dick. Having read both, I would agree -- except that Blood Meridian is better. It is more interesting and significantly shorter. When I found out that the story is based on actual events and people I became even more interested.
Just a warning to anyone who is thinking of reading this book: It is difficult! There are long, long, run-on sentences everywhere; there are literally hundreds of words used that I had never heard of; and the sentences often required me to read them over several times before I could make full sense of them. It absolutely demands your full attention. It is also difficult to read some of the details of the pervasive graphic violence. But I feel well rewarded for my efforts, and I consider this book one of very few books worth reading twice....more
This is one of only four or five books that I can say truly impacted my life. Many years ago my boss saw me reading "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (which diThis is one of only four or five books that I can say truly impacted my life. Many years ago my boss saw me reading "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (which did not significantly impress me). He suggested "Desert Solitaire" as a much better example of Edward Abbey's work. I took his recommendation seriously, and have been thankful to him ever since.
Having grown up in Idaho I had done a fair amount of backpacking in the mountains and forests, and I was somewhat of an outdoor enthusiast at the time. But the thought of recreating in the desert never held much allure to me--until I read this book. Now I make at least a couple of backpacking/camping trips per year into the desert. I still love the mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests, but I now know that the deserts are also full of wonder.
My favorite chapter told about Abbey's trip to Havasu Creek and Falls. While reading about it I remember saying to myself, "There can't possibly really be a place like this". I determined that I would find out if such a place actually existed and if it was as wonderful as Abbey described it. A few years ago I made the trip to Havasu Falls, and I found that the author's description of the place was perfect. But I would have loved to have seen the place in the early sixties, like Abbey did, before the excessive tourism had diminished the place.
Not only did this book help me to appreciate the desert for what it is, it taught me to appreciate non-fiction writing in general and nature writing in particular--things I thought I did not care for previously. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an appreciation for the outdoors....more
I first read 2001: A Space Odyssey back in 1974, when I was 15 years old. I had recently seen the movie, and like most viewers I was perplexed and eveI first read 2001: A Space Odyssey back in 1974, when I was 15 years old. I had recently seen the movie, and like most viewers I was perplexed and even a little angry about it. The movie was so stunning to watch and so unique and unusual that I couldn't stop thinking about it. Yet, it seemed to fail to answer all of the big questions that it brought up. What was the monolith? What happened to astronaut David Bowman? What was the "star child"?
So I read the book. It answered a lot of the questions I had, and it made me realize why some of the questions I had simply were not answerable -- that the director of the movie (Stanley Kubrick), and the author of the book (Arthur C. Clarke), planned it that way.
Reading this book again 35 years after my first reading was a great experience. I have always considered 2001 to be one of the truly great science fiction works. 35 years later it is still tops on my list....more
The first time I read this book I was a junior in High School -- 30+ years ago in 1976. I hated the ending at the time. It was the first book that eveThe first time I read this book I was a junior in High School -- 30+ years ago in 1976. I hated the ending at the time. It was the first book that ever really shook me up and made me think about important but uncomfortable issues....more