A very interesting story told in a very interesting way, as significant events in a young man's life are told by jumping around in time from when he w...moreA very interesting story told in a very interesting way, as significant events in a young man's life are told by jumping around in time from when he was born, when he was 15 years old, and when he is a 30 year old father. The events revolve around his family. His mother dies while delivering him into the world leaving him and his 3 older brothers motherless, to be raised by their bitter, hardened father.
Events conspire such that Karel, the protagonist, becomes estranged from his older brothers. His father dies shortly thereafter. During the intervening years Karel never reconciles with his brothers, until eventually other events conspire that bring about the beginnings of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Horses and horse racing play major roles in the unfolding of this story. Besides being the means to the acquisition of land and wealth for the family, horse racing also causes the rift in the family; and horses are also involved in the eventual family reunion.
The story is really engrossing. The way it is told -- how details are unfolded and revealed little by little in non-chronological sequence -- is creative and unforgettable.
But . . . I really don't like to have to work so hard at reading. I have no doubt that the prose in this book has wonderful literary merit, but at least half the words were used to describe people, places, appearances, feelings, terrain, structures, animals, dirt, grass, trees, shrubs, etc. often in sentences that were half a page long. Usually, when I took the time to analyze the words and sentences I was quite impressed. But, for the most part, it was more annoying than impressive. I just wanted to get to the meat of the story. (less)
A very good war novel set in 1969 Vietnam. The story follows members of a company of Marines as they perform their duties in the wet, mountainous jung...moreA very good war novel set in 1969 Vietnam. The story follows members of a company of Marines as they perform their duties in the wet, mountainous jungle of northwestern South Vietnam. The first chapter was one of the most difficult and distressing chapters I have ever read as it details the plight of Corporal Fischer as he endures the fight of his life against an opportunistic leech.
Matterhorn is probably the best war novel I have ever read for making me feel and understand what it must really be like to be a soldier during active combat. However, I felt the book dragged a little too much in a few places. I also really did not care for the extremely pervasive bad language. I recognize that soldiers are likely to talk very much the way described in this book, and I want books like this to be realistic, but is it really necessary to use the word f*** over 1200 times in 566 pages? It was just a little too much for me. (Note: the number 1200 was derived by randomly selecting 10 pages, counting the number of occurrences of the word f*** and its derivatives, and then extrapolating by multiplying that number by 56.6)
Overall, this was a very good book. I will always remember it, and it has further shaped and refined my views on war.(less)
I love this book. This was my fourth reading of it -- spurred in no small part by anticipation of the upcoming movie. I first read it in 2002 at the a...moreI love this book. This was my fourth reading of it -- spurred in no small part by anticipation of the upcoming movie. I first read it in 2002 at the age of 43. I remember thinking that I was extremely grateful that none of my high school or college teachers ever required it. At that young age I would have not appreciated it at all, and I would probably never be willing to give it a second chance. So many of the themes in this book really hit close to home for middle-aged people (especially men) like me: the shallow pursuit of money, the hopeless pursuit of (often) selfish dreams, living in the past, past loves, etc. I doubt I will read this again, I've got the story and most of the fine points down pretty good. But I am really looking forward to the movie. (less)
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 eve...moreThe 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.(less)
Dune is probably the most highly acclaimed science fiction book of all time. While I appreciate the novel idea and the expert writing skills of the au...moreDune is probably the most highly acclaimed science fiction book of all time. While I appreciate the novel idea and the expert writing skills of the author, I had a hard time getting past the supernatural aspects of this book. The focus on mind-altering drugs (spice) bothered me also. Maybe I just don't get it.(less)