I read Rachman’s essay from Powel’s on how he came up with the title of his book. He did realize that the title would make it seem like a non-fiction...moreI read Rachman’s essay from Powel’s on how he came up with the title of his book. He did realize that the title would make it seem like a non-fiction book (in fact there is one with the exact same title), but that it aptly described what happens in the book. We are born, we ascend to the height of our own powers and from that perch, there is nothing but the slow decline. He wraps this concept not just with the main character, Tooly, but those who surround her, colorful characters as well as the actual books that hold center stage through much of her life. The beginning and the end have the strong plea for the love of books and how they may have their own rise and fall.
Tooly lives a seemingly idyllic life running an independant bookstore in the Welsh countryside with her one employee, Fogg. She shuns modern technology, but the reasons why go beyond a simple phobia of the future. When Fogg insists that she get a Facebook page, she is almost immediately contacted by a past boyfriend from a decade ago. Her father is ill and she must return to New York immediately. However, the person he knows as her father isn't her father and with one Facebook message, Tooly's past comes crashing back.
It's difficult to discuss the book further without revealing spoilers. Tooly's life is quite complicated and it's difficult to believe that she made it through in one piece. She is associated with a variety of grifters and swindlers. It also isn't clear who her real parents are until 3/4 of the book. The book is at its most charming when talking about the power of books and that connection to the people we once knew. I wanted to stay in that bookshop. Her story and the connection to Humphrey is the key piece of the story. His rise and fall represents the end of the love of books and the fall of the great learned scholars. Will there be a second act amidst the decline? It only has our hopes and dreams to push it forward.
Favorite passages: As she patted his veiny old hand, it occurred to her that not only would he soon not exist but that, when she no longer existed, no trace of this man would remain anywhere. It would be as if Humphrey, now pulsing before her, had never been. Within a generation or two, not even your photo was identifiable; just a person, at some forgotten event in old-fashioned clothes, the distractions and appetites of that day lost, an image framed halfway down a stairwell, or stuck in a drawer, or saved in digital code. Once you; in time, a stranger to all. P. 276
"Books are like mushrooms. They grow when you are not looking. Books increase by rules of compound interest: one interest leads to another interest, and this compounds into a third. Next you have so much interest there is no space in closet." P. 280 People kept their books, she thought, not because they were likely to read them again but because these objects contained the past--the texture of being oneself at a particular place, at a particular time, each volume a piece of one's intellect, whether the work itself had been loved or despised or had induced a snooze on page forty. People might be trapped in their own heads, but they spent their lives pushing out from that locked room. It was why people produced children, why they cared about land, why nothing felt equal to one's own bed after a long trip. P. 382 (less)
We Were Liars is a Young Adult story dealing with grieving and loss that will keep you guessing as to what is really going on. Cadence Sinclair’s fami...moreWe Were Liars is a Young Adult story dealing with grieving and loss that will keep you guessing as to what is really going on. Cadence Sinclair’s family is very much the fairy tale. Her grandfather, the patriarch of the family, ruled over his financial kingdom and built an empire for his three daughters. He owns three houses for his three daughters and lives on an island as if it was their own private world. They were happy times, but during her 15th summer, Cadence is found on the beach severely injured. She has no memory of what happened, and no one is telling her the whole truth. When she is steered away from her grandfather's home for two years, she demands to return and learn the truth of what happened.
The story jumps back and forth from the time before the accident, the present, and Cady's memories. In trying to figure out and make sense of her memories, many of the chapters start with a fairy tale that's very similar to Shakespearian and or literary classics. She felt banished from the island a daughter cast out unfairly very much like King Lear. Her relationship with Gatt, an outsider, could bring down the family's wrath similar to Wuthering Heights. However, when she uncovers the truth it is far more devastating than she could ever realize. In the end she is not fooling the reader, but only herself.
The story relies heavily on the mystery of Cady's injury. It becomes with a substantial twist that I did really enjoy and I felt it heightened the story. Of course, it does leave the ending very very bleak and I am not sure what the takeaway is. It reminded me of that scene from the film Rachel Getting Married when the main character is being confronted with her past. She wonders what is she supposed to do now and the reader is left with the same feeling. (less)
Yoko Ogawa's book of short stories focus on lives lost, but not in the horror genre in which the book is marketed. It is more the everyday horrors we...moreYoko Ogawa's book of short stories focus on lives lost, but not in the horror genre in which the book is marketed. It is more the everyday horrors we face by those who give in to their bizarre ideas of revenge. Each story is intertwined with a previous story, a jigsaw puzzle of connection to tragedy.
The book is more literary than horror. I felt the stories that did not have some horrific ending were more compelling and terrifying. The horror aspects seem over done and obvious. It's as if they were thrown in there to legitimize the genre type. The first and last stories were my favorite. There is an icy feel to those stories that remind me of The Ring Trilogy. They are good stories, but the horror is clumsy and thrown in. I was expecting something more based on how it was marketed. (less)