After reading this book for the 5th or 6th time, I'm finally ready to offer a review. What Rice has done is pen a debut novel that is both compelling...moreAfter reading this book for the 5th or 6th time, I'm finally ready to offer a review. What Rice has done is pen a debut novel that is both compelling and entertaining. He shows a voice that has his mother's flare for the poetic and evocative while also being wholly original. In A Density of Souls, he creates a cast of characters that are each wonderfully original and unique. It's a wonderful story about love, loss, the scars of the past, and the strength and weaknesses of childhood friendships. This is a book that should be read by everyone. It is all show and no tell. Rice's New Orleans is a place that's equal parts beauty and deep scared history in which the secrets kept weigh heavy on the souls of those keeping them. This is the first novel by Christopher Rice, but it's written as if it were penned by a seasoned professional and it clearly marks the beginning of what has become a very auspicious career. Of everything I've ever read that isn't a Harry Potter book or wasn't written by this man's mother, this is my all time favorite. I look forward to the next time I find myself getting lost in its pages with baited breath.(less)
Personally, I prefer the movie to the book, but the book is very interesting as well. Less of a character study and more of a contained story about ho...morePersonally, I prefer the movie to the book, but the book is very interesting as well. Less of a character study and more of a contained story about how a group of people make the best of bad situations and forming an unconventional family. Worth reading, but still not as interesting as the movie since the characters are developed differently in the book.(less)
While the modern day retelling of Pinocchio is an interesting concept worthy of exploration, what Nolan has achieved here is only Pinocchio is the sim...moreWhile the modern day retelling of Pinocchio is an interesting concept worthy of exploration, what Nolan has achieved here is only Pinocchio is the simplest of forms. He knows the words and the formula but not the poetry and the magic. He fails to present a character that the reader can really fall in love with as each of them are either stereotypes or too fickle and undecided to make much of an impact. Then he strings together a number of clichés and some of the worst foreshadowing you’ve ever seen so that you know what’s coming well before it comes and robs the story of any element of surprise. This book is all tell and no show, and the distrust he shows in the reader’s ability to piece things together is flat out disrespectful. The concept of a young man struggling to reconcile his sexuality with his desire to be a “real boy” has been done before but it still rife with new material. Sadly, Nolan never delves deep enough into that mythos to make it a worthwhile read. This is a noble effort for a first time author, but its need for layers upon layers of polish and editing stops me from being able to recommend it to others.(less)
In a murderous time the heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking. -Stanley Kunitz "The Testing-Tree"
I can think of no better epitaph for Giovanni's...moreIn a murderous time the heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking. -Stanley Kunitz "The Testing-Tree"
I can think of no better epitaph for Giovanni's Room than this. I also can't think of any better way to describe how I felt reading it. It will break your heart again and again and give you the strength to go on by so doing. The book is a lot like falling in and out of love in that fashion. Everything about it ripped my heart out and tore my soul to pieces but I couldn't stop going back to it and I seriously hope that I will be able to experience the cavalcade of emotions again at some point. Reading it reminds you that you're alive. There's no way around it, Giovanni's Room is the best book I've read in I don't know how long. It's certainly the best of the 49 books I've read so far this year.
Giovanni's Room is about a young American man who falls in love with a young Italian man while living in Paris. But it's about so very much more than that too. It's about the manner in which the world leaves us (Americans specifically and American Men in the 50's even more specifically) so woefully incapable of speaking our minds and being honest with ourselves. It's about the difficulties of being gay in a world that doesn't want you, that criminalizes your love, and the price of trying to make a go of it anyway. It's about the fallacy behind certain human and American ideals as the pursuit of happiness. In short, it's the single most human story you're likely to ever find. I defy anyone to not find his or herself mirrored in these pages and in these character's struggles, successes, and failures.
I spent a large portion of the day reading it and during that time I experienced every emotion known to man. I loved, I hated, I pitied, I was angry, happy, and sad, and through it all I felt this painful longing that never ceased. It's difficult to watch the choices David makes from a 2013 perspective and not feel angry; it's difficult to put yourself in the 1950's mindset and contemplate how you *would* have handled the situation or how he *should* have handled it, but difficult is not synonymous with impossible and the overall effect of the story is not loss because of those difficulties.
I think as a society of readers we've become very fond of praising a book by saying we couldn't put it down, but this is the first book I've read in years for which that is literally true. Every time I had to put the book down to answer the phone, to check an e-mail or message from facebook, or just to go to the bathroom I was left with an ache and an extreme desire to pick it back up as soon as possible. Thank God the book isn't as long as the Game of Thrones books or else I don't think I'd be getting any sleep or eating much over the next few days until I finished it. Giovanni's Room is simply the most remarkable, powerful, moving, and astonishing book I've read in a very very long time; I only hope that there will come a day when I find myself with the mental and emotional fortitude to read it again. (less)
Bornstein's perspective is totally unique and fascinating at the same time. The questions she asks about gender are poignant and thought provoking, an...moreBornstein's perspective is totally unique and fascinating at the same time. The questions she asks about gender are poignant and thought provoking, and her view of where the world needs to go is wholly original and desirable. What do you actually know about gender? What makes you the gender you've always thought yourself to be? Bornstein does not claim to have the answers to the tough questions, but she's at least willing to ask them when no one else seems able to. This book could spark an abundance of necessary conversations, I only wish more people would read it in order to have those conversations!(less)
Note: Technically I’d give the book 4 ½ stars instead of 5 due to a couple places where Rice slips into present tense which is a serious pet peeve of...moreNote: Technically I’d give the book 4 ½ stars instead of 5 due to a couple places where Rice slips into present tense which is a serious pet peeve of mine. It’s an artistic choice that does nothing to add to the brief moments where he does it and, therefore, irks me to no end. But since Goodreads won’t allow ½ star ratings, and since the rest of the book was so damn good, I’m willing to give it the 5 instead of the 4.
The Moonlit Earth is Christopher Rice at his very best. Do you know the difference between a gay story and a story with prominent gay characters? Finally, after four novels, Rice has learned this important distinction. And his story is much better because of it. Indeed, watching Rice’s talent for story-telling develop over the last few years has been one of the greatest pleasures of my reading life. The majority of his flaws that I overlooked in the past have virtually disappeared in this novel. His over-reliance on queer themes and characters is gone. His characters in The Moonlit Earth are not in danger because of their sexuality any longer. It is simply a fact of who they are. It’s an important fact, but it’s not the all consuming pivotal fact that it is to some of his past characters.
His inability to tell a fully sustained narrative with believable tension, suspense, and action is gone. This was the first Christopher Rice book that I have read in which the circumstances were buyable. There are not shortcuts in The Moonlit Earth. There are no easy conclusions or convenient discoveries that solve the complex puzzle. This mystery has be painstakingly constructed so that every word uttered has weight and value and echoes back to past information; information that, at time, seemed to be meaningless. There are no throw-away lines in this book.
And through it all, Rice’s top notch story-telling and characterization continues to be at the forefront. This book kept me on my toes. Every time I thought he was going in one direction, Rice would zag the opposite way and pull the rug from beneath me. This mastery proves Rice knows his individual characters better than I thought I did. Instead of looking to tropes and character types, simply go along for the ride and revel in the knowledge that being well versed in this genre isn’t enough to prepare you for this story. This is what mystery should be! The Moonlit Earth is one of the best reads I’ve had in a long long time, and the fact that it comes from one of my favorite authors is icing on the cake.(less)
The first time I read Brokeback Mountain was before the movie came out. In the years since that moment, I've watched the film many times and haven't r...moreThe first time I read Brokeback Mountain was before the movie came out. In the years since that moment, I've watched the film many times and haven't read the story again until just now. I hadn't realized just how literal of an adaptation it was. The brilliance of the film isn't found in the screenplay adaptation as that simply comprises almost every line of dialogue lifted directly from the story. It is found in the performances of the actors and the wonderful direction of Aang Lee.
While the lazy adaptation of the story might be a knock against the screenwriters, it should never be taken as an excuse to diminish Proulx's work. What she's created is a wonderful story of love, fear, longing, hope, and betrayal. That she gets all of that in a story about gay cowboys (two things I don't believe her to be) is remarkable; that she does it all in about 65 pages is amazing.
If I wanted to nick pick, I could point to the story's over-reliance on telling instead of showing or a couple of moments where Proulx seems to break from her established P.O.V. But the simple truth is that the story, the characters, and most of the writing itself is so strong that it renders those complaints moot. This is a strong story encompassing universal themes. Its characters are remarkably well drawn, and it never ceases to be wonderfully moving and heartbreaking. If there's a mark against it at all, it's that the movie is so close to being an exact rendition of the story that it almost makes the reading of it pointless. As a lover of books and reading in general, I can say that nothing could make me not love the experience of reading the story. But if I were suggesting it to someone else, I could point out that either reading it or watching it would be a suitable course of action. (less)