I was slow to warm up to the book, then felt myself slowly drawn in. I found Murakami’s writing as delightful and full of imagery as usual, with eachI was slow to warm up to the book, then felt myself slowly drawn in. I found Murakami’s writing as delightful and full of imagery as usual, with each word carefully chosen. However, it seemed that toward the middle of the book I sensed a changed in flow and felt a disruption in the pattern, especially when the Kano sisters entered the scene. Were they necessary? I still wonder. And what of the endless deviations to tell the stories of Cinnamon, and the old military officer, Lieutenant Mamiya. Maybe they were needed, but I felt that at times they detracted from the story. Despite the occasional confusions, there was a desire to see the book to the end for various reasons.
We had a young man who had quit his job, lost his wife and lived in an empty house that backed onto an alley with no entrance or exit. In his quest to find his wife he met strange characters, mostly women one of whom was a quirky teenager who gave him the nickname “Mr. Wind-Up Bird.” The teenager, May Kasahara was started out as a confused, bewildered and somewhat insulting person. But during the course the book, she was revealed to have an inner self that was hidden, confused and while still suffering emotionally from past wounds she was able to express sentiments and observations toward Mr. Wind-Up Bird (Okada) that were much wiser for her years. There was a deep longing to see whether they would ever see each other again (if for no other reason so he could witness her growth) as a separate desire to see out the other plot in the book, finding his wife and casting the block aside, her very powerful and connected brother....more
The story begins with a chase to capture a man (Phillips) who exploits boys and has killed one of them. Monk thinks he has the sufficient evidence toThe story begins with a chase to capture a man (Phillips) who exploits boys and has killed one of them. Monk thinks he has the sufficient evidence to convict him, but with Sir Oliver Rathbone as the defense barrister, he is outwitted in the trial and Phillips is free to ply is evil trade once again. The setting is the dock section of London with ships unloading cargoes from around the world. Perry offered a good depiction of Victorian England, but I found her to be unnecessarily preachy at times. There is really no need to convince the reader that the sexual exploitation of children is wrong or corrupt. Otherwise, some well developed characters, even if some of their issues were not dealt with fully at the end. ...more
Where does one begin? We had a pretentious main character, an odd little girl, and a meandering senseless stream of thoughts that I could have done wiWhere does one begin? We had a pretentious main character, an odd little girl, and a meandering senseless stream of thoughts that I could have done without reading.
The concierge Renee and the young girl, Paloma) came across as hypocritical snobs. Understandable in someone so young and confused as Paloma, but a stretch to have us believe in a 53 year old concierge who is suppose to be so educated, adjusted, and worldly. The main character Renee, a concierge for a luxurious Parisian apartment complex, is a self-taught expert in philosophy, art, and foreign films, yet she pretends to be stupid in front of the tenants. She avoids social interactions that would expose her intelligence and goes to great lengths to fool others, even having two televisions; one in front and one in back for her private viewing.
There is an attempt at a plot, but it really doesn’t work for me. The characters are not believable and spend too much time criticizing themselves, life or each other. There were times when I felt the young girl and the concierge were one and the same. Too many cliches, too much fascination with Japanese culture, although some appreciation with their customs. In short, The Elegance of The Hedgehog was far from Elegant....more
The focus of the book is around Bình, a gay Vietnamese cook in 1930s Paris who is employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. As the story unfoldsThe focus of the book is around Bình, a gay Vietnamese cook in 1930s Paris who is employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. As the story unfolds we are taken back to his youth in Saigon, his journey to Saigon, his journey to Paris. Life with his famous mesdames, and finding his place in the world. The book really spends a lot of time looking at class, servant vs master). It also explores race, gender, sexuality, and other issues of the day.
While this book was not my choice, being a recommendation of another, I did have some semblance of expectations given the setting and time (Paris in the 1930s and colonial Vietnam). The characters (Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas) seemed also justify a read. However, The Book of Salt - left me very unsatisfied. I really couldn’t warm up to Binh. Quite honestly, I felt Truong’s writing style was very choppy, at times irritating failed to hit the mark when describing characteristics of Asians.
Less of a novel or narrative, more like a collection of stories told orally and not always in sequence. One moment we are in 1936 Paris, the next 1920 Vietnam, and suddenly another paragraph we find ourselves transported to San Francisco circa 1900 and going from first person to the third-person.
There were numerous failures and example can be found on page 22. “But once they are formed, ours become the thick, thorny coat of a durian, a covering designed to forestall the odour of rot and decay inside.” Did Troung misunderstand that to South-east Asians, durians are called the king of fruit and that odor is highly prized and, you can still smell that odor even with the thick thorny coat on; as such the term forestall is misused.
Almost impossible to put down; I tried to pace myself and compromised at 2 1/2 days. A real page-turner and a truly satisfying read. Nice mix of missiAlmost impossible to put down; I tried to pace myself and compromised at 2 1/2 days. A real page-turner and a truly satisfying read. Nice mix of missing wives, one rich and one poor, for which Marlowe must seek answers for their disappearance. Can he dodge the crooked cops and red herrings to find answers? Chandler had me hooked at the outset with the witty banter of the characters, yet wonderfully descriptive detail of same. Chandler's writing is an art form; he deftly weaves illuminating images of a "neat blond" and the "tall dark lovely" and the dark gray suit she wore with rich detail of each setting. I never lost track track of the plot and at every turn wad taken back in time to a different era of Los Angeles and the neighboring mountains of the 40s....more