I had to get some emotional distance before sharing my thoughts on The Bell Jar. I read this in high school many years ago and I remember thinking howI had to get some emotional distance before sharing my thoughts on The Bell Jar. I read this in high school many years ago and I remember thinking how anyone could feel as if a bell jar has suddenly descended upon their soul or psyche. But after I experienced a few traumatic events in my own life, I understand how Plath could feel that desolation and despair. While I was able to bounce back from my painful experiences, Plath could not - she committed suicide at the young age of 30.
Such a gifted writer and poet she was! She had a wonderful gift of language and imagery in her writings. Her poems are magnificent. In The Bell Jar, I think as Esther (and Plath) received awards upon more awards, her expectations for and of herself were so lofty; there was only one way to go - downwards. And that was the shear shame of Plath's life. She never lived long enough to see the appreciation of her readers of her work! ...more
Alyson Richman says in her Note that she wanted to tell the story of an artist surviving the Holocaust. Then she heard of a story in which an old coupAlyson Richman says in her Note that she wanted to tell the story of an artist surviving the Holocaust. Then she heard of a story in which an old couple that had married before WWII who lost each other, then again found the other one at their grand childrens' wedding. Thus began the stories of Lenka and Josef. The writing is exquisite, poetic at times. I smiled as they got married, angry when Lenka stayed in Czechoslovakia, and cried in different parts of both their stories. The ending was so beautiful - I was sobbing with joy. Not many of us get a second chance. Will Josef and Lenka take it? Read to find out.
Just imagine you are at your grand daughter's reception. Your sleeve has risen a little, exposing a blue numbered tattoo. But the old man isn't seeing the blue ink, he's seeing your birthmark. He speaks softly, "Lenka, you don't recognize your husband?" Slowly you fill in the grey hair with black and soften the lines in his face, and you think back 60 years. This is how Lenka and Josef's story begins.
It's so hard to describe the novel without giving much of the story away. So, I tease you with some of my favorite passages.
I am in love with a shadow. I look for her in the darkness of the hallway. I search for her in the eyes of the old women crossing the street...[Lenka] still haunts me like a lioness, a cat with piercing eyes. Over sixty years have past and her shadow still walks beside me. Her shadow stretching long and black - waiting for me to reach for her - waiting for me to extend my hand."
But in order to survive in this foreign world, I had to teach myself that love is very much like a painting. The negative space between people was just as important as the positive space we occupy. The air between our resting bodies, and the breath in between our conversations, were all like the white of the canvas, and the rest of our relationship - the laughter and the memories - were the brushstrokes applied over time
Has all of my favorite stories in it: The Nightingale, The Snow Queen, The Flying Trunk, Aunt Toothache, The Emperor Has No Clothes, The Ugly DucklingHas all of my favorite stories in it: The Nightingale, The Snow Queen, The Flying Trunk, Aunt Toothache, The Emperor Has No Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Pixie and the Gardener's Wife just to name a few.
I love that Andersen always has a little moral to his tales - a Christian one too! I never did pick up on those Christian values when I was a kid.
Reading these tales brought my mom back to life, sitting on my twin, and reading me these stories before I fell asleep! ...more
I had forgotten how well Ernest Hemingway wrote short fiction. I loved the two Big-hearted River stories. I'll have to dust off my copy of his The NicI had forgotten how well Ernest Hemingway wrote short fiction. I loved the two Big-hearted River stories. I'll have to dust off my copy of his The Nick Adams Stories. Nick Adams is always good to read. Another story that broke my heart was the one with the old jockey and his son....more
I can't believe that I haven't read The Prince of Tides before now, nor have I seen the movie. I seriously doubt that I will watch it too; it could neI can't believe that I haven't read The Prince of Tides before now, nor have I seen the movie. I seriously doubt that I will watch it too; it could never do Pat Conroy's literary masterpiece justice. Conroy paints each scene with such exquisite detail, none is too small nor too big. His character development of Lowenstein, Bernard, and the whole Wingo clan was absolutely superb. I hated Lila and Henry from the start, but Henry did redeem himself in my eyes somewhat at the very end. Savannah is a truly despicable human being - lunacy not included. I found her to be a very manipulative bitch like her mother, Lila. I absolutely loved Luke - the Prince of Tides. Grandpa Wingo was wonderful and even Tolitha had her moments. But, Tom Wingo? I can't really decide about him. He is feckless and strong at the same time, He is average with no false presumptions about himself. He both cares and feels deeply. He is an island unto himself and he is the lone survivor of the Wingo "family loyalty." Hell, just surviving the Wingos is a huge victory.
It is the Southern way to not speak of unpleasant things, unless that thing can bring down another person down a notch. The South places real value on Honor, God, family, and where one belongs in society. Conroy explores each of these in great detail. His description of issues like child abuse, rape, and mental illness is heartrendingly beautiful as it is sensitive. The reader feels like he or she is sitting on Tom's shoulder all through the novel, an invited interloper to the devastation of Colleton, S.C. and the Wingo family. But what rises from the ashes is glorious and this reader wanted to shout in pure joy with Savannah, "Do it again, Mama." ...more
Leon Uris joined the Marines at age 17 and fought on Guadalcanal and Tarawa. My own father served on the USS Neville (APA-9) as a Master Electrician fLeon Uris joined the Marines at age 17 and fought on Guadalcanal and Tarawa. My own father served on the USS Neville (APA-9) as a Master Electrician from 1943 - 1945. He says he didn't see any action, but I don't believe him. The ship carried the boys to and from Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan: the battles that are depicted in Battle Cry, Uris' first novel. It is written quite well for a first novel and from it strong emotions exploded in this reader. I laughed. I cried. I got angry. I got happy. By the end, I was almost exhausted.
St. Mary, Danny, Mac, Huxley, the Injun, the lumberjack, the feather merchant, the professor, Burney, Ziltch, Seabags, Levin, Speedy, L.Q., and the rest of "Huxley's Whores" will stay with me for quite a while. Battle Cry is their story. A group of misfits - boys really - who volunteered for the Marines who at the end were men of glory and courage. Some made it, some did not. Their stories of home and what drove them as a "gyrene" was very compelling. The boys of the 6th Marines lived and loved hard because each to a man knew that the "Whores" were not promised tomorrow. A Japanese bullet may have his name on it.
I still have a love/hate relationship with their CO, Sam Huxley. He finally got what he wanted, and his battalion paid a heavy price for his prize - Saipan. I loved Forrester, Marion (Mary), Mac and a few other characters. I know them so well that they are like family to me. They and their stories will stay with me in my heart for a very long time.
First published in 1927, MEN WITHOUT WOMEN is a collection of short stories that foreshadows Ernest Hemingway’s later books. As the title implies, notFirst published in 1927, MEN WITHOUT WOMEN is a collection of short stories that foreshadows Ernest Hemingway’s later books. As the title implies, not many women appear in the stories with one exception where a couple discusses abortion in “Hills Like White Elephants”. The dialogue is so breathtakingly beautiful; that I cried knowing the un-named women was so conflicted. Her pain and confusion leapt off the page.
Nick Adams makes an appearance in “Ten Indians” and gets his heart broken when he finds out his Indian girlfriend has betrayed him. In “The Undefeated” we are in the bull ring with three matadors – 2 young and 1 that is past his prime. I cried here too at the beauty of the matadors dance, but my heart was heavy as the bull loses his life. “Banal Story” is Hemingway’s tribute to the great Maera. I believe these sketches, as Hemingway called his short stories, are fleshed out more in THE SUN ALSO RISES and DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON.
Crime visits a diner in “The Killers.” The dialogue of the two Chicago hit men was amusing in a very dark way and may have given the great writer the idea to write TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. Hemingway treats us to a story devoted to one of his favorite pastimes in “Fifty Grand.” A pugilist has decided he’s done and bets against himself in a big fight and I loved the story. “In Another Country” and “Now I Lay Me” are shadows of what we will read in A FAREWELL TO ARMS. ...more
I read this wonderful book in Junior High and I had forgotten the story of Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter much to my chagrDefinitely a 10 Star Read!
I read this wonderful book in Junior High and I had forgotten the story of Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter much to my chagrin. Chaim Potok is a genius. His writing is easy to understand. His warmth comes through in his characters. But I'm amazed that The Chosen was only a National Book Award Finalist, rather than the winner. The Chosen is much more than the story of two boys, seemingly enemies, and their friendship. Danny is a Hasidic Jew, while Reuven is Orthodox. Reuven has a wonderful relationship with his father, while Danny lives in silence with his own father. They never speak outside of their Talmud studies. Reb Saunders' "mistakes" seemed very cruel, and I cried when he explained to Reuven why he raised Danny in silence. Danny was in the room listening of course, but his father didn't know how to break his silence with his own son. Reuven was the bridge between father and son. And to think this great friendship all began with a baseball game - a hit back to the pitcher that could have blinded Malter.
I was struck also by by the title - The Chosen has several meanings pertinent to the story. The Jews are God's chosen people. That one is very evident since it is about two Jewish boys in 1940s Brooklyn. But it is also about other choices too. One is to be Hasid and to be Orthodox. Neither is good nor bad; they are just different. Potok explains both to his readers without making critical judgements. Another choice is that Reuven forgave Danny for deliberately hitting him. And that choice led to probably a life-long friendship. Potok says the Torah teaches that a friend is chosen. I like that, choose carefully and wisely.
But the biggest choice is how different each boy was raised. Danny in an unbearable silence that gave him much pain and the nervous tick of his blinking eyes, while Reuven has a rich relationship with his own father. And yet, each boy made a difficult choice regarding their adulthood. Each rejected what their fathers had chosen for his son; Danny wants to be a Psychologist, Reuven a Rabbi. And there is the choice of both Malters to accept the Jewish state, while Reb Saunders totally rejected Israel's statehood. This choice led to a greater understanding of Danny's suffering, because he and Reuven did not speak for two years. Reuven's anger growing in his grief of not having Danny around, especially when he needed Danny the most.
I can't say enough about this book - it is worth reading and re-reading at any age. ...more
Quite by accident I picked this up and started reading. From the first page, the esteemed war thriller author, Alistair MacLean, engages his4.5 Stars
Quite by accident I picked this up and started reading. From the first page, the esteemed war thriller author, Alistair MacLean, engages his reader. Off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea the Germans and Italians control a cluster of islands and the area shipping lanes. On one island 1200 British soldiers are trapped and will soon be attacked by the Axis Alliance. The destruction of the mighty Guns of Navarone is the only hope these Brits have. It is a suicide mission. The guns are protected by both nature and man in their fortress. But a savvy military strategist may have found the how and who to silence these great guns.
Captain Keith Mallory is legendary. The New Zealander is a renowned rock climber and knows how to survive behind enemy lines. His faithful friend (and his good luck charm) Andreas is a Greek resistance fighter has no qualms killing Germans. The young Stevens is proficient in German and Greek is also a great climber, but is afraid of his fear. American Corporal Miller is a demolitions specialist and Brown is known for his saboteur skills. They have 3 days to scale the sheer 400 foot cliffs on the southern side of Navarone, destroy the guns, and get out before the British fleet sails into the Aegean channel to fortify the trapped soldiers. After the climb that almost killed them, the team believes the hardest part of the mission is behind them. But the Navarone fortress proves to be as great of a challenge as the cliffs. They have to choice but to destroy those guns. Many men’s lives are dependent upon their success. And they will die trying to accomplish the mission.
MacLean is a master story teller with intimate knowledge of the military. He served on a cruiser in WWII while serving in the Royal Navy. His writing is fast paced with a great detail that does not bough down the story line. His twists are like gentle waves. They don’t jar the reader. The twists and turns just seem part of the story as its natural progression. Mallory and his team are well characterized. This reader liked and cared about them. Often I caught myself holding my breath as I read the book. In my opinion, the 1961 movie Guns of Navarone just put faces to these wonderful characters. The drama is in the book. Though the film is dramatic and viewers are reminded of the tight time line Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn have. The book is deeper. The drama and action is more complete due to MacLean’s wonderful writing. ...more
Last year, I saw that one of my Goodreads friend was reading this lengthy novel. I went to Barnes and Noble and found it thDeserving more than 5 Stars
Last year, I saw that one of my Goodreads friend was reading this lengthy novel. I went to Barnes and Noble and found it there. But I didn't immediately open it as I thought I would. It has sat on my shelf staring at me. A few days ago, I pulled down In This House of Brede. I knew I was ready to read it. I had the queer feeling that I needed to read Brede. Perhaps, I know deep down that my Aunt Eloise may not be in this world much longer and that I needed the comfort of reading something that I could be close to her in spirit. My aunt is a nun.
She is not a cloistered nun as those in Brede, she belongs to the Order of Our Lady of Loretto, a teaching Order. Aunt Eloise's dementia has reduced her once great mind to only God knows what. She has become claustral within her own mind. But who knew that a story about an Abbey full of nuns could be so interesting?
In This House of Brede has the love that a reader would expect. Love of God; love of and toward each sister or Dame as they called in the Benedictine Monastery. Brede is in crisis. The Abbess has died suddenly and the Abbey is on the brink of bankruptcy. There is deception, betrayal, and thievery.
This is where the successful Philippa Talbot has come. The situation seems to be just right for her to help solve. Some of the nuns welcome her, while others question Philippa's vocation. I did too. I wasn't sure of her motive to become a Benedictine and wasn't sure if I really liked her. And some of the nuns are very hard to like. I feel guilty saying that I didn't like Dame Agnes or Dame Veronica. Must be that old Catholic guilt.
I found the book beautiful, reminding me of the Liturgy and prayers from when I was a small child. The life of a cloistered nun is difficult as the book describes. We get to see some go through some inner struggles. We get to see the politics of the Council as the yearly positions are selected. We see each nun's strength and weakness. I loved the Liturgical year within each calendar year at the Abbey. I enjoyed the writing. It is exquisite.
I know this little review hasn't said much about the plot - I can't really get it down on paper; Brede is just one of those books you have to read. ...more
Alistair MacLean wrote the screen play for his close friend, Richard Burton. Burton's star power was sliding at the time of the film and he wanted anAlistair MacLean wrote the screen play for his close friend, Richard Burton. Burton's star power was sliding at the time of the film and he wanted an action film along the lines of Maclean's bestseller and hit movie, The Guns of Navarone. And he got it! The novel is in fact based upon the screenplay, rather than the other way around - slightly odd.
I watched the film last night and I had to read the novel. And it is the screenplay. The first 30 pages are a bit slow, since one really can't get the anxiousness of the team. A team of British Special Forces commandos parachutes into the high peaks of the Austrian Alps with the mission of stealing into an invulnerable alpine castle—accessible only by aerial gondola—the headquarters of Nazi intelligence. Supposedly sent in to rescue one of their own, their real mission turns out to be a lot more complicated—and the tension climbs as team members start to die off, one by one.
There are a few scenes that suspension of disbelief is necessary, but they don't violate the viability of the story negatively. MacLean understands how to write an action thriller and I would recommend Alistair MacLean to read any day of the week. To give more of the storyline besides the book blurb would reveal the delicious twists, turns, and events that would destroy a reader's pleasure. ...more
After writing Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck said that he was used up. He had spent years researching Grapes, and wrote this magnificent 1940 Pulitzer PrizAfter writing Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck said that he was used up. He had spent years researching Grapes, and wrote this magnificent 1940 Pulitzer Prize Fiction Winner in a mere 100 days. He knew his subject well; he lived with the migrate workers and worked with Tom Collins, too. And the subject was so very unpopular and controversial in 1939 when it was published. And it still resonates today in 2012 as well as 1974 – the year I first read Grapes and Of Mice and Men.Many critics have said Grapes is a Union book. That may be true, but I believe it is so much more than commentary on the plight of migrant workers and of corporate greed that took the land of over 500,000 people. Sharecroppers and small farmers were driven off their land throughout the middle western states because of draught, an inability to pay their bank loans, large land owners, and their modern farming technologies – the wide use of machines plowing in long straight lines, nudging a man’s home from its foundation.
But the women knew that the family’s hearth was the family. And as reflected in Ma Joad, the family must stay intact. Man may take away their farms, control their ability to make a decent wage, but an intact family will live on. True, some members of the Joad family died or ran off in cowardice or in Noah’s case to live as his own person by the stream, catching fish to sustain himself. Theirs was a quiet dignity traveling Route 66, and the rules on that migrant highway were their own: helping those who were poorer than they were, not to pollute the water and the ground they camped upon, and respecting people. Here, Steinbeck shines. The contrast between these poor people and the big bank and landowner, even the Californians, is sharp. No one wants these people whom they all helped displaced in the draught, dust bowl years of the depression. If they questioned anything, the locals would resort to violence to get them moving. If they banded together to try and get a fair, living wage, they were called “Reds,” their campsites were burned, or they were killed. As Tom Joad points out: "They're a-workin' away at our spirits. They're a tryin' to make us cringe an' crawl like a whipped bitch. They tryin' to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on'y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin' a sock at a cop. They're workin' on our decency."
Steinbeck’s point is that decency remains intact, if somewhat battle-scarred. This, as much as the depression and the plight of the "Okies," is a part of American history. When the California of their dreams proves to be less than idyllic, Ma tells Tom: "You got to have patience. Why, Tom--us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." It's almost as if she's talking about the very novel she inhabits, for Steinbeck's characters do go on. They continue, now as they did in 1939, to illuminate and humanize an era for generations of readers who have no first hand knowledge of widespread homeless, hunger, and joblessness of that Great Depression. The book's final, haunting image of Rose of Sharon - Rosasharn, as the Joad’s oldest daughter is called - forcing the milk intended for her stillborn baby onto a starving stranger, is a lesson on the grandest scale. "'You got to,'" she says, simply. And so do we all.
Steinbeck is wonderful in these 4 loose vignettes that make THE RED PONY a small, but powerful novel. He brings his succinct crisp prose to create lifSteinbeck is wonderful in these 4 loose vignettes that make THE RED PONY a small, but powerful novel. He brings his succinct crisp prose to create life lessons Jody Tiflin must learn without supercilious detail. Readers know Jody is a shy, quiet boy whose sensitivity brings tears to our eyes. He just wants his father’s love; barring that, someone or something that will give him affection. He learns that no man is infallible in life, in remembrance, in death, and there is quiet dignity in everything.
In The Gift Jody is ecstatically happy to have a beautiful red pony to care for. Gabilan learns to trust the boy and gives him the affection, Jody desperately needs. But through the sudden sickness, suffering and gruesome, buzzard-pecked death of pony, Jody learns the hardest lessons of life – death and the infallibleness of man. Despondent and growing mean, Jody learns the lesson of quiet dignity in The Great Mountains. When Carl Tiflin refuses to honor an old paisano's, request to live out his remaining years on the ranch near where he was born, Gitano simply disappears into the lonesome mountains towards the west towards his “melted” adobe homestead, riding Carl’s old and decrepit mare ominously carrying only a sharp-bladed rapier.
Against this gloomy backdrop of loss, The Promise brings hope and reaffirmation, but culminates in the harsh choice between life of the birthing mare, Nellie, and her breech-positioned colt. The bittersweet outcome is difficult to accept but does offer at least a glimmer of optimism. The final story, The Leader of the People, neither mentions the loss of Jody's red pony nor his presumed raising of the newborn colt. Instead, the connection to the other stories and unifying message of the novella can be found, perhaps within the final scene "Grandfather was about to refuse, and then he saw Jody's face," leading him to accept Jody's offer to make him a glass of lemonade. Through the simple act of accepting Jody's offer, his grandfather nourished the boy's sense of purpose; while -Grandfather's own life purpose has withered: his unforgettable year leading a group of westward bound settlers decades ago. Steinbeck shows us readers that the boy’s life lays ahead full of potential and purposeful future. Each man must go through darkness before the dawn’s light shines upon his face.
When I read Black Beauty when I was a little girl, I remembered that I cried at the end. And today, I did the very same thing without the hiccuping soWhen I read Black Beauty when I was a little girl, I remembered that I cried at the end. And today, I did the very same thing without the hiccuping sobs though. I was so grateful that Beauty ended up with his old friend, Joe Green, as his groomsman in his forever home. And it was right that he again got his name, Black Beauty - his very first and his very last name. And I also cried for the mare, Ginger, and the grey stallion, Captain. I wished that all of his wonderful friends were with him, but Beauty seems to have the sole survivor. I ranted at Reuben for "ruining" him, but even more at Beauty's Master, the Earl, for letting that man get near him.
Told in Beauty's voice, we readers follow Beauty from when he was a colt to the "ruined" adult horse. He has known kindness and cruelty without complaint. He never hurts another horse or a human being - though I'd have bitten a few humans that he came into contact with if I were him. It is said Anna Sewell wrote this book to shine light on 19th Century animal maltreatment. Animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness. Sewell focuses mainly on drunkards and those men who are only looking out for themselves.
But I believe there is more than her timeless and universal message - it is also about the Eleventh Commandment - Treat others (humans as well as animals) as you yourself want to be treated. John Manly and Jerry Barker taught this example well and I was glad that I fully saw both lessons with this reading. Every child should read this wonderfully sweet and uplifting novel. ...more
Quotes must be popular, since many liked minds used them. I copied these passages as I read, so I'm using them.
From DUMA KEY:
How to Draw a Picture StaQuotes must be popular, since many liked minds used them. I copied these passages as I read, so I'm using them.
From DUMA KEY:
How to Draw a Picture Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember. How do we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time on Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I’ve come to believe. Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone, and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then one day she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make that first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon-line, sure. But also a slot for blackness to pour through. Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil... hesitating... and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it. I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice. Pictures are magic, as you know.
My Other Life My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in the building and contracting business. This was in Minnesota, in my other life. I learned that my-other-life thing from Wireman. I want to tell you about Wireman, but first let's get through the Minnesota part. Gotta say it: I was a genuine American-boy success there. Worked my way up in the company where I started, and when I couldn’t work my way any higher there, I went out and started my own. The boss of the company I left laughed at me, said I'd be broke in a year. I think that's what most bosses say when some hot young pocket-rocket goes off on his own. For me, everything worked out. When Minneapolis–St. Paul boomed, The Freemantle Company boomed. When things tightened up, I never tried to play big. But I did play my hunches, and most played out well. By the time I was fifty, Pam and I were worth forty million dollars. And we were still tight. We had two girls, and at the end of our particular Golden Age, Ilse was at Brown and Melinda was teaching in France, as part of a foreign exchange program. At the time things went wrong, my wife and I were planning to go and visit her.
Great writing from Stephen King! My second foray into King’s twisted imagination was wonderful as well as scary! DUMA KEY had me sleeping fitfully with the lights on for 2 nights! Edgar Freemantle takes his Doctor’s advice and heads for fictional Duma Key, FL after a terrible accident that scrambled his brains and took his arm. His wife divorces him after Freemantle attacks her with a plastic fork. He then divides his vast fortune among Pam and his daughters, before arriving on the small island where 2 other people who suffered traumatic injuries live. While he is recovering from his extensive injuries, Edgar discovers a new ability: painting. And his paintings come from an imagination on steroids! Oh they come to life too and place everyone and everything in danger. Any more plot revelation will spoil readers’ enjoyment.
Many reviewers believe this novel reflects King’s state of mind when he himself was recovering from being struck by a car while he walking several years ago. That may be true but he doesn’t miss a beat here. The writing is superb and succinct. His pacing builds with each paragraph, leaving readers breathless while quickly turning each page. The charcacters are so well developed that this reader thought they were real people. A 5 star read that will demand your time and keep one eye open while you sleep.
The Haj isn't for the faint of heart. It is very depressing and startling. Uris takes the reader back to Palestine in the the early to mid 20th CenturThe Haj isn't for the faint of heart. It is very depressing and startling. Uris takes the reader back to Palestine in the the early to mid 20th Century. Exodus gave us the Jewish perspective while The Haj presents the Arab perspective. Uris covered 25,000 miles in the Palestine area and conducted over 1500 interviews researching his breakout masterpiece.While his trip was funded by a PR firm and Uris' religion is Judaism, I see no overt bias in either novel. The Haj seems to be biased, because Arab life and Islam is portrayed harshly. But the character, Gideon Asch, reminds the fictional Ben Gurion that his ways were not that of a Jew.
The Haj in the novel is not the trek to Mecca that every Moslem male must make in his life-time, but the story of a village muktar that is in a strategic place on a highway leading to Jerusalem. His village is next to a Jewish kibbutz. He watches his hated enemy drain the swamp and bring the land back to life. He starts questioning everything he's been taught. He shares his soul with Gideon Asch -a Jew! A life long friendship begins. Their friendship is strained and broken at times, but Haj Ibrahim realizes late in the book, that Gideon is the only person he trusts and is is only true friend. An Infidel! All of his life he has been taught to hate the Jew, adhere to the Koran, obey his leaders with a blind faith, and that life on Earth is not to be enjoyed.
But his Arab leaders are only after power and wealth. They use and depend upon their illiterate followers to follow the strict interpretations of Mohammed's teachings in the Koran. The Arab society is built on the caste system, hopelessness, and illiteracy. Knowledge is power and if you are ignorant, a man can be persuaded by his leaders to do anything in the name of Allah.
The novel also tells the story of the Haj Ibrahim's son, Ishmael. And his story is told in the 1st Person. His story is also stark and harsh, leading to a madness that seems a perfect way to end the novel. In his story we learn of the treatment of women, honor of the family, and questioning beliefs. While the women are treated as chattel, Ismael's mother is very clever. Clever as fox. She manipulates Ibrahim and Ishmael like a violin. But the ultimate story is that the madness in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian area will continue with no end in sight. ...more
Much to my chagrin I have never read Leon Uris! Why I waited? I have no excuses to serve up. Uris writes BIG BOOKS that are qu10 Stars, if I Could!!!!
Much to my chagrin I have never read Leon Uris! Why I waited? I have no excuses to serve up. Uris writes BIG BOOKS that are quite spectacular. He is one of very few brilliant maestros in literature, in my opinion. He writes with an ease that kept me turning the 648 pages of this great masterpiece. His research into the facts of Palestine and the exoduses to her holy land is extensive and as factual as possible in pre-electronic 1958. His characters are so well developed that I felt each one was a member of my very own family. I cried and laughed with them. I felt their dreams and their pain and the blinding frustration as they followed their life long dream: Palestine! And certainly the British Empire would be their greatest friend, especially since they ratified the Palestine Mandate, right? Wrong. Why? Oil, of course. As the novel begins, the reader is introduced to the British duplicity. Caught on the Cyprus shoreline in British DP camps behind barbed wire are thousands of Jewish refugees waiting for transport to Ersatz-Israel after the conclusion of WW II. Foreign correspondent Mark Palmer and his childhood friend Kitty Fremont are reunited and enjoying the Cyprus sun after the long war in Europe. Since her husband and child’s death, Kitty has been on the Greek Island working as a nurse in various orphanages.
Ari Ben Canaan, a very handsome sabra asks Mark to stay and will hand him an exclusive. The Mossad agent is going to smuggle 300 children to Palestine right under the British noses! They are to sail on the Exodus in two weeks time. He also needs the services of Fremont, but she is adamant: no. Yes, you guessed it. She eventually does, but only after she meets a young girl named Karen in the camps and hears David Ben Ami’s tale of a “historical abortion.” This tale begins in 1896 Russia and ends with the Rabinsky brothers in Ersatz-Israel many long and difficult years later.
We also learn Karen and Dov’s stories: the young Jewish girl who Ari squirreled out of Germany and into Denmark and the quiet bitter concentration camp survivor who is more at home in the dark dank sewers under a Polish Ghetto than in the light. We meet the sabras: Dagna, David, Eli, Jordana, and Ari. This first generation of Ersatz-Israel are strong and focused. They are Israel. They work hard without complaint to reclaim the “dead” land and will fight to their death to see Palestine as the independent state of Israel. Death threatens on all sides, neither the Arabs nor the Brits want them there. The ship Exodus is both a symbol and a life dream. And Leon Uris’s EXODUS is the perfect vessel to tell their stories! ...more
I have seen the Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson movie several times, but had yet read this 1st edition book that I found in an end table I purchased at a fI have seen the Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson movie several times, but had yet read this 1st edition book that I found in an end table I purchased at a flea market. And I must say the book surpassed the excellent movie. It is a moving book that epitomizes the Christmas and New Year Seasons. Interwoven lives are affected by tragic accidents. Saved from drowning, Robert Merrick learns the price that was paid by eminent Dr. Wayne Hudson and transforms his life to continue Hudson’s work and make amends to those closest to the late surgeon as well as to the community. But to accomplish this, Merrick must learn Hudson’s secret and in doing so he will embark upon a MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION.
He emulates Hudson so closely that he transcends his shallow man/boy lifestyle and becomes prominent in the same field as Hudson. Merrick willfully does good deeds without expectation swearing his charges to secrecy and refuses payment of any kind because “his gift is all used up.” Though MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION is a beautiful love story, it is a wonderful Christian allegory that doesn’t preach Douglas’s philosophy. Revealing more of the plot would spoil the book for readers. I highly recommend readers to discover Helen Hudson and Robert Merrick and others that were closed to the late Dr. Hudson. The slightly stilted prose may be off putting in today’s era; the novel was published in 1932. Its message is still pertinent in 2012, and what a beautiful love story. ...more
“I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with eac“I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.” ~Charles Dickens, 1843.
And so A CHRISTMAS CAROL has since its publication; it has never been out of print or truly out of fashion. It is the quintessential Christmas story and the easiest of Dickens books to read. The narrator introduces us to Mr. Scrooge, a man whose heart has turned to stone from ambition, care, avarice, and greed. We see him at his desk in Scrooge and Marley Money House dark and chilled since he is too tight fisted to permit decent coal fires and candles. He scorns everyone that visits his office Christmas Eve, especially his nephew, Fred. But when he finally gets home, the massive door knocker transforms into Marley’s face and strangely lights the foggy dark night.
But Marley specter follows Scrooge to his bed chamber with chains, locks, and money boxes wrapped about his transparent body. He means to save his friend the fate that he has endured since he died seven years ago on this very night. Three Ghosts will haunt Scrooge: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – whom looks much like Death. Through the lessons these specters will reveal, Scrooge has a chance to become a different man and employer and lead a different life.
Scrooge’s transformation is genuine as it is remarkable. Through Dickens’s simple narration, we not only witness Scrooge change but we also feel his emotions. We cry at the possible demise of Tiny Tim and the true affection Fred has for his uncle. Scrooge on Christmas morning has rediscovered faith, hope, and charity and his heart is full of love for the season as well as his neighbors. This novella is one I read every Christmas and I love it more each year.
I still love this book about a boy and a dog he never wanted after losing his faithful old dog, Bell. He wanted a horse. His father promised that he'dI still love this book about a boy and a dog he never wanted after losing his faithful old dog, Bell. He wanted a horse. His father promised that he'd get one after he returned from selling some cattle in Kansas. All Travis had to do is take care of his mother and his little brother, Arliss. Farm chores were a given. Then comes a mangy, ratty dog who steals eggs and such from them. He sees Arliss with the mutt at the trough. His mother suggests that the little boy will need a companion to play with, to keep Arliss company while she and Travis are working the farm.
“We called him Old Yeller. The name had a sort of double meaning. One part meant that his short hair was a dingy yellow, a color that we called “yeller” in those days. The other meant that when he opened his head (a strange turn of phase); the sound he let out came closer to being a yell than a bark.
Old Yeller slowly becomes part of their lives and saves the family in many situations, but alas Travis cannot save his precious buddy; he is the one who had to shoot Old Yeller.
Gipson accurately describes 1860s Texas and weaves a great story about relationships, love, and loss. ...more
What a treat to read ANNE OF GREEN GABLES as Lucy Maub Montgomery saw it in publication. The original art and all of the proof reading mistakes are heWhat a treat to read ANNE OF GREEN GABLES as Lucy Maub Montgomery saw it in publication. The original art and all of the proof reading mistakes are here in this 100th year republication, but don’t let the mistakes spoil this classic tale of Anne with an E as she becomes an essential part of Matthew and Ismirella Cuthbert life. She may have been an accident – they wanted a boy – made by the orphanage, but Anne is exactly what the older, unmarried siblings needed. Green Gables is full of life and love because of this chatty red-headed young girl with an extraordinary capacity of love and imagination.
Life with Anne is an adventure and never dull as the other volumes show readers. She is like all of us with our child-like need to be loved and wanted, a place to belong. Maub Montgomery created a wonderfully good character that I related to all throughout my life. I am an Anne with an E, adopted into my forever family when I was a baby with strawberry blonde hair, chatty, imaginative, strong, and always finding myself in trouble just as Anne Shirley. ...more
Full disclosure: I love Ernest Hemingway! I don’t know why. My Late mother didn’t care for him. She enjoyed F. Scot Fitzgerald. I don’t so much. BothFull disclosure: I love Ernest Hemingway! I don’t know why. My Late mother didn’t care for him. She enjoyed F. Scot Fitzgerald. I don’t so much. Both men wrote sparingly under Gertrude Stein’s tutelage. Both men were part of the same expatriate crowd living in Paris after the conclusion of WW I. Hemingway and Fitzgerald both lived “the lost generation” lifestyle. Fitzgerald drowned in it; Hemingway left and grew as an important literary author until he could no longer write shortly before his suicide in 1961. He became as impotent as Jake Barnes suffering from not a physical malady but that of mental illness, probably Manic Depression Disorder. But his genius started with this book that was published in 1926.
The dialogue is strong and compelling as he digs into the moral morasses of excessiveness of that shallow, drunken, and selfish crowd Hemingway belonged to. Jake’s pain pierces our heart as he narrates the story. He is poetic. “Brett was damned good-looking. She wore a slipover jersey sweater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boy's. She started that.” He can never make her happy as a man should, because a war injury left him physically unable. We flinch with him as Lady Brett flaunts both her fiancé and her affair with the beautiful matador in Spain. Both Jake and Cohn (the Jewish Boxer) can only watch her destruction through a drunken haze. They are powerless in their love for Lady Brett Ashley.
But Brett is powerless in her love for Jake. She loves him wholly, but needs what Jake can’t give her. They dance the bull fight; she is the matador luring Jake by wearing his love down and pierces his heart time after time. It is the price Jake and Brett must pay for wanting what can never be. They will always dance the matador’s dance of death. Though they are truly in love, the pair can’t help hurting one another. So, they drink and drink some more. And this tragic dance is beautiful in Hemingway’s great novel.
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterneIn 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and yet simple novel became The Great Gatsby. Arguably Fitzgerald's finest work as well as the book for which he is best known, Gatsby is a portrait of the American Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess that he and Hemingway’s “lost generation” were. It seems to have earned itself a permanent place beside The Sun Also Rises in American literature.
Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies Fitzgerald’s obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
The genius of the novel is that Nick Carraway is the narrator. Jay Gatsby’s story could never have been told as powerfully if he or Daisy told it. They are too damaged. But Nick is flying close to the flame, and as a moth he knows when to take flight and come near it. He’s attracted to Gatsby, but is afraid of him. He longs to be what he thinks Gatsby is and he has no stake in Daisy or her games. Tom Buchanan is no better. The four characters do transform into a different force of nature and are destroyed by wealth, avarice, and infidelity. ...more
I had to read Heller’s masterpiece in chunks, between other books. For me CATCH-22 was a catch-22. I got lost sometimes and had to take notes, but wheI had to read Heller’s masterpiece in chunks, between other books. For me CATCH-22 was a catch-22. I got lost sometimes and had to take notes, but when I finished it today I was impressed by Heller. He has created a comic tragedy in three acts. In the first act, we meet all of the characters, flaws and all. The people don’t want to be there. And here’s the catch. If they are crazy, the boys go home. If they say they are crazy and ask to go home, they are sane. The bombardier flights continue well past most units are pulled from the front. The boys and girls tell their stories in Italy, close to the close of WWII.
Heller begins his story as comic satire, then proceeds toward surreal, and finally morph’s into a nightmarish tragedy before ending triumphantly. No novel has so successfully blends all these disparate moods, in my opinion. Hugh Walpole wrote, "Life is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel." No book illustrates that better than this novel. This truly is one of the funniest books I have ever read. It is also one of the most tragic.
CATCH-22 also introduces one of the most insane collection of great characters in fiction: Yossarian, the Chaplain, Orr, ex-P.F.C Wintergreen, Milo Minderbender, Maj. Major Major Major, Nately, Doc Daneeka, Danby, General Dreedle, Nately's “lady”, Cathcart, Nurse Duckett, The Texan, Major ----- de Coverley, The Soldier in White, and a cadre of others. It truly is one of the most populated novels I’ve read. Heller has written the true American novel that deserves the Critic’s superlatives: one of the greatest war novel, funniest novel, and best American novel of the last century. On top of being superb, CATCH-22 is fun to read. Even at its most tragic, this is a funny book. And few novels contain as many unforgettable moments as this one. ...more
W. Somerset Maugham's love life was paradoxical, especially since he had many affairs with both men and women during his lifetime. He wrote: "I have W. Somerset Maugham's love life was paradoxical, especially since he had many affairs with both men and women during his lifetime. He wrote: "I have most loved people who cared little or nothing for me and when people have loved me I have been embarrassed... In order not to hurt their feelings, I have often acted a passion I did not feel." Therefore, it is not wondrous that Dante’s character, Pia, should inspire one of my favorite stories, THE PAINTED VEIL.
In 1925 England, Kitty Garstan is a spoiled young woman who revels in the attention of “her” young men. She is shallow and jejune, but the young Bacteriologist, Walter Fane, loves her to his own detriment. Though he knows she is embarrassed by his marriage proposal because she does not love him, she accepts to escape the shame of her homely younger sister’s impending nuptials. Mrs. Garstan warns of spinsterhood and the loss of beauty. After all, Kitty IS 25 and with no recent “good marriage” proposals, besides a life in Hong Kong where Walter is stationed intrigues Kitty.
Much to Kitty’s delight, she finds the colonial outpost’s society and the attention of the handsome Colonel Charles Townsend greatly to her liking. The Assistant Governor of Hong Kong is her living, male doppelganger. Bored with Walter, Kitty soon falls into an affair with the married Townsend. But Walter is no fool. He knows. “I have eyes, Kitty.” Then to Kitty Fane’s astonishment, her husband agrees to allow her to divorce him under one condition: Charles must divorce his wife and they, Kitty and Townsend, must marry within a week of both decrees or Walter will ruin her lover by naming the Colonel as co-respondent. Otherwise, he expects his wife to accompany him to Mei-tan-fei, a city in the height of a Cholera epidemic.
An ecstatic, Kitty rushes to Charles and discovers another truth that her husband knows. The man she loves is a cad, a supercilious one at best. Devastated, she returns home and tells Walter, that she is to go to Mei-tan-fu with him. During the days of their long journey, she mourns the loss of her lover and resigns herself to the fate her husband has planned for her. Dr. Walter Fane means for her die of the Cholera that is plaguing the Chinese city. Awaiting her certain death, Kitty Fane discovers beauty, strength, and serenity within herself. But the greatest realization for Maugham’s Pia is the lesson of love: how she has affected those people who had tried to love her by withholding her own love. By forgiving the callous selfishness learned from her mother Kitty can truly love and be loved by others she desperately needs.
THE PAINTED VEIL is strictly told by Kitty’s point of view, since Maugham created her character first, rather than allowing the setting dictating Kitty’s thoughts, words, and actions. Borrowing the story of the Sienna gentlewoman from Dante’s INFERNO and infusing Percy’s sonnet line – “Lift not the painted veil which those who live call life “- Maugham delivers a hauntingly beautiful story of character growth in his usual compact prose. ...more
I love Jane Austen! I love Jane Austen!Did I say that I love Jane Austen? And I think Sense and Sensibility may have replaced Pride10 Stars if I could
I love Jane Austen! I love Jane Austen!Did I say that I love Jane Austen? And I think Sense and Sensibility may have replaced Pride and Prejudice as my second favorite book of all times with The Old Man and the Seabeing my ultimate favorite novel. Elinor is the "sense," while the romantic Marianne is sensitive. She wears her emotions and is not ashamed to do so, even if it means that "sensibilities" of the day are offended. Austen uses two distinct sisters as her protagonists mocking the times she lived. Her prose is wonderful as is almost always the case - Persuasion is an anomaly (finding it painful to read it). The characters are well developed and the reader can't help but like like them, even the n'er do well Willoughby. I am ashamed that I never read this wonderful story, because we readers catch a glimpse at Austen's wit, her skewering of polite society, and her wicked humor.
Mr. Dashwood has died and his trust unto his son to do right by his wife and three daughters: Elinor, Marianne, and young Margaret is quashed by John's greedy wife, Fanny. Mrs. Dashwood and the girls relocate to Devonshire into a small cottage on the grounds of Mrs. Dashwood's distant relative. Over the next few weeks, the eldest daughter Elinor begins to fall for Fanny's studious, quiet brother Edward, and being a down-to-earth young woman, she knows she hasn't a chance. Where as Marianne soon attracts the attention of two men. One is the quiet, much older Colonel Brandon, and the other is the dashing and romantic Willoughby. Marianne falls hard for Willoughby and isn't afraid to show her affections unlike her sister, Elinor. Willoughby is about to propose.
Then everything seems to go haywire. Both Edward and Willoughby share a secret - they are secretly engaged and not to Elinor nor Marianne. It is in London where the ugly truth comes to light. Both sisters react to the news in very different ways. Elinor is quiet dignity, while Marianne refuses to believe her ears - her heart tells a different story. After some disgrace and disaster, both Dashwood sisters learn what true love really is.
Austen's prose in Sense and Sensibility is a bit more meloncholy with powerful emotions and vivid descriptive colour that is almost poetry than prose. But her universal theme of impoverished women's search for love and marriage, entailment, mild scandal, and the perils of falling for a sexy bad boy who cares more for money than for true love is so fresh here. And Marianne and Elinor make excellent dual heroines for this book.
Their quiet love and devotion to each other, even though their polar opposite personalities frequently clash. What's more, they each have to become more like the other before they can find happiness. Austen also pens a small but solid supporting cast - the hunting-obsessed Sir John, the charming Willoughby (who has some nasty stuff in his past), the emotional Mrs. Dashwood, and the gentle, quiet Colonel Brandon, who shows his love for Marianne in numerous small ways. Sense and Sensilbility has all of the ingredients in which devotees of Miss Austen would want to inhabit and never leave. ...more