I've been skimming through other reviews on this site, and it seems that most people either love or hate this book.
I liked it. I didn't find it nearl...moreI've been skimming through other reviews on this site, and it seems that most people either love or hate this book.
I liked it. I didn't find it nearly as compelling as some did, nor did it provoke strong feelings of "wtf is this pretentious bullshit?" My feelings linger somewhere in between "I liked it" and "meh."
Beloved is ripe with symbolism and imagery, but there were instances in the book where I felt it was too much. Really Morrison, must you really drive a spike through my forehead in order to get your point across?
And while the story is original, and it is well written, I think that switching narrative styles hindered the progression of the story instead of supporting it.
I've sat on the river boat with Florentino Ariza, and I was unmoved by his quest for love. I've been a voyeur to the old bachelor who buys himself a fourteen-year old virgin on his 90th birthday. I was mildly disgusted. However, "Chronicle of a Death Foretold", this I like. I really, really like.
For people that haven't read GGM, this would be a good place to start. It's a slim read (my copy is only 143 pages), and it gives you a taste of what his other books are like. For people that have complained about Marquez being too wordy, this is the book for you. The prose is descriptive, but far from being purple.
The story is about the murder of Santiago Nasir. Although his death was foretold by everybody in his town, nobody does anything to stop the attack from happening. Marquez is a master at story-telling. Even though the same story is being told throughout the book by many different characters, their individual accounts of the crime just draws you into the book even more.
Again, Marquez brings the magical into the mundane. There aren't any shortages of ghosts or pyschic dreams in this one.
I have something in common with Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. I'm a scent connoisseur, a scent fanatic. No, my sense of smell is not as refined as Grenoui...moreI have something in common with Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. I'm a scent connoisseur, a scent fanatic. No, my sense of smell is not as refined as Grenouille's, and no, this obsession with smell hasn't led me to commit any ghastly murders, but I really do appreciate the idea behind the book: one man, an olfactory genius, trying to conquer the world with smell.It's an interesting concept. We often take smell for granted, and yet it's the strongest, and most persuasive of our senses. There's a part in the novel where an orgy takes place because Grenouille creates a perfume so saturated sex pheromones. It seems like a far-fetched concept, yet in the beauty and cosmetics industry, companies have been selling pheromones for years, claiming that they will make you more attractive, and more desirable to the opposite sex.
So where did the book fail for me? Why am I giving it a 2 star rating instead of a 5? I simply didn't like Suskind's writing. Although I thought the book was really well researched, Suskind's writing just failed to captivate me. There were really long stretches in the book where I just wanted to put it down. (less)
I saw the movie adaptation of Everything Is Illuminated a few years back. I was unaware it had ever been a book. The movie was beautifully done-- clev...moreI saw the movie adaptation of Everything Is Illuminated a few years back. I was unaware it had ever been a book. The movie was beautifully done-- clever humour, endearing characters, and BEAUTIFUL cinematography. There's a particular scene that refuses to escape my mind: the characters are walking in a field covered in fully bloomed sunflowers towards an old,rundown, cottage. After I'm done gushing about the movie, you can just imagine how excited I was when I found this book listed in "1001 Books to Read Before You Die."
As enjoyable as the film was to watch, it just didn't do justice to the book. The movie focuses on one plotline, which is the Jonathan's search for Augustine, a woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather during the war.
The book is told in three parts:
1) Alex's letters to Jonathan-- this is where he talks to Alex about his life after the search, and writes about his aspirations to become a writer
2) Alex's narration-- Alex's retelling of the journey that he, Jonathan, and his Grandfather had embarked
3) Jonathan's narration-- he writes about the magical history of his ancestor's shtetl in Trachinbrod
Foer's critics have called him gimmicky and pretentious. Okay, he does use somewhat unconventional writing devices-- such as writing really long run on sentences that go on and on and on sometimes he uses charts and excerpts from books within books sometimes the book might get confusing for some readers because it is told in three different sections FOER ALSO USES ALL CAPITALS TO EXPRESS REALLY STRONG EMOTIONS-- but this isn't anything new. Anyone who's ever been exposed to modern literature has also been exposed to unique, more expirmental writing. If The language is straightforward, and easy to read. Foer does name "the hero" after himself-- but instead of presenting Jonathan as a knight in shining armour, he's this clueless, bumbling, sometimes condescending, vegetarian tourist lost in Ukraine.
My favourite character is Alex. Alex is just-- hilarious. When you get into the first half of the book, it will be hard to restrain yourself from laughing out loud. He is writing in English with a very thick accent. He tries to improve his writing by replacing every third word with the longest synonym that he can find in the thesaurus. This often leads the reader into trying to decipher what Alex is trying to say. Alex is first portrayed as a materialistic character, who longs to live the American Dream. Later on in the novel, we find out the real depth that the character has.Jonathan's narratives are also interesting to read. We learn about the magical lives led by his ancestors. The fusion of magic into everyday life makes his narrative very reminiscent to Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I think that the book went a little down hill for me in its second half. Alex becomes more philosophical and contemplative. There is almost a complete absence of his humour,which took away some of the novel's charm. It's also interesting to see how Alex's writing skills start to surpass Jonathan's near the end of the novel.
Shalimar the Clown has been on my shelf collecting dust. While I do admit to having quite the crush on Rushdie, I get flashbacks from the utter disap...more Shalimar the Clown has been on my shelf collecting dust. While I do admit to having quite the crush on Rushdie, I get flashbacks from the utter disappointment I felt when I read The Satanic Verses. My friend, also a Rushdie aficionado, finally convinced me to pick it up and blow the dust off the covers. My love affair with Rushdie has been rekindled.
Rushdie is at full power in Shalimar. He combines his lush prose and diverse characters with political allegory and cultural savvy. Although it's easily one of Rushdie's most comprehensive novels, it certainly isn't a light read-- he dedicates much of the novel to theorizing about different conflicts. He brings us from WWII Germany to ongoing conflicts in Kashmir and the Philippines. But don't let that scare you from reading it. At it's core, it's a beautiful story about love and vengeance.
The story is told through the eyes of four main characters; Shalimar, a tightrope walker from Kashmir; Max Ophuls; his illegitimate daughter, India; and Boonyi, the woman whose story unites them all. Even more astounding than the characters is the setting itself. Rushdie takes us to a beautiful, Macondo-esque village in rural Kashmir. The religious tolerance in this village allows for the Hindu/Muslim marriage of Shalimar and Boonyi. We read about Pachigam in all its glory, and its slow destruction into an Asian dystopia. Rushdie is all about the allegory, and once again (quite brilliantly) mirrors the destruction of Kashmir with Shalimar's own descent into violence.
Of course, Rushdie can't write a book without stirring some controversy.. Many critics have accused Rushdie of being sympathetic towards terrorists. I disagree. He merely gives us a different perspective of the world. He portrays each character with such intimate detail, but remains ambivalent throughout the book. He leaves it to us to judge each character.
5 stars. Great. Amazing. Brilliant. But it isn't for everybody. (less)
I read this book almost two years ago. Over the two years, there have been certain images, and certain words that have stuck in my mind, and yet, I'm...moreI read this book almost two years ago. Over the two years, there have been certain images, and certain words that have stuck in my mind, and yet, I'm having so much trouble articulating exactly how I feel about this work.
So how do I feel about it? In short, I loved it. I absolutely, without a doubt loved this book. But as a disclaimer, if you're looking for a book that you can flip through on your train home from work, then Midnight's Children isn't for you. Rushdie has written something so beautiful, that I think the only way to truly appreciate it is if you fully immerse yourself into this world of magic, and history, and uncoventional prose.
The concept of the story is simple enough: At the stroke of midnight, when India becomes an independent state, our protagonist, Saleem Sinai is born. We learn that the children born between midnight and 1 AM are all endowed with special powers. Saleem uses his own telepathy to connect himself with the rest of midnight's children to find out the significance of his powers. Saleem's life serves as an allegory to the history of the country.
I feel that Rushdie really knows how to entice the senses. Excuse the metaphor, but he makes love to the English language. He breaks all of the rules we've ever learned about sentence structure, and grammar, and blah blah blah, and in turn creates this world of lush imagery and colourful characters. A man having a nose bleed on a prayer mat. A doctor performing a phsyical on a beautiful woman through a punctured bedsheet. A man who owns a pickle factory. These are all seemingly mundane details that Rushdie breathes life and magic into. (less)