If you thought "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was maddening long and depressing "Independent People" is a close runner up. It is an incredibly bleaIf you thought "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was maddening long and depressing "Independent People" is a close runner up. It is an incredibly bleak view of rural life in Iceland concerned with the struggle of poor Icelandic farmers in the early 20th century, only freed from debt bondage in the last generation, and surviving on isolated crofts in an inhospitable landscape. Written in the 1930's originally in 2 volumes, it condemns materialism, the cost of the self-reliant spirit to relationships, and capitalism itself. You will grow bored with talk of worms and sheep, although it was informative to read that tobacco was once used to purge sheep of parasites.The principal character the sheep farmer Guðbjartur Jónsson, aka Bjartur of "Summerhouses' is a stubborn man, seemingly unfeeling and at times simple and brutish, and emotionally hardened in his denial to change from his ideals. Though undoubtedly a principled man, his attitude leads to the death and alienation of those around him.This is at odds with his poetic aptitude in the folkloric tradition. The novel ends during the period of strikes, mutinies, street demonstrations leading to the fall of autocracy -the fall of Tsar Nicholas II while Bjartur finds himself more destitute than when he started at the beginning. The novel won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955.
15/11/13 1 of 8 books for $6 Tuggerah library chuck out...more
Yeah! I liked Johnson Beharry (Bee) very much. An unassuming likeable & simple guy who truly deserved his VC. Read it. Educational in that beforeYeah! I liked Johnson Beharry (Bee) very much. An unassuming likeable & simple guy who truly deserved his VC. Read it. Educational in that before this I had not known much about Grennada, in the Caribbean. A very accessible war biography. ...more
Ok this is another book read between coughing bouts. One carelessly picked from the bedside stack of bargain books gatherinJoyce and Keats slept here.
Ok this is another book read between coughing bouts. One carelessly picked from the bedside stack of bargain books gathering dustbunnies. Wasn't something I intended to read just now, but it was within easy reach. My teen daughter said she'd never read it because it had that hideous bright orange cover. It must have been that ole subconscious talking to me again because I really needed a shot of vitamin C the orange cover appealed. Whether it's the cough syrup or medicine I'm having right now or whether this book deserves 4 stars, it did the trick and got me through the night. Like I said it's a veritable feast. There's food on every page. Or caffe. Epstein & family move from the USA to Rome to satisfy a 20 year dream and he does convince you as to why he loves the place.
1. the food. 2. the coffee. 3. the climate. 4. the history. 5. the people. 6. the community. 7. the beautiful women. 8. the beautiful young men. 9. the art. and at 10. the food yet again.
If you removed all the references to food, coffee and the drinking it would be a slim quick read. However it's not just a book for foodies. Epstein tries to explain why Rome is like no other place. That the 1-10 above all blend in harmony and have been doing so for thousands of years in a way of life that is sadly and quickly changing with the global economy. The book is based on his life there since 1997 but was published in 2000, so is now 11yrs old. Things have more than likely modernised and morphed more since then. I'd never thought of wanting to visit Rome before, Tuscany maybe but not actually Rome and now I do despite other things I have heard that didn't appeal. Epstein makes Rome seem like a village community where everyone knows everyone (eventually) and looks out for each other, something that is lacking in most modern western cities. The rituals of food play a huge part in the book, and like Epstein says the Italians say, food is the way to the heart and it keeps the community together. I think it is true. Look at what fast food outlets have done to our society.
On the other hand the book is light on politics and history and art, he tries more than anything to give a family oriented view of living in Rome and in that it succeeds. I would have liked more history with the food, but I did learn two things that I didn't know. James Joyce lived there for a while with his wife and son in 1904 and worked in a bank. One of the houses he rented opposite the spanish stairs,still stands with plaque with his name / boasting Joyce dreamed the story of Ulysses there..(I researched this and discovered Joyce hated the place and couldn't wait to leave - But he did enjoy the non-stop drinking so Rome may well have been the inspiration for "The Dead".) Keats died in Rome and the house he died in carries a plaque to that effect and is a mecca for Keats devotes. I didn't know this and was shocked to learn he died of TB that was wrongly diagnosed. In the middle of the night coughing as I was this seemed even more shocking. Fellini's house in Rome is immortalised with a plaque too and that is fitting as for me Fellini captures the essence of la dolce vita.
The one thing missing is the receipe of Epstein's favourite dish. It would be hard I guess he has so many.
I'd really like to follow Epstein's book with The Authenticity Hoax: How We Get Lost Finding Ourselves by Andrew Potter "a shallow consumerist society built on stratification and one-upmanship that ultimately erodes genuine relationships and true community" - Potter. Wish the library were open now, I'd like to read this following directly on from "As the Romans Do" by Alan Epstein which I've just read. The consumer society and lack of community is why Epstein left America and moved to Rome. Epstein posited that Rome was still operating on values the west had done away with.