Room, as five-year old Jack calls home, is the only place he's known. But for his mother, it's been her prison since she was abducted seven years ago.Room, as five-year old Jack calls home, is the only place he's known. But for his mother, it's been her prison since she was abducted seven years ago. The story is compelling--a mother's love creates a world for her son in a single room, even as she grows more and more desperate.
Yet, I could not connect with the narrative. Told in the voice of Jack, the story felt contrived. It never felt like the story of a five-year old, but the story of a five-year old as told by an adult. Every few pages, I could forget what seemed to me a forced construction, but without fail, something Jack would say or observe would strike me as untrue to a five-year old's perspective.
Perhaps this narrative device helped lighten a story whose subject matter was intensely depressing, but ultimately, it seemed to sacrifice the integrity of the story. ...more
Olivier, a spoiled aristocrat, is sent away sent away from a tense post-Revolution France by his smothering mum under the pretense of penning a treatiOlivier, a spoiled aristocrat, is sent away sent away from a tense post-Revolution France by his smothering mum under the pretense of penning a treatise on the U.S. penal system. Parrot, his keen-witted and grizzled English manservant is drifting, thwarted in his childhood hope of being an engraving artist.
In Peter Carey’s comic reimagining of Alexis de Tocqueville’s landmark trip, these two displaced men arrive in America with little affection for each other or the self-admiring citizens. What ensues is a comic clash of personalities and ideologies that not only reveals the promise found in a land of “caterpillars” who can continually shed one existence for another, but also the latent difficulties in identifying the role of art and education in a democratic society....more
I'm not sure I can say like the book considering the weighty subject matter took me three weeks to get through--I frequently put the book down after aI'm not sure I can say like the book considering the weighty subject matter took me three weeks to get through--I frequently put the book down after a few pages because it was just too overwhelming. Two chapters in I had been brought to tears many times and had committed to never eat seafood again. My decision four years ago to become a vegetarian was then largely based in a desire to eat intentionally and as a reaction to the environmental impact of meat. After reading Eating Animals, my being a vegetarian has a great deal more to do with animal rights.
While I struggled sometimes with the loose structure and Safran Foer's proclivity to pontificate to the point of purple (prose, that is), I valued the research it took to write this book. Research that I won't soon forget. ...more
"It's very hard to be a gentleman and a writer," observes Edward Driffield's second wife, Amy. But she's done everything she can to ensure her husband"It's very hard to be a gentleman and a writer," observes Edward Driffield's second wife, Amy. But she's done everything she can to ensure her husband is seen as both, perhaps even more so now that he's dead.
Cakes and Ales is a biting satire about the cult of the writer and how everyone--from the literary scout and critic to the opinionated public and often the writer himself--play their part to create the myth of genius. Alfred Kear, eager to burnish his own literary credentials any way he can, has been chosen by Amy Driffield to write her late husband's biography. The rub, however, is that Amy requires Kear to omit everything to do with Driffield's first wife Rosie--beautiful, unfaithful and Driffield's undeniable muse.
Now in search of information about Driffield's early life, Kear turns to William Ashenden who as a young boy knew Driffield and Rosie. It's from Ashenden, the novel's narrator, that we receive a more genuine depiction of Driffield and what's supposed to be a more nuanced explication of Rosie and her infidelities.
Perhaps Maugham hoped the reader would at least understand, if not sympathize with the uninhibited, in-love-with-life Rosie. But the lofty motives ascribed to her extra marital dalliances fall flat--especially when she leaves her husband to grieve alone the night her son dies. Of course, it's easy to imagine finding self-destructive solace, but the prosaic description of a free-spirited girl who loves to love is not a sufficient explanation for many of Rosie's escapades.
However, what Maugham does accomplish is a female character who successfully evades the angel-whore designation by distancing her sexual adventures from her generally engaging character. But most enjoyable is the contrast between Kear's desire for a sanitized, larger-than-life portrait of a Victorian author and Ashendon's own meandering and humble recollection of Driffield, proving perhaps that there just may be such a thing as a gentleman and a writer.
An interesting concept for a book: a Victorian lady offering her thoughts on an assortment of topics from the scatological to the eschatological. ButAn interesting concept for a book: a Victorian lady offering her thoughts on an assortment of topics from the scatological to the eschatological. But since the snippets were pulled from letters and other sources, the organization felt forced, and context was lost at many points. Despite the few tantalizing paragraphs here and there, overall it was a dull collage of out-of-context ideas and advice. ...more