This book is a masterpiece because not a word need be added nor taken away to realize the characters, create the atomosphere, or inobtrusively propose...moreThis book is a masterpiece because not a word need be added nor taken away to realize the characters, create the atomosphere, or inobtrusively propose the symbolism. In under two hundred pages, F.Scott Fitzgerald has, in the smallest detail, rendered universal truths...this is literary perfection.
Holding a mirror to the reader, Fitzgerald asks what is essential, moral, eternal. When should desire, excess, and greed be harnessed instead of rationalized? And how do we balance external rewards and internal values?
Exposure to Jay Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, and the narrator, Nick Carraway will cause the reader to pause and consider our carelessness and it's conclusions.
Upon re-reading: Higher than Highest Recommendation! Favorites! (less)
Harold Bloom says that the United States does not have a single national epic, but three very diverse works: MOBY-DICK, "Leaves of Grass", and "Advent...moreHarold Bloom says that the United States does not have a single national epic, but three very diverse works: MOBY-DICK, "Leaves of Grass", and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" with Ahad not being someone we love while Walt and Huck are. This tome is a classic with unforgetable prose, atmospheric perfection, and universal truths.
Three chapters in particular (42, 119, 132) display the epic's transcendental truths, Ahab's religious beliefs, and the strength of his identity. These themes are the core of the story for me. The purpose of living is to fight the inevitability of death with never ending DEFIANCE. "Thou canst blind; but I can then grope. Thou canst consume; but I can then be ashes."
"...let me be then towed to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!" Captain Ahab only finally gives up the struggle with his mortality to its representative in the novel, the whale.
Ishmael will survive the disaster of the Pequod. He is buoyed up to ultimate safety by Queequeg's empty coffin, a remnant of their affection.
Chapter 122: "Um, um, um. Stop that thunder! Plenty too much thunder up here. What's the use of thunder? Um, um, um. We don't want thunder; we want RUM; give us a glass of RUM. Um, um, um!"
FINIS to MOBY-DICK and SALUTE to Herman Melville!(less)
Emma Donoghue has written a story of what it means to be human... 1. What happens to a person's being when she looses control of her body to an evil ot...moreEmma Donoghue has written a story of what it means to be human... 1. What happens to a person's being when she looses control of her body to an evil other? 2. Does internal awareness triumph over external control? 3. How much communion with others does she need to feel complete? 4. What about maintaining a sense of self when routines and intentities are abolished through the will of another? 5. Is her dignity dependent on familiar praise of others, or does it reside within her alone? With effective writing from a 5 year old's point of view, unique storytelling prompted by a real life situation in Europe, and unforgettable love between a mother and child, the author asks the reader to look at what it takes to overcome the stripping away of all that seemingly makes us who we are. I'll not forget this story! (less)
It was time to revisit the Cemetery of the Book, as the summer is perfect for a mystery, gothic and love stories, characters trying to find out who th...moreIt was time to revisit the Cemetery of the Book, as the summer is perfect for a mystery, gothic and love stories, characters trying to find out who they are, a novel of novels set just after the Spanish Civil War. All describe THE SHADOW OF THE WIND.
It's the story of Daniel who is brought to the Cemetery of the Book by his father to choose a book that he will guard from extinction of memory. Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novel is bathed in the magical atmosphere of Barcelona with lights flickering on the cobbled streets, mist after the rain, and a Stranger who threatens to end Daniel's quest to save his chosen book, THE SHADOW OF THE WIND.
There are many characters who spill onto the pages from the mind of the author; some are moral centers of the story who help others become who they will become while others are morally corrupt, devilish, and despicable. The author's capable backstories of the characters flesh out motives to explain their behavior.
It is obvious that Zafon treasures the written word, and for readers who feel similarly, this is a unique and satisfying stimulus for the imagination. Highest recommendation!
Nicole Krauss' 2005 novel of love, loss, and the power of the written word was a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and other salutations. With...moreNicole Krauss' 2005 novel of love, loss, and the power of the written word was a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and other salutations. Within THE HISTORY OF LOVE is a novel of the same name written by Leo Gursky, an old man who lives alone in a New York apartment with only his friend Bruno to look in on him. Seventy years ago in Poland Leo's heart was captured by Alma when they were 10 years old. Unable to be together, though parents of a son, Leo lives in the same city, feels the same intensity for her after all these decades, and wonders if their child has his gift of words.
A parallel story is of 15 year old Alma whose parents read Leo's book and named her after his heroine. Alma's father has died of cancer, leaving her mother immobilized with grief and her younger brother Bird believing he is the Messiah. Through circumstances surrounding the translation of Leo's book, Alma and Leo meet for an elegant resolution to a beautifully written tale of love with no end.
Pictures of Ms. Krauss' grandparents appear on the dedication page. Images play a part in confirming Leo's existence, as he feels like he is disappearing as he nears death. Icons representing each character appear above chapter headings; each alerts the reader to the role the character plays in the story. It is also interesting to note that Ms. Krauss and Jonathan Safron Foer married and wrote stories of elderly men, able youth and WWII as background. Mr. Foer's work is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
The elegance of the story, the wisdom in the words, and the enduring feelings of love make this an outstanding read. Highest recommendation!
Where can wisdom be found? That's the question Harold Bloom answers with the storied intellects of Plato, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Goethe, Freud and Pr...moreWhere can wisdom be found? That's the question Harold Bloom answers with the storied intellects of Plato, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Goethe, Freud and Proust among others. Their dialogues, plays, novels, essays and ruminations are full of answers to our deepest longings and most pressing questions about life. It is to these masters of philosophy that we turn...
Certainly not to a 54 year old widowed, dowdy, ugly concierge with offensive morning breath. The only sounds from her are monosyllables when she takes requests from her tenants whose building is one of the richest addresses in Paris. Then there is the persistent babble from her unwatched television which is surely her only intellectual stimulus besides an old tom-cat who is observed to be comatose. Having served the educated and wealthy for 27 years, Renee simply blends in with the paint...except for fulfilling needs, she isn't even noticed.
And what could a precocious twelve year old on the third floor contribute to your understanding of the world or human nature? Having assessed relationships, human sensitivity and preoccupations, she has determined that life is vacuous and plans to end her life on her birthday.
Suppose your assumptions are wrong. The unattractive, prickly, isolative woman who runs the building hides a secret. Don't we all? Behind the noise of the tele lies a hidden room where philosophy and the classics are read with passion, art is pondered, film is critiqued, and classical music is absorbed.
And what of the soon to be adolescent? What could she contribute to your understanding? With a keenly observed mind, hypocracy is noted and vacant personalities are named. Authenticity is prized above professional and social status. Her young eye beams to the truth.
Now with such differences in station and age, how could these two lovers of aesthetics meet and end their sense of alienation? This is the story the author of THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG gives us from her philosophical mind to our receptive hearts. Highly Recommended!(less)