Helen's frank, humorous research diary/how-to on Danish living, based on a year living in rural Jutland, is perfect for getting an understanding of whHelen's frank, humorous research diary/how-to on Danish living, based on a year living in rural Jutland, is perfect for getting an understanding of what Danish life is all about!
We are also recent immigrants to (semi) rural Jutland and I loved this book - I was constantly laughing out loud, and finished reading in two coffee-fuelled, hygge-filled sittings. Highly recommend for anyone!...more
A disillusioned, poor young man from rural California escapes his home for a Vermont university, where he is admitted into a small Classics class of eA disillusioned, poor young man from rural California escapes his home for a Vermont university, where he is admitted into a small Classics class of erudite student misfits. Led by an enigmatic volunteer teacher, they are encouraged to explore and apply classical philosophy to every aspect of their lives, to their eventual detriment.
While I feel the book fell just short of amazing (the ending being less eventful than the beginning) I was gripped by the unique scene of an almost other-worldly university class where knowledge was not only sought, but relentlessly uncovered, and hungrily devoured.
The main character, Richard is relatively devoid of personality and acts more or less as a lens for the actions of the other students; the story is fascinating and immersive but I feel that the story relies on the strong personalities of the others, and a stronger personality in the main character could have added another element of danger and unpredictability, particularly at the end.
I appreciated this story most for its ability to give credible insight into the goings-on of a very dynamic and unusual group of people; and for the writing, which is endowed with historical references and topical Ancient Greek literary quotes (my initial fear, that my limited knowledge of Ancient Greek would reveal a poorly-researched book, was completely unfounded). This feels less like a story, more like a small period of time in the lives of this group has been collected and captured.
Despite the ending tying the story up fairly well, I feel, perhaps unfairly, like this book has left me hanging - because the characters are still mysteries all of their own; intelligent and meticulous personalities give them so much life that anything they do, however mundane in appearance, would be riveting, and I feel left out when the story ends.
Overall, I found this book intelligent and engaging, and recommend it particularly for the unique plot setting and fascinating cast of characters. ...more
Oryx and Crake has a disillusioned and despairing protagonist, who, from a general societal conditioning toward selfishness, has retained the composurOryx and Crake has a disillusioned and despairing protagonist, who, from a general societal conditioning toward selfishness, has retained the composure to avoid self-loathing and soldier on with the task of survival after being manipulated into securing the destruction of humankind.
While most of the story is horribly uncomfortable in a way that things can only be when they are close to the truth, I really enjoyed the book. The characters are all intriguing; despite ranging from mostly normal to disappointingly so the story hinges on their flaws. The backstory is set in a disturbingly conceivable evolution of Western society: slightly more capitalistic, and horrifyingly amoral. The past, at this point, is the important part of the plot, so apart from the constant threat of the protagonist's death, what happens in the present isn't terribly exciting: most of the book dwells on how the present situation came to be.
Because of the structure, it's difficult to discuss in any detail without spoilers but my takeaway feeling is this: The synopsis describes this as a "love story", and I have to disagree. It might in some respects be a story about the consequences of loving. It's a scathing social commentary; an uncomfortable reflection on the catch-22 that is humanity. But I think a love story, necessarily, contains enough of love that you wouldn't need to argue about where to find it. ...more