It's not often that I read something and absolutely need a moment of pure catharsis after reading the final words. Any emotional reaction says a lot a...moreIt's not often that I read something and absolutely need a moment of pure catharsis after reading the final words. Any emotional reaction says a lot about just how effective a given book can be, and this one has it in spades.
Granted, the entire story saw me fighting back tears and being unable to peel my eyes from its pages. Finally, after the back cover was closed, I was unable to stop myself bawling with sheer relief over the harrowing events that are so beautifully portrayed in The Kite Runner.
There are many elements at work in this book. The perspective of a child, who witnesses terrible acts and interprets his world and his family in a way that only a child could, is presented with insight and compassion that builds a strong foundation for when he becomes an adult. One of the most confronting and sorrowful chapters toward the end of the book, sees the voice change to a first person present tense - a difficult style to master, but one that is done precisely and used with purpose and to great effect.
Along with the powerful, emotional themes, this book offers a window into a culture that someone such as myself (a westerner) rarely glimpses. Part of my fascination came from learning specific customs that I was ignorant about, and part from recognising themes and motives that were familiar having spent my own childhood growing up in the Middle East.
This is a book that I could rave on about for pages of rambling text, but in essence it is a beautiful, emotional, and disturbingly cathartic tale, which is gauranteed to make your eyes sting with tears.
Simply put: I cannot fault it at all - the hype is well deserved - but I won't be rushing out to see the movie for fear that (as with any film adaptation) it will ruin the original brilliance found on the page.
Sure it's not "high literature" with ground-breaking styles and mind-bending themes, but it is a perfectly executed story of many aspects to do with the human condition that we often ignore.
On one hand it's nice that there's little in the way of biography in this book, but with the series having offered a glimpse at each photographer's li...moreOn one hand it's nice that there's little in the way of biography in this book, but with the series having offered a glimpse at each photographer's life and work, I can't help feeling a little short-changed.
I adore Callahan's photography - his style of simple and sparse representation certainly resonates in a very profound way. It's apt to consider how he had the reputation of being like his photographs and a very quiet person throughout his life.
Suffice to say that I think this purpose would have been better served in this book if the text was omitted entirely. Instead it contains a useless introduction by Jonathan Williams, which does more to tell us about his own life than Callahan's, followed by a string of abstract quotes from his contemporaries on the nature of art itself. This is a poor fit for the series and frustrated me quite a bit. Personally I don't give a hoot about Jonathan Williams or the apparently hilarious Irish joke that he includes in the introduction; I wanted to read about Callahan, or be left alone to enjoy his pictures.
Worth it for the amazing work of Harry Callahan, but skip the text entirely.(less)
I've always been a fan of Kahlo's paintings, but never knew a whole lot about her beyond that film that was out a few years ago. The book features a w...moreI've always been a fan of Kahlo's paintings, but never knew a whole lot about her beyond that film that was out a few years ago. The book features a whole mess of paintings and photographs, accompanied by an entirely readable biography. The best parts of the biography are the suggestions for what certain paintings mean and how the symbols Kahlo frequently used were relevant to her life at the time. It's a good book for a decent coverage of Kahlo's life and some very nice reproductions of her work.(less)
As the title suggests, The Last Magician is a story thick with the fantasy and mystery threaded between a unique group of characters and their inner r...moreAs the title suggests, The Last Magician is a story thick with the fantasy and mystery threaded between a unique group of characters and their inner relationships that essentially end up shaping their entire world. There is a certain skill displayed when such a narrative has the ability to create magic from within the confines of very grounded subject matter.
Personally, I adored reading this book as Janette Turner Hospital takes her time with revealing the actual point of the tale, and instead trickles the depth of her themes over you like honey. The story is a crescendo forming slowly - it's the literary version of progressive rock - as each moment unwinds from the spring, you're left wanting to see it through and complete the inevitable journey.
This is one of those books that won't make complete sense early on. Instead there are many moments throughout the tale when you find an instance of clarity and insight into all the loose ends created in the beginning. It may sound like a typical concept for a story - creating mystery, only to solve it later - but the genius in this particular example comes from the sheer complexity of initial intruige, followed by explanations that don't always leave you satisfied, but succeed in developing an even deeper tapestry that adds to the lives of each character completely.
There certainly is a lot of magic in this tale and it's written with a unique take on what could have been a bland narrative. The characters are facinating, but not always likeable - Sonny Blue is easy to hate, but at times there seems to be some empathy and I found myself slightly pitying this horrid, gutless man. Within the melee of wonderful characters, it's sometimes hard to remember how central Lucy is to this world (after all, it's through her that the story is told). It almost seems as though, without her, none of the players in this story would be anything more than lost in their own quarry. Just as, without Cat, they might have all gone the way of the ordinary people in the world and lost their magic a long time ago.
Overall I highly recommend this book as a delight to read. It may take some readers a bit longer to get used to the way this tale unravels, but by the time you're done with it, you'll be thanking yourself for seeing it through.(less)
Sin City is awesome - there's not much else to it. I really dig the over-the-top/gratuitous nature of the thick trench-coat-noir style, campy dialogue...moreSin City is awesome - there's not much else to it. I really dig the over-the-top/gratuitous nature of the thick trench-coat-noir style, campy dialogue and all. The artwork makes it and there are some panels that I'd put on my wall. Often I caught myself gazing at a panel, just to find the intricate details that aren't always there at a first glance. It's a thrill to see someone do so much with the simple standard of black and white (no grey) juxtaposition of space. It's the twist and turn of how Miller uses space in his panels that really sets them apart.
I can't wait to read the rest in the series - and that speaks volumes.(less)
I was initially apprehensive about reading Black Swan Green, as I enjoyed Cloud Atlas immensely and didn't want to suffer the usual disappointment of...moreI was initially apprehensive about reading Black Swan Green, as I enjoyed Cloud Atlas immensely and didn't want to suffer the usual disappointment of another author only having a single work of brilliance. Fortunately though, David Mitchell provided me with another masterpiece to get lost in.
This book is full of familiar characters and situations that anyone who has ever struggled with the confusion inherant in every adolescent's life will recognise. With merely a glance it would be possible to write it off as yet another story about the common trials of growing up, but the real beauty in this book comes from the depth and development lying in wait under the surface.
Jason Taylor's story is littered with fascinating characters who each play significant roles in his life. However, as one such character (the Mrs Havendish-esque Madame Crommelynck) explains, art is merely the vehicle in which beauty resides. My own words are ill-equipped to represent just how beautiful this book is - all I will say is that it acts as a wonderful vehicle that is without flaw.(less)
This may be a collection of folk tales from around the world, documented as accurately as possible by Carter, but it still reads like a Carter book th...moreThis may be a collection of folk tales from around the world, documented as accurately as possible by Carter, but it still reads like a Carter book through and through. Maybe it's because she was influenced strongly by folklore and carried its vibe into her own writing, or could it be that Carter was unable to resist selecting tales that reflected her own world - I think both.
The stories themselves have a wonderful quality that you only find in folklore. There's little in the way of devices and literary techniques, which would seem out of place in a genre dominated by verbal delivery. However, each and every tale in this fine collection is packed with cultural significance, morality and hooks that won't release you from their grasp. I took my time with this book to savour the feelings of each story as it lingered on after I'd read it. Sure some of them miss for me, but that says more about my own experiences and how well I could relate to certain stories here and there. I suspect that there would be something for everyone in this book, and at least a few that would suspend belief and logic for the higher endeavour of meaning and understanding.
Carter's voice is still strong within these pages, despite her role as editor, but it may be an inferred voice, rather than an intended one. There is a large focus on women in most of the tales, but there is also a kind hand given to the foolish, brash, evil and arrogant characters who are not made fun of, but told with empathy and without ridicule. Like Carter's own fiction, these tales are a testiment to the diversity of human experience and life, and the wonderful ways that rules may be broken by not only the characters within the tales, but by the very pen that writes them.
Anyone interested in folklore should read this book. If only to have an alternate text to read after hearing the Grimm tales for the hundredth time.
I also have to add a note on the illustrations - they're brilliant. I love it when publisher's are willing to support detailed illustrations and typography and this book is full of both. Not only is it a complete pleasure to read, but it's one of those books I spent time with visually. An absolutely beautiful book.(less)
This book is fucking cool. Very much in line with the author. All I want to say is that the las page left a bi old smile on my face and that speaks vo...moreThis book is fucking cool. Very much in line with the author. All I want to say is that the las page left a bi old smile on my face and that speaks volumes to me. (less)
This may be the day dreamer's handbook and a road map for anyone who has ever grown up and felt the world shift through the eyes of another. This is b...moreThis may be the day dreamer's handbook and a road map for anyone who has ever grown up and felt the world shift through the eyes of another. This is beat writing at its best, but there's no politics and spirituality; there's satisfaction in that mystifying poetry of love's unmeasurable angle.
Maggie Cassidy draws you in with an enticing narrative frame that clicks the zoom lens down to Zagg's formative years in a lucid dream. It's one that I personally recognised - being amongst the fog while emerging into life - whatever that means. I've fallen for girls like Maggie (I suspect a lot of others have too) and throughout this tale there are many moments of recognition. The boy grows up while the girl keeps her head in the clouds. It's tragic - it's beautiful - it's poetic - it's real.
With elegance Kerouac has documented the flow of infatuation with a masterful hand. He once again creates vast landscapes with words that are noisy, silent, colourful, bleak and visceral.
Insightful and a pleasure to read. Carey's stories are as thought-provoking as they are hilariously bizarre. It's like reading a day-dream that commen...moreInsightful and a pleasure to read. Carey's stories are as thought-provoking as they are hilariously bizarre. It's like reading a day-dream that comments on society and ridicules our choices that reflect the sociological expectations and authority we identify with.(less)
Absolutely touching and written with care. Rice uses the language and perspective of Ashmol's narration expertly. I don't have a lot to say... tears s...moreAbsolutely touching and written with care. Rice uses the language and perspective of Ashmol's narration expertly. I don't have a lot to say... tears streamed down my face... a wonderful book.(less)
Noel Fielding is an amazing artist and tells wonderful stories. The book itself is very well crafted and feels good to hold... it also feels good to s...moreNoel Fielding is an amazing artist and tells wonderful stories. The book itself is very well crafted and feels good to hold... it also feels good to see so many colourful and original pieces all in the same place. If you like the Boosh, I don't see why you wouldn't love this book.
This book contains all there is to love about Bukowski. While a lot of the landscape is made up of the familiar beat writing tropes and elements that...moreThis book contains all there is to love about Bukowski. While a lot of the landscape is made up of the familiar beat writing tropes and elements that are to be expected - the heart is in the characters that collide throughout. The environment provides a gritty reality that serves to contrast the absurd/surreal nature of the tale.
Truly a funny book - I was laughing out loud at many lines of dialogue that took hold of the strange themes and whacked me in the face to bring me back to reality. Bukowski shows his talent here; using humour and Hollywood to make the reader feel as though this existential contemplation is as viceral as hot concrete on blisters. The main players are simultaneously bizarre and hyper-real - each one bringing a sense of irony to Belane's sordid progression from case to case. I was laughing on account of the wit, but then I laughed with disbelief and familiarity.
Sure, I dig simplistic allegorical tales, but this is a mighty fine one. The prince may be a bit postmodern and perhaps even a little buddhist, but hi...moreSure, I dig simplistic allegorical tales, but this is a mighty fine one. The prince may be a bit postmodern and perhaps even a little buddhist, but his commentary on the outcomes of such 'isms run deep and through many forks in the road.
On one hand it's a take on the individualism brought on through neo-liberal marketisation of thought and existential purpose (there are definite anti-capitalist motives here). At the same time there's something said on the nature of life and death as a matter of environmental collectivism, with a nod to spirituality.
Whatever the interpretation, this simple book delivers an existential question direct to your brain. It reminds us not to take the unseen for granted and teases out the reasoning to what makes us unique and special. In fact, the argument for or against this specialisation of individual traits could be taken either way. For some it may reaffirm how life is essentially egoistic and selfish reflection of circumstance and relativity provides the greatest opportunity for enlightenment. Although the argument is made convincingly, there's a certain amount of insularity promoted that may provide reason for a culture of othering.
For another kind of reader, this book might celebrate the collective consciousness of nature within and beyond our meager planet. By defining what makes individuals unique as something that is manufactured and socially constructed, any form of elitism follows to be a subjective attribute that holds no more universal truth than any other. In this way, it is a darker warning of where such nepatism can lead. Are we inherantly taming other people to enforce intimate bonds through a natural desire of selfish rational benefit? Or have we been trained to ignore the truths we once knew that have since conflicted with the empirical nature of science?
These are some of the questions raised for me in the book, which in itself makes it worthy of recommendation. Whatever the result (lofty interpretation or simple entertainment), this book is a wonderful read that should not be passed up.(less)
Animal Farm clearly deserves its reputation and remains to be a fabulous take on the rise and fall of authoritarian rule; namely the progression that...moreAnimal Farm clearly deserves its reputation and remains to be a fabulous take on the rise and fall of authoritarian rule; namely the progression that saw the rise of Stalin in Russia. Despite the obvious references to Soviet Communism, the book can be applied to many different real-life cases of revolutions that end with dictatorship.
No doubt many are already aware of the political representations of this book, so it does little to prattle on about the themes it represents. Instead I'd rather mention the wonderful cast of characters and how they simply and explicitly play their role. More often than not, these roles are plain to see; with the black raven Moses preaching about life after death; the nameless sheep continuously chanting the party line and drowning out individual thought; the forever content donkey Benjamin, wise in his ways, but remaining stoic in his zen attitude to rule... the list goes on.
What I especially love about this book is the precise way that characterisation leads to representation - be it obviously (as with Boxer, the mighty worker) or sometimes rather inconspicuously (the often absent cat, for example). Whatever the message, it is delivered with care and with an efficient use of purposeful character that eloquently sums up entire groups amidst the class struggle of the farm.
Above all of these individual themes is the beautifully portrayed evolution of information and motive. While the workers retain their easily-led, but genuinely honourable, motives for rebellion to the very end; they are sharply contrasted with the obvious manipulation from Squealer (the rulers' spin doctor) and the rest of the upper caste.
Add to the fact that such depth and breadth of themes and commentaries are combined into a relatively short story, and the brilliance of George Orwell's writing is clearly seen.
Well worth a read... and it doesn't take very long anyway!(less)
**spoiler alert** This book is a beautiful children's story that I read after seeing the film and falling in love with the characters. As far as book-...more**spoiler alert** This book is a beautiful children's story that I read after seeing the film and falling in love with the characters. As far as book-to-film translations go I think the film did a good job of representing the overall themes of the book, which is a rare thing in my own experience with others like it.
There's something I adore about a story that manages to put into words the mixed feelings and confusion that all of us wrestle with in our youth - especially when it comes to heavier concepts like a boy wondering why his father treats him differently to his four sisters and how his own grieving process works when coping with death. Perhaps I personally loved this book because I could relate to it, often directly, and I wish that I could explain some things to my ten-year-old self with as much care as this book. I guess that's why we love books anyway isn't it?
The only criticism I have is that I wonder whether or not a child would have the same experience reading this book as I did. Something tells me that I wouldn't have appreciated the point of view and themes used if I weren't able to use the benefit of hindsight. However, I guess that's the way with a lot of so-called "children's books" that actually have much more depth than only pure entertainment.
Don't read this if you're only interested in literary brilliance, but give it a go if you want to read an easy, but infinitely touching story. Besides, any book that has me bawling like crazy has got to have something strong going on.(less)