Twain's irreverence will literally have you laughing out loud. I have not enjoyed a work this much in a long time. He is by turns iconoclastic, hilari...moreTwain's irreverence will literally have you laughing out loud. I have not enjoyed a work this much in a long time. He is by turns iconoclastic, hilariously funny, thoughtful, and wise. As he makes the Grand Tour of Europe and the Holy Land, you find yourself wishing that you were one of the party. At times, the modern reader will find his comments slipping off the wrong side of cultural tolerance, but you can forgive him because he spares no one, his American companions and himself included. It was one of those rare books that I did not want to end. It was a journey.(less)
A book about the conflict between faith and being faithful to your art; between professional legitimacy and familial duty; between love of one's art a...moreA book about the conflict between faith and being faithful to your art; between professional legitimacy and familial duty; between love of one's art and love of one's family. It's a surprisingly sensitive portrait of the artist as a young Jewish man growing up in a Hasidic community in Brooklyn. Asher Lev is never fully at peace with his decision to be a painter. Pursuing art as a profession, or even a hobby, is not accepted by his strict Orthodox community, who considers the gift to come from the "sitra achra". Despite all the taboos among the Hasids associated with creating art, Asher Lev refuses to compromise artistically, which ultimately leads to heartbreak and isolation. In an age where duty beyond the self is all but forgotten, this book will surely resonate with anyone who is trying to find balance between the world and the divine.(less)
It's absurd to call this objective history. If she called it Jerusalem: Why Jews and Christians Have No Right to Be There, I would perhaps forgive her...moreIt's absurd to call this objective history. If she called it Jerusalem: Why Jews and Christians Have No Right to Be There, I would perhaps forgive her the thinly-veiled personal views. The authorial commentary is maddeningly revisionist, and it comes off as agenda. I am very sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians too, but a work of history is no place for politics. The author's own opinions were so obvious that I would be surprised if anyone could take this as a balanced perspective. On the other hand, the text is very approachable, so it is probably appealing to those of us who do not normally read history. I would prefer something more scholarly, however, and I could really do without the bias, which in the end is only insulting to the reader's intelligence.(less)
I managed to smuggle a copy from Nepal. Funny how such an undeveloped country, a scarred product of a coup only ten years past, is less restrictive wh...moreI managed to smuggle a copy from Nepal. Funny how such an undeveloped country, a scarred product of a coup only ten years past, is less restrictive when it comes to censorship issues than the U.A.E., which currently boasts the tallest building in the world (by far). Perhaps that's an unfair comparison, since Nepal is by no means even remotely a Muslim country; there would be little offense on that front. And it may be fair to say that Nepal is not a big fan of her neighbor India!
Anyway, I will have to give this book a lot of serious thought, and I'll probably have to give it the second or third read that it requires and deserves. It certainly didn't win the "Booker of Bookers" for nothing. I'm afraid it raises a new standard for my own judgments!
Complexity of a Dickens novel... and the historical relevance. I will have to read up more on India's tumultuous 20th century history in order to gain a proper perspective. Let's just say that the novel's scope is vast, and no one is left innocent. Sets the stage for the enmity between India and Pakistan, and the parallels between the main character, Saleem, and the birth of India's independence are fascinating without being a 1:1 allegorical ratio. Often, allegory can become tiresome, used as a blanket to hide a lack of vision. Or a refusal to accept the real world and its greys. Midnight's Children never resorts to literary tricks.
Again, it deserves another read. But it is clearly one of the most important books of the 20th century, and not to be missed.(less)
audrey and i share a little heritage (dutch), the same height, and the same shoe size. and that's where the similarities end. but i was tickled to lea...moreaudrey and i share a little heritage (dutch), the same height, and the same shoe size. and that's where the similarities end. but i was tickled to learn it (from this book) all the same.
it's mostly a style biography, with an intro by givenchy. audrey fans will get a kick out of the fashion sketches and modish style suggestions inspired by the queen herself.
but it's not all ferragamo shoes and little black dresses. we are given a bit of her gracious character as well. and in the end, i think that's probably what made her so stylish.(less)