AND AFTER THINKING I have downgraded the stars. The writing is good, but the subject matter, well I didn't learn much of anything. It just isn't my faAND AFTER THINKING I have downgraded the stars. The writing is good, but the subject matter, well I didn't learn much of anything. It just isn't my favorite type of book.
AFTER READING: Very good writing. This is poetry in prose form. All books here on GoodReads have a short descriptive paragraph, but in relation to this book, that which is shown there has nothing to do with why you should read this book. The stated blurb is totally irrelevant. I don't like poetry, rarely does it speak to me, but I really did like this book. What IS the book about? For me it is about the struggle, the horror and the beauty of life. It is about family. It is about each person's attempt to survive. In just 121 pages it speaks of all this. Magnificent
BEFORE READING: Why am I adding this book? It is not at all a book I would usually choose to read and the blurb didn't excite me at all. Then I read Kirkus' review:
"It's difficult to imagine a reader who will not be electrified by this haunting, masterfully told story. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine a reader who will not be changed by it.
Brilliant, possibly perfect."
I have found Kirkus to be the most reliable of all reviewers. They are very, very picky, and if they write this, well I have to give the book a try. Maybe a good read when I want some diversion!...more
This novella presents a surreal view of an elderly immigrant's initial contact with his new surroundings. The writing is perceptive, poignant and moviThis novella presents a surreal view of an elderly immigrant's initial contact with his new surroundings. The writing is perceptive, poignant and moving:
He refers to him as "his friend" in his mind, because that is what he really is. The fat man has become his friend, even though Monsieur Linh does not speak his language, even though he does not understand it, even though the only word that he uses is "Good-day". It is not important. In any case, the fat man himself only knows one word of Monsieur Linh's language, and it is the same word.
Thanks to Monsieur Bark, the new country has a face, a way of walking, a solidity, a weariness and a smile, an aroma too, that of cigarette smoke. Without realising it, Monsieur Bark has given all this to Monsieur Linh. (43%)
The lines have a quiet strength to them.
I prefer books longer in length, but this novella is complete in itself. It does not need to be lengthened to fill in unanswered questions. I will give it three stars, but I feel most others will award it four. I always enjoyed picking it up, and the details were cleverly tied together. You will particularly understand my last statement when you turn the last page. ...more
I am adding this book because I just finished and absolutely adored To Siberia by Petterson. I will now read anything by this author. I thought that TI am adding this book because I just finished and absolutely adored To Siberia by Petterson. I will now read anything by this author. I thought that To Siberia was even better than Out Stealing Horses. This is one of those authors that simply writes so well, that the subject matter is irrelevant. This book, In the Wake, is about the author's loss of family when the MS Estonia sank in 1994. This was a huge catastrophy in Scandinavia, when it happened. I was livining in Stockholm at the time....... It was like THE NEWS for months. I feel quite sure that Petterson will do the subject justice. I am curious as to how he got through this. Some people had the bizarre belief that cement should be dumped on the ship so all the remains would stay in place!...more
I am adding this paragraph a few days later b/c somehow I think my previous review misses the mark. If I were to read the below review I might not beI am adding this paragraph a few days later b/c somehow I think my previous review misses the mark. If I were to read the below review I might not be interested in a novel filled with bizarre philosophical thoughts and symbolism. Think of art, that too can be analysed to pieces and I hate that. It either moves you or it doesn't and the causes are different for different people. Well this book is like that too. See it as a wonderful piece of art that you can spend some time with. The quotes below will give you a hint of what the book offers.
I have given you enough to determine if it is the kind of book that you would enjoy. There are so many philosophical thought here to consider and also there is a plot line to follow if that is what you are after. Nevertheless if you prefer to follow an action filled plot rather than muse over ideas, well then I would say choose another book! What I have written in the following does not in any way reveal the action as it unfolds in the book. I think a spoiler alert is totally unnecessary. As I have pointed out previously, I suggest you read this book to enjoy the words, the thoughts or the images depicted. I do not think the following will in any way detract from your own reading of the novel.
My only criticism is the last chapter. Just plain too surreal, too many weird thoughts thrown at the reader in a helter skelter manner. The book still gets 4 stars. Don't miss the author's notes and the readers'group guide at the novel's end. They offer a nice neat tieng up and help the reader discover related classic Yiddish literature.
Page 247: Symbolism plays a vital role in the book. And colors - that is why Chagall fits so well. Here follows my final quote:
"It seemed to her that a person should see out of the white part of the eye, not the dark part. But that was not how things were. It was only through the deep hole of darkness that she could even perceive herself in the mirror."
Through page 218: Are you interested in a story with gripping suspense - in Vietnam and in NY? This book has it. Some bits in Vietnam are really gruesome. Such parts are easier to take in a book than in a movie, at least in a book you can close it for awhile. At a movie you are stuck in your seat. Do you want a love story? Well that too! But overall it is definitely surreal and filled with imagination. And it definitely helps to enjoy Chagall's paintings. If you don't like them well then I have a hard time imagining that you would like this either.
On page 168: This comment is so I can leave the book a bit. If you like war scenes and suspense, well the book has that too. Currently NOT easy reading. Can one be saved by a spider's web? I don't know.
On page 136; A delightful mixture of philosophy and imagination. I believe the reader will either not connect and hate "the stupid book" or will fall in love with the expressions and philosophical ideas. I HATE science fiction, but I adore this filled with biarre ways of looking at everything. Emotions play a central role in the characters' action. Who wouldn't do that if they had a starving child? Here is a quote:
"One night in Hamburg - or a not-yet night, a tired late afternoon in the winter of 1926 when the sun grew weary and decided to give up early, passing the world on to the moon and going off to get drunk...."
You decide - either you like this or you don't. There is so much I stop and pause over and think that is just a delightful way of looking at things. Whether it is true or not isn't really the point. However if the poinjt IS valid then maybe one should alter a bit how I, the reader, choose to live and appreciate my life! I forgot this - I think the discussion of scoliosis from the point of view of the child is right on mark. The brace is a cage and a HUGE source of shame. It usually occurs unfortunately in the early teens right during puberty. No matter what any parent can do, little gets through to the child. Why, - well b/c it IS horrible and they alone have to live through it. The remark of the sibling was priceless - it is your armor, now nobody can hurt you. Kids are the best and often see things more clearly than any adult. Yeah the brace helps against bullying but relations with the opposite sex? Well, no way!
I am now on page 96, but here is a quote from page 85. Think about it a bit. It is about the difference between paintings and stories.
"A painting doesn't have to mean anything but a story does. Just barely, but it does. Der Nister (The Hidden One)often thought about that in the years that followed, as his own writing became more and more tangled and obscure. And he wondered: Why should paintings be exempt from meaning? Didn't everything need some sort of meaning, some purpose? Or did meaning emerge from what stories had and paintings lacked - a beginning and an end?"
The later discussion between Chagall and the Hidden One is also interesting - but you will have to read the book to follow that!
Page 49: The reader must root for the criminals! Look, the painting was stolen from them, why can't it be taken back? Another thing - the cover of this paperback is special. And also I enjoy the close relationship between brother and sister. So far a delightful mix of happiness and sadness and misery and laughter. And its craziness/imagination - my kind of book. Please let it continue this way.....
I am only on page 38 but this book simply MUST be written for me. Here are two quotes from page 38:
"Laughing is healthy. Doctors prescribe laughter."
"There are nor real endings in life either. Since when do things end?"
If you do not understand why these two quotes are for me, well then look at the review I wrote yesterday of Geraldine Brooks' novel Year of Wonders!
Page 24:Grim times - yes, but the writing is not grim, but very moving and filled with fantasy that keeps you floating. What a contrast to Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders!
Chagall enters as the art teacher at the Jewish Boys' Colony in Malakhovka outside Moscow. In regarding previous students' art work he asks what the students were told to paint. To the response that the students were told to paint what they saw he questioned: "To paint what you see, or to paint what you look at?" A huge difference, right?!
Page 18: For a book where Chagall plays a central role, the author's wording - "it was a beautiful day, one of those spring days when the air becomes like clear water rippled by a breeze and the ground loosens its grip and it feels as though you are not walking but swimming in air, flying weightless over the town." is wnderful! So appropriate since Chagall's paintings are filled with flying/floating people.........more
I liked this book a lot. It has great, humorous lines. The author call this a book of fiction because although it is about her grandmother (Lily) andI liked this book a lot. It has great, humorous lines. The author call this a book of fiction because although it is about her grandmother (Lily) and the youth of her mother, the star of The Glass Castle, Jeannette was only eight when her grandmother died. What we are told are the stories repeated by her family. The dialogs are invented. It is these lines that are so marvelous. There is such humor in them and wisdom too. I like Lilly. Here is a woman who was never crushed by hard times. She lived out West (Texas, New Mexico, Chicago, and Arizona) through the Depression and World War II. She was a survivor, and a good person too.
The story is told in the first person point of view, and the author narrates her own book, so you have to remember that when she says "I", she is in fact referring to her grandmother!
The book is funny, wise and easy to read. Read it. i think it is even better than her first book! (See the link above.)
(I am a little bit disgusted because I wrote another review and then forgot to save it.....so this will just have to do!)
After about 4 hours of listening:
Oh, I do see eye-to-eye with the author’s grandmother (Lily), about whom this book is written! She and her husband are now managing a ranch in, I think, Arizona. Her philosophies on cooking and cleaning:
Cooking - keep it simple. I agree. If I quote from the book: What my cooking lacks in variety it makes up for in consistency. No surprises, but no disappointments either!
Cleaning - she does a thorough house cleaning every few months. A little bit of dirt won’t kill anyone!
These are my mottoes too.
So I am thinking, today, I want to go outside, work on my knees in the dirt, pick up pine cones, move rocks, and cut bushes. So why should I clean the house….. now? It’s gonna get dirty again, so soon! When you clean up outside it all looks so pretty and you see it every time you look out a window. Hmmm, but yeah I will clean inside and then go out. I wish I could be like her! Logically, I guess a cleaned up house is pretty too.
And then another time she spends hours making cottage cheese from scratch, which everyone gobbled up in less than a minute. Her response was she would never make that again. What a waste of time! Again I agree!
The book is fun, and it is not yet finished. There is humor, and she is so darn optimistic. Yeah, bad things happen, but nothing daunts her. She picks up her feet and goes on. Good attitude. ...more
Having struggled through 152 pages, I am giving up. I cannot feel close to any of the numerous characters. The writing is wonderfully descrNO SPOILERS
Having struggled through 152 pages, I am giving up. I cannot feel close to any of the numerous characters. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, but too much so for my taste. I agree that after reading a page or two describing a person's clothes, how they are put on, how clean they are, what buttons are buttoned , body characteristics such as slopping shoulders, uneven walk, facial details including the color of the complexion, the shape of the eyebrows, whether he laughs or pouts or squints and how the person relates to his surroundings and friends, you do picture the character standing there befor you. Nevertheless, they do not move me. I do not like or dislike them. I cannot keep track of their names. This is not enjoyable for me. I give up.
My original comparison to Bruegel's paintings hold. Do you feel compassion, understanding or sympathy for the numerous figures depicted in a Bruegel painting? No, although it is fun to look at. But to read a book like this is too much. It is like staring at one of the figures on the canvas for an hour. And then you start on the next figure.....
100pages into the novel: The very best way of describing this book is to ask you to think of a Bruegal painting. Go look at one. They are filled with tons of people, all doing different things. Look at each individual, their clothes, their expressions, what they are doing, and then you have a feeling for the town, for the atmosphere of the place. Well this book is exactly the same. Everything is described in careful, exact detail. The people, their expressions, the food on the table, the singing, the dancing, the lighting, even down to the strange behavior of a caretaker's dog. I am not going to give a quote b/c it would need to be quite lengthy. Go instead to Amazon and look indide the book. Read a few pages, and you will understand. This is how the book is written. Every page is like the few you read at Amazon. This Russian author is magically drawing for his readers the life of the Jews in a Ukranian provincial town toward the end of the 1800s. It is not necessarily an easy read. The names are hard for me to remember - Moshe and Gitl aren't so difficult, but there are many more such as Mayerl, Yehudis, Reb Vehlednik, Reb Nakhman, Liber Meyer, Itziki Tchitchaben.... I am just telling you what you can expect!
Before starting the book: Having read quite a while ago Dara Horn's The World to Come, I was introduced to the famed Yiddish writer, pen-named Der Nister, the author of this book. Der Nister plays a very central role in Horn's book. I simply had read this book too, and I liked the text shown at Amazzon. I will have to check out other authors too. Those such as Sholem Aleichem and L. L. Peretz, but I will start here....more
Nikos Kazantzakis is buried in Heraklion, Crete. The epitaph on his gravestone reads, "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free."
If that speaks tNikos Kazantzakis is buried in Heraklion, Crete. The epitaph on his gravestone reads, "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free."
If that speaks to you, if that makes complete sense to you, read this book.
The book is much better than the film starring Anthony Quinn! Both the book and the film are full of life - both the good and the bad. You must live life to the fullest. You must appreciate the good and survive the terrible. You must fight. I love the philosophy espoused. While the film makes the central theme clear, the book is more nuanced and gives a more in-depth view of the author's thinking. What is the purpose of life? How should it be lived? Death - Zorba says he does not fear death but neither does he like it. When you read this book all these philosophical questions are what you think about. If you do not like philosophical books, this novel isn't for you.
Christianity is a central theme. There are two main characters- one is Zorba and the other is an unnamed narrator. One is "religious" and one isn't. Both are good people. Both are searching for answers. This offers a good balance, and I appreciate that the author presented the story in this manner.
Women are another central theme. You may not agree with Zorba's / Kazantzakis' views on women, but he certainly appreciates, enjoys and loves them. You have to keep in mind this is writing from an earlier era. The book was first published in Greek in 1946, in English in 1952. It doesn’t seem all l that dated to me, but then I was born in the fifties! I suppose I am dated too. He loves women as they are and that is enough for me. That isn’t to say that he never got my hackles up.
And there is humor too – at the stupidity of man, at intellectualism and what is done in the name of religion.
George Guidall is the narrator of the audiobook. As stated there are two main characters. The unnamed narrator, who tells the story, is an intellectual. Guidall’s tone for this man made me wince, but more so in the beginning than in the end. That was when I realized how well Guidall had perfectly captured not only the two characters but also how the unnamed narrator had changed. I loved Zorba’s voice. When you listened you always knew who was speaking simply by Guidall’s tone. Excellent narration!
I am no Zorba, but I still admire him and wish I could be more like him!
Yes, of course I must read this. I saw the movie ages ago and loved it. The philosophy, even back then was exactly to my liking. Do people ever really change?
Thanks, Julia, for reminding me about this book! ...more
Finished. A very good holocaust book, different from others maybe because you follow the main character from her youth. You follow Seren through manyFinished. A very good holocaust book, different from others maybe because you follow the main character from her youth. You follow Seren through many years. She is feisty! It is also very interesting to know that Sara did not tell the author everything. The missing bits are revealing. The reader knows of them because Seren's daughter has added more information and interesting comments about what it is like to be the daughter of two parents who have survived the holocaust.
Through page 273 - these pages have been almost impossible to read. Horrific.
Now I am on page 190. There is so much to think about. For example, what leads to survival? Mental health. Strength of your mind leads to physical strength. It is amazing what the human being is capable of surmounting. Whiners really should remember this. Art and beauty - seeing a beautiful landscape, hearing a song, and the art of laughter. Note, it is not the big pieces of art in museums, or an opera in a music hall that are required to uplift us from misery. Actually it is the ability to keep one's eyes open to everything around us and to appreciate the small stuff. Philosophical jabber, I know, but important to remember! Seren is strong and always has been strong, stubborn one might even say. We know who she is because we know of the years before the worst times. Even as a child she was a fighter, even a troublemaker. She was born that way. Her next younger sister, Zipporah, was also a troublemaker, but in a completely different way. Their mother understands the importance of accepting her children and others for what they are, with all their faults. She doesn't show anger toward Zipporah. "That IS Zipporah!". An acceptance of the reality that people are just born different. Sure, we can try to change, but one can only go so far to change how we are born. Seren wanted this book to be published because people continue to deny that the holocaust ever happened. In Sweden right now the papers are filled with people's anger that a man high up in the church says that the Jews are just exaggerating what happened, to make us feel sorry for them! Seren died before her book was published, and that is sad. Even as a child she wanted to "be somebody". Well, I think she WAS somebody. She helped others, friends and family. Without her strength they would have gone under. Many went under anyway, but she shared small experiences and laughter with them. That is not to be forgotten.
I'm on page 84 of The Seamstress. Well written. Extremely moving. You are there with Sara(Seren). Somehow this is different from other holocaust books...more