Like many other readers, I approached Sometimes a Great Notion with skepticism. Loggers, Oregon, 600+ deWow. To put it simply, this one blew me away.
Like many other readers, I approached Sometimes a Great Notion with skepticism. Loggers, Oregon, 600+ dense pages? Might not be my thing. But the book was a recommendation from a fellow snobby English grad, so I trusted that eventually, everything would fall into place and I would see the light.
I waded through the first half of this book over the course of six months. I loved the beauty of Kesey's language-- his style is the love child of Faulkner and Woolf, with overlapping perspectives, interwoven pov, and slow, gorgeous, deliciously descriptive scenes... but the key word is slow. It took me months to get all the characters and their places in plot, time, and relation to one another straight. While I enjoyed the way Kesey intertwined first person perspective from two, three, four different characters in a single paragraph, it made the book a task to get through; I could only manage to digest a page or two without having to put it down to really savor what was happening.
And then suddenly, it all fell perfectly into place; I'm not sure if I just put the puzzle pieces of character, relationship, and plot together or if Kesey's subtle work is just that genius, but I was so enthralled with this book that I could not put it down. Like other reviewers, as I neared the end, a light bulb went off in my head and I immediately went back and re-read the first 15 pages before finishing the book once and for all.
Kesey's luscious world of Stampers, Wakonda, rivers, forests, small town rivalries, local bars, God, death, and love showcases the power of the human spirit, the melodrama of community, the agony of family, the aching ecstasy of love, and, above all else, how our relationships to one another are at the center of all things.
This is, hands down, one of the most beautiful books of all time. ...more
"We have art in order not to die from the truth." --Nietzsche
I don't even know where to begin and I'm sure anything I have to say would pale in compar"We have art in order not to die from the truth." --Nietzsche
I don't even know where to begin and I'm sure anything I have to say would pale in comparison to the much wiser, better versed readers and writers out there than me.
This is the most poignant, most arresting, most beautiful contemporary book out there.
Strong words, right? As a reader, this hefty tome could have never ended and I would have continued to hungrily eat up every morsel. Donna Tartt is a master at her craft and she created a world, a consciousness, a voice so authentic and full of such pain, such confusion, such genuineness that I felt she had seen glimmers of my own imagination and pulled it onto the page. The story is attention-grabbing, the characters are either train wrecks you can't look away from or beautiful souls you couldn't get enough of, and the writing-- oh!-- the writing. As a "writer," Donna's skill is inspirational. I want to be Donna Tartt when I grow up.
The only part that disappointed-- the ending. I never wanted the book to end and when it did, it felt rushed, unfinished, as if there were major gaps in the story that I needed to fill before turning the last page. Don't get me wrong, it was passionate and beautiful... I just needed to continue following along, needed to ask more questions, needed Donna to narrate a world for me just a little bit longer.
Let's bring it back to Nietzsche-- we have art so that the truth does not overwhelm us. Donna Tartt does not sugarcoat anything for us: drug use, theft, pain, suicide, anger, hate, fear-- it's all there. But there is a bit of beauty in the ability to sink into another world, to forget where we are, and to realize that the art of Donna's world is a lovely distraction from the truth of our own. ...more
"The Ghost of Sir Felix Finch whines, "But it's been done a hundred times before!"-- as if there could be anything not done a hundred thousand times b"The Ghost of Sir Felix Finch whines, "But it's been done a hundred times before!"-- as if there could be anything not done a hundred thousand times between Aristophanes and Andrew Void-Webber! As if Art is the What, not the How!"
"The reductio ad absurdum of M.D.'s view, I argued, was that science devises ever bloodier means of war until humanity's powers of destruction overcomes our powers of creation and our civilization drives itself to extinction."
"Spent the fortnight gone in the music room, reworking my year's fragments into a 'sextet for overlapping soloists':piano, clarinet, flute, oboe, and violin, each in its own language of key, scale, and color. In the first set, each solo is interrupted by its successor: in the second, each interruption is recontinued, in order. Revolutionary or gimmicky?"
Well, those three quotes are all you really need to know in order to grasp the essentialness of Cloud Atlas. Six voices, six stories, six time periods. Overlapping themes, issues, concerns, characters, birth marks, feelings. It's a bit like Virginia Woolf's "The Waves," except less smooth, more (or maybe less) multifaceted purely because of the jumping around in time bit. This was a good read. The first story, Adam's, took a while for me to get excited about. But I plunged through, and thank goodness I did, because Robert (the second voice) was my favorite. Each new story was a bit jarring, of course-- changing tempo and pace after you'd settled in to a personality and a genre was a challenge. But Mitchell does, of course, a great job stringing them all together. Some of the connections were "gimmicky"-- what was up with the shared birth mark? They didn't all have it, so why were we hit over the head with it and not given some sort of explanation? But for the most part, the main "theme"-- that mankind will be it's own greatest downfall, that our will to power is going to overpower us and cause our constant disintegration-- is hammered home time and time again.
This one gets a 5 star because it was genius. It was good storytelling. It made me stop and muse every few pages. It kept me on my toes. It wasn't perfect-- but that's not the point, is it? As for whether it was Art, if it was Revolutionary or just a silly Gimmick, that's for you to decide... ...more
Such an incredible story, artfully crafted by a master. I absolutely loved this- Rushdie is a genius, and this book was the gift that kept-on-giving.Such an incredible story, artfully crafted by a master. I absolutely loved this- Rushdie is a genius, and this book was the gift that kept-on-giving. What else is there to say? You *must* pay attention to every line, because likely it will come around again in a huge way hundreds of pages later. You *must* read in and choose to believe everything Saleem tells you-- because why shouldn't we believe that one Snotnosed baby couldn't live a life that paralleled that of an independent India. Yes, it was long and dense, but worth it. How many synonyms for beautiful can I possibly pack in here?...more
"are you alive, or not? is there nothing in your head?"
Yes, of course I am as clueless as to the vast, sweeping genius that is T.S. Eliot's The Waste"are you alive, or not? is there nothing in your head?"
Yes, of course I am as clueless as to the vast, sweeping genius that is T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land as everyone else. But that doesn't deter me. I love this poem, I'm surprised to say, because of the unfathomable depth of anxiety and torment that Eliot saw in post-war London. This poem is gorgeous; the words are deliciously barren and luscious at the same time; the arch of allusions, the borrowing and transfiguring of the past that Eliot gives us-- because, really, when we're so completely fucked, what other words are there but the literary tradition of Shakespeare, Spencer, Scripture?; the images, the tease of an answer Eliot dangles in front of us, the Shantih, Shantih, Shantih... I can read this everyday for a century and find something new to gush over. Eliot, you were one sad, crazy, genius man-- and you had just the right words to capture our sad, crazy, genius world....more
This graphic novel is truly an example of the future of the genre. Chris Ware has a unique style and vision, really bringing the reader into the workThis graphic novel is truly an example of the future of the genre. Chris Ware has a unique style and vision, really bringing the reader into the work with puzzles, quizzes, cut-outs... the story was heart-wrenching, and there were definitely moments of tears. But I grew to love Jimmy Corrigan in a way, and, while the story might be one we've heard elsewhere before, Ware presents us in the most magnificent package. Ultimately, the graphic novel will one day become the new novel, and Corrigan is a good reason why. ...more
This book was, as a reviewer noted, "intoxicating" to me. Over the few days it took me to read it-- when I was able to snatch moments to immerse myselThis book was, as a reviewer noted, "intoxicating" to me. Over the few days it took me to read it-- when I was able to snatch moments to immerse myself in Eugenides' captivating prose-- I found myself dreaming of the Lisbon girls and their suicides. Weird? Yes. Intoxicating? Definitely.
I am one who has the most random assortment of 5 stars, and I debated for a while before I followed my gut and gave this the full 5. Not only was the story itself captivating, but both the "we" communal narrator and the overall commentary on America's overrunning suburbian lifestyle added to this novel's appeal. To me-- a girl who has known nothing but the 'burbs-- Eugenides spoke to every aspect of suburbia that I personally have ever felt and experienced. From the nosy, pie-wielding neighbors and neighborhood boys, the quest to save the elm trees to the emptiness of high school halls and adolescent sexuality.
For me to become so caught up in a novel as to actually incorporate it into my subconscious-- VS obviously spoke to every part of me. As Eugenides poignantly put it, "something sick at the heart of the country had infected the girls." This is an infection that nearly any suburban teenager has at some point regretfully, or rightfully, claimed as their own. Eugenides' VS both pulled at my heart and haunted my dreams....more
This book was absolutely captivating. The last few chapters had me in tears. There's so much I could say in praise of Roy-- Booker prize winner, firstThis book was absolutely captivating. The last few chapters had me in tears. There's so much I could say in praise of Roy-- Booker prize winner, first time novelist, etc-- but there are just so many feelings her prose invokes, it almost doesn't matter that this was her first novel, or that her style was smoothly irrational, or that by telling you the ending immediately, she sets you up for the shattering, heart-wrenching tale to come. The sense of time enthralled me; I personally loved the Communist/Love Laws/historically ethnic aspect of the story; and I felt drawn to the characters and their tragedy as to distant friends. This book was a wonderful, yet obviously melancholy, delight.
After a second reading, I have fallen in love with Roy all over again. There is so much emotion, so much passion, in ever word of this novel, it completely overwhelms me. It is just such a smart, deep text....more
**2012 update: This book is still as powerful and striking and relevant as it was back when I first read it in 2008. The lives of the Lamberts are sti**2012 update: This book is still as powerful and striking and relevant as it was back when I first read it in 2008. The lives of the Lamberts are still sticky and uncomfortable to read; Franzen's voice contains an intimacy that is both unnerving and soothing. I love it. I have to admit-- I still love this book. Refreshing to pick up again.
"But his entire life was set up as a correction of his father's life..."
So sets up a premise for Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, one of the greatest books to come from contemporary literature (note: this is not the entire premise of the book, nor even the central one. There's just too much to summarize in such a small space). Not only did it win the National Book award in 2001, The Corrections has garnered praise from Oprah and several prominent literary critics. It has been by far one of my favorite novels in quite some time. Franzen encapsulates modern life with such depth and the book can be seen more as a character study (for an entire family, with all it's eccentricities) than as a plot-driven text. I fell in love with every single member of the Lambert family, as much as they made me uncomfortable and squeamish with how realistic their situations and perils actually were. In an interview for Powells, the reporter said, "I think I was reading the Gary chapter when I told someone, 'I'm so glad I'm not any of these people.' And at the same time, it's not as if I don't recognize myself in some of the mistakes they're making." Touche.
Franzen is a beautiful writer, and I hung on every word. While I started this towards the end of the summer, I was forced to put it aside as assigned English-major reading took over my life. However, as soon as I picked it up a few days ago, I returned to every plotline as if it had only been a week since I had put it down. Franzen has created a subset of modern society that breaks your heart, relates to your every move, and cracks you up with its absurdity. I love love love this novel and recommend it for all members of modern-day society-- if not for it's imagery and tone, then for its depth, heart, and humor....more
"O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?"
It was during my second reading of Owen Meany that I was able to truly appreciate it for the pu"O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?"
It was during my second reading of Owen Meany that I was able to truly appreciate it for the pure literary confection that it is. The first time I tackled it, I loved the characters and the story, with its religious and political themes, but this time, I just basked in the wit and wisdom Irving brings.
The best thing I found in this book was the relevance. The commentary on Vietnam and the state of the American attitude/apathy rang of current issues and feelings. Faithless generation? That's us, right now. Irving had the foresight to see how the conflicts of earlier generations could be so relatable to present generations.
While the first third of the book was a tad slow, the rest I flew through. Owen Meany is inspiring and his faith is enviable. I wish I were a character in Johnny's life. As an earlier reviewer said, I wish the book never ended. I literally teared up in the end. This book is an important piece of literature and offers a vehicle for religious, moral and political self-discovery. ...more
2013 update: Just re-read for the third time (like everyone and their grandma) in order to properly embrace the new Baz Luhrmann remake. This book is2013 update: Just re-read for the third time (like everyone and their grandma) in order to properly embrace the new Baz Luhrmann remake. This book is just... heavenly. It is perfection. Fitzgerald just has a way with words that makes you want to read, and re-read, and go back and re-read again a single line. There is so much underlined, so many words that are animated in new and exciting ways... Fitzgerald did something great here.
The characters are really what make this story memorable. Yes, the actual plot is captivating, but the characters infuse it with that beloved quality. Everyone is a fraud; everyone, even the overly moral Nick, is to be questioned. The overarching theme-- that we can be whomever we want to be, for however long we can keep up the ruse-- is such an American sensibility, infused in our mindset. This time around, I nearly despised everyone... except Gatsby, of course. His unflappable hope and commitment. This is one of those books that must be returned to, time and time again....more