I basically read the first three chapters, then skipped to the middle, read two chapters, then went to the last 100 pages or so to get the full story.I basically read the first three chapters, then skipped to the middle, read two chapters, then went to the last 100 pages or so to get the full story. I guess the first chapters pulled me in to want to find out the story behind the mystery. But I didn't have the patience to wade through all the intermediate steps of character and relationship development. The mystery pulled me in, but not the writing....more
Am I the only one who has a problem with the character of the tree? The tree that gave everything of itself for a boy who is a wholly selfish taker? AAm I the only one who has a problem with the character of the tree? The tree that gave everything of itself for a boy who is a wholly selfish taker? As a child, I thought the moral of the story was that there was something honorable in such selfish giving. As an adult, I cringe at the idea of a child adopting that sort of value wholeheartedly. Instead, i find the moral lies more in the lesson of the boy who becomes a man - and to be careful not to be that person ever. I still believe that there may be a pure spiritual value to the unasking givingness of the tree, who is left alone with nothing, but the memory of the boy it loved. But I have a hard time accepting that that's the most honorable way to live. ...more
I enjoyed the first section immensely. Her descriptions of the foods she tried in Italy made me want to get on a plane and tool around Italy finding tI enjoyed the first section immensely. Her descriptions of the foods she tried in Italy made me want to get on a plane and tool around Italy finding these out of the way restaurants immediately! The best pizza in the world? So good that she and her friend each had a whole pie apiece??
She's an entertaining writer who had an amazingly adventurous year. We benefit from her ability to make friends and provide interesting perspective on other cultures and other people.
But at the end I had a few key problems with her story: 1) A part of me felt like I'd been scammed. She has to be sugar coating something. How could someone who had experienced such bone-achingly intense depression shed it so completely? She must still face those moments from time to time... 2)Everytime she brought up the tragedies she was trying to outrun - the failure of her marriage and the failure of her true-love relationship with David, I felt deceived. She was so vague about the gap between the dissolution of her marriage and her falling in love with David. She tries to imply that as her marriage failed, she fell in love. I feel sure she was being dishonest and there had to be more overlap between the two relationships than she was admitting to. And that she mourns the failure of the marriage, but does not seem to be able to express any tenderness of memory or feeling of her husband of 6 years. 3) Which brings me to the next point. I found it very dishonest for her to say that she didn't want to get into the details of how the marriage fell apart because she couldn't be impartial - lulling us into this sense that she was trying to be fair. And yet, the little she explains about the divorce really made her exhusband seem like a complete jerk! Which, perhaps she was, but she certainly did not take the high road and avoid making him seem awful.
In the end, I enjoyed the story and some of her insights. I appreciated her honesty about embarking on her spirtual journey. But I found it hard to swallow that she had really found what she was looking for. It was all too neat and yet unclear. She was able to find this perfect lover with whom she was able to overcome the deep feelings of loneliness she had felt even within relationships before? As I stepped away from the enjoyment of the novel, I couldn't help but think that this is a woman who would be entertaining and charming at a party, but one I could never fully trust and be friends with.
But maybe that is the nature of a mid-life memoir. And it is unfair for me to expect her to have traveled further in her life's journey when she is still rather young. I guess I just wanted her to acknowledge that as much as she had overcome and as much as that one year had given her, she still had a long way to go. Or maybe I'm just slightly envious and bitter that, despite the traumatic transition from her path on the married suburban life to who she is now, her life seems so perfect and charmed. "I anguished, I searched, I became happy, and found a man again." All in one year....more
For reasons I can't wholly define, I am intrigued by this author's surreal style. Weird things happen in his novels that I compare to the feel of a DaFor reasons I can't wholly define, I am intrigued by this author's surreal style. Weird things happen in his novels that I compare to the feel of a Dali or other visual surrealist. The events make little to no sense in the real world. The magic is in the act of trying to connect the surreal to something meaningful for me. The story then takes on an oddly comforting personal meaning. After Dark was a much quicker read than some of his other books that I've enjoyed. I completed in a three hour sitting. I wonder how his stories read in the native Japanese and if the connection with his novels by his countrymen is completely different from my own....more
While The Alchemist did not resonate with me at all, this one held a little more for me. I think I am a bit too left-brained to wholly buy in to whatWhile The Alchemist did not resonate with me at all, this one held a little more for me. I think I am a bit too left-brained to wholly buy in to what Mr. Coehlo offers the world, but there are pieces I can connect to. The Witch of Portobello gave me the opportunity to explore the ideas of expressing one's true nature and personality, without care of what the world expects or wishes to define you as. I enjoyed the method of telling, from the perspective of other characters within the story. One perspective was particularly intriguing to me as it did not hold the main character in such high esteem and adoration. The idea that a character can be iconic and a leader of change, and yet also encompass real human weakness, seems real and appealing to me. Unfortunately, in the end, the author merely depicted that often, great people may be wrongly judged. Nonetheless, and enjoyable read that left me with a few things to ponder....more
What a lovely collection of short stories. Some reasonated more than others. The ones that did were amazing. The amazing part of the feeling of each sWhat a lovely collection of short stories. Some reasonated more than others. The ones that did were amazing. The amazing part of the feeling of each story was how deeply she could connect me to these worlds I don't know, immerse me in the perspectives of the characters so that I could even find myself relating to what they felt and believed. She touches on the lives of those who are displaced, the nature of family and social connections, and although many of the settings she chooses are exotic and unfamiliar to me, the stories touched me in a very real and immediate way. I particularly appreciated that, despite some bleak reality throughout the collection, she ends with one that is simple and hopeful. Enough to bring tears to my eyes....more
Oh, I was so sorry that this book was a disappointment. It has been a few months now and I immediately donated the book after reading, so I can't lookOh, I was so sorry that this book was a disappointment. It has been a few months now and I immediately donated the book after reading, so I can't look at the book again. But my recall of my impression of this book was that, while there was a potentially interesting story here, the writing did not hold my attention. Written from the perspective and in the voice of the sister of Ann Boleyn, the style just felt flat and dull to me.
Also, perhaps a fault of my own lack of imagination, the world portrayed did not feel believable to me: Fathers who explicitly pimp out their daughters for political gain - even involving them in the discussions of intrigue and machinations? Such a loose and sexually liberal royal and upper class, so that sexual liaisons almost seem to supercede matters of state? And despite the sexual themes, no real depiction of the intimacies themselves. Which is not a complaint per se - I was not looking for a harlequin romance - but some of it was so obliquely described, I wasn't quite sure what was happening. But that, too, is possibly blamed on my own lack of imagination. The suggestion of incest, too, did not sit well with me. Maybe I'm just a prude. Except that I wanted more explicit sex scenes.
I'm now going to contradict my first premise that I did not like the book because the voice of the main character was a bit flat. But what I did enjoy about the book was the development of main character (I cannot remember her name right now. Mary?) and Ann. The author created an interesting dynamic between the two - building on their interactions as women, sisters, and rivals....more
My sister had gotten me a year's subscription plus several of the classic installments of McSweeney's and then I saw that this book had been written bMy sister had gotten me a year's subscription plus several of the classic installments of McSweeney's and then I saw that this book had been written by that serial's editor so I picked it up at the airport. Plus, I had always been fascinated by the title.
I agree with the many critics that feel the book, the writing stlye, is all a bit self-indulgent. But it worked on me. I found myself sympathizing with the author and finding a sweetness in the way he has chosen to depict and outwardly process his life's pains and joys. I most of all respected how he described and portrayed his parents and their deaths. Perhaps some would find the portrayal lacking in reverence, but sometimes - the less said of the dead, the better. The quick shedding of the past and lack of dwelling seemed more honorable to me - important for him to remain strong for his younger brother.
The writing style made me feel like I was a reading a series of letters from a close friend. I felt honored that this friend would share with me so honestly. And each chapter was a letter I looked forward to receiving. It wasn't so much that the letters gave me much insight into life, the world, or even myself. Just about Dave Eggers. But, having a window into another's soul is fascinating to me. Like reading someone's daily blog. An opportunity to "know" a stranger....more
I saw this author at the Astor Place Barnes and Nobles in Manhattan for a reading of this novel and was inspired to pick it up. McCann's perspective aI saw this author at the Astor Place Barnes and Nobles in Manhattan for a reading of this novel and was inspired to pick it up. McCann's perspective as a New Yorker by way of Ireland is threaded throughout the novel. Crossing several generations of New York, the plot traces a family from the days when they built the first underwater subway tunnel connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn to modern day times(1990s). I appreciated the historical references and the neighborhood landmarks I recognized, having lived for several years on the Upper West Side. The intergenerational connections and the development of identity as it's wrapped into one's familial history were insightful and knowing. Entwined in the intergenerational story is slice of the evolution of ethnic subcultures of New York City. A charming, romantic, and hopeful novel that's very accessible....more