This is Alice Munro at her best. I read somewhere that the stories in this book are shorter than most of her other short-stories and it is true, we ar...moreThis is Alice Munro at her best. I read somewhere that the stories in this book are shorter than most of her other short-stories and it is true, we are told only the most essential, and then, the amazing thing is what is not told. What, as the reader, we are left to wonder.
I think I did this book a disservice though. I could not avoid reading one story after the other; finishing one just in time to start another. I used to be a smoker, many years ago when it was still fashionable to do so. But I smoked 2 or 3 cigarettes a day, usually after a meal, while drinking an espresso – I lived in Brazil at the time and this was just the thing to do. Until the odd weekend when there was a party, and I sometimes would light one cigarette on the one I was just about finishing. It could not be avoided at that moment, but I would regret it the next day. This excess did not add to the overall pleasure of smoking, but detracted from it. So it was with this book. Each story should had been savored a bit longer, but I could not stop myself. And I now regret it… Then, be advised, pace yourself, if you can. And do not pick up smoking either, even if just 2 or 3 a day. (less)
It feels very difficult to verbalize the experience of reading these short-stories. They at times border on the fantastical, but mostly describe some...moreIt feels very difficult to verbalize the experience of reading these short-stories. They at times border on the fantastical, but mostly describe some intricate psychological play, as if Kawabata has access to the deep labyrinths of thoughts and feelings inside a character’s head. Often the stories refer to dreams, and have themselves a dreamy quality, and they left me with the uneasiness of eavesdropping on people’s very inner feelings: the young sister who loves her older sister’s blind lover; the widow that loved his mistress only through the living actions of his now dead wife; or the anxiety of a crippled girl waiting to hear if her fiancé would return from the war.
But mostly the stories are riddles not easily understood, and I was left with the feeling that I missed something essential about it. As if Kawabata wrote of things that were beyond my grasp of feelings and understanding, yet I got a glimpse of it, a sparkle that fed my curiosity and empathy for those people.
Although Kawabata’s writing is very different from Italo Calvino,Karen Blixen and Jorge Luis Borges I perceive in his stories the same feeling that those authors have aroused in me, that of a reading experience that precedes intellectual understanding and transports me to some ancient time where stories carried archetypical meaning. The lover, the mother, the young/older sister, the crippled – all are aspects of me.
It is not a book that will be loved by all, and it may require a certain mood from the reader, but I highly recommend it. (less)
I finished reading All Aunt’s Hagar Children a few days ago and had to come back to write a little blurb about it because those stories are still ling...moreI finished reading All Aunt’s Hagar Children a few days ago and had to come back to write a little blurb about it because those stories are still lingering around me. Of course, as in any collection of stories, 3 or 4 make a bigger impact then the rest, however I was quite surprised of how even this selection is overall. Not a small task in a book with 14 stories.
Those are complex stories, with a multitude of secondary characters – neighbors, relatives, ancestors – showing up and furnishing the main story line with flavor and color and creating whole universes. The language is poetic. The prose is full of subtle – and not so subtle - magic realism: the devil shows up at a grocery store; a woman paints pictures of people dead in different countries and time; and yet another woman becomes blind while taking the bus home. But, most often, the stories are about people dealing with the tragedies of their lives, small and big disappointments and endless hope for whatever is to come.
I do love short stories, a genre I realize not every reader appreciates. And Edward P. Jones excels at the genre. I did love his novel “The Known World”, but I crave for more of his short stories. (less)
I am maybe being too harsh giving this book only 3 stars. Overall it was an enjoyable book, and a great sneak pick at the lives of medical students an...moreI am maybe being too harsh giving this book only 3 stars. Overall it was an enjoyable book, and a great sneak pick at the lives of medical students and new doctors. And this is also where I found fault with this book. At the end it felt a bit contrived. That the book has autobiographical tinges is obvious (or I assume it anyway). And certainly this does not take away from its merits, but I do feel curious to read Vincent Lam writings about something other than his own immediate experiences. I will pay attention for any follow up books anyway. (less)
I have mixed feelings about this book. I truly enjoyed Shepard’s writing, but felt at times that the main character in each story was the same, as if...moreI have mixed feelings about this book. I truly enjoyed Shepard’s writing, but felt at times that the main character in each story was the same, as if the same father and/or brother dysfunctional relationship was shown through different chronological and geographic backgrounds. Having said that, I wonder if this is, after all, the touch of genius in this book.
One thing is for certain, there is a maleness about it that transcends the fact that only one of the stories portrait a female main character and that all other main characters/narrators are men. It is that Shepard exposes the male psyche with such clarity, at times I – female that I am – felt like a voyeur peeking at the boys, eavesdropping on conversations that were not for my ears. Testosterone seems to be a key ingredient in this book. And surprisingly this is quite unusual, as if literature in general was mostly impregnated with estrogen and progesterone. But that is a different discussion…
I started to write this review intended on giving it 3 stars, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it deserves better. 4 stars it is! (less)