A charming little thought-experiment conducted by a writer of rich yet limited imagination. This book has received rave reviews in a number of journal...moreA charming little thought-experiment conducted by a writer of rich yet limited imagination. This book has received rave reviews in a number of journals over the past few months, and I was on a waiting list at the library for weeks before I had a chance to check it out myself.
Clearly influenced by the structured, dreamlike musings of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, Sum: Fory Tales from the Afterlives dances neatly through a series of post-life possibilities. Some are clever, some are odd, but few manage to be more than a change of curtains on what is clearly a window into a Judeo-Christian background. There is always a God (capital G), always a mention of sinners and a "you guys get to go one place, and you all go over here." Unfortunately, this book is a missed opportunity for something a bit more mystical, creative, or even simply adventurous.
Eagleman's strongest moments are when he flows inward and touches some of the raw points of sadness we each carry in secret, and when he succumbs to a pantheistic vision that explores natural systems for their own intrinsic miracles.(less)
This book tapped into something I've been thinking about quite a lot lately - the continuum between freedom and security. It seems that, to gain one,...moreThis book tapped into something I've been thinking about quite a lot lately - the continuum between freedom and security. It seems that, to gain one, the other must be sacrificed - that the two are positioned in such a way that requires careful moral calculations to balance or understand.
As a young adult novel, this book does an excellent job of bringing out the complexities of utopian visions, of the difficulties that lie in making choices between collectivity and individualism, and explores very elegantly the positive sides of pain and sorrow.
For obvious reasons, this book is included in many high school reading curricula - it should make its way onto adults' shelves, as well.(less)
This book was written by a close friend of my parents, one of the old-school members of the "outlaw" community in which we lived. Andre was in Anchora...moreThis book was written by a close friend of my parents, one of the old-school members of the "outlaw" community in which we lived. Andre was in Anchorage for much of his life, given to chain-smoking and wearing berets; we were in Dutch Harbor and Kodiak. We lived on a boat. We had a paperback copy of this book of his, signed in a friendly scrawl that has faded over the years, due to wear, sun-exposure, salt spray, and the fact that I read the thing 17 times between the ages of 9 and 19. He was an accidental hero of mine, just one more example of the possibilities of what a life could look like, and another instance of what was commonplace in Alaska seeming like the lunatic fringe everywhere else.
This is the original Into the Wild, only instead of being an arrogant, self-centered, privileged kid that ends up dead in the wilderness, Andy is a grown man (with a history of self-abuse), who heads into the wild to save his own life. What results is a beautifully honest, lucid, first-person account of the authentic Alaskan outback lifestyle. I hesitate to use the predictable descriptor "gritty," but be prepared for uncomfortably "real": as in, seal clubbing and other less savory acts of human interest.
On the other hand, Andy's writing style has a freshness and a clarity to it that comes from being an interesting man with a story to tell, with none of the conceits or distractions of a "writer's" identity. I suppose it would be considered a "naive" work, when "naive" means self-taught; for all I know, the book was self-published, as well, and sold primarily in gift stores in Kodiak and the Anchorage airport.
This book is one of my secrets; I hereby share it. Find it and read it. It's great.(less)
Alisdair Gray is a strange and wonderful writer. I'd like to have a glass of wine...moreDelicious. Dark. Revealing. Truthful. Lush. Haunting. Funny. Artful.
Alisdair Gray is a strange and wonderful writer. I'd like to have a glass of wine in his mind. I don't want him to speak - I just want to wander around in there, dragging my finger across objects and looking into his bookcases and closets. I'd like to try on his clothes.
This book was given to me by a dear friend who apparently knew me quite a bit better than was immediately apparent. It is a very intimate gift. This story has become a secret favorite, as if reading it brought me that much closer to myself. I can't say much of anything about it, except for the fact that I wish it had been written about me.
This book is not for everyone, I don't think. But then, maybe it is.