Archive for the 'Book Award' Category

The Orphan Master’s Son

Thoughts tomsbyaj The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, Random House Trade Paperback 2012, 443 pages

Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction 2013

FIRST Line:  “Citizens, gather ’round your loudspeaker, for we bring important updates!”

What’s is ABOUT:  Pak Jun Do is an orphan, except his father runs the orphanage so he technically isn’t but his dad doesn’t want to treat him any more special than the other boys. The first half of the book is his biography from his childhood on until he disappears into a prison camp after some crazy adventures on a ship and a special trip to Texas. The second half of the book he assumes the identity of one of the most powerful men in North Korea.  Ooops – that might be a spoiler, but probably not. We are ‘treated’ to the lifestyles and culture of what it means to live in North Korea. It aint pretty.

“Nobody’s ever safe.”  -p.163

What’s GOOD: Satire. To me it means putting horrible things into a funny this-is-crazy gotta-laugh-or-I’ll scream kind of way. And I laughed. A lot. Jun Do was adorable and sweet and had a great heart. He carried out his awful orders but he didn’t let it diminish his light.

What’s maybe NOT so good:  It just takes a bit to get into. It is told in such a straight-forward almost non-emotional way, so matter of fact, that it makes it hard to care about the characters until some point you do and then, of course,  you keep reading.  Also, there is a scene out of order – somewhere when Dear Leader is talking about a woman making it into the corps of bully interrogators but she hadn’t been invited into the ‘club’ until after that part of the story had occurred. Extremely minor but it bothered me. I could be wrong, of course.

FINAL Thoughts:  I really was impressed with how the story unfolded and how much I cared about Jun Do. The characters were quirky and believable when what they endure is totally UNbelievable. And yet the author uses true stories as source for this novel! It’s crazy. Scary and crazy.

RATING: Four and half slices of pie:  PEACH PIE! But of course. So here’s a picture of a couple of Peach Pie Crumbles with little Cherry Vanilla Pot Pies as sidekicks:

photo-75

Other REVIEWS:   Caribou’s MomBookChatter, Leeswammes’ Blog, and the results of Fyrefly’s Book Blog Search for lots more.

“Someone will save you, he thought… If you just hold tight long enough someone is bound to.”   -p. 76

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Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Final Discussion #AchilleSong

Thoughts tsoabymm2 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, ecco – Imprint of HarperCollins 2012, 378 pages

FIRST HALF of the discussion –> HERE <–

“Pride became us — heroes were never modest.”

I loved this. As do most of the people I encounter who have read this Orange Prize Winner. For a book to get me interested in reading Homer, KUDOs! And even though I was worried that my extraneous searching into the Greek Mythology (about half way through, I wrestled with the wonderings of missing something because I didn’t really know who Patroclus was or much at all about who Achilles was (other than Brad Pitt played him in a movie)) and then I was all worried that I RUINED it because I found out Pat AND Ach both DIE!!!!  But the ending still surprised me; I was so moved and touched and really grew to love Patroclus as much if not more than Achilles.

“As if in answer, the air changed. Bright sunlight broke and poured over Achilles, went rolling down his hair and back and skin, turning him to gold. He seemed suddenly larger, and his tunic, wrinkled from travel, straightened until it shown white and clean as a sail. His hair caught the light like buoyant flame.”  -p.192

Was there really a monument to both Achilles and Patroclus on a beach somewhere?

When on page 264, Thetis tells that the prophecy has changed, that the best of the Myrmidons will die before two more years have passed, I knew. I KNEW it was Patroclus. I was waiting to read that Achilles and even, Patrocles, would recognize this. But no. I liked it actually. It felt all the more real. You can’t accuse Miller of being an author who tells not shows.

“… hubris. Our word for arrogance that scrapes the stars, for violence and towering rage as ugly as the gods.” 

pieratingsml

Per the questions in the back of my edition of The Song of Achilles. Number 11: As represented in the novel, what are some of Odysseus’ defining qualities? Do you find him a sympathetic character? Why or why not?

YES. I always liked him in every scene. He is smart and clever but never cocky. He is always very careful. AND considerate. I am as much inclined to read The Odyssey now as I am to read The Iliad.

Question for you experts out there. Who is DAPHNE? Page 326, when Patroclus was being set up in Achilles’ armor and being warned to stay in the chariot, stay away from the archers on the wall of Troy, chase only and then come right back:

“The armor was stiff and heavy and unyielding. “I feel like Daphne,” I told him, barked up in her laurel skin.

If I had this as eBook, I would have searched for Daphne; did I miss something? Is this an isolated reference? Do tell.

pieratingsml

I thought the whole thing extremely well done. Five slices of Fig Pie.

Thanks everyone who participated and tweeted (and continues to tweet) along with us (hashtag #AchilleSong) !!

REVIEWS
Rhapsody in Books Jill says: “What a moving and memorable story this is. It is both a love story and a war story, and I think it will satisfy those who like either genre.”
Fizzy Thoughts Jill says: “…plenty to think on, and the more I think on it, the more I love it.”
Iris on Books
2606 Books and Counting…
The Bluestocking Society
Necromancy Never Pays

Watch for
Avid Reader‘s post on March 25th for GREEK WEEK: “Broke my heart. It’s the most humanizing telling of a Greek mythology story that I’ve ever read.” (Tweet)
Too Fond
Sharlene (Twitter profile)
Jenny’s Books - soon to read…
Between the Covers - currently reading…

and all the many reviews at Fyrefly’s Book Blog Search Engine…

.

“There are too many of them,” he said. “It’s simpler if they just remember me.”

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Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Announcing Song of Achilles Readalong #AchilleSong

Up for a flexible informal readalong, Anyone?

tsoabymm2

One of the tweeples I follow has expressed interest in reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. So I thought I would open it up to anyone else who might be interested in this (from what I hear) beautifully written interpretation of one of the stories in The Illiad.

We’ll be tweeting with hashtag #AchilleSong.

We don’t yet have a start date nor time frame – we are being FLEXIBLE. Flexibility is in order because Sharlene is in line to get the book from the library and we don’t really have any way to expect WHEN it will be available.

So, if you want to read this book and don’t mind the vague details of a readalong plan and could possibly start at a moment’s notice, then JOIN US!  We’re hoping sometime in February but it might be later.

tsoabymm

Last October, I attended a Boston Book Fest 2012 session featuring the author and a Harvard professor chatting about this book and I am really excited to see what is about. Maybe then I will have the courage to attempt The Illiad itself.

Leave a comment here or tweet at me @BkClubCare if you are interested and I’ll start a list.  Or watch the hashtag in Twitterville. If you don’t tweet and even if you don’t have a blog, you can always join the discussion here at Care’s Online Book Club. All are welcome.

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Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Redemption in Indigo #Diversiverse

Thoughts  Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord, Jo Fletcher Books 2010, 276 pages Tradeback

WINNER of the Frank Collymore Literary Award 2010

I enjoyed this modern telling of a Senegalese folktale. We have djombi which are like gods? ghosts? — if I had any mythology ‘training’, I might attempt to explain but I don’t so I can’t.

So, this one djombi (let’s call him INDIGO, shall we?) gets a lil too big for his britches and a more powerful djombi takes away one of his more precious powers and gives it to … wait for it… a HUMAN. A human named Paama who has endured a glutton of a husband and decided to risk shame by leaving the man and then somehow is given this ‘power’. She must learn how to use it for good which is likely since the powerful djombi who gave it to her has tested her character so we can be assured that all might end well. But the conflict of the story is when the djombi who is rather upset that he no longer has the power wants it back and comes looking for it. Can Paama hold her own?

We get talking critters and tricksters and examples of human folly compared to genuine goodness of humanity, etc and then some. You may guess the redemption – obviously, I’ve already painted Paama as one of the ‘good ones’ and so we might infer that it is Indigo who comes to see the light. Oh. I gave that away already, didn’t I? It’s the book title, Silly!

I enjoyed this. I also thought it clever that the storyteller speaks directly to the reader as part of the unfolding of the story. Pacing is good. Character development OK. Indigo doesn’t quite turn around slowly or rather, he is described more evil than he might should have been because once he meets Paama, he is almost too nice, although he really wasn’t nice at first. Yea, that doesn’t make sense. What I want to say is that when he first actually considers Paama, he shows what I thought a surprising glimpse of compassion. It was too unexpected and so his unfolding redemption becomes a foretold conclusion even when he himself doesn’t see it. Even if it IS the title of the book.

Whatever, I enjoyed it, none the less.

Other books I want to read with INDIGO in the title: Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World, Indigo by Beverly Jenkins, John D MacDonald’s Dress Her in Indigo.

RATING: Four pieces of pie. Should I try to concoct a Ginger Lime Pie? or go with Blueberry for the indigo color? Hmmmmm…..

THANKS RUTHIELLA for sending this to me!  You deserve a piece of pie.

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

We Still Need to Talk About Kevin

More thoughts on  We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

I read this book on the recommendation of Lisa of Books on the Brain. She said she needed to talk about this with someone. I got it from the library.

Here’s what I said in a post titled ‘BOOKS!‘ back on December 11, 2007:

Now, I’m fully into We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I was almost turned OFF enough by the first few pages that I was tempted to pass and begin instead on The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.   

I really do not believe that anyone would write letters in such a style – so intellectually ‘wordy’ – to an ex husband. NO ONE I know would write like that! And, therein lies the point. I probably just don’t know enough people well enough to know how they would write to an ex-husband. Keep going, Care,  keep reading. 

I yap further on the ‘insensible UN-MAKE-SENSE-ABLE actions’ and offer a great quote, as well.

Then I wrote in a post titled “Computer is Down‘, dated December 14, 2007:

I did finish We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.   wow.  

Which I got taken to task for by Lisa. So I wrote another post ‘Explain the Wow’, dated December 15, 2007:

(You really might want to click on that post and read the whole thing…)

Ah…    and the reason I gave only a ‘wow’ – and it was a subdued, “OH MY GOD! …   huh.   eek.   goodness.   All I can say is…   (pause)   

wow.   

To say more would give a lot away?!

I attempted to expound,

‘wow’ was sad with only a stunned calm sadness.

and also added,

a ‘wow’ for skill on the author’s part.

and agreed with Lisa and Trish that this book begs to be discussed, out loud, in conversation, face to face.

You can read Lisa’s review here and/or Trish’s review here. (and the many more at Fyrefly’s book blog search. Lisa and Trish were my blog-buds way back in the day and they commented on THE post, so I thought it appropriate to let you quickly find their thoughts on this horrific book.)

My bookclub, THE BOOKIES, meets this Wednesday to talk about Kevin and I expect it to be fraught with emotion. KB asked me about the box and I don’t remember a box! Maybe I put it out of my mind? I did not want to reread this book so I am glad I revisited my blog posts. I am grateful I have been blogging my thoughts on the hundreds of books I’ve read since 2007!  wow.  (A happy ‘wow’.)

OK, then. DO WE STILL NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN SOME MORE?!  ;)

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Thoughts    Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife, Viking Penguin 2000, 248 pages.

Hardback; from the library. Nonfiction: Science genre.

FIRST Sentence: “Zero hit the USS Yorktown like a torpedo.”

I loved that this started with a story of how a computer program includes a zero where a zero should never be: in the denominator of a fraction; in a “CANNOT-HAPPEN” equation that attempts to divide something by zero. Program fails, engines seize, big boat stops. In this case, a billion-dollar missile cruiser stuck on the open seas.

The history was fascinating but a little over-bearing and repetitive that “zero was bad.” A few uninteresting tidbits that stopped the narrative for me and made me question why these tidbits were included. Sure, a fair share of complicated mathematical concepts that didn’t inspire me to think at all.

RECOMMENDED for math geeks and ‘odd subject’ historians; possibly for fans of the Big Bang Theory TV show.

FINAL Thought(s):  One of the more difficult to write reviews because I fail to find the words for why this didn’t captivate me as much as I had hoped.

RATING: Three slices of pie. Coconut pie because it seems you either love coconut or hate it. Infinity or zero.

  

OTHER Reviews:  Eva at A Striped Armchair mentions this in a lengthy post from 2009.

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Cloud Atlas Readalong Announcement

Melissa of Avid Reader and I are hosting a Readalong of CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell. Join us?
Just click her name and you will be directed to the Mr.Linky signup.
We are ORGANIZED!! The first check in (pages 1-236) will be on March 17th HERE at Care’s Online Book Club and the second/final check in will be on March 31st over at Avid Reader.
You know you wanna. The book is on the list of 1001 books you must read before you die! And it also qualifies for the What’s in a Name 5 Challenge for the “something you’d see in the sky” category. It was nominated for the Man Booker in 2004 and the Arthur C. Clarke Award and WON the National Book Critics Circle Award (Fiction). I realize it has over 500 pages but only just barely so it’s on the shorter side of the chunkster scale and a lot of people seem to have enjoyed it.

Newsweek called it “… a wild, wonderful ride.

Here’s what the goodreads.com page for Cloud Atlas has to say:
From David Mitchell, the Booker Prize nominee, award-winning writer and one of the featured authors in Granta’s “Best of Young British Novelists 2003” issue, comes his highly anticipated third novel, a work of mind-bending imagination and scope. ✫ A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation — the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small. ✫ In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’ s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.
YIPPEE!! Should be fun.
Tell everyone and post with our cool button:

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Stone Diaries

Thoughts  The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields, Penguin Books 1995, 361 pages

“Yet wherever she goes, her story marches ahead of her. Announces her. Declares and cancels her true self. Oh, she did so want to be happy, but what choice did she have, stepping to the beat of the that ragbag history of hers?

- p.122

WHAT’s it ABOUT:   I’ve been avoiding the review of this in equal measures with my enthusiasm. I loved this book. It’s funny!  Sly humor, we should say. Short sentences, deep thoughts, a bit of whimsy even. Delightful. You might even think it is a happy story from all my gushing here but that would be a lie.

Daisy Stone Goodwill Hoad Flett is just a witness to her own life. She was born to a big fat woman who didn’t even know she was pregnant and then died! Died in childbirth. Slam bam, cruel cruel world. Daisy ended up being raised by an Aunt who was really a neighbor and well, you’ll just have to read the crazy storyline if I have interested you so far. (No? oh, OK:  aunt dies, she moves with her bio-dad to Indiana from Canada, grows up & goes to school – story glosses over this part, marries but not for long (ha!), needs an adventure and ends up back in Canada married to her ‘uncle’ – yep, the original aunt’s son; has three kids, gets a job, loses job, gets depressed, gets older, moves to Florida of all places, takes a crazy trip to Scotland and and…  I won’t ruin that part – it’s quite astonishing and finally is a witness to her death and a little after.

In an interview at the back of the book – DO READ THIS, I like when I like the afterwords; so refreshing, wouldn’t you agree? Carol Shields says that many women of the generation of Daisy just fail to claim their own lives and thus never get books written about them.  So Ms Shields attempted it and was beautifully successful in writing something wholly entertaining and profound.  There, I said it. It is my opinion.

It’s the writing and the theme and the creativity and the humor that got me. I didn’t rush through this; it wasn’t a fast-paced page-turner. I savored this.

Fraidy, friend of Daisy, was my favorite. It makes me smile just to think of her letters, her words, her attitudes. Oh yes, there are letters and scattered perspectives of Daisy’s life interspersed through the entire book.

I dreaded this review because I don’t really know what to say or how to express what I loved so much. Huh, I’m at 600 words!

Or is love something less, something slippery and odorless, a transparent gas riding through the world on the back of a breeze, or else – and this is what he more and more believes – just a word trying to remember another word.

-p.165

Carol Shields has me thinking she would be really fun to hang out with. I can’t wait to read more of her stories to see if she really should be one of my new favorites. If you follow my blog at all, you know I don’t tend to follow an author’s oevure. If she passes the 3 book test (3 books is when I tend to tire of an author’s ‘style’), then a favorite she will be.

WHAT’s GOOD:   Humor. I was ready for a book that made me laugh. Not that this is a funny book!  It is, but I wouldn’t classify it in that section of the library.  It’s funny in that life-is-absurd kind of way.

It is inevitable that each of us will be misunderstood; this, it seems, is part of twentieth-century wisdom.

-p.145

WHAT maybe NOT so good?    Can’t think of a thing.

FINAL THOUGHTS:    [crickets]

RATING:  Five slices of pie.

… the great story she let rise up and swamp her.

- p.125

REVIEWS:   Results of Fyrefly’s Book Blog Search for this title and then the one that first brought this book to my attention:  the Bluestocking Society where she says ‘we glimpse truths about the entire human condition’. Shoutouts to Kailana and Chris of Bookarama (whatdoyouknow! Canadians) for chatting with me about this on Twitter and goodreads.  *smiles*

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad  by Jennifer Egan, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group  2011, 341 pages

Winner of MANY Awards including the Pulitzer.

My thoughts:  I first gave this three stars but must again proclaim the fickleness of time and place and situation and mood when one brings stars (or slices of pie) to evaluate and weight the worth of a novel.   Three stars – I liked it!   Four stars – I liked it a bit more!   A bit more than WHAT exactly?  than the latest book I gave 3 stars to?

But that last book I gave 3 stars to was Bad Girls Don’t Die and that was a totally different kind of book intended for a different audience.  So, if the audience happens to be ME, then, yes, Goon Squad must get more pie.

It’s creative, it’s clever, it’s smart. It entertains, it keeps you on your toes. It bounces around in time and through various decades, decades (well, not ALL decades yet) of which I have lived so thus relatable. It evokes mood and tone of dread and then lightness and suggests the questions of WHAT-IS-GOING-ON-HERE-EXACTLY? (Wait, who is this? oh! Bennie was in the last chapter. Oops. Oh yea.)

I got lost more than I care to admit. A reader can’t sleep through this one and hope to keep the pace and attention.  I liked it more and more as it went on but was worried at first that I didn’t know enough of the music references to ‘get it’. I brought much more expectations of being blown away to this than I should have.  I wasn’t blown away but I keep thinking about it.

I would even say this is a short story collection on par with Olive Kitteridge (another Pulitzer Winner; I gave 5 stars) and The Imperfectionists (I recommend this highly but? I assigned 4 stars, hmmm. I think I liked it better than Goon).  THAT was a surprise; that it was much more a short story collection than a ‘story’. I don’t think I saw this mentioned in any reviews.

The last chapter/story was futuristic which was a pleasant surprise but I didn’t like the characters (sigh). I would even say I liked the Slide Show section the best.

And, I do believe it is a book that continues to build esteem as time clicks away. It has staying power. But it suffered (while I was reading) from my knowing it won so many prizes so it HAD to great. If I had stumbled upon this book blind — I LOVE the title! — I would have liked it very much.

I won’t try to convince you to read this one – I am supposing that you have made that decision already.  And if your decision is “YES- I want to read this”, you will likely find much to be impressed with. If you have already decided “Nope – not for me”, then you are not a fan of creative clever smart contemporary fiction and that’s OK.  If you are on the fence, then change it to a YES. Put it on the tbr and see what happens when you finally get to it. I suspect you won’t be disappointed. I honestly figure that most of you reading THIS post have already read Goon! yes? Well, my aim really isn’t to convince anyone of anything – just to record my own thoughts and have something to post. I seem to be on a Pulitzer kick all of a sudden… I’ll end with a photo from Brattleboro VT which is where I spent last weekend having a lovely time celebrating 23 whacky years with the Big D.  ♥

Rating:  

      

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Sea

Thoughts   The Sea by John Banville, Vintage Books 2006 (orig 2005), 195 pages, Winner of the Man Booker Prize

I loved this book.

Yet, is it true?   I only gave it 4 stars?!   Yes, I had to discount it one star because I was mad at it that it wouldn’t be finished in the year 2010 and cost me the completion of the What’s In a Name 3 Challenge.    I was mad at it because I had to look up a new-to-me word on every other page.   I dislike the uneasy idea that I lurve books that make me feel stupid and thus smarter because I am thus challenging myself to something ‘deep’ and to look up vocabulary.   SO there.

I was hooked and mesmorized by this book after the first page!   This book told me that I crave prose that is lush and confusing.   That I need to have THOUGHT-y books in my reading appetite;  books that are all in someone’s head, reflecting on life’s crap-filled past futures and present, with many a sentence fragments and/or multiple descriptors and then some.  Oh yea, bring it on.

This little bit is from the very first page, the first two paragraphs:

“The seabirds mewled and swooped, unnerved, it seemed, by the spectacle of that vast bowl of water bulging like a blister, lead-blue and malignantly agleam.  They looked unnaturally white, that day, those birds.  The waves were depositing a fringe of soiled yellow foam along the waterline.  No sail marred the high horizon.  I would not swim, no, not ever again.

Someone has just walked over my grave.”

Even now, knowing now what I didn’t know then, I am still pulled by this imagery.   I see SPOILERS!!   (oops)   FORESHADOWING!     and yet, I am still puzzled.*

What exactly makes this stuff something I like?   Is it really any GOOD?    Sure, are not my own aesthetics and opinions the only ones that matter?   How could I be so entranced by Banville’s Sea and yet, have a serious dislike of Nabokov (Banville reminds me of Nabokov;  or was it just the comparison made by The Sunday Telegraph on the back of the book blurb)?   How come so many others thought this book dull and I found it captivating in its contemplative quietness?

So, if you don’t like books like this, move along.   Go ahead and read all the negative reviews on goodreads.   I laugh HA HA!  at those people that think Mr. Banville is pretentious and show-offy.    Yea, I suppose...   The guy does have an incredible vocabulary – I say he has a right to use it.     [I would really hate to eavesdrop on a conversation between him and Martin Amis.   English?!  on which planet?]

I was sucked into this book and felt it.    The imagery, the soft colors, the muted tones.   The emotions;   young love, first kiss, the questions, the fear and the passion.   Heavy angry grief.

MOTIVATION for READING:   I have mentioned more times than you really care to be reminded of that this was for the What’s in a Name 3 Challenge but that does not explain why THIS book for THAT category (body of water).    I originally wanted to read this book because of Dewey.   And now I’m getting all emotional and sad.   Did Dewey review this?    Maybe; I have lost that link already.    Here’s the chain of events:     Dewey reviewed Christine Falls written by Benjamin Black and offers it to send it to anyone who wants it and I win!   Soon after, we receive the sad news that Dewey is no longer with us.    I will always think of Dewey now, when I think of Banville.   (and books and Weekly Geeks** and the Read-A-Thon and I’ll shut up now) and when I only gave the Black mystery two stars (in a post that included vocabulary!), I committed to reading more by Banville to find out why/how he is so critically acclaimed;  I didn’t want my memories of Dewey tainted by a book I didn’t love.

I committed to reading The Sea in 2009 for the Dewey Challenge.   I failed it that year.   I committed to reading The Sea for 2010 and failed that, too.  (I finished it on January 6th.)    And, it’s OK. I think I needed this book to be more than a book.   It needs to be a memory, a token.***    Something that provokes me.    (I’m all teary right now being sad about Dewey.)

And I’m glad that I have found John Banville a place in my heart as a brilliant-to-me writer.   I’m grateful to the universe for making this a special read for me.   Aw hell, I’m going to re-rate it to 5 stars.   It’s personal.

Where was I?

pg 57  “There was a day when the door did open but it was Rose who came out,and gave me a look that made me lower my eyes and hurry on.  Yes, Rose had the measure of me from the start.  Still has, no doubt.”

HUH?   still has?  WHAT is going on!?

WHAT’s it ABOUT:      It’s about Max, whose wife has died.   To deal with his grief, he goes back to the seaside town he grew up in (or vacationed in? —  I was confused on this point.)    That’s pretty much it.      Mostly recent memories of his wife and her illness, the far past of his being a kid on the beach and the friends he made, his present – having to sort through all these difficult memories…   It’s almost a puzzle.    It definitely jumped around in time, a lot.   Confusingly.   I read the first 15 pages and then started over, I was so lost.    And Max wasn’t really a likable sort, either.

“Life, authentic life, is supposed to be all struggle, unflagging action and affirmation, the will butting its blunt head against the world’s wall, suchlike, but when I look back I see that the greater part of my energies was always given over to the simple search for shelter, for comfort, for, yes, I admit it, for cosiness. This is a surprising, not to say shocking, realisation. Before, I saw myself as something of a buccaneer, facing all-comers with a cutlass in my teeth, but now I am compelled to acknowledge that this was a delusion. To be concealed, protected, guarded, that is all I have ever truly ever wanted, to burrow down into a place of womby warmth and cower there, hidden from the sky’s indifferent gaze and the air’s harsh damagings. That is why the past is just such a retreat for me, I go there eagerly, rubbing my hands and shaking off the cold present and the colder future. And yet, what existence, really, does it have, the past? After all, it is only what the present was, once, the present that is gone, no more than that. And yet.”

Please link over to these EXCELLENT REVIEWS:    Jules – also for the What’s in a Name 3 Challenge (“elegant and poetic style of writing”) ,  Incurable Logophilia (“…a good author to take slowly, and I liked being able to take up with the book a little each day and meander through his careful sentences.”), Matt’s Views at A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook (“…a book of portentous rhetoric, a story of a ravaged self in search of a reason to go on in life cloaked in beautifully and meditatively constructed sentences.”)

The more I reminisce about my reading of this novel, I am conflicted about wanting to read it again or only share with a friend.  Make them read it and then discuss, discuss, discuss.   I want to talk about symbols, foreshadowing, crazy words.   Maybe I should have made this one a book club book.   Aw, they would have hated it…

BE READY for the upcoming post of vocab words…

.

*  WHOSE grave!??!    I am still not sure about this…
** Sadly, I have not done a Weekly Geek post in months.
*** TOKEN as defined as “a thing serving as a visible or tangible representation of something abstract.” and “done for the sake of appearances or as a symbolic gesture”.


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