Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book Review

"She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb
My grade: B+

This is one whale of a book (and if you actually read it, you will know what I mean). It is the story of one woman's life, but in some ways and at some parts, it's the story of life, period. What I think the author does particularly well is capture the really important moments of her life, starting at a very young age, and ending at 37 (if I did my math correctly) years old. Having finished the book, you really do get the feeling that you are fully aware of Dolores' life, and it has definitely been one of transformation. I also think the author deserves a lot of credit for being a man and writing (and capturing) about the essences of so many women.

A big critique point: the book is raw in some places, and unnecessarily grotesque (for my taste). If you can get past that, though - which, I'll admit, at moments is hard - you will be able to gain a lot from it as well.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Walk (FICTION)

I go to sleep and I dream a strange and terrible thing. Two eyes... eyes?... glare at me. But there is nothing attached to them. No head, no body, no thoughts. Just pupils, staring, glaring, with darkness all around. There is a lot of darkness and it never seems to end. There is a neverending darkness.

The eyes, they continue to glare, and suddenly they begin to turn red. At first, they become like normal red eyes, with no head, but then they become really red, blood red. There is still no emotion in them. Just blood red eyes staring, glaring out at me in the darkness. And suddenly I realize, these are my eyes, this is my blood. My eyes are draining out the blood from my body, and I'm dying, I'm dying.

I decide to leave. If I must die, I'm certainly not going to watch myself do it, in the neverending darkness, watching my eyes watching me. So I walk. I walk and I walk, in the darkness. I don't know how far I walk, but every time I look back, my eyes are watching me, my red blood-stained eyes. They watch, and they judge... and they die. So I walk.

I come to something. The shape is strange and the color is dull, and finally I come to see it is my tongue. It is my tongue hanging in the middle of this neverending darkness, and it is lifeless, dead. My tongue is dead. My eyes are bleeding and my tongue is dead and I am dying, so I continue to walk.

I walk and walk and I have no idea how far I walk, but every time I look back I see my eyes bleeding my blood and my lifeless tongue hanging there, ridiculing me, judging me. So I continue to walk.

I come finally to a disheveled mess. There are... things... thrown all around. They are hanging, separated in the neverending darkness. And suddenly I realize, these are my organs. My lungs are handing to my left and my pancreas is to my right, and so I start to search. I search and search through my organs, and I don't know how long I search for, but I cannot find my heart. And every time I look back, I see my bleeding eyes and my lifeless tongue watching me, following me, judging me.

And then, I die.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Book Review

"Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro
My grade: B

Overall, this is an interesting and a creative story. At some point, it begins to almost become science fiction, but remains still very much fine literature. It does raise a number of moral dilemmas in regards to medical technological breakthroughs, which I can certainly appreciate.

I do have a significant amount of criticism though. Firstly, for one reason or another, the first 150 pages or so are very difficult to get through, and the pace (along with the plot) picks up drastically after that. Secondly, I'm not exactly in love with Ishiguro's writing style in this book. He employs the same literary tactics over and over again, which loses the desired effect. Thirdly, although I think I understand his reasons for doing so, I don't think he chose the right period of time in the protagonist's life to focus on. The vast majority of the story has to do with Kathy growing up, ages 7 through 18, and a lot of it is centered around problems that children of that age go through, which are to some extent irrelevant to the overall themes.

All in all, though, if you have patience and can force yourself to get through the first bit, you will be surprised with what unveils thereafter.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review

"Spiritual Serendipity: Cultivating and Celebrating the Art of the Unexpected" by Richard Eyre
My grade: D

My biggest criticism of this book: it is entirely useless. It does mention what its intentions are, but I'm not sure that it really lives up to those. Half of the book is wasted away on defining (and redefining) what serendipity means, and then telling a long fairy tale about something that has something to do with serendipity.

In general, I'm not necessarily big on self-help books and it's perhaps due to books like this.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Book Review

"The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne
My grade: A

I don't want to say too much about this book, because the intention of the author clearly is to keep readers somewhat in the dark. I will say a couple of things, though, as I feel they must be said. Firstly, this is a Holocaust story. Secondly, it is told by a 9-year-old boy, which is what makes it unique.

Needless to say, this story is one that will stay with you for a long time. It's incredibly powerful in its simplicity and manages to capture so wonderfully a child's perspective on such atrocious and unfathomable events. To look at this from the perspective of a child brings so much insight and raises so many questions, that one could argue that this should be required reading. If you can be brave and strong, read this book.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Reading Mother

I had a Mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be-
I had a Mother who read to me.

- Strickland Gillian