Monday, January 18, 2010
"Rosie" by Anne Lamott
My grade: C
Built largely around cliches and 'what-you-would-expect' scenarios, this novel is neither talented nor new. The story has potential, but the mediocre writing and the characters' unbelievability make for a neutral read at best. It's definitely a fast read, but I'm not sure anything is gained in reading it.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
"The Dying Animal" by Philip Roth
My grade: B-
I have very mixed feelings about this book. As one critic put it, I would definitely agree that it's disturbing, but I'm not sure about the masterpiece part. This short novel in many ways is an analysis of the primitive and instinctual man, which in itself has huge potential. However, the overabundance of vulgarity, crudeness and bad taste take away from it to such an extent that I considered giving up on the book several times. There are, nonetheless, nice and smart moments, compelling the reader to continue. And there is both a point and a statement, although I'm not sure that Roth's arguments are so convincing one way or another.
There was a movie made based on the book, staring Penelope Cruz and Ben Kingsley: "Elegy". The movie follows the book quite closely, although a lot of the vulgarity is definitely (and thankfully) omitted.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
"Resolution 786: A Novel in Three Acts Telling Cuneiform Tales of Love and War and God and Lust and Loss" by Mohamed Mughal
My grade: A+
This is in many ways one of the most intelligent, and daring, books I have read in a long time. The concept alone - putting the Lord on trial - deserves an A for sheer creativity. What I appreciate most about this novel is that it assumes a smart and knowledgeable reader, one who will read actively. If you are not familiar with the Bible, however, many of the allusions and references will be lost on you.
While one of the central characters in this book is God himself, I would not call this a religious book. Rather, I think it is much more humanistic in both its form and goal. I also don't think you necessarily have to be a believer in order to appreciate its beauty. Beware though: while it reads like a fast-read, it is everything but that. This novel has many layers to it, both heartfelt and grotesque, making it quite genius.
Stay tuned for more information about a virtual blog tour with Mohamed Mughal, to take place in March. You will have the opportunity to voice your questions to the author, and get direct replies from him.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
"Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy" by William Barrett
My grade: B+
I will admit straight out, I did not finish this book. But, it wasn't because I didn't find it interesting or well-written. In fact, the only negative thing I have to say about it is that my interest in existential philosophy expired before the book did (which says more about me than either the book or the author). I think this is a book I will come back to in the future, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about existentialism. I am judging, however, from the perspective of a layman rather than a philosopher.