Monday, July 25, 2011

Books and More Books

Here are snapshot reviews of several books I've recently finished, but failed to blog about:

War Child
by Emmanuel Jal
This one was recommended to me by my son, Eric, after he read it for school.  I make it a priority to read anything my boys recommend!  Unfortunately, I read it right on the heels of Gulag, and it was almost too much to hear these two stories back to back.   In War Child, the author tells his own story of kidnapping, revenge, starvation, disease, and war, as he experienced them from his childhood in the Sudan.  His is a story of incredible tragedy but also one of redemption and hope. 

Tender is the Night 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The author of The Great Gatsby, offers a longer and more complex story in Tender is the Night.  I can't exactly say I liked it better, though.  As with TGG, I found it fascinating in a morbid sort of way.  Both of these stories feel oppressive and leave me with a sense of heaviness in the same way Russian literature and Walker Percy do.  His characters and his narrative are compelling, yet I find my longing for their redemption and maturity, unsatisfied.  If you have enjoyed Fitzgerald's other works, it's likely you'll enjoy this one as well.

The Great Auk 
by Allan Eckert
I can not help but be impressed by any author who can write an entire book solely about the daily life and habits of a particular bird and his companions, entering into their "thoughts" and "experiences."  I can not help but be astonished when he does it in a  novel that fully captivates ME!   I didn't want to put down this book about the feeding, breeding, and migratory patterns of The Great Auk (a penguin-like bird).  Eckert's storytelling is masterful, as is his command of language and description.  This is a beautiful story.  My thanks to Mr. Tim Weston who went out on a very shaky limb when he gave this book to me with certainty that I would appreciate it. 

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 
by Douglas Adams
I admit I didn't read the entire series.  I found the first book highly entertaining, but by the third I was slugging my way through.  I forced myself part way into book 4 before I finally gave up.  I have never been a huge sci-fi fan, but decided to read these books simply because I was on the outside of too many cultural references to them!  I wanted to understand what all the fuss was about!  Take the time to read the first was hilarious at times and never boring.  

Enter Jeeves 
by P.G. Wodehouse
I have intended to read Wodehouse for years, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.  Enter Jeeves provided a good start for me and left me desiring more adventures with Wodehouse's characters.  I love Jeeves: the unassuming, opinionated, knowledgeable, quirky butler who must continually rescue his bumbling master.  These stories are pure delight.

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