Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
words alone must capture and captivate the audience. Doig's novel is like one of those films. His words engage, entertain and satisfy; no cheap stunts are needed to carry the story along.
The novel opens with 61-year-old Paul Milliron pondering an unpleasant task: as superintendent of schools, he must inform residents of rural Montana that their country schools are closing. A product of just the sort of school he's been ordered to dismantle, Paul is dismayed by the job he must do. To ward off his despair, he lets his mind wander back to his own school days in Marias Coulee, Montana.
His memory takes him back to one banner year: 1909. That was the year his widower father answered an ad for a housekeeper which boldly proclaimed, "Doesn't cook but doesn't bite." Neither Paul nor his two younger brothers know what to expect, but they are shocked when stylish Rose Llewellyn steps off the train accompanied by her equally elegant brother, Morrie. Before the Millirons know it, the pair have firmly ensconsed themselves in prairie life. Rose puts the bachelor farmhouse in order, while Morrie brings his fancy Chicago education to the local one-room schoolhouse. Under Morrie's tutelage, Paul's passion for learning ignites, but not all of his experiences will be in the classroom. As the school year unfolds, Paul experiences death and terror and heartache and wonder. Most of all, he discovers that things are rarely what they seem, not even a kindly housekeeper and her dandy of a brother.
Although it does have a little mystery, The Whistling Season is no edge-of-your-seat thriller. It's a meandering, lyrical tale that won't be rushed. The pleasure is really in the journey, as Doig's every word is poetic and masterful. His characters are real and endearing, as charming as they are sympathetic. Their stories are told with a warmth and humor that enchants and affirms. Simply put, the novel is a masterpiece of old-fashioned storytelling.
There were a few things that bugged me about the book. Although I loved Doig's gentle style, I found it lacked focus at certain points. When Rose and Oliver met, I had the story pegged as a romance, but it really wasn't. The spotlight oscillates from the pair to Morrie to the plight of rural schools and back again. I would have liked smoother transitions between the various plots and themes. Sometimes the juxtapositions just felt too abrupt and jarring.
Overall, The Whistling Season is a triumph of storytelling, a beautiful tale as charming as, say, a one-room schoolhouse in rural Montana.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
I knew after I read this opening line, I would expect something great from this story. And I wasn't disappointed.
In this debut written by Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner is a story about two motherless boys who shared the love of kite running. Growing up in Kabul, they treated each other like brothers. Amir is the son of a wealthy businessman while Hassan is the son of the household servant. Amir often takes life for granted while Hassan is a simple and humble boy who always look up to Amir. But Amir isn't really happy, and he wants to win his father's approval badly by proving himself that he has the makings of a man. He figured that by winning the kite-fighting tournament he would be able to gain his father's approval, although deep in his heart he had wondered why his father treated Hassan better than himself.
Amir finally won the tournament, and Hassan ran after the opponent's runaway kite because both of them knew he was good at it (tracking down the kite that is). Unfortunately, the neighbourhood bullies Assef and gang managed to catch up on him, due to an incident that happened some time ago when Hassan had stood up to them. Amir was too terrified to do anything then, and it seemed that history is repeating itself when he witnessed his childhood buddy being bullied and raped by Assef. Thereafter, Hassan and his father decided to leave town and Amir continued to haunt by his cowardice and guilt through his adulthood, where by then he and his father had fled to America and started a new life.
Then Amir received word from Rahim, his father's old business partner from Pakistan that he wanted to meet him, and that there was a way for Amir to make things right. Soon, Amir would learn the truth about what had happened to Hassan throughout the years, and what he would do to redeem himself...
The Kite Runner is beautifully written, filled with memorable characters and an unforgettable story that will have you mesmerized. It is also thought provoking and emotional that will cause a lump in your throat even after you have closed the book. I am looking forward to the movie version which will open end of this month and can't wait to read the next release A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I chose to read “The Truth Machine”, James Halperin's debut science fiction novel, as my 5th selection for Sycoraxpine’s “Unread Author’s Challenge”. I had high hopes for this speculative novel, and had very much been looking forward to the chilling “history of the future” that has been billed as our generations “1984”.
(you can read my review here)
Friday, January 18, 2008
- The Yacoubian Building, by Alaa Al-Aswany (completed 9/19/2007 - review)
- Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Ann Fadiman (completed 9/19/2007 - review)
- When the Emperor was Divine, by Julie Otsuka (completed 10/12/2007 - review)
- Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys (completed 11/16/2007 - review)
- The Art of Mending, by Elizabeth Berg (completed 12/14/2007 - review)
- Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe (completed 1/17/2008 - review)
- The Secret River, by Kate Grenville
As "extra credit," I will also list any other new authors I read during the challenge period.
Things Fall Apart
Okonkwo is a Nigerian tribesman, well-known and respected in his community, Umuofia. He has risen above his father Unoka's reputation as a lazy do-nothing. He has three wives and several children. And yet Okonkwo is insecure and easily angered. His anger gets the better of him, and he is exiled from the community for seven years. When he returns, white missionaries have settled in the area, threatening the peace and livelihood of the native people.
The first part of this book is a slow reveal of Nigerian village life. Daily chores, rites of passage. and descriptions of spiritual life are strung together in an almost disjointed fashion. By developing such a vivid picture in the reader's mind, Achebe is then able to quickly show the contrast and impact of the missionaries. This classic work has been on my TBR pile ever since I read Half of a Yellow Sun last year. I had very high expectations, especially since this is one of the "1001 books to read before you die", but it failed to live up to my expectations. In the end, I found it to be "just OK." ( )
My original review can be found here.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Super good and I normally don't like nonfiction. Highly recommend this one.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
THE SURVIVOR'S CLUB was my introduction to Lisa Gardner, which I read as my 4th selection for sycoraxpine‘s Unread Authors challenge, and what I’m calling my 79th and final read of 2007; technically, I finished it on Jan. 1, but I “read” it in December...
(You can read my review here.)