Monday, March 21, 2016

Wild by Nature by Sarah Marquis

I wanted to read this book, because she chose to walk alone 10,000 miles (on foot), covering 6 countries, wearing out 8 pairs of hiking boots in the process, drinking 3,000 cups of tea, during a journey that lasted 1,000 days and nights.  I thought a trip like that surely had to teach you something.  Though there were interesting moments in the book, it wasn't quite what I expected it to be.  Miss Marquis is Swiss and some of her thoughts and actions seemed a little different to me.  Though I understood her love of wilderness and solitude, she seemed almost too disengaged when she was dealing with real people along the way, and her description of some of the things that happened to her are pretty sketchy.  You don't really get a feel for what happened in any detail or any real sense about how she truly felt about it.  The disjointed structure of the book was a bit distracting and disappointing, though what she did was an amazing accomplishment.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

This is the first book I've read by this author, though she has written five.  Based on the strength of this one, I would definitely pick up one of her others.  It is a story about friendship, love, and second chances--all things the world needs more of, so it should have wide appeal.  An experienced psychologist, Maggie (who usually manages to maintain emotional distance from her patients), treats a young Indian woman, Lakshmi (who has tried to kill herself).  Seeing that Lakshmi is cut off from her family in India (so she is lonely and isolated), and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store, Maggie's professional detachment evaporates and she crosses the professional line and tries to help her.   As Maggie and Lakshmi's relationship deepens, and personal and professional lines are blurred even more, long-buried secrets come to light that force them to confront painful choices in their own lives.  The viewpoints of these two very different women are written very well and wisdom and compassion shine through.    

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton took photographs on the streets of New York over a five year period.  After he took the snapshot he would interview the people involved.  He did this more than ten thousand times.  The brief story connected to each photo enhances each shot and you get an intimate glance into the lives of the people in the photos lending them an unflinching rawness and honesty that makes them jump off the page.   As I finished reading each story, a line the narrator said at the end of a police drama TV series called The Naked City (which aired from 1958-1963) came to mind:  "There are eight million stories in the naked city; this has been one of them."  Each of these photos/stories represents the gamut of human emotion layering happy upon sad and silly upon mad.  This book is an experience to be savored a little at a time.  But, be prepared for a bumpy ride--which really, when you think about it, is a perfect illustration of existence.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

Yann Martel wrote the Life of Pi, which won the Man Booker Prize and sold more than 12 million copies around the world.  It was also made into a movie that was subsequently nominated for 11 Academy Awards.  The question has been asked, can he emerge from the shadow of Life of Pi? I suppose my answer to that question would be that he is much too good a writer to ever be pigeonholed between the covers of one book--as spectacular as that book may be.  What makes his books so enjoyable to me, is the beauty of his wonderful descriptive prose.  It never disappoints.  Life of Pi was a wonderful book.  Beatrice & Virgil just destroyed me with its powerfully descriptive emotions.  And even though this book is a bit different (with its three seemingly unrelated stories that intersect finally in the end), it is the power of the language that he uses to examine grief, mourning, and awful loss, even using large doses of humor (admittedly dark sometimes), that ultimately prevails. 

In the first story of the book, set In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomas discovers an old journal.  It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that, if he can find it, would redefine history.  Traveling in one of Europe's earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.  The second story occurs thirty-five years later, when a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomas's quest.  The last story occurs fifty years on, when a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife.  But he arrives with an unusual companion, a chimpanzee.  And there the century-old quest will come to an unexpected conclusion.

In these stories Martel deals with religion, faith, saints, the ethics of primate research, and learning to live in the moment, with perceptive observations and thoughtful discourse, and always, always the beautiful language.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...