and I wouldn't purchase again. It is much more graphic than I am comfortable reading. However, John Irving is a master story teller and I was hooked before knowing what was coming. I couldn't stop listening to this weaving tale of right and wrong, black and white, rules and the varied why of disobediance caused by the murky middleness of life. Well written, symbolic without being blatent, full of complex and very real people. One of the main themes weaving though the book is the issue of abortion, you see it from many points of view... right down to and including looking though a speculum and seeing chunks of fetal tissue. The main character who believes abortion is killing a living soul, eventually becomes an abortionist. The book goes to very uncomfortable areas including incest, spouse abuse, masterbation, affairs, use of condoms, sex with animals, abandonment, pornography, addiction, lesbians and violence. It is not written in a dirty or foul way, rather the innocence and goodness of Homer et al, makes it feel less intense as if he is the buffer. It is a thought provoking book and I understand why the ratings are so high. Just know that it is intense and I wish I could remove some of it from my mind. It is definately not for a young reader.
I read "Dancing at the Rascal Fair" as a stand alone book, not realizing it was part of a trilogy. "Dancing" is a 5 star read and a gem of a book. It is also the true beginning of the trilogy. After reading "Dancing," I wanted more about the family and what happened to them. I read "Prairie Nocturne" which followed a side character and didn't satisfy the itch. This is what I should have read. Although, I have no clue why Doig chose to make it the first book of the trilogy, it is actually the second book chronologically and makes a lot more sense to read second. Having read "Dancing," I picked up on subtleties and relationships that I wouldn't have caught at all if I had read this first. "English Creek" starts slowly and the plot lazes along, just a 3.5 star read for me, but it was the salve for my itch of wanting more after "Dancing." Glad I found it.
I actually found Dixie Hemingway and her friends likable characters and the plot basis for this little "put the brain in neutral" book was decent if not perfectly done. Mystery was solved, but leaves room for characters to grow with an ongoing story. I got a little tired of her showers, eating and making dumb choices while knowing it was a dumb choice. Despite two murders, a beating, an attempted suicide and sexual extortion it's remarkably upbeat. There is very little swearing and I'd probably purchase the next in the series except for the frequent stupid similes with sexual innuendos... like... her pickle being the size of a man's penis.
In my quest to fill in the gaps of my unread classics, this is another book completed. I didn't love it; a little too much animal cruelty and violence between animals. The kill or be killed, kill to eat and survive... I have never liked books written from an animals point of view and this is mostly told from 3/4 Wolf 1/4 dog - White Fang. That said, it was an interesting process as he moved from wild to tame, though a variety of owners and living situations. It's a fairly quick read, doesn't cost much and was glad I read. Probably an older boy book, with some discussion on why people and animals turn out like they do and how White Fang evolves because of his treatment.
The book starts slowly with lots of telling and an irritating narrator and you will want to turn off - don't! Barbara Demick interviewed about 100 refuges from North Korea and shares what she has learned in a generalized way - that is the boring part. But then she shares the stories of 6 of these people and their life in and escape from North Korea - this is the amazing part. The people chosen reflect all walks of life in society: teacher, orphan, student, party member, physician, housewife... you also meet their families and friends. The stories weave as the years pass and you grow to love the resilience of the North Koreans and understand better what is going on culturally and politically. Honestly, I had no clue. It is a brutal life but told honestly, simply and without dramatics. I am grateful for the insights and courageous folks she introduces to us. Great read.
I've said it many times, "working with him is like working with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"... but had never read the classic it comes from to see if I am aptly spouting. It is a short, easy read that I found interesting and was pleased to finally know exactly what I was talking about. A little bit of morality pondering can be done if you choose or leave it to the Lawyer as he figures it out. Glad I read it and did a little bit of pondering of which side of me I am feeding.
I came very close to completely quiting this book early on, as I have had to do with several other of Bryce's books. There is an act of older male child on younger male child sexual abuse as seen though the younger child's uncomprehending eyes. This is the only act that you "see" but a 2 minute fast forward would remove the worst of it. The incident is essential to plot, but knowing it happened is enough. The book is definately adult themed even without the above episode, but language is remarkably clean. The message is positive and hopeful, the history of South Africa and its challenges are beutifully covered. Tom, the orphan, you follow from 7 - 30 or so, is a delightful innocent soul, and the friends he makes along the way become your friends too. You will meet people from all walks of life, of all levels of morality, but right and goodness are the hero's here. If you liked Power of One, you will like this... as they are very similar.
I grant that the first few minutes had my mouth watering to get back into this book. However, like the second book of Ruins I was left dissapointed. OSC books always have that teenage boy "moments of vulgarity." but they are usually easy to overlook. This one not so easy... I also felt like the plot really didn't go anywhere in the book, like you could skip to three and not miss much from two. OSC gives an interview at the end, talking about how hard it is to build the world and do the set up and have the plot move along at the same time. It almost felt like an apology for the book. Like I felt about Ruins, I'd probably wait to read this book until book three comes out and then read them together, for this alone didn't satisfy me like book one did.
I loved it! Written in 1939, it is a classic... I've read and listened to it both now. Coal mining family in South Wales seen though the eyes of the youngest son. I loved the speech patterns, the taste of the food, the honor of work, the cultural flavor and the love of a family. I loved the slowly evolving plots and complex characters. You have to be patient with this book, it is not a Dr. Pepper or bar of chocolate book. It is a rich stew, with hearty vegetables, herbs and tender chuncks of beef. There are strikes, mine collapses, young love trysts, long held grudges, fist fights, pride and sorrow... there is a family that grows, swells and forms a spider web from the valley across the world. I will listen again, if just to jot down some of the Welsh sayings I love the most... like the courting couple they called "Kiss and Scratch' for either they were overly affectionate or fighting. Go you then.
and I wouldn't have purchased if I realized the narrator of the book is a horse. However, it gradually grew on me and I did enjoy it. Written in 1877, it is yet another classic I had managed to miss. The book follows Black Beauty though life and she describes her owners and the care given to her. You meet other horses and hear about their "occupations" and owners. It was written with the intention of promoting humane treatment of horses, so you do hear about horses being neglected and abused. The plot is gentle, sweet and predictable. I'm glad I read and I did learn quite a bit about horses and their care. Should have read when I was in 5-6th grade.
I agree with one reviewer that the first 10 minutes are painful and I did consider turning it off. So glad I didn't though. This snapshot "day" opens the world of Stalin's forced labor camps. There is magic in the details, the thoughts, the motives... the bite of sausage, the bread in the mattress. I am so glad it was a good day he chose to share, since I felt almost as if with him. A classic I should have read years ago and will read again.
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