08 July 2011

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five

Rated- *****
I read this book earlier this year and I have to say it was rather incredible. Personally, I don't care for war, I think that murder in any way is morally reprehensible. That being said, Vonnegut has written a great fictionalized biography. It is both funny and painful, beautiful and sickening. I was not sure if such a thing can be accomplished, but Mr Vonnegut has proved me very wrong.

Written when the Cold War was in it's height, Vonnegut showed the world how he survived World War II, similar to the manner that the crew of M*A*S*H had in Korea. The brutal honesty of this novel makes you hate the idea of war being anything but a horrible idea. He shows us all that there is no glory in going to war, only nightmares and death.  We are taken for a short walk through his memories and are shown that there is no such thing as a fair war.

Slaughterhouse Five has been touted as the first of the anti-war novels. I'm not sure if this is true, but certainly was the first one I'd read. And I am glad of that. I don't think any other novel could have captured the true grit and horror that is war.

While at times, he seems to ramble on and digress, Vonnegut uses this as a way to compare "normal" to "horror". Sometimes they are starkly different, sometimes they are reflections of each other. There are moments in which we, as readers, are unsure where the story is going and why, but then no one really knows their path. I believe that Vonnegut was trying to show us that. To me, he succeeded with flying colours

06 July 2011

The Twelfth Card by Jeffery Deaver

The Twelfth Card

Rated- ****
I just finished this novel, the sixth in Jeffery Deaver's famous Lincoln Ryhme series. I feel it is only fair to tell you now that I enjoy mental candy, brain fluff if you will, by way of books that really are trivial and hold no other purpose other then to completely entertain me. My "go-to" genres in these instances tend to be either murder/thriller or urban fantasy.

Deaver is one of my favourite authors for this mental junk food. His plot lines are everywhere and often have several things going on at once. With the forensic science and the psychology going one in this book, one is never sure where the story is going. Deaver's tale has more twists in it then the Colorado River.

We are introduced to a young girl from Harlem who is determined to get out by using the only weapon she has, intelligence. She is researching an ancestor and happens upon a great "secret", one that some one is willing to kill for. Enter Lincoln Rhyme- a forensic scientist who has one major problem aside from his course manners, he is paralyzed from the chest down. His partner and lover is Amelia Sachs, a street smart cop with a scientist's brain. She works the crimes scenes in the way Rhyme used to. Together they work to solve the mystery of who hired a hit on a teenaged girl and what a "secret" from one hundred and forty years ago has to do with it.

I was very pleased with the experience of reading it. Mr Deaver never disappoints his readers. This was no exception, I am happy to report.

04 July 2011

Pilgrim by Timothy Findley

I finally finished this novel the second time around and could not have been happier... that it was finally over! The story flings itself over vast time lines, let alone vast places. The plot is a detached, curious mess.

The lead character, known throughout the story as only Pilgrim, has the inability to die. He has tried various methods, all without success. This one wishes he had, only so the tale would be very short. Pilgrim has had many lives, among them a rape victim of Leonardo Di Vinci and again as a shepherd boy. All these lives has driven Pilgrim insane, where we meet Carl Gustof Jung. Yes, the very same who broke bread with Freud.

What irritated me more then any other was the fact that the plot never went anywhere. Findley simply talks in circles and eventually spirals out of control into some ungodly mess. I could honestly have spent the week it took me to trudge through this... I can't call it work, I could have knitted a sweater! I'm not entirely sure what drove me to purchase this book in the first place, or why I challenged myself to read it completely through but I sorely regret it.

I'm A Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson

I'm A Stranger Here Myself
A wonderfully poignant collection of Bryson's published news paper article. After twenty years in England, where he married and had his children, Bryson returns to America to an interesting version of culture shock. We follow him over a few years worth of articles as he reeducates himself with the strange ways of Americana. Everything from a day at the beach to children leaving the nest, Bryson shows us his world, both intimate and familiar.

His style is humorous and quirky, a lovely mix. You can see Queen's English as well as American English in his writing, a trait I rather enjoy. He is at times annoying with his views, as an old man on his front porch, but then he's no spring chicken. Some of his writing are silly and happy memories from childhood, or experiences with his own children. Other occasions show his profound disappointment in the difference between England and America. One gets the feeling that, while he is a patriot, he's also a "red coat".

The articles are all short, a few pages at most, and makes for a quick read. I would definitely recommend this book to, well just about anyone.

Dreams Underfoot by Charles De Lint

Dreams Underfoot
The start of a grand adventure through a world so beautiful and dangerous that we cannot help but read more, to be guided through such a place where the Dreamlands and the World As It Is are so close the most fantastic things will happen, if only you believe. De Lint has created, in this collection, a world  of his very own that he has graciously shared with the rest of us. In his city of Newford, we see the light and dark sides of the Dreamlands and fairy.

Never does he disappoint with his fantastic tales of shape shifters, fairy, first cousins, and the people who happen to fall headlong into such a world. Since I first was introduced to De Lint's world, I fell in love with it, like a junki does with heroin. I can never wait long till my next Newford fix.