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Search tags: 1001-books-to-read-before-you-die
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review 2016-04-26 15:23
A window into another world
Der zerrissene April - Ismail Kadaré

It's Gjorg's turn to murder a man in the blood feud. There are many rules to be adhered to in the Kanun, the codex that governs life in the mountains of Albania. How to proceed with the murder, how to deal with it's aftermath, the cost of a missed attempt... We learn about this from Gjorg as he considers his act and from Besian Vorpsi, a newly married writer from Tirana visiting the mountains of his homeland to investigate how life is governed by the Kanun, the codex nearly as foreign to him as it is to us.

 

The title - Broken April - refers to the period of grace accorded the murderer, before he is fair game for retaliation.

 

Though the topic is really terrible, the rules that govern this life that feels so foreign to me are presented through the eyes of the people that uphold it as a way of life without being judgemental.

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review 2016-03-24 21:44
The End of an Era
Radetzkymarsch - Eva Demski,Joseph Roth

The story of the Trotta family is a stand-in for the end of the Habsburg monarchy. As a lieutenant in the army the grandfather saves the emperor's life in the battle of Solferino and is raised from a commoner's situation to a barony. His son would like to enter the army, but is forbidden by his father and does duty as a civil servant. He in turn drives his son into an army career that does not at all fit him. Trapped in circumstances he cannot break out of, the grandson's life spirals downwards and reflects the imminent decay of the empire itself.
The execution achieves it's aim brilliantly. It paints a portrait of a era that has lost vitality and purpose. However for long stretches I felt disconnected from the story. For some parts of the book I switched to an audio version, which embodied the text perfectly with it's slight Austrian tinge and a very measured pace.
The rating reflects a 4 for execution and a 3 for enjoyment.

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review 2016-03-13 10:10
The Artist's Decay Under The Microscope
Der Tod In Venedig Hörspiel - Felix von Manteuffel,Sylvester Groth,Ulrich Noethen,Rüdiger Vogler

Gustav von Aschenbach, whose work is famous for its intellectual brilliance, finds his creativity waning. He decides to allow a more cerebral approach to writing, musing that the perfect art is based on thought and feeling becoming one. To allow more passion into his life he decides to travel to Italy. In Venice he sees young Tadzio and is immediately taken in by the young lad's beauty. What starts as contemplation quickly changes into obsession and though he realizes the danger of staying in town with the rise of a cholera epidemic and his loss of control and dignity as his obsession visibly grows, he finds himself unable to extricate himself.
The book is very much an intellectual contemplation of Aschenbach's decay, complemented by musings on the nature of art, on the balance of thought and emotion as the artists tools. The language is highly polished, to the point where it can distract attention from the story. It creates an emotional distance to the story, which I did not appreciate.
The audiobook is brilliantly done, with multiple speakers for different aspects of musing and underscored by sound effects which emphasize rather than distract from the story.

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review 2014-08-03 20:47
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
The War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells

A tale of two halves. An excellent, attention-grabbing opening which gradually deteriorates into an uninteresting and contrived mess made for skimming.

 

Continue reading 

Source: literaryames.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/the-war-of-the-worlds-by-h-g-wells
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review 2013-12-19 02:27
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Life of Pi - Yann Martel

This was a case of "it's not you, it's me." 

There was nothing particularly wrong with the writing or the story, it just wasn't my cup of tea. There was some incredible imagery, but I found it disturbing rather than entertaining. I don't think my stomach can handle survival stories.

The beginning of the story read more like nonfiction than fiction with all it's detailed descriptions of animals and zoos. Some of it was interesting, but it's just not the type of stuff I want to read for entertainment.

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