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Search tags: pulitzer-prize
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review 2017-08-08 21:24
'The Hours' well spent
The Hours - Michael Cunningham

This short book was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1999 and takes as its start point the graphic suicide of Virginia Woolf. The tragic loss of one of the leading lights of the 'Bloomsbury Group' in 1941, finally succumbing to the fatal depths of recurrent depression at the age of just 59, conferred a profound loss on the cultural health of a nation, yet posterity has rightly lauded the author's legacy. In his homage to Woolf, Michael Cunningham interweaves the thoughts and experiences of three female characters: Mrs Woolf (Virginia), Mrs Brown (Laura) and Mrs Dalloway (Clarissa), Located in 1923 London, 1949 L.A. and 1990s New York , respectively. Virginia is mulling over ideas for the fictional character yet to inhabit her most famous novel, while Clarissa and Laura are spending a day in preparation for a celebration in their respective times and place. Successive chapters rotate between the discrete storylines  culminating in an unusual cross-over in the end, but the snapshots also draw on some common themes, which beset each of the protagonists, irrespective of the prevailing social norms in 'their' time.

 

What rescues the book from a sense of cerebral indulgence on the part of the writer though, is the moving beauty of the language and as the reader quaffs down the pages like a smooth, warming liqueur, it is good to savour the interplay of quite sumptuous tones. It also remains consistent with the 'stream of consciousness' storytelling deployed by Woolf in 'Mrs Dalloway' (published 1925), albeit this example is not entirely satisfying, given its fragmentary nature and slightly bitter aftertaste

 

Still, the takeaway theme for me from this book is the individual capacity, indeed responsibility, to create and shape one's life, within the context of the prevailing time and to weigh the personal sacrifices and gains that attend our choices. Some of the metaphors were also interesting, for example, some mistakes such as cake-making are retrievable, others require stoicism to deal with the consequences, but when it comes down to it, life and love is fundamentally fragile...and fickle.

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review 2017-06-08 18:45
Empire Falls by Richard Russo, narrated by Ron McLarty
Empire Falls (MP3 Book) - Richard Russo,Ron McLarty

Empire Falls is not something I would have picked up on my own, but it came to me highly recommended, so I put a hold on the audiobook at my library and it finally came in.

 

This was a wonderful book and Ron McLarty is an excellent narrator. I can't really add to what hundreds of people have already said, so I'll just say I enjoyed the hell out of this tale where nothing much really happens, but I feel like I know everyone in this town intimately.

 

Highly recommended!

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review 2016-08-07 16:28
A BELL FOR ADANO by John Hersey
A Bell for Adano - John Hersey
  Sweet story of the American Army in Adano, Italy, as they push the Germans out of Italy. Major Joppolo is the adjutant assigned to restore order to Adano. As he meets the townspeople the one request made most often is for the return of their bell which was taken by the Facists to melt down for bullets. Major Joppolo does what he can for these people.

This was a wonderful story of a town and its people. The people were adorable and funny and pains at times. As Major Joppolo deals fairly and justly with these people, he also tries to find their bell. He is able to schmooze with the best of them to get what is needed and what he wants. Even when Americans are at fault he shows the townspeople that his justice extends to his men as well as the townspeople.

The ending is bittersweet. I would like to know what happens to both the townspeople and Major Joppolo. They are not characters I will forget for a long time.
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photo 2016-01-30 23:24

I was inspired by Troy's awesome collection to post this pic I took for an Instagram challenge the other day (5th book on my shelf). We have a few more amiibo figures, but most of them are still in their packages until we get an Exacto knife to open them properly. The DBZ figures I found randomly at Toys -R- Us back in high school. I haven't read this yet because it's a little thick, but it's about the golden age of comics and won a Pulitzer so I'm sure it's amazing. I'll get to it eventually! 
Finishing the last chapter in Changeless and posting a review sometime today, then gathering notes on Ch. 3 of The Fellowship for discussion. 

How are you guys spending your Saturday? 

xoLuna


[IG: @a_bit_bookish]

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review 2015-11-06 20:55
A fascinating King David, warts and all.
The Secret Chord: A Novel - Geraldine Brooks

Thanks to Net Galley and to Little Brown Books UK for offering me a free copy of The Secret Chord in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve always thought that the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, is full of fantastic stories, and there are very few plots you won’t find there. Fratricide: check. Murder: check. Incest: check. Adultery: check. Epic disasters: check. Wars: check. Love: check. Magic and miracles: check. Battle of Good versus Evil: check. Prophecy: check. No matter what your beliefs are, as storytelling goes, it’s in a class of its own.

David’s story is a very good example of it. As the author observes in her comments, he is one of the first characters whose story we follow from beginning to end. It has all the elements a fiction writer could wish for: rag to riches, the weak confronting and winning the battle with the mighty, unjustly accused and outlawed makes a comeback and becomes King. He’s also elected by God. A great fighter and leader but a deeply flawed character. He has great joys, but through his own behaviour, brings tragedy and disaster to his family. Like the best heroes, he is also an antihero.

Brooks chooses a narrator, Nathan, the prophet, to tell David’s story. It all starts as Nathan’s attempt to distract the King, who is upset because he has been asked to remain in the palace after a near miss during a battle. Nathan suggests that buildings and palaces won’t make him live in the memory of people, but telling his true story will (a beautiful justification of the power of storytelling). David decides that Nathan should hear the story from others, not himself, and he does not hesitate in sending him to talk to those who might not have that much good to say about the King, including his mother, his brother, and his first wife. Although we go back and forth in time, through the different versions and witnesses, the action starts at a pivotal time in David’s story as he’s about to commit a series of crimes that will be severely punished.

I loved the book. I hadn’t read anything by the author before, but now I will. She writes beautifully, giving voice to the different characters and bringing them to life. The reader experiences Nathan’s visions, is a privileged observer at King David’s court, and although we know (the same as Nathan) what will happen, it is impossible to not get emotionally involved, and worry and suffer with them. Descriptions of David’s playing and singing, dancing to the glory of God are full of wonder and magic. The book pulls no punches either, and descriptions of some of the brutal acts are also vividly rendered.

For me, the book is the story of an extraordinary man, who did many wrong things, but also many great things, and who loved God and his people, even if sometimes he loved himself a bit too much. He is a warrior, an artist, a statesman, a father, a husband, and a faithful servant of God (most of the time). He acknowledges his wrongdoing and does not shy away from his responsibilities. He’s a human being.

Nathan is also a very interesting figure, at times unable to talk despite what he knows, only a passive observer of the tragedy to unfold. But that’s his role, and despite everything, he is loved and cherished by David and later by Solomon. And he is a great stand-in for the reader, knowing but silenced, frustrated and disgusted at times by the King’s actions, but also at time in awe and moved by him.

I couldn’t help but read some of the comments about the book and it seems that most of the people who’ve taken issue with the book, do not like the suggestion of a relationship between David and Jonathan, Saul’s son (and brother of his first wife). It is strange that in a story with murder, incest, rape, pillage and more, the one thing people find upsetting is the suggestion that David might have had a homosexual relationship. It proves that we all bring our own mind-set to our reading experience.

I am not an expert in Bible studies or that particular historical period so I can’t comment on how accurate the book might be in its detail, but for me it brought to life the times, the people and the events.

I finished the book with a greater appreciation for the figure of David (and particularly thankful that the author decided to end the book at that particular point, and on that note) and a wish to read more of Brooks’s books. If you have an open mind, love lyrical writing and are intrigued by the times and the people of that historical period, this is a unique book.

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