Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Restless" by William Boyd ****

  • Originally published in 2006
  • Scottish author
  • Epigraph:  "We may, indeed, say that the hour of death is uncertain, but when we say this we thing of that hour as situated in a vague and remote expanse of time; it does not occur to us that it can have any connection with the day that has already dawned and can mean that death may occur this very afternoon, so far from uncertain, this afternoon whose timetable, hour by hour, has been settled in advance.  One insists on one's daily outing, so that in a month's time one will have had the necessary ration of fresh air; one has hesitated over which coat to take, which cabman to call; one is in the cab, the whole day lies before one, short because one must be back home early, as a friend is coming to see one; one hopes it will be as fine again tomorrow; and one has no suspicion that death, which has been advancing within one on another plane, has chosen precisely this particular day to make its appearance in a few minutes' time....". - Marcel Proust, "The Guermantes Way" 
  • Vocabulary:
    • judder:  to vibrate violently.
  • Quotes I Like:
    • p. 73...."They never knew the consequences of their clever little fibs;  it was as if the individual members of this unit were players in an orchestra, sequestered in soundproof rooms - only Romer was able to make out the harmonies of the tune they were playing."
    • p. 233..."Maybe all great schemes are like that,' he said.  'Happenstance intersecting with received wisdom produces something entirely new and significant.' "
  • Review:  It's difficult to say if this is a really well written espionage novel, a very enjoyable WWII novel, or a very good novel about what it means to be human.  Of course it is all three, so I guess I am just saying to be careful not to pigeon-hole this novel in one category!  To share an illuminating quote from the book itself, "Maybe all great schemes are like that,' he said.  'Happenstance intersecting with received wisdom produces something entirely new and significant.' "  A mother and daughter are trying to find ways to live their lives in some sort of genuine manner, and yet they must face the fact that no one is completely known to us.  We all have secrets from one another.  Yet on we go, and that is the point!  Good read. I waver between three and four stars on this one......I think four because I definitely want to read more of Boyd's novels.

Friday, March 30, 2012

"Scandal" by Shusaku Endo *****

> 3rd novel so far in year long author read on
>Japanese author
> Originally published 1986

> Introduction:
  • "This thing called old age is not a beautiful maturity but something loathsome and painful, with lots of ugly aspects to it.  If asked why it is loathsome and ugly, I would say that it is because it is a rite of passage, a preparation for going to the next world.  A rite of passage involves having to undergo ordeals.  That is one of the themes of the novel." - Endo
  • "The city is like a human body, containing a multitude of different organs to cater for different functions and desires." - Damian Flanagan
  • Novel is autobiographical per Endo himself
> Characters:  Seguro (65 year old author...Endo), Kobari (reporter who wants to topple him from pedestal), Mrs.Naruse (middle aged hospital volunteer and masochist
 > Quotes I Like:
  • " As a novelist he could not bring himself to skirt over or ignore any of the components of a human being." - Seguro
  • "He had the notion that a true religion should be able to respond to the dark melodies, the faulty and hideous sounds that echo from the hearts of men." - Seguro in answer to the question, "Why don't you write stories that are nicer, more beautiful" (as a Christian)
  • "I feel as though our erotic behaviour expresses our profoundest secrets, the ones we ourselves aren't aware of." - Madame Naruse discussing sex with Seguro
  • "Midway upon the journey of our life,  I found myself within the forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost."  - "The Divine Comedy"
  • "Old age was something hidden from view for many years, only showing itself when it was fanned by the winds that blow from the pit of death."
  • "This Jesus you believe in.....I wonder if he was murdered because he was too innocent....too pure"
  • "I read somewhere that in our youth we live through our bodies; in our prime we live through our intellect; and in our old age we live through our minds as they prepare  for the journey to the next life."
> Vocabulary:
  • biophilous:  a love of life and the living world; the affinity of human beings for other life forms
  • doppelganger: ghost double

> Interesting Ideas:
  • the author's study indicative of a desire to return to the womb
  • Seguro's novels pair with Endo's....."The Voice of Silence"/"Silence",
  • Group of young female artists seeking "beauty in ugliness.  an aesthetics of ugliness".....just like Endo's novels
  • The psychology of sex "resembles the frame of mind in which one yearns for God.
  • I wonder if many journalists feel an inner urge to "shake those who were secure loose from their moorings"....seems a trend in our current affairs
  • Shadow self.......not a new concept, but really well written in this story 
  • Mrs. Naruse's husbands story of the heart, with items in the storage at the bottom coming to life at night
  • necrophilous v. biophilous writers
  • strong human desire to return to an inanimate state......strongest in masochists.....masochism as a deformation of a natural instinct...interesting
  • Seguro references the title for his next novel...."Scandal:  An Old Man's Prayer"
> Review:   I think this is a novel that took courage to write.  The author, Shusaku Endo, offers his own self-exploration up to the reader as a guide to accepting our own humanity, including the darkest aspects of self.  His protagonist, Seguro, is an author at the pinnacle of his career, at which moment he is confronted by his own doppelganger, or spirit double.  Thus begins a painful exploration of the aspects of self we try to hide from.  With references to "The Divine Comedy", Shakespeare's "King Lear" and other works used to emphasize the universality of Endo's beliefs, this book is uncomfortably marvelous to read.  Take a deep breath before diving in, because you will be a different person when you emerge at the end!

"Hell's Corner" by David Baldacci ***

> Audiobook
> #5 in Camel Club Series
> Originally published in 2011

> Review:  Pretty good Camel Club installment......nanobots are scary......would like to have seen more of the original Camel Club members!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis" by Caroline Kennedy ****

> Originally published 2001
> Collected and introduced by Caroline Kennedy

> Review:  Collected and Introduced by Caroline Kennedy, this is a lovely collection of poetry.  What makes the collection even more enjoyable to read are the tidbits of insight shared by Caroline about life with her oh so literate mother and father, from memorizing poems for their Daddy to Jacqueline's excitement in organizing an evening of poetry at the White House to the family tradition of writing or selecting a poem for their mother's birthday, Mother's Day, etc.  Some classics, some sonnets, some historic moments.  Very nice!

"Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy" by Caroline Kennedy & Michael Bechsloss ****

> Audiobook
> Book Club Selection April 2012


  • Part of an oral history project, 1964 
  • Interviewer:  Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr. (October 15, 1917 – February 28, 2007) was an American historian and social critic whose work explored the American liberalism of political leaders including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Schlesinger served as special assistant and "court historian"[1] to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. He wrote a detailed account of the Kennedy Administration, from the transition period to the president's state funeral, titled A Thousand Days. In 1968, Schlesinger actively supported the presidential campaign of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, which ended with Kennedy's assassination in Los Angeles. Schlesinger wrote the biography Robert Kennedy and His Times several years later.
    He popularized the term "imperial presidency" during the Nixon administration by writing the book The Imperial Presidency. He also was an avid supporter of Harry Truman.
  • Interviews were done four months after the President's assassination, then put in a vault, not to be released until the 50th anniversary of his death
  • Caroline Kennedy's dilemma over publishing them edited a bit so as not to offend anyone or not...did not edit
  • Jacqueline born 1929, died 1994
  •  Raised  on Park Avenue and Long Island....surprised at her heavy accent
  • Met JFK on a train, then later more formally, he was already a congressman
  • Married in 1953
  • Back surgery...later proved 1955
  • Wrote "Profiles in Courage" while mending from surgery, in order to have something to do
  • Their life was "fast-paced", and they were "rarely alone"
  • JFK described himself as "an idealist without illusions"....I really like that
  • Tended to incite bitter jealousies among men who had not achieved as much by such a young age
  • Conflict over "Profiles in Courage" authorship with Ted Sorenson, Jackie says he took some cast off pages with editorial comments on them, but JFK still had the original handwritten notes of his own, so proved his authorship, JFK gave all proceeds to Sorenson for his help, but Jackie says that was just his reward Ted for very hard work......."Ted" Sorensen (May 8, 1928 – October 31, 2010) was an American presidential advisor, lawyer and writer, best known as President John F. Kennedy’s special counsel, adviser and legendary speechwriter. President Kennedy once called him his “intellectual blood bank.
  • Jackie translated books from the French for JFK
  • Wasn't considered "serious" to travel with your wife, so she did not generally travel abroad with him
  • JFK was appalled and "deeply affected" by flip, insensitive comments of the rich about the poor
  • Schlesinger, "He didn't wear his heart on his sleeve..."
  • Jackie:  so important for JFK to get "out of Washington and see how much he was adored"
  • JFK was "never one to run with a pack"
  • Comparison of campaigning in Wisconsin v. West Virginia......"never met a person I liked in Wisconsin", "never met a person I didn't like in West Virginia", seen as "Papists"
  • "All these Irish seem to have a peculiar sense of persecution"
  • Senate wives rolled bandages on Tuesdays, vice president wife (Pat Nixon) wore nurse's uniform
  • Dislike of LBJ, story of him sitting in Mr. Kennedy's chair on the Cape
  • Jackie worried about life for JFK post white house...spoke to Bobby...he spoke to Ted who said he would bow out of the senate.....JFK found out, was angry and made her tell bobby to tell teddy no
  • JFK's gift giving....brought in 30 gifts for her to choose from...she chose the one she could tell he wanted her to pick
  • Story of not taking bathrobe to bathroom and then hiding in there because JFK and Salinger were meeting in the bedroom, and about bursting in with Truman one time
  • Story of Robert Frost at inauguration being unable to see the words on his paper
  • Like that JFK would call her a"Jack"
  • she didn't know how to wave in the inauguration parade
  • Sounds like she was exhausted quite a bit, was given Dexedrine in order to have the energy to get up and dressed for inaugural balls
  • Described their relationship as "renewals of love after brief separations"
  • Schlesinger indicated that his advisers felt they let JFK down re Bay of Pigs
  • Khrushchev's daughter looked like a "Wehrmacht blonde who ran a concentration camp."
  • Stayed on Onassis yacht in mid 1950s
  • Got all her political ideas from her husband......felt it was a great thing
  • "Power made him a better man"....a portrait painter said that to Jackie
  • Day after Cuban missile crisis......JFK said if anyone is going to shoot me, this would be the day to do it......referring to his belief that Lincoln greatness was what it was because he died after abolishing slavery, but not being alive to deal with the no win situation of Reconstruction
  • MLK Jr....Bobby told her of orgy tapes and that he had made fun of JFK's inauguration
  • During Cuban missile crisis..."no day and night"
  • JFK foresaw trouble with LBJ's presidency re:  southeast Asia
  • Skyhook....extraction of agents 
  • Jackie saw herself as a detriment to JFK's career until they got to the White House 
> Review:  I was 5 years old when President Kennedy was assassinated.  I have powerful visual memories of my mother weeping and watching the funeral on our black and white television.  As is true for most Americans I have the powerful iconic images from media of the Kennedy family, their tragedies and faux pas.   Hearing Jacqueline's voice, in its strong Long Island accent, has filled out my internal images of her tremendously.  She comes across as a smart, physically frail, classic 1950s wife, who seemed to adore her husband.  She tells tales from their married life, which was actually fairly brief.  She shares her opinions of many individuals she met over time.  All of this is done while the listener hears her take a puff on her cigarette and hears the clink of ice cubes in her glass.....even hearing the occasional pitter patter of her children running through the room.  She paints a picture of JFK as incredibly intelligent, hard-working, considerate, and completely dedicated individual. 

It is a wonderful experience to listen to these interviews

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"The Madonnas of Leningrad" by Debra Dean ****

> Book Club selection, March 2012
> Debut by US author
> Originally published 2006

> Epigraph:  "But now I know, while beauty lives, So long will live my power to grieve." - Alexander Pushkin

> Quotes I Like:
  • p. 3..."It is as though she has been transported into a two-dimensional world, a book perhaps, and she exists only on this page.  When the page turns, whatever was on the previous page disappears from her view."
  •  p. 24..."Privacy is a conceit of degenerate societies."
  • p.27..."Her uncle seemed not to notice what she saw--he droned on about acquisitions and restorations and who knows what else, while around them angels fluttered in turbulent skies and serene Madonnas gazed down as they passed.  And the landscapes, one after another shimmering with light, each frame a portal into a fresh world.".......Age 12, Marina's first impression of the Hermitage, yet also an apt description of her experience at the other end of her life as she flutters between the present and the past in her mind
  • p. 119..."She is leaving him, not all at once, which would be painful enough, but n a wrenching succession of separations.  On moment she is here, and then she is gone again, and each journey takes her a little farther from his reach.  He cannot follow her, ad he wonders where she goes when she leaves him."......perspective of family
  • p. 158..."Woe rides on woe and uses woe for a whip"
  • p. 161..."What is heartbreaking is that there is still beauty in the world."....after the blanket bombing of Leningrad....juxtaposed to the epigraph by Pushkin.....wonder where the author falls on this question
  • p. 203..."The future is always written with a pitchfork on the water."
  • p. 206..."This slow erosion of self has its compensations.  Having forgotten whatever associations might dull her vision, she can look at a leaf and see it as if for the first time. Though reason suggests otherwise, she has never seen this green before.  It is wondrous.  Each day, the world is made fresh again, holy, and she takes it in, in all its raw intensity, like a young child.  She feels something bloom in her chest--joy or grief, eventually they are inseparable.  The world is so acutely beautiful, for all its horrors, that she will be sorry to leave it."
> Interesting Ideas:
  • Sleep as a switch being flicked.....same as the switch which flicks Marina from past to present
  • Absolutely loved the idea of building a "memory palace".....p.68

> Review:   This debut novel is the 2012 selection for "If All Rochester Reads.....", and the March 2012 selection for my book club. Consequently, I will have the opportunity to hear the author speak in Rochester this week. 

This story is a beautifully blended, historically interesting,poignant tale of the siege of Leningrad and its impact on the Hermitage, its artwork and staff, and it is also the story of what it might be like on the inside of Alzheimer's.  The author, Debra Dean, does an absolutely marvelous job of making the transitions between the past and the present, using events in either to trigger the mental shift from the past to the present of the protagonist, Marina.

Friday, March 23, 2012

"The Marriage Plot" by Jeffrey Eugenides ***

> Audiobook
> Originally published

> Interesting......would anyone fall in love if they hadn't read about it?

> Review:   Audiobook...........Frankly I was disappointed in this novel.  The plot is a moderately creative coming-of-age tale.  It is okay, but I guess "Middlesex" was a tough act to follow, even for Eugenides.  The one idea that I found to be really interesting was to consider the question, would people fall in love if they hadn't already read about it?  How would life be different?  The three protagonists, Madelaine, Leonard, and Mitchell were interesting, yet not riveting.  So, in summary, perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if my expectations had not been so high when I started it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"2666" by Robert Bolano *****

> Originally published 2004
> Chilean author

> Story takes place in Europe, 1990s and in Mexico during the maquilladoro murders of women
> Four academics (Pelletier (France), Morini (Italy), Espinoza (Spain), and Norton(England) are obsessed with a German writer, Archimboldi.....the four are all professors of German Literature.....then P & E fall in love with N.....gets complicated
> Archimboldi is reclusive, hasn't been seen by anyone in many years
> Hans Reiter becomes Archimboldi on a whim, while renting a typewriter
> Baroness von Zumpe turns out to be former employer

> Quotes I like:
  •  p.41...."In fact they both laughed, wrapped up in the waves or whatever it was that linked their voices and ears across the dark fields and the wind and the snow of the Pyrenees and the rivers and the lonely roads and the separate and interminable suburbs surrounding Paris and Madrid."...Pelletier & Espinoza on the phone
  • p.41...", that night Pelletier and Espinoza discovered that they were generous, so generous that if they'd been together they'd have felt the need to go out and celebrate, dazzled by the shine of their own virtue, a shine that might no last (since virtue, once recognized in a flash, has no shine and makes its home in a dark cave amid cave dwellers, some dangerous indeed), .....".
  • p.57...."Like the bachelor who suddenly grows old, or like the bachelor who, when he returns from a trip at light speed, finds the other bachelors grown old or turned into pillars of salt.  Thousands, hundreds of thousands of machines celibataires crossing an amniotic sea each day, on Alitalia, eating spaghetti al pomodoro and drinking Chianti or grappa, their eyes half closed, positive that the paradise of retires isn't in Italy, bachelors flying to the hectic airports of Africa or America, burial ground of elephants.  The great cemeteries at light speed......Spots on the wall and spots on the skin...".  ...........Pelletier thinking about aging
  • p. 90..."Coincidence, on the other hand, is total freedom, our natural destiny.  Coincidence obeys no laws and if it does we don't know what they are.  Coincidence, if you'll permit me the simile, is like the manifestation of God at every moment on our planet.  A senseless God, making senseless gestures at his senseless creatures.  In that hurricane, in that osseous implosion, we find communion.  The communion of coincidence and effect and the communion of effect with us."
  • p. 117..."Exile  .......I see it as a natural movement, something that, in its way, helps to abolish fate, or what is generally thought of as fate."
  • p.120..."In Europe, intellectuals work for publishing houses or for the papers or their wives support them or their parents are well-off and give them a monthly allowance or they're laborers or criminals and they make an honest living from their jobs.  In Mexico, and this might be true across Latin America, except in Argentina, intellectuals work for the state."
  • p.189...".....when a person was in Barcelona, the people living and present in Buenos Aires and Mexico City didn't exist.  The time difference only masked their nonexistence.  And so if you suddenly traveled to cities that, according to this theory, didn't exist or hadn't yet had time to put themselves together, the result was the phenomenon known as jet lag, which arose not from your exhaustion but from the exhaustion of the people who would still have been asleep if you hadn't traveled."
  • p.209..."There is no friendship.....there is no love, there is no epic, there is no lyric poetry that isn't the gurgle or chuckle of egoists, the murmur of cheats, the babble of traitors, the burble of social climbers, the warble of faggots."
  • p. 227..."What a sad paradox....Now even bookish pharmacists are afraid to take on the great, imperfect, torrential works, books that blaze paths into the unknown.  They choose the perfect exercises of the great masters. Or what amounts to the same thing:  they want to watch the great masters spar, but they have no interest in real combat, when the great masters struggle against that something, that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows us and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench."
  • p. 228..."Life is demand and supply or supply and demand, that's what it all boils down to, but that's no way to live.  A third leg is needed to keep the table from collapsing into the garbage pit of history, which in turn is permanently collapsing int the garbage pit of the + demand + magic...
  • p. 254.."Metaphors are our way of losing ourselves in semblances or treading water in a sea of seeming.  In that sense a metaphor is like a life preserver."
  • p. 255..."Useless things are forced upon us, and it isn't because they improve our quality of life, but because they're the fashion or markers of class, and fashionable people and high-class people require admiration and worship."
  • p. 256..."Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people's ideas, like listening to music (oh yes), like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach."
  • p. 283...""Does this mean that in some places I'm American and in some places I'm African American and in other places, by logical extension, I'm nobody?"
  • p. 302..."Or what we think of as peacefulness is wrong and peacefulness or the realms of peacefulness are really no more than a gauge of movement, an accelerator or a brake, depending."
  • p.579..."Haas looks much thinner, his neck long like a turkey';s, though not just any turkey but a singing turkey or a turkey about to break into song, not just sing, but break into song, a piercing song, a grating song, a song of shattered glass, but of glass bearing a strong resemblance to crystal, that is, to purity, to self-abnegation, to a total lack of deceitfulness."
  • p.605..."All names disappear.  Children should be taught that in elementary school.  But we're afraid to teach them."......???
  • p. 640..."Hans Reiter was unsteady on his feet because he moved across the surface of the earth like a novice diver along the seafloor."
  • p. 651..."....a long stay in a military hospital drove people to become satanists....".
  • p. 680.."...wonderful, wonderful, yet again the sword of fate severs the head from the hydra of chance.".
  • p. 685..."...if one cast a dispassionate glance over the great deeds of history....that a hero should be transformed into a monster or the worst sort of villain or that he should unintentionally succumb to invisibility, in the same way that a villain or an ordinary person or a good-hearted mediocrity should become, with the passage of the centuries, a beacon of wisdom, a magnetic beacon capable of casting a spell over millions of human beings, without having done anything to justify such adoration, in fact without even having aspired to it or desired it.......". (i.e. Jesus Christ)
  • p.785..."Literature is a vast forest and the masterpieces are the lakes, the towering trees or strange trees, the lovely, eloquent flowers, the hidden caves, but a forest is also made up of ordinary trees, patches of grass, puddles, clinging vines, mushrooms and little wildflowers."
  • p.786..."The person who really writes the minor work is a secret writer who accepts only the dictates of a masterpiece."
  • p. 786..."Reading is pleasure and happiness to be alive or sadness to be alive and above all it's knowledge and questions."
  • p. 787..."....all works from the pen of a minor writer, can be nothing but plagiarism of some masterpiece."
  • p. 788..."What a relief to give up literature, to give up writing and simply read!"
  • p. 790..."Jesus is the masterpiece.  The thieves are minor works.  Why are they there?  Not to frame the crucifixion, as some innocent souls believe, but to hide it."
  • p. 794..."'s common knowledge, thought Archimboldi, that history, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness."
  •  p. 800..."...he amused himself by thinking about a time with two speeds, one very slow, in which the movement of people and objects was almost imperceptible, and the other very fast, in which everything, even inert objects, glittered with speed.  The first was called Paradise, the second Hell, and Archimboldi's only wish was never to inhabit either."
  • p. 831..."When these stars cast their light, we didn't exist, life on Earth didn't exist, even Earth didn't exist.  This light was cast a long time ago.  It's the past, we're surrounded by the past, everything that no longer exists or exists only in memory or guesswork is there now, above us, shining on the mountains and the snow and we can't do anything to stop it."
> Interesting Ideas:
  • If two people hold differing opinions of a work of art in any form, who is right?
  • Pelletier & Espinoza beat up the taxi driver......interesting parallel drawn by author between the feeling after having sex, and after acting violently
  • Bolano is incredibly worldly and draws in references from mythology to American movies like "Psycho".....Definitely makes the case that he is writing about humanity, not just one ethnic group
  • "...the whole world is a coincidence..."
  • repeated references to labyrinths....much as this novel seems to be labyrinthine....
  • the meaning of "chincuales"......fleas that bite.....the people who squirm from the bites...people who squirm in general.....adventurers of the mind who cannot keep still mentally.....
  • Character names "Fate"...
  • the advent of multiplex cinemas has made the "sense of vertigo before the movie begins" disappear
  • ventriloquists' dummies reach a certain level of performance and then come to life.....metaphor?
  • Identities are surprises over time
  • When looking at the stars we are gazing at the past
> Vocabulary:
  • coprophagy:  feeding on dung, as certain beetles
  • interregnum:  an interval of time between the close of a sovereign's reign and the accession of his or her normal or legitimate successor.
  • orography:  the branch of physical geography dealing with mountains
  • sacraphobia:  fear of that which is sacred
  • gephyrophobia:  fear of crossing bridges
  • peccatophobia:  fear of committing sins
  • cliniphobia:  fear of beds
  • tricophobia:  fear of hair
  • verbophobia:  fear of words
  • vestophobia:  fear of clothes
  • iatrophobia:  fear of doctors
  •  gynophobia:  fear of women
  • ombrophobia:  fear of rain
  • thalassophobia:  fear of the sea
  • anthophobia:  fear of flowers
  • dendrophobia:  fear of trees
  • optophobia:  fear of opening the eyes
  • pedophobia:  fear of children
  •  ballistophobia:  fear of bullets
  • tropophobia:  fear of making changes or moving
  • agyrophobia:  fear of streets or crossing the street
  • chromophobia:  fear of certain colors
  • nyctophobia:  fear of night
  • ergophobia:  fear of work
  • decidophobia:  fear of making decisions
  • anthrophobia:  fear of people
  • astrophobia:  fear of certain meteorological events
  • pantophobia:  fear of everything
  • phobophobia:  fear of fear itself
  • helicoidal:  coiled or curving like a spiral
  • simurgh:   monstrous bird, rational and ancient, in Persian mythology  
> Review:    First of all, reading this book is a significant undertaking.  It is basically 5 novels published as one massive novel.  Any one of the five parts can be read alone, however, in my opinion, together they comprise an 898 page masterpiece. Yep....898 pages!  The book was published posthumously, but was extremely close to final draft prior to Bolano's death.

Who is Benno von Archimboldi?  Why are the Santa Teresa murders unsolved?  Why are German literature professors from England, Spain, Italy, and France obsessively hunting for Archimboldi?  Is Klaus Haas really guilty?  What the heck is the meaning of the title?  Three of these five questions will be answered clearly, one vaguely, and one not at all.  Are you intrigued?  You must be in order to read the whole novel!

Themes included:  Identity, the meaning of writing, and the inexplicable web of connections which tie us together in this life we live

I will leave you with this quote....."...wonderful, wonderful, yet again the sword of fate severs the head from the hydra of chance."

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Mr. g: A Novel About Creation" by Alan Lightman

Audiobook........You know the story...God created the universe, laws of the universe, inanimate objects, and then animate life. Old story. Enter Alan Lightman who has a special gift for weaving a scientific/philosophical tale anew. Lightman has a way of making complex science comprehensible while engaging the reader in thinking about complex topics from multiple perspectives. Themes in the current novel include: time measured in atomic tics, why good requires evil in order to exist, unpredictability, and immortality.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"A Lesson in Secrets" by Jaqueline Winspear ****

> Originally published in 2011
> Audiobook
> English author
> #8 in Maisie Dobbs series

> "Secrets and lies always go together."

>  Wonderful notion of a children's book leading to a quiet movement on both sides of the battleground mutinying to protest war and to respond to the longing of children to have their fathers come home

> Review:   The most charming aspect of the Maisie Dobbs series, is Maisie Dobbs.  I love this character. She is smart, and wise, witty, tough and compassionate.  Such a well rounded character.  This installment finds Maisie working on national security matters, teaching philosophy undercover, and as always, helping out the people she cares about.  On top of the wonderful characters and learning some of the subtle aftereffects of WWI on the psyche of the British, this installment foreshadows the coming storm of WWII.  It's another good one folks!

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Great House" by Nicole Krauss **

> Audiobook
> Originally pubished 2010

>  Just could not get into this book........