Friday, June 1, 2018

Review: Washington Square

Washington Square Washington Square by Henry James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have only just discovered the writing of Henry James. I simply could not put this book down. There are only a handful of writers who can so successfully travel through a man or a woman's unspoken thoughts ..... thoughts of propriety, impropriety, foolish hopes, devious schemes, love and detestation. It is a book about what is never said as much as it is a book about what is said which should never be said. It describes the many little deaths we will experience as others trifle with us and as we deny ourselves moments of heroic change. It is almost miraculous to me that someone has captured the infinite inscrutability of those who live a life of the mind, rather than a life of more concrete stuffs.
I loved this book.

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Review: Berlin Alexanderplatz

Berlin Alexanderplatz Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Stylistically, not really my cup of tea. I have read so many other reviews all singing this book's praises. I don't get it. I have read in several places that this is "an important work". I don't get this either.

It is original, I'll give it that. It also has an artistic backbone which is very clever, so I liked that. Finally, it is an effective slice of history of the Weimar Republic. It does a good job revealing the underbelly of Berlin in the late 1920's.

However, I found myself yearning for a single declarative sentence. Maybe a little more punctuation, so you know who is speaking? The stream of consciousness thing doesn't work in a novel. Fine for poetry...but it gets cumbersome when there are chapters and chapters of it. As a reader, I felt I had to work too hard throughout to figure out what was going on.

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Review: All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Be prepared to lose some sleep - I know I did. I just could not close the book, no matter how word-drenched I felt. The story is a little bit of everything: historical fiction, beach read, magical, honest, way more than a beach read, love story, philosophy. Doerr does a spectacular job in "keeping it real". He does not address evil and kindness straight-on. Both are ever-present. Both take their fair share from the lives in the story. Life is like this. It tore at me, though. I'll remember it for a very long time.

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