Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood

Ah, hmm, I really don't know about this one 5/10

From the cover

"Part detective novel, part psychological thriller, Surfacing is the story of a talented woman artist who goes in search of her missing father on a remote island in northern Quebec. Setting out with her lover and another young couple, she soon finds herself captivated by the isolated setting, where a marriage begins to fall apart, violence and death lurk just beneath the surface, and sex becomes a catalyst for conflict and dangerous choices. Surfacing is a work permeated with an aura of suspense, complex with layered meanings, and written in brilliant, diamond-sharp prose. Here is a rich mine of ideas from an extraordinary writer about contemporary life and nature, families and marriage, and about women fragmented...and becoming whole."

I understand what was trying to be done with the book and I really loved a few sentences, very quote worthy but this book really didn't do it for me. I was left with a flat, confused, possibly irritated feeling. This is the only Atwood book I've not really liked.

First off, I don't feel that the blurb from the cover comes even close to describing the story. It was not at all like a detective novel nor thrilling. I don't think I've ever read a more misleading blurb.

*Warning* The next might be a spoiler.

I think it did a good job in showing the decline of her emotional and mental state and it felt like it was really building up to something but then the end came too quickly and nothing, there was not any wholeness in the end or if that was what happened then it was all wrong. I can buy that fast of a decline but the recovery would of not came so quickly.

The next disappointment was with the secondary characters, none of them behaved in an expected or ordinary manner. I kept thinking I'd ditch people too, if this was what I was given to deal with, but also that they would not of acted that way, they would not of left her there.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Roots by Alex Haley

A very moving family saga 8/10

From the cover

"It begins with a birth in 1750, in an African village; it ends seven generations later at the Arkansas funeral of a black professor whose children are a teacher, a Navy architect, an assistant director of the U.S. Information Agency, and an author. The author is Alex Haley. This magnificent book is his."

To say this book is sad or tragic is an understatement, it deals with the history of slavery in the US and paints a horrific picture of what the experience was like for Kunta Kinte, starting with his life in a small African village and following through several generations of his family as they struggle through many years of oppression and brutality. I think it did a good job of portraying the relationships between the plantation owners and the slaves, the conflict of some owners that tried to be religious and decent and yet own another person was especially done well. The fear that dominated these relationships of both owners and slaves was also very realistically put forth.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

Interesting topic but ran dry in spots 6/10

From the Jacket

"In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild."

I felt that the story could have been laid out better, it was an interesting subject and I liked Krakauer's Under The Banner of Heaven. Into the Wild seemed to jump around, which made it hard to follow and it dragged in other spots which made me want to skim through. Krakauer mentions that he had originally done a magazine article on the story that drew a lot of response and his own interest to investigate further and I felt like that's what this book was, an over inflated magazine article.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

So, so story delivered with some but not enough style 5/10

From the jacket

"From her calamitous birth in Manitoba in 1905 to her journey with her father to Indiana, throughout her years as a wife, mother, and widow, Daisy Stone Goodwill has struggled to umderstand her place in her own life. Now she listens, she observes, and, through sheer force of imagination, she becomes a witness of her own life: her birth, her death, and the troubling misconnections she discovers in between. With Irony and humor, Carol Shields weaves together the poignant story of this twentieth-century pilgrim in search of herself, and in doing so she creates a story that is a paradigm of the unsettled decades of our era."

I didn't find this book to be all that good. I thought it was a boring, depressing story with bland characters. While it did have some beautiful phrases and would be highly quotable they were not enough to save me from the ho-hum feeling the book gave me. The cover lead me to believe that Daisy tells her story but I didn't feel that I was getting much from her.

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