Thursday, October 28, 2010

books

Holy crap I actually read three novels in a row.

Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem - Beautiful book. Wordsmithery is rarely so good to make the book on its own merits, but I lost count of the times in this book when I thought to myself, wow, that is the most perfect and poignant description of that situation possible. Also, the characters are real and compelling and complex, which is always enough for me to love a book. AND, it takes place in Brooklyn in the same area where I lived for a year before moving to Berkeley, and then in part 2, it takes place in Berkeley. Knowing every place-name and place-connotation always makes a book exceptionally vivid, but even if you have no familiarity with either place, definitely read this book.

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Eh. Certainly good, but I had high expectations and they weren't met. I do love novels that are more about ideas than events, but that wasn't enough to make me love this one for two reasons. First of all, the ideas are mostly theological in nature and therefore of no interest to me. Inexistent things have no intentions to question, and of course without god there is still morality. The Grand Inquisitor chapter, in particular, did not jump out at me; I preferred the family meeting with Father Zossima and the devil's visit in Ivan's delirium. Second of all, while I would have happily read a 300 page version, 900 was far too long. I was sated before the drama even started.

The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster - Very engrossing book. I was instantly and permanently emotionally invested in the story and could hardly put it down. Several parts were downright heartwrenching. I'm sure the full extent of the symmetries and symbologies would be more obvious to someone who understands literature, but there were so many intertwined layers repeating the same themes and conflicts that at the end I felt like I'd digested a fully satisfying work of art. I read it for book club and for the first time I can remember, finished it weeks before the night before the meeting.

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