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The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The jacket of the edition I read of The Reader sums up the plot as follows: "When fifteen-year-old Michael Berg falls ill on his way home from school he is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover, enthralling him with her passion, but puzzling him with her cold silences. Then she disappears. Michael next sees Hanna when she is on trial for a hideous crime." read moreCollapse )
Jilted by his childhood sweetheart, Florentino Ariza waits 50 years to proposition her again at her husband's funeral.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Penguin Books, 1985, 348 pages

In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs--yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.

Seriously, dude, move on!Collapse )

Verdict: A sultry tale of obsessive love-in-waiting, carried along time's river which is represented by the literal river in the novel, Love in the Time of Cholera is less telenovela than the movie, and a masterpiece of language even in translation. I liked it much more for the prose than for the characters and the story, however, and while I can certainly appreciate Márquez's gifts as a writer, he isn't likely to become one of my favorites, at least not based on this work.

As an entry on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, it probably deserves its place, though I have not read any of Márquez's other books and cannot say if this is the worthiest.

My complete list of book reviews.

Dead Babies by Martin Amis

Martin Amis is a clever writer, capable of vivid descriptions, intriguing comparisons, and clever turns of phrase. But those gifts are not enough to redeem Dead Babies, which I found to be a dreadful book. It tells of ten people spending a weekend in a house in the English countryside. They fill their time with alcohol, drugs, sex, and violence. None of the characters struck me as attractive or interesting, and I could discover no reason to take them seriously or to care what happened to them. In addition to graphic accounts of unappealing or disgusting behavior, binge drinking, kinky sex, and senseless violence, there are occasional unsuccessful attempts at humor. For example, the description of the Whiteheads, the fattest family on the planet, trying squeeze into their car was intended, I believe, to be funny; instead it struck me as heavy handed and childish: humor for third graders. I can think of no reason why anyone should read this book.

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

The Waves is not a long novel, but it took me a long time to plow through it. One could say it gives the story of six characters as they enter school, leave school, and pursue their lives. But leaving the description there would be misleading. In fact, there is no "story" and no narration. Instead there is a series of loosely connected first-person monologues in which the six characters reflect on events and feelings. Gradually the reader gets a sense of the distinct personalities, and discerns something of the relations between them, although nothing is spelled out clearly. Read moreCollapse )

The Temple of My Familiar, by Alice Walker

416 pages

Transcending the conventions of time and place, Walker's novel moves from contemporary America, England, and Africa to unfamiliar primal worlds, where women, men and animals socialize in surprising ways. (Goodreads)

This isn't a bad book, but its a slow and meandering journey of self discovery for a whole passel of characters. If that doesn't sound like something you'd like, you should probably skip it.

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore is a brilliantly funny writer and Anagrams sparkles with witty lines, puns, and anagrams, as well as clever observations and surprising, amusing comparisons. On that surface level, it is a wonderful book. Peer below the surface, however, and things are in disarray.Read moreCollapse )

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

I have never been a particular fan of science fiction, either in books or in the movies, and I must be about the only person on earth to read this book without having seen the movie. I do not know whether my experience of the book would have been different if I had seen the movie first, or how the book would affect my experience of seeing the movie, were I to do so (which is not likely). As a book it strikes me as a pleasant bit of light moreCollapse )


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1001 Books (eventually!)



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