Sunday, February 19, 2012

Now, to see the movie...

Kaui Hart Hemmings' The Descendants

The movie got a lot of play so I bought the book. It's an okay "beach read." It's hard to empathize with an absent father who tries to connect with his two bratty daughters as their mother lies dying. There's not much character development and the arc of the story is predictable.The movie probably has some lovely scenes of Hawaii not to mention George Clooney. What's not to like?

Living in Iran

Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

You don't have to have read Lolita to enjoy this book but it would help to have more than a nodding acquaintance with the novels of Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James, and Austen.This is a challenging book for those of us who weren't lit majors. Nafisi loosely structures her memoir around her private seminars with seven young Iranian women who love English-language novels.She teaches the reader her approach to literature, but far more importantly, she helps the reader get a sense of the great losses she and her students felt after the Iranian revolution. Iran's intellectuals were shocked and helpless as they watched the country become a radical theocracy with Sharia law. Nafisi was a thoroughly westernized upper-class Iranian woman who returned to Iran to teach only to be forced to wear the veil and endure the extreme politics flowing from the worst form of Islam.

No thinking woman can read this book without being deeply moved.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Michael Ondaatje's The Cat's Table

Michael Ondaatje's The Cat's Table

Ondaatje is one of our most gifted writers working today. I enjoyed this novel for its exquisite prose. He writes so beautifully without going over the top. At first I'd understood it was semi-autobiographical and that was what most interested me, but then I saw an interview in which he stated flatly that it was not at all that. So I stepped away for several days, but when I took it up again I was pulled into his reverie with new insights. Without relating to the characters one is still brought to see relevances to the arc of one's life.