Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A surprisingly good book

RulesRules by Cynthia Lord

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the few books I've ever read about dealing with disability--daring, hopeful, humanizing. And there are many interesting themes like borrowing another's words or speaking for the other. This theme plays out in many ways, most compellingly as the main character, Catherine, creates communication cards for a boy she meets when taking her autistic brother to therapy.

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In time of cholera: a sorry review

Love in the Time of CholeraLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I almost read it but soured on it one hundred pages in. It's my second go at Gabriel Garcia Marquez and it simply fizzled as did 100 years--I can already hear the disbelief. I feel guilt about this (everyone loves this book, he did win the Nobel Prize etc etc) but in the end I'm not a fan. It felt overwrought and overdone. In a few pages I tired of Florentino's passionate love for Fermina. And maybe that's the point Marquez is making--to have a us tire of him and to question the simplicity of romantic love. If so I only needed a page or two instead of an entire novel.

I'm very sorry to any/all who love this book.

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A review of Disgrace: "No country, this, for old men"

Another tour de force by Coetzee. As in Slowman, Coetzee takes a man and strips him of all pretense while asking bare-boned, honest questions about our existence. A man who loses his job after an ill-fated affair with a student because he refuses to engage the religiously constructed language of his tribunal. Language makes no sense when his full acceptance of guilt is construed as obfuscation. This theme continues, shaped by the post-colonial South Africa, as he attempts to help his daughter living next to and among Africans with new rights. The gap runs parallel between the old and young, the Africans and whites: "It's not a country, this [playing off Yeat's poem] for old men." And Coetzee means it, does not shirk from the difficult task of facing the truth, as his narrator later explains (and could stand as a summation of the book): "By the time the big words come back reconstructed, purified, fit to be trusted once more, he will be long dead."