Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: Book Reviews

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Book Reviews

What is the What? by Dave Eggers

I don't know that I figured out what the what was. . . . this book was so wrenching that it took me literally months to finish; so somewhere in that space and time I forgot the original reference to 'the what'. But I think it has something to do with life carrying on--relentlessly it seems in this story.

The most beautiful and interesting thing I found about the narrative and the way it was told (autobiography as told through a fiction writer) was the framing within a single 48 hour period in which the main character, who goes by many names throughout the book, is assaulted in his own apartment and then after he's released spends another grueling 24 hours trying to get treated at an emergency room and then his laborious trek to work--on foot--without having slept. During this single period, he tells his story.--in his mind--to everyone he encounters. I found this treatment and approach to storytelling so moving because it made me realize that we all want to be seen. We live our anonymous lives out in the world. We interact with dozens of people everyday, shopping clerks, bank tellers, neighborhood kids, and we know nothing about them. Is there something within them, within me, that longs to reach out and tell our story--make a connection? Especially immigrants. . . .many who served as professionals in their country of origin are now hotel managers, or shop clerks, or day laborers. How they must long to tell their story.

I recommend the book because it tells a personal story of the "lost boys of Sudan" and with the ongoing unrest in Darfur, it's important to have a reference. It's not an easy read. Nothing seems to go right, other than the fact that he continues living, he continues on, in spite of everything, he keeps moving forward. It's a tenacity that my own consciousness cannot grasp but in that is great courage and great caliber.

The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon

Chabon is one of my favorite authors. He's an excellent story teller. He has a way of describing the most ordinary things and making it extraordinary; one almost gasps at some of his turns of phrase. . . .I wish I had the book with me to give some examples (bad reviewer!).

This is a mystery set within an abusrdist's context, so you know there's going to be a moral allegory in the end, but it still surprised me! In this tale, the war of 1948 is lost and Israel is booted out of the holy land and settled in, of all places, Sitka, Alaska. Now after more than 50 years, they are on the verge of losing their temporary home and all hell is breaking lose. This book has everything, the classical mystery noir, the bittersweet love, the down-and-out detective, the junkie, the savior, the fall guy (or gal as in this case), the mob, the mobster's wife, and the outsider.

It's a great summer read! Pick it up today.



Post a Comment

<< Home