Saturday, April 4, 2009

Little Bee

Little Bee (Chris Cleave) Kindle Version -- 2009 -- 9

Little be isn't a faint book; while not long, it is heavy. Many novels dealing with charged subject matter and high-faluting morality can also be ponderous, and full of unlikeable idiots who are supposed to be all to real. This is just not the case with Little Bee.

I downloaded Little Bee because I'd seen some positive reviews but (as is my habit), hadn't much read the synopsis. After reading the first few lines, I'd decided to put it off for a few days and start something lighter. After dragging myself through a horrendous excuse for a horror novel, I came back to Little Bee. By the time the book switched to the second narrator at chapter 2, I was fully enthralled, and Little Bee barely let me up for air.

I hate spoilers, and I wouldn't want to spoil Little Bee for anyone, there's too much that happens that you don't need to know a thing about until it happens. But I do want potential readers to know that Little Bee is a whirlwind, hugely accomplished, and a story that works on so many levels. More than anything I appreciated how much I came to love the characters, and to empathize with them.

My only problem really was with the ending. It took quite a while to get around to with too many things happening to quickly, and then ended rather abrubptly. I don't know that I have a better answer to what to do with these people; but I did click the last page feeling slightly abandoned.

If you love stories, if you love the written word -- even if you've read a synopsis of Little Bee and though, "maybe not my kind of thing," I'd just urge you to think twice. I'm really super glad I did.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Glister

The Glister (John Burnside) 2009 -- kindle edition. 3

The Glister was touted on amazon as a edgy horror novel, and I'll admit I made the purchase with relatively little restraint or forethought. The story -- a depressed town with an old abandoned chemical plant -- experiences the mysterious disappearance of multiple adolescent boys, plus spooky stuff happens -- that was enough for me to give it a chance.

I should have known better. The Glister is written in a rather stream of consciousness manner, but moves across several different perspective (some first person, some not) without the narrative voice changing in any meaningful way. It's full of thick discription that does nothing to either draw you into the story, or to lay groundwork for the plot. It's just there.

I also found the characters flat and unlikeable, and after giving it an honest go (reading the first 30% dutifully), i paged through the rest of the book, just hoping for it to finish as quickly as possible.

The Unlikely Disciple 10

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University (Kevin Roose) 2009, Kindle Edition -- 10

This is the first book in a very long time that I read in a single sitting. It's not only that the subject is interesting (as the title suggest, Roose poses as an evangelical christian for a semester at Liberty University), it's that it's maddeningly well written. I was furious at how well Roose was able to write, but it was so entertaining, i really couldn't commit to being mad about it either.

The first hint that something special was going on with Unlikely disciple was near the beginning of the book, where Roose compared his pre-Liberty concept of god as a "left-wing superhero . . . a celestial Michael Moore."

This is much more than an expose, though. In fact, it's really not an expose at all. From the beginning, Roose frames his experience as anthropological; his experiment as ethnographic. Roose makes a serious commitment to relate to his peers at Liberty, and perhaps dispite himself, succeeds. The resulting moral tribulations are honestly presented and thought provoking.

In the end, I found myself wondering if God himself had a hand in giving Roose the dramatic ending his wonderful book so well deserved.