Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Brooklyn Follies

Title: The Brooklyn Follies

Author: Paul Auster

Number of pages: 304

Started: 24 March 2010

Finished: 31 March 2010

Opening words:

`I was looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn, and so the next morning, I traveled down there from Westchester to scope out the terrain.'

Listen to an interview with Paul Auster about the book here.

You can find a reading group guide here

Plot summary:

Set against the backdrop of the contested US election of 2000, it tells the story of Nathan and Tom, an uncle and nephew double-act. One in remission from lung cancer, divorced, and estranged from his only daughter, the other hiding away from his once-promising academic career, and, indeed, from life in general. Having accidentally ended up in the same Brooklyn neighbourhood, they discover a community teeming with life and passion. When Lucy, a little girl who refuses to speak, comes into their lives, there is suddenly a bridge from their pasts that offers them the possibility of redemption.

What I thought:

I enjoyed this book. I didn’t think it was one of Auster’s best, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was a tale of intertwined stories and people reflecting on life and the decisions that we make. I really like Auster’s writing style and he writes in a way that you can hear the narrator’s voice – they are books that are suited to being read aloud and shared. It was a book that I would like to read again some day and I am sure that I will find things in it then that entirely passed me by this time.

I did think the very end of the book was perhaps a bit contrived (that being the reference to 11 September), but it was a thought provoking book and one that had moments that were just so well written that they had to be savoured or at least pondered. A good read.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo

Title: The Count of Monte Cristo

Author: Alexandre Dumas

Number of pages: 1462

Started: 18 February 2010

Finished: 23 March 2010

Opening words:

On the 24th of February 1815, the lookout at Notre-Dame de la Garde signalled the three-master, the Pharaon from Smyrna, Trieste and Naples.

As usual, a pilot put off immediately, and rounding the Chateau d'If got on board the vessel between Cape Morgion and the Isle of Rion.

Immediately, and according to custom, the platform of Fort- Saint-Jean was covered with spectators; it is always in an event at Marseilles for a ship to come into port, especially when this ship, like the Pharoon, has been built, rigged, and laden at the old Phocee docks, and belongs to an owner of the city.

Plot summary:

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. A huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s, Dumas was inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment when writing his epic tale of suffering and retribution.

What I thought:

This was a big read! All 1462 pages of it. It was a decent read, but I have to say that the size of it was daunting and meant that I perhaps skimmed over some of the finer points of it. It was a book of captivity and vengeance and much more.

I have heard a few people say that this was one of the best books they have every read. I would not put it in that category, but it is certainly worth a read. Vengeance is a dish best served cold, as they say.