Posted in Book Challenge

A Favorite Desecrated

The challenge for today is to choose my favorite writer. I prefer the word author to describe those who pen books, but we’ll go with writer for the sake of the challenge. I’m really stalling here because “favorite” is a scary word. I can’t choose just one favorite because there are authors that I like some of their books but not all, and it always depends on my mood. For example, I like C.S. Lewis for his thoughtfulness. John Steinbeck is good for real characters. Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut are good for extended metaphors and allegories. Jane Austen is good for some predictable romance. Ted Dekker provides a thrill. The list could go on and on, but you get the point. My “favorite” author depends on my current needs and desires. Today, I’m thinking solely of the books I have on my bookshelves, which if you’re wondering are organized by genre/time period and author as well as books I have read and want to read. Based on those books alone, it would appear that Jodi Piccoult is my favorite author because I have so many of her books. They take up an entire shelf on my smaller bookshelf. Piccoult writes real-life dramas usually involving mystery or court cases in some way. Her books are well-researched and well-written. She tends to follow a specific writing style in which she alternates between various perspectives in each chapter. Sometimes it takes me a while to discover how the characters connect to one another. The books are a quick but intense read, and typically I can re-read them after some time because I forget how the story plays out.

Book Challenge

Speaking of Jodi Piccoult, the next challenge is a book that was turned into a movie but completely desecrated. Can I just pause here to say what a wonderful word “desecrated” is? It might be used a bit out of context here. I suppose if I was to answer the prompt in a way that reflects the sacredness this word connotes I would have to choose a movie based on a book of the Bible. I’m going to take the word more loosely though and stick with the theme of this post to say that Jodi Piccoult’s My Sister’s Keeper was completely ruined by the movie industry. I remember being so very excited when the movie was released. We were reading it in my creative writing class at the Governor’s Scholar Program during the summer before my senior year of high school. After convincing the teacher to schedule a field trip, we left the movie theater disappointed that the book wasn’t respected. They changed the entire ending! I completely understand taking out scenes, adding characters, or even re-ordering scenes, but it’s just wrong to change an ending to a book. The story was perfectly fine as it was written in the book. Why change it?

Posted in Book Review

Cat’s Cradle and Night

I’m going to take a break from the book challenge today to post about two novels that I have finished this past week.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegutcatscradle

This is not a book about a cat or a cradle; instead, imagine the string trick known as a cat’s cradle. It is also a game played by two players to take the string formation made by the other player and alter it slightly. The game ends when a player makes a dead-end figure or makes a mistake.

cat's cradle

The book does contain a cat’s cradle string formation, but moreso it is about a religion called Bokononism, a chemical known as ice-nine, and the island San Lorenzo. The only true thing in this book is that there is an island called San Lorenzo, but I doubt it has been consumed by the fictional ice-nine. In fact, the entire novel is based on fictional and somewhat unrealistic people, events, and things, but this fantastical reality is created to reflect Bokononism which says that you should “live by the foma (harmless untruths) that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.” The book also opens by saying that “nothing in this book is true”.

After a first read, the message of Cat’s Cradle seems to be that science is a more founded truth than religion, but even a pursuit of science can leave characters stuck in a sticky web. There’s so much that could be said about this novel, but I’m trying to avoid spoilers. If you choose to read this book, expect raised eyebrows at the nonsensical inventions and know that you may need to re-read in order to figure out Vonnegut’s message. I think that’s where I am right now. I’d give this book a 4 out of 5.

 

Night by Elie Wiesel

NightWiesel

This true story of a Holocaust survivor follows 15-year-old Eliazer Wiesel from the time that he lived with his parents and studied religion to the time when he is finally freed as an orphan from the last camp he stays in. This 108-page novel is a quick read but not an easy read.

There is a thread of his religious thinking. He begins the story by talking of Moshe the Beadle whom Elie watched and admired as a 12-year-old. At this point, Elie believes. Throughout the novel, Elie begins questioning the goodness of God who would allow so many to suffer and die. There is a point of connection between himself and his father when he knows that they both are questioning God.

While the novel tells many hard stories, it wasn’t until Elie’s father died that I really felt intense emotion. “His last word was my name. A summon to which I did not respond. I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep.” Throughout the story, Elie’s one motivation is his father, and his one fear is that he will at some point abandon his father. His one desire is to be free. This climactic moment ties all of those motivations, fears, and desires into a short punchy paragraph.

The language in this book is appropriate for the subject matter, but it left me at times forgetting that this is a true story. As a non-writer, I’m not sure if there is a way to combat this. Maybe it’s a problem within myself.

I’d give this book a 4 out of 5.