Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter REVIEW

The Tale of Peter RabbitThe Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's a cute, quick read with a message that all parents can support. Children should do what their Moms tell them, or they might end up in a stew pot. There is just enough angst for a disobedient little rabbit. Mom's can't go wrong with this one.

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I have abandoned answering the W questions, but, in this case, I will answer the "why" question. I am thinking about reading Lost in a Good Book.  Characters from several classics are written into the plot of that book and it would certainly act as a spoiler for the classic mentioned.  Consequently, I am trying to read any book mentioned in Lost in a Good Book before I actually read it.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick REVIEW

The Man in the High CastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is incredibly clever, but that didn’t translate directly to enjoyment for me. I was always initially interested, but I quickly fell asleep when I picked up the book in the evening. The biggest problem for me was that I didn’t care about any of the characters. None of the POVs had any moral fortitude, nor were they enjoyable antagonists.

I had other problems as well. Dick tackled big themes, but I’m not sure I always knew what his point was. Was he trying to say that we, as individuals, control our destinies, or we should just throw in the towel and let I Ching direct us on a need to know basis? I have no idea where Dick was going in Chapter 14 with Tagomi’s exploration of the pin. I had the feeling that was mumbo jumbo ramblings disguised to seem like something deep and intellectual. Also, the ending was lackluster. I didn’t mind ambiguity in the wrap-ups of each of the POV storylines, but I greatly disliked the ending as related to The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. That needed explanation. I’m not impressed when authors just throw out weird stuff, leave it to you to figure out and walk away.

On the whole, even though I didn’t love it, I would recommend this book. The themes were very relevant in the context of the 1960’s political and social environment. I appreciate sci-fi used as social commentary. Alternate realities aren’t particularly unique, but for some reason, when they are done well, they seem fresh. The Man in the High Castle isn’t ordinary. I can understand the wide appeal of this book.

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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Stanley Corngold (Translator) REVIEW

The MetamorphosisThe Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a difficult book for me to rate. On one hand, there is no denying that it is brilliant. Kafka has a strong point of view. He wants to talk about alienation and loneliness among other things. His themes are universal and have been worked by many other competent writers, but Kafka gives the reader something unique and unexpected. An English teacher could spend a semester of delight helping students understand all of the nuances of this book.

But…For me, personally, reading it was a chore. I didn’t look forward to it. Metamorphosis did not speak to my soul. It was annoying that it was so weird. Taking into account my level of enjoyment, I can only give this book three stars, but I would never want to discourage anyone from reading it. It is a classic for a reason, and I think that it could be enjoyed today as easily as the day it was written.

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