The Bookworm Review

The BookwormThe Bookworm by Mitch Silver

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Disappointing. The story is given on the inside cover so, after reading the first couple of chapters and last couple of chapters together with some random skipping – book read. I wasn’t expecting Gorky Park but this was disappointing.

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The Bookworm Review

Review: In the Garden of the Fugitives

In the Garden of the FugitivesIn the Garden of the Fugitives by Ceridwen Dovey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Often when I read a novel, I find myself skimming through and then doubling back to read in more detail. Sometimes I’ll read the end chapter and then skip back and forth to bits that need more explanation. In the case of Ceridwen Dovey’s In the Garden of the Fugitives this is unnecessary. From the very beginning, Dovey lays out the story. There is no need to dart back-and-forth. However, toward the end there is a hidden, secret denouement. I read past it at first then had the “Aha!” moment. Even if you skip to the end, this moment will not be evident unless you read the entire book.

Ceridwen Dovey is a skillful, intelligent writer. She knows her subject, whether it be the archeological realm of Pompeii or the ins-and-outs of psychotherapy methods. I would venture that the two protagonists are pitted against each other in the same psych. arena. I only realised this after I finished the book and had to return to where I felt, or rather I sensed, where and when the denouement occurred. In retrospect, I realise that the timeline is not necessarily linear either.

If you do attempt this book, do not be put off by the format – letters (or emails). Be alert to the strength and significance of Dovey’s writing. It is illuminating. It is surprising. It is subtle and nuanced. It is unsettling and haunting.

This book, for me, is extraordinarily, mine.

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Review: In the Garden of the Fugitives

Writing a Thesis

I am not a dedicated blogger. Every now-and-again I think of something interesting to say – but I don’t often follow through. Usually I think to myself, “more research needed before I post this”. Of course, this is a hangover from working for six-plus years on my doctoral thesis. Indeed, after my Scholarship finished, I had to work as well as complete the thesis. I have written about this before. My GP picked up on my listlessness/ennui and, without being patronising or mansplaining, suggested I take a look at the stages of chess. He pointed out that it seemed I was stuck in the Middle Game. I am not a chess player of any skill whatsoever, so he alerted me to the final step – the End Game. The comfort zone of ‘research’ must be concluded.

I considered his advice when I returned home. Among other things associated with research, I counted that I had 27 books from the University Library. OK! I decided to return all the books to the library – bar the two that I was actually using.

The next step was to consolidate all the chapters that were in separate documents on the computer. The Bibliography took more time and I was grateful for the Endnote referencing program. I was pleased that I had religiously listed every resource in the program so tidying up the Bibliography was not too arduous. Editing the thesis took time, I couldn’t believe how many times I repeated myself! Even so, one of the examiners pulled me up on repetitive phrases.

So, after six years of being fairly isolated from ‘real life’, I completed the final draft in six weeks. It was not all clear sailing after that. There are always a few glitches to contend with. One of them nearly broke my heart – but I’m over it now. Maybe I’ll write about that one day? Maybe not.

Submitting the work was a huge relief. Waiting for the examiners reports was deadly; like waiting for a bus that never arrives. Eventually the three reports came in. As is usual with my work the reports ranged from ‘excellent, no changes needed’ (I really liked that one) through to, ‘what a terrible thesis’. One of my mentors at Murdoch University defended my thesis to the examiner (who shall be nameless) and after some rewriting it was accepted.

I received notification that I had passed three days before my 60th birthday. I was now a fully fledged ‘Doctor of Philosophy’. Fat lot of good it did me. I never use my honorific – Aussies aren’t too taken with such things plus I’m always wary of being taken for a medical doctor.

C’est la vie

Writing a Thesis

For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

For the Most BeautifulFor the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really tried not to read this enchanting story too quickly.

As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated by the Greek myths; the stories, the heroes, the gods and goddesses. Thank you to my good friend Suzie Leaderbrand for recommending this book.

A more complete review will follow sometime soon.

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For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

Review of David Guterson’s East of the Mountains

East of the Mountains Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999

This is the story of a voyage of personal discovery. I needed to read this book and reading it on Yoga Retreat in Bali was exactly right.

Briefly, Ben givens is 73 years old – the same age I am now. He is a retired heart surgeon of some renown. He has terminal cancer of the colon. Thank heavens I do not. This is his physical journey that takes him through parts of the American West that I’ve never heard of, but now I feel I know. We’re talking about the Columbia Basin of Central Washington State.

The spiritual journey is difficult, more difficult than the physical although both are harrowing. If I relate the story to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, I find that there are some allegorical similarities. Where the symbolism in East of the Mountains reflects the hardships and the enlightening moments, the reader is able to identify with Ben Givens more so than one may with Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress. This reader was able to identify, maybe not all readers.

Memories of death, fear of pain and the reality of pain stalk Ben Givens. His medical background as a specialist heart surgeon gives him practical insights into the progress of his own mortality. This is not necessarily a good thing.

The disconnect between Ben Givens’ love of his two hunting dogs and his killing of birds and animals gives me pause for thought. His saving of lives in his career as a heart surgeon serves to emphasise the incongruity. There is a complexity in this story. There are stories within stories, narrative within the narrative. I believe a slow, intense reading of the book is required to retrieve full meaning.

Apart from anything else, I learned some interesting historical facts about this area of the United States. For example, in the early days, African camels carried freight in the area. And “Rich kilted Scotsmen ran ten thousand sheep herded by indomitable miniature dogs and by men who spoke the Basque tongue”. (Page 66).

Above all, there are strong women in this story. All the women are strong, all of them.

 

Review of David Guterson’s East of the Mountains

Review, such as it is, of the charming book, The 100 Year Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared

Jonas Jonasson's The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Trivia-On-Books)Jonas Jonasson’s The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a quirky book from Jonas Jonasson. It puts me in mind of A Man Called Ove and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Something about Nordic authors – the books are either bleak and terrifying, such as The Keeper of Lost Causes or witty and charming like this one. That is not to say there isn’t violence and cruelty in the story, but there is an underlying joy of life. Maybe, because I am older, the age of the main character draws me in. It makes me realise that life goes on.

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Review, such as it is, of the charming book, The 100 Year Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared