The Sun Also Rises Review

Title: The Sun Also Rises
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Genre: Classic

Blurb: The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

Me: Maybe the first Hemingway I truly enjoyed. Brisk, unapologetic, and surprisingly meaningful.

Talkin' About: Is Art Separate from the Artist? (and Junot Diaz)

Just a few weeks ago, I began reading This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, one of the most famous American writers alive today. I wasn't thinking of much other than the excitement at finally reading a book by a name I'd heard everywhere. But my choice happened to be eerily timely. 

Looking up Diaz's name, I found this New Yorker article published last month where Diaz discussed the effects of trauma and distress of childhood sexual assault on his life. It was a powerful, emotional article that showed how the trauma had repercussions all throughout his life. He mentioned that he continued to cheat on his partners, despite knowing how bad it was. Reading the article, it was crazy how much his personal experiences spoke to the fiction I was reading.

The God of Small Things Review

Title: The God of Small Things
Author: Arundhati Roy
Genre: Magical Realism, Fiction
Publisher: Random House

Blurb: The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, fraternal twins Esthappen and Rahel fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family. Their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu, (who loves by night the man her children love by day), fled an abusive marriage to live with their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), and their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt). When Chacko's English ex-wife brings their daughter for a Christmas visit, the twins learn that things can change in a day, that lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river...

Me: Still so thankful I got to read this in a high school English class. Refreshing and heartbreaking. It breaks the boundaries of the novel again and again.

Exit West Review

Title: Exit West
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Blurb: In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. 

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Me: Such a relevant, poignant, simple yet moving story of two people in extremely difficult situations. I loved it.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem Review

Title: Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Author: Joan Didion
Genre: Essays

Blurb: The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, Slouching Towards Bethlehem remains, forty years after its first publication, the essential portrait of America— particularly California—in the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture.

Me: I almost didn't write this review, because it's been a while since I've been so ambivalent about a book. It was well-written, but it left me empty and didn't add any astonishing insight.

On Writing: The Book & My Thoughts

In 1999, the legendary Stephen King wrote the legendary book about what he did best, On Writing. 

Ever since, it's become required (or at least highly recommended) reading for any aspiring writer or really, any type of creative. The book has timeless wisdom and it doesn't hurt that the advice comes from one of the most successful authors alive today. 

I don't talk about writing on here nearly as much as I talk about reading. I think it's for a few reasons. One, the blog was started to log my reading journey. Two, I am much less confident in my writing ability than my reading ability. Three, I don't feel experienced enough to really "talk" about writing. 

Black Boy Review

Title: Black Boy
Author: Richard Wright
Genre: Classic, Memoir

Blurb: Black Boy is a classic of American autobiography, a subtly crafted narrative of Richard Wright's journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. An enduring story of one young man's coming of age during a particular time and place, Black Boy remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black, and Southern in America.

Me: With Black Boy, Richard Wright just absolutely took the title of my favorite writer about anything related to race. Incredible.