Sunday, April 22, 2007

Summer 2006 reading, Books 3 and 2

In an effort to speed up and actually finish this series begun so long ago, I'm going to cover two today. Moreover, I'm going to transcribe directly the words I wrote in my book journal the day I finished the books, so that I won't have to think too much before 8am on a Sunday. Here goes:

3. War and the Soul by Edward Tick, M.D.

This book was heartbreaking, and provided a lot of insight into how war can damage the soul. But not only that, it made me realize that war is part of the human condition and that it doesn't have to be spiritually mortal. In its proper context and for a noble cause, it's a rite of passage, but modern warfare is so far from noble that it must always corrode the soul, not just of individual soldiers, but the nation itself.

[Editorial note: read this book if you want to do something that will really help support our men and women in uniform--i.e., understand them. Indispensable for writing about war and its aftermath in a human way.]

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

The kind of book that makes me want to give up writing because I could never write anything that deep and perfect. [Note: this feeling usually wears off in a few hours.] I wonder how the experience would have been had I not read the Publisher's Weekly review that revealed [major stinkin' plot point--as in, the fulcrum of the entire story]. From about a third of the way through, I knew what the "before" and "after" were before and after. [The chapters are titled "Three Months Before," for example, going down to "An Hour Before," then "One Day After" etc.--a brilliant use of chapter headings to create suspense]. Most readers, not knowing, would've thought that it was before and after their kiss, since that was the be-all end-all of Miles's existence.

I feel enervated somehow, like I'd like to just lie down all day and think about it, to mourn [person] and stay with these characters a little longer. They were all so well-drawn and real, it was as if they were alive for awhile: the Colonel, Takumi, Lara, Mr. Hyde, the Eagle, and of course Miles and Alaska.

In some ways, because of the insular boarding school setting the plot seemed timeless--no cell phones or iPods. Lots of video games, but the other pieces could've been anywhere, any time, which means it'll be just as profound a book in ten years as it is today.

[Another note: in case it's not obvious from the first paragraph, do not read reviews of this book if you don't want to know the crux of the entire plot. And another 'nother note: this book made me want to smoke so bad it was excruciating. These kids light up every other page, and it's portrayed in a vivid, non-judgmental way. It would be like reading Like Water for Chocolate while on a diet.]

Whew! Only one more book. Will I actually finish something I've started? To find out, come back tomorrow.

Or maybe next week. Or next month.

A-Z Update: "Don't Go Off Wandering" by Limp Bizkit



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