Monday, October 20, 2008

Lolita- Nabakov

I resisted reading Lolita for many years because I did not want to read about the story of a pervert who seduces a twelve year old girl. The story, however, is really good which speaks volumes of the type of writer Nabakov is. The story is indeed about a man who loves young girls and falls in love with Lolita in particular, but the novel does not romantacise this, it shows the protagonist to be the person he is. This is not a novel of young love and "age being just a number", the novel shows how Lolita is seduced, how she is degraded and the tragedy that his actions yield. But beyond the plot is the writing, the writing is beautiful poetic prose, I can take each sentence and roll it over my tongue and just fall in love. This is a novel to read for any aspiring writer to understand that your reader doesn't have to like the characters to love the novel. A truly gifted author as Nabakov clearly is, shows that quite easily.

Middlesex- Eugenides

I decided I wanted to read a Pulitzer Prize winning book and this was the first I decided to check out. This is a brilliantly written novel. The writing takes you in to the mind's eye of the characters who are all very different and very curious. This is a novel about many different things. The overarching theme is the story of a hermaphordite, a boy through chromosomes, but raised as a female by his parents. The story alludes to this theme but starts us from the beginning, when the brother and sister who grew up in the mountains decided that they loved one another beyond mere sibling love and decided to get married. I know, that sounds so freaky, but when you read the story, you're sucked in and you read it from beginning to end and you kind of sort of get their perspective. Its still hideous and disgusting to me, but the writer does a good job explaining things without passing judgment. I highly recommend it though I warn you its a long read at about 529 pages.

The Audacity of Hope- Obama

I found this book okay, not nearly as good as "Dreams from my Father". Where Dreams was a coming of age story of a minority boy finding his place in the world, Audacity is more about the man who had already found his way and telling you his vision for the future. Audacity is a much more political book and for that it is good. It tells me his vision and his position on many different subjects. He speaks out against partisan bickering, and discusses his views on the economy which in today's world is eerie since we didn't see it coming (at least not me) when the book was actually published. Overall, its an informative book if you're interested in learning of Obama's positions on the issues, but its not as engrossing obviously, as his memoir about his life. Still, its good.

The Last Lecture- Pausch

I listened to this book on audiotape so perhaps the experience is different than reading it in written form, but I loved this book. This is written by a professor dying of prostate cancer who decided to give a "Last Lecture" at Carnegie Mellon University where such lectures are common by professors ready to retire. In this case, Pausch is dying and leaving a wife and three very young children behind. He is broken hearted about the fact that his children will not be able to know him, and will be deprived of a father they should have had. As a result he wrote this book, he gave his lecture, to give them advice on how to live and provide insights based on his own life experiences. The story is moving and inspiring and powerful forcing you to face the reality that life is not forever and that we should make of it everything we want, or at least do the very best to try.