Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cannonball Read #7: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffennegger

Despite my first impressions, I really enjoyed reading this book. I saw the commercials for the movie adaptation first and I thought it looked like utter drivel. I figured that it would be just as bad as the Notebook was. ( I can say this even though I wept through that entire movie the first time. shhh! )

Anyway, the time traveler, Henry, is a man who uncontrollably travels back in time, but only to places he had already been or already will be. He travels back in time to see his future wife , Claire and meets her first at age 6. In essence, she grows up with a strange man constantly telling her that he is her husband and that they are soulmates. In a world where time travel doesn't exist, this isn't a romantic, wonderful thing, its more like indoctrination. That was , in essence, a big problem that I had with this book, Claire never had a chance to develop and explore other men. She constantly compares all other men to this (literally) unattainable man who keeps popping in and out of her life at random moment.

BUT..... she was in love and so she put up with him disappearing on their wedding day, reappearing bloodied and bruised from wherever he went. If you think about it, he could have been cheating on her with some woman from 1976 and she would never know.
Anyway, theirs was a wonderful and poignant love story. Claire spent most of her life waiting on Henry to show up but in the end she thought that their love was worth it and I supposed love knows no bounds.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cannonball Read #6: Anna In-Between by Elizabeth Nunez

Growing up I absolutely hated reading Caribbean literature. I guess it as something to do with it being required reading and not something that I did especially for pleasure. But I picked up Anna In-Between when I heard that the author would be appearing at the Boston Book Festival in 2009. I don't know that I expected to enjoy it but I certainly wanted to give it a try. To my pleasure, Anna In-Between was a great read. Anna Sinclair, the main character, left Trinidad to attend college and became a successful editor with a publishing company that specializes in black literature in New York. She and her parents grew up as middle to upper class during the colonial times and were expose to alot of the racism inherent in that era.

This book explores familiar themes such as the relationship between a mother and a daughter and returning home. But it also uses the backdrop of Trinidad from colonial times forward to explain the tensions that exist in this family. The idea of Anna's 'inbetween"-ness existed all the way from childhood. Anna grew up alongside the "English" children but couldn't belong due to the inherent racism of the time and her family coped (as many Trinidadian families in the same situation) by adhering to the ideals set forth as proper by the British strictly.

Upon Anna's return she finds out that her mother has breast cancer but instead of going to the doctor, she has resorted to praying over her rosary in an effort to make the cancer go away. The book tries to reconcile Anna's belief in the power of America over her mother's insistence that Trinidad's ways are just as valid.

Having lived in the US for about 4 years, I can relate to Anna's concern over the seemingly "backwards" or inefficient ways in which some things are done in Trinidad. You have to come to terms with the fact that the culture and way of doing things is quite different from one country to the other. Nunez wove a story that really captured Trinidad cultural contradictions and the love that Trinidadians at home have for their country. She also captured the yearning that all emigrants feel when they leave their home country for another and how things really can never be the same once you leave.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cannonball Read #5: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

 I know that this has been a long time in coming, but between the holidays and starting a new job I've gotten somewhat sidetracked. All I have to say that I love Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Although his books take me twice as long to read, I think this is just because his imagery is soo complex and so dense that you can get lost in the world. Somehow I just imagine Barcelona in this time as a dark and dank world with occasional burst of brilliant sunshine. That's just me though.

Anyway.... The Angel's Game explored the paths into one lonely writer's mind. The thing that I love about this writer is that you leave the book asking as many questions as when you arrive. Following young writer David Martin through his growth as a writer, we explore Barcelona in the same era as his previous book "The Shadow of the Wind". Zafron writes about writers and books and literature and the exploration of life through the eyes of a reader. The way in which he really addresses this issues of love and happiness are very realistic and at the same time fantastically romantic. Unrequited love is a classic storyline in the novel but I feel that while he addresses it, it is only really exists in order to make his main character's loneliness and (seeming) descent into crazy-dom more poignant.

 The only thing I would say is that while I enjoy books leaving me with questions, this one did not answer perhaps the biggest mystery in the story. I just wish I knew more. But all in all, it is greatness. That's all I can say.