Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mrs. B's 2009 Book Reviews -- 4 Stars (Part Two)

Ok, ok, this is taking far too long, I know. I'm getting there! Only one more post after this one.

Digging to America by Anne Tyler (Book Club Selection/Re-Read)

This is the 2nd time I've read this book. Actually, the first time I listened to it on CD. Because I enjoyed it so much then, I suggested it for my book club last year and so I "read-read" it and was just as entertained as I was when listening to it.

Interestingly enough, but, I suppose not terribly surprising given the diversity of the ladies in the book club, not everyone liked it. It seemed those who have had children liked it the most (which really doesn't explain why I liked it unless you count six pets to be children!)

Tyler’s written A LOT of books and some of them have been fantastic, like “The Accidental Tourist” and some not so hot. This one is a gem. It’s the story of two families from Baltimore, one “typical” American and the other Iranian who meet in the airport on the night they are there to each greet infant girls that they have adopted from Korea because both families have “failed” to conceive their own children. The book follows both their individual stories and their collective ones for, from the night they meet, they become part of one another’s lives. Tyler does a great job of describing all of the personalities, conflicts, primary and side story lines over the course of roughly 15 years in a wholly engaging way.

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx (CD)

I saw the movie several years ago and, although there were admittedly a few scenes that were difficult for me to watch (sexual AND violence), in general, I found the movie to be, well, moving and thought provoking (not to mention the acting was suburb all around).

I listened to this very short story (amazing how they were able to turn it into a 2+ hour movie!) and it brought back all the thoughts and feelings I'd had when I saw the movie. Let me say, I think they excellently cast this film; and this is one of few instances that I can think of where the book and the movie were in total simpatico; likely thanks to the genius of Ang Lee.

Anyway, since the movie and book were so very close, I suppose I am really reviewing them both.

After I saw the movie, I went to my step-mom's book club (for another book); it came up that I'd seen it and there were at least one, if not more, of the ladies who had very strong feelings against it (likely due to the homosexual aspects of the tale). Another lady asked me what I thought, and, although I cannot remember every thing I said, I do recall the main point I made, and, the primary reason why the movie (and later book) has stayed with me and I gave it 4-stars:

It's not so much about two Gay men. It's about two people that love each other, who cannot be together in the traditional way, and all the problems and heartache that ensues for EVERYONE, not just them.

Although it has strong themes of hatred, intolerance and ugliness, it is, really, a classic tale of tragic love.

Now that I've "read" the book, I will probably go back and re-watch the movie; that is, if my heart can handle it.

Night by Elie Wiesel (CD)

It's hard to say it was "good" because it was about such a tragic time. Frankly, and maybe this was part of his intent, I found myself really irritated that the Jews had so much damn hope, even with this awful circumstance looking them in the face.

Which brought to my mind the Greek myth about Pandora's Box. Remember it? She opens up a box which she'd been admonished to leave alone. She does so, and all of the evils of the world fly out: Jealousy. Rage. Ill-Temper. Etc. She snaps the box shut and there is only one thing left inside, HOPE.

Is hope a good thing or a bad thing? I suppose it depends on the situation and the beholder.

For the Jews in the town in which Wiesel writes about (his own, I'm sure), it seemingly is a bad thing (I thought at first) because it caused them to do nothing. On the other hand, upon further thought and contemplation, what, really, COULD they do?

Anyway, I'd recommend this book, obviously. It's an important one to read and consider what people can become and what they can endure.

1 comment:

doomed to be fabulous said...

You write:
"It's not so much about two Gay men. It's about two people that love each other, who cannot be together in the traditional way, and all the problems and heartache that ensues for EVERYONE, not just them."

That description sounds like the film is EXACTLY about two gay men. You describe the core issue that affects the lives of all gay men and women, the very narrative that runs through the gay experience.