You, you and you


Phones, everywhere


Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco

This one was a bit of a trial. It took me several months to read because it got so bogged down in historical details that I don’t care about.

In this story, a group of editors decide to create their own conspiracy theory about the Templars in order to sell books. They go about it methodically, with lots of research, making connections between topics and events throughout history, all to support their idea. The problem is the author spends way too much effort detailing all these  historical events and facts and connections. Far beyond what it would take to convince the average reader that ‘yes, these editors are coming up with a believable theory.’

There is so much in the middle section of the book that I started skimming until I found anything actually happening to the characters, or any character thoughts. I ended up skimming probably 30-40% of this 600+ page book, that’s just how much historical babble there is.

That being said, the character stuff is really good and engaging and thoughtful and beautifully written, and the last 20% or so of the book pulled this back up from a two star, to a three star for me.

Highly recommended to historical nerds, or people interested in the Templars, or other secret societies of the occult. But otherwise, it might really tire you out.


They are forming a sentence…


Learning not to read?


Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

Love, death, ghosts, and history. What a sad, funny, interesting and heart-squeezing novel.

From Wikipedia:

Many years ago, during a visit to Washington DC, my wife’s cousin pointed out to us a crypt on a hill and mentioned that, in 1862, while Abraham Lincoln was president, his beloved son, Willie, died, and was temporarily interred in that crypt, and that the grief-stricken Lincoln had, according to the newspapers of the day, entered the crypt “on several occasions” to hold the boy’s body. An image spontaneously leapt into my mind – a melding of the Lincoln Memorial and the Pietà. I carried that image around for the next 20-odd years, too scared to try something that seemed so profound, and then finally, in 2012, noticing that I wasn’t getting any younger, not wanting to be the guy whose own gravestone would read “Afraid to Embark on Scary Artistic Project He Desperately Longed to Attempt”, decided to take a run at it, in exploratory fashion, no commitments. My novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is the result of that attempt […].[10]

What must that feel like… to not only finally complete a project you’ve been thinking about for decades, but to also have it be so acclaimed?

I hope he feels proud, because it is great. I never would have though a book written in such a strange way could evoke such strong feelings, but it does. After a few pages of it, you don’t notice the strangeness as much. Or, you do, but it is no longer a hindrance. It blends into the feeling of it. The idea of dozens or hundreds of viewpoints coalescing into a single story of a single night.

I think anyone with an open mind could enjoy this book. The only people I’ve seen saying bad things about it are just complaining about the way it’s written, not what’s written.

The only minor complaint I had was how short it was. The 360 or so pages it claims would actually be probably half that, if each page were covered with words instead of having them spread out as it is formatted.

Read if you want something fresh and interesting and heartfelt!


Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

While I enjoyed the story over all, I found this to be longer than needed, and with too much overblown prose for my taste.

The story follows Pip, as he grows up an orphan, taken care of by his sister. We see him change as he comes into his ‘great expectations’, money and promise of land and other inheritance from a mysterious source. The money and promises of a future cause him to leave his family and friends behind.

The book is a mash of multiple stories that to me, didn’t seem to be related other than on the surface.

We have Ms Havisham, the broken hearted woman who lives in her wedding dress and never lets the sun touch her and keeps all the clocks stopped at the moment her heart broke. And Estella, raised by Ms Havisham to break the heart of any man she encounters, as a sort of revenge on all mankind.

Then we have the convict that Pip meets at the start of the story, who comes back to his life over and over again.

These seem at first to be two separate stories with separate morals/purposes. And at the end we find they are connected, but only by blood. It didn’t follow to me what the two stories had to do with each other, besides than that surface level connection. It’s possible I missed something.

In the end, Pip learns that your family and friends who love you are worth more than money, and advancement in life, and you shouldn’t take them for granted or look down on them–a lesson that seems to have little to do with the main things that happened in the story (Ms Havisham’s story and the convicts story.)

In the end, it came across to me as something written just for the sake of writing, with a story muddled out of it in the process. Despite that, it was enjoyable, and made me laugh and smile and feel on several occasions.