Novel Reactions: kaddish.com

After the first few chapters of kaddish.com, I did not know how to feel. I’d expected the book to tell the story of Larry’s misadventures over the 11-month mourning period for his father. So after the first part ended, and Larry came home, and that was that, I’d felt short-changed. I couldn’t make sense of it. Suddenly, Larry was Reb Shuli, teaching at the school. How? His (re)conversion from atheism felt rushed. What? Like it’s hard to convert your heart?

Eh, anyway, I read on. I’ve always been a fan of Nathan Englander’s writing, and I began to think that perhaps it may have been too easy or predictable for the story to have only been set over that period of time. Of course. We needed to make it all the way to a midlife crisis and see that some actions do have lasting consequences. And we needed to make up for our mistakes. What lengths do we go to make amends, and when do we call it a day?

Only remember, … if you don’t find what you need over there, in this life it’s permissible to forgive oneself too.

Nathan Englander, kaddish.com

No need to answer. I’ll just leave that here. Also, I haven’t come across a quote I liked that much in a while. I needed that.

Although the synopsis on the book jacket was a little misleading (i.e. the story was not about the 11-month mourning period, but then again, who told me it would be anyway?), the rest of the story flowed well. I liked the story. It was also funny in a different way… in an ‘omg no, don’t do that!’ kind of way. Man, what a character.

Novel Reactions: Magpie Murders

It’s been more than a month since I last finished a book. I’ve been swamped with work and (re)socialization that I’d always been too tired to commit to a book. The past week, however, I’d been (sick and) stuck at home with nothing better to do but read (Netflix/the computer screen slowed down my recovery), so I dug up Magpie Murders from my box of unread books. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if I would even be able to finish the book:

  1. I had never been interested in reading whodunnits (please don’t ask why I have the book); and
  2. The book was two inches thick, and I didn’t know if I could commit.

Surprisingly, I had made good progress after one day of reading. By the end of day two, I was a little more than halfway through Magpie Murders that I knew I could finish the book. I picked up the book again over the weekend and basically inhaled the second half of the book. I was pleasantly surprised at myself.

Then again, the pleasantries end there. It might be because I simply am still not interested in whodunnits, but I felt just okay with the book after I’d finished with it. Yes, I sped through it, but I didn’t fall in love with it. Thinking about it that way, I am a little disappointed because I have another murder mystery (The Word is Murder) in my tbr, and now I am somewhat less excited to read it. I have to say, though, Magpie Murders was easy to keep picking back up, unlike other books that my mood reader self has not had the energy to finish lately. It was a great book to read after my unintended hiatus, and I feel a little better knowing that Anthony Horowitz also wrote The Word is Murder; I’ll at least be able to finish that book, for sure.

Now I’m thinking that maybe I just need to give whodunnits another chance. Perhaps, but not so soon. I’ll pick up The Word is Murder in due time. For now, no real complaints; I’d just prefer to read something different afterwards is all.

Novel Reactions: White Teeth

White Teeth delves into family history and dynamics: an unlikely friendship between two men, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal, and how this brought their families together. It explores what it’s like to be a person of color in London from the 70s to the 90s (though I am guessing even until today). It is the kind of book I’d recommend to readers who are more invested in characters than the plot, those who want to understand why people-are-that-way and who do not mind the lack of action in a book.

It took me a bit longer than usual to sort out my feelings about White Teeth.

I read this book based on a recommendation by someone in my professional network. This was one of three fiction books in a list of ten books, so I felt that the book would at least expand my reading horizons. It did; I have no regrets.

Continue reading “Novel Reactions: White Teeth”

Novel Reactions: Ilustrado

It could just be me, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado. I liked the way the writer incorporated different forms of media and literature, all of which eventually made sense as the story developed, into one cohesive work, but I was just … okay with it. It’s not a very long book, but it took me a while to finish. (This doesn’t mean I have nothing to say though. I have a bunch.)

Because I like my history, let’s first talk about the title, Ilustrado.

For context, the Philippines was colonized by Spain for 333 years (I am not making this number up) from 1565 to 1898. The word “Ilustrado” referred to people from the Philippines who obtained their education abroad, in Mother Spain. This exposed them to liberal ideas, and they came back seeking to reform Spanish colonial rule (to turn the Philippines into a Spanish province instead of just a colony). Think: Jose Rizal and Plaridel.

But why use a word so old that it was used in history books?

Continue reading “Novel Reactions: Ilustrado”

HP TGR 2: Deathly Hallows

This is the final installment to Harry Potter: The Grand Reunion and to Harry Potter: The Grand Reunion (Part 2).

Fittingly, I have just moved out of my apartment and have commenced my couch-surfing life. (My friends are letting me stay in their living rooms during my last week in San Francisco and they set me up with a Harry Potter themed airbed. They are amazing.) Leading up to the final steps of my move, I read Book 7 as fast as I could and successfully included it in the box that I was sending home. Phew.

Book 7 has a lot of things going on: the search for horcruxes; the legend of the Deathly Hallows; the mystery that is Albus Dumbledore; the truth about Severus Snape; the Battle of Hogwarts; and so on. What stood out to me were the expressions of familial love throughout the book. I think these moments were quite important, as it was this love that ultimately brought down Voldemort.

Continue reading “HP TGR 2: Deathly Hallows”