Happy December! I have never really been a Christmas person, but this year I'm excited. I am also extremely excited for December 23 when I will be off work for sixteen days and will hopefully read a few books. Meanwhile, here are November's reviews:
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer
In Foer's third novel he writes about the Bloch family, comprised of Julia, Jacob, and their three sons. Their imploding marriage is paralleled by a catastrophic earthquake in the Middle East; each faces a disastrous event (Julia's discovery of some scandalous texts between her husband and another woman, the Middle East a series of earthquakes), and then the need to process, cope, and recover. Both the Bloch's and Israel must reassess who they are and what they want long term; decisions must be made regarding a course of action. It's definitely a character study, though, and one that spans decades, which I know isn't everyone's cup of tea. It's also raw and graphic at times, which can be uncomfortable but is still some people's reality. People masturbate, die, are obsessed with computer games, text or say ridiculously sexual things at times, and deal with constantly defecating dogs.
Verdict: I enjoyed this book; after eleven years Safran can still write fiction. There were some issues; I thought the pacing at the end was a bit sloppy and I wished for more time devoted to certain characters. I also thought his young sons were a bit too articulate, thoughtful and informed, but I guess you could make the whole nature/nurture argument. I think that this is a departure from his other works, though, both in length and even content, and I know that's not what some readers are looking for.
I think part of the reason this book appealed to me is that I am well aware of the risks you take in your marriage when you have kids- Julia's section most acutely connects to this motherhood conundrum. You want your children to come first, but you have to be so careful or you can easily lose track of yourself (and marriage) in the daily rigamarole of domesticity.
I also appreciated the look at Judaism and religion in general; he did not wear rose-colored glasses by any means- the inner-conflict was palpable. But there was still this sense of duty, obligation, and connection that I myself don't have to a belief system. I am not interested in feeling this way personally, but I find faith on a psychological and anthropological level interesting.
*I had wanted to do a whole post on this beast, but... life.
The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington
I am going to review this one in more detail this weekend, so I'm going to cheat a little and just say that this self-help sort of book is about, well, how to sleep.
Verdict: I appreciated the solid science research, but was bored by the history of sleep and some of the more obvious tips. Again, more to come.
"Master Harold"...and the boys by Athol Fugard
This is my third time (for work) reading Fugard's play about a South African white young man and his relationship with two of his parents' employees, Sam and Willy. Hally struggles with race, his relationship with his parents, and what kind of man he will grow into.
Verdict: I love the simplicity of no acts, one setting, and really just three characters. The story is about a "world without collisions" and whether or not the true nature of humanity is conducive to living without conflict.