Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."

I've been doing a lot of reading lately with my spare time. I finished Song of Kali by Dan Simmons. The back of the book gave a lot of hype about how scary and terrifying it was. I've read lots of blurbs and rarely are they accurate. I've read a few books by Simmons and I've enjoyed them all, but I didn't expect to be scared by this book. I wasn't, in truth, but I was deeply disturbed by it. It is about an editor of a small, literary magazine who journeys to Calcutta to investigate the story of a poet who is releasing new poetry eight years after he was supposed to have died. Against the advice of his partner, he takes his wife and child, and what happens is beyond reckoning. The worst part of the book, what makes it so disturbing, is that there is no logic, no rationality, behind anything, not even thinly-veiled, barely plausible fiction logic. Many of the images have been seared in my mind and linger there haunting me. I intend to travel around the world some day, and I do want to visit Calcutta, but forever will I view it through the lens of Dan Simmons' Song.

The next book I picked up and just finished today was Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. It was also haunting, though in a different way. It was heart-breaking. I saw the movie once when it came out, but not since, so, while I remembered the broad strokes of the story, I had forgotten many of the details. It all came slamming back as I read this page turner. The three main characters were so vividly depicted that I could almost forget they were not real. Lehane does a fascinating job of peeling back the layers of the human psyche and leaving it exposed, raw and unflinching. The ending is depressing, but ambiguous and not at all easy. I've read two other books by Lehane, but this towers above them.

I finished another book today, the one I had been reading to my daughters, Watership Down by Richard Adams. I had read this before, but it has been a long time. As I mentioned before, a book about a warren of rabbits does not exciting sound, but this book is amazing. My daughters loved it and I have to admit I was a little choked up at the end. Like all good authors, Adams makes you connect with his characters and they become your friends and family before it is over. Anyone who enjoys a story dealing with love, hardship, friendship, adventure, and overwhelming odds should run to the bookstore and get a copy of this book.

I'm not sure what I am going to read next, but I have more than a few on my shelf that I haven't yet read, so I'll find something.

UPDATE: Fixed typo.

No comments: