Thursday, August 25, 2005

Books Review

Here are brief reviews of what I read on the trip:

White Apples by Jonathan Carroll
Carroll tells of Vincent Ettrich, someone brought back to life by his pregnant lover Isabelle to help raise their child-to-be Anjo, who's supposed to have great things ahead (and who talks to Isabelle from the womb). The story worked very well as I weaved my way through the first two-thirds, but at some point Carroll seemed less inclined to finish developing the story and more determined to expand on the cosmology he created for the book. Consequently, some of what appears important when introduced was ignored rather than resolved. It's enjoyable fiction, just not sure that it's all that it could have been. Rating: 7/10.

The Coffee Trader by David Liss
Liss sets this story in 17th century Amsterdam, and the protagonist is Miguel Lienzo, a down on his luck Portugese Jew who is a commodities trader that gets involved with the about-to-burst-onto-the-scene coffee trade. Treachery abounds, to such a degree that the plot gets a bit far-fetched. Still, an entertaining yarn that evidences much research into both the era in the Netherlands and the Iberian Jews that were required to practice their religion secretly for fear of the Inquisition. Also entertaining is the fact that the protagonist is no saint, but unmistakably human. Rating: 7/10

Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer
I'm not sure what the author is trying to convey by making the protagonist's surname the same as his own. Still, Fischer does a fine job telling the story of Hungarian youth Gyuri, from a time late in World War II through the days following the failed Hungarian Revolution in 1956. As in The Thought Gang, Fischer's story is constructed using vignettes and flashbacks, though this time the narrative is more jagged, as each chapter is months or even years apart from the preceding one. I don't think it works quite as well as The Thought Gang, but that may be because I read that book first. No complaints, though, and I recommend it. Rating: 8/10


ducky said...

wow, you read three books on your vacation? maybe i need to go on vacation...

LoryKC said...

Me, too!
I am impressed!
I have my running list of "books I'm reading" on my blog but you may have noticed that it hasn't changed much all month!! One book came off but I HAD to finish that one for my bible study group! (Can't even give you a complete review of that one as I skipped a chapter!)

aaron said...

A bit of insomnia here, a long flight there, no children to interrupt you anywhere, and voila -- three books read. It didn't hurt that none of the books were particularly long or complex.