Skip to main content

Book Review: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

     Shout-out to my friend Isabelle for lending me this book!  We have started an informal book club, meaning the two of us lend each other our favorite books and discuss them at lunch.  Anyway, I probably would not have read past this book's detailed and dull beginning  if she had not recommended it so strongly.  And I am so glad that I did!
     Yes, the beginning is dull - a description of a murder trial, which I had no emotional connection to at first - but after that things pick up nicely.  We learn that the trial takes place on an American fishing island not long after World War II, and that a Japanese man has been accused of murdering a man of German descent.  Both are American veterans, but the islanders don't see it that way because of the accused man's race.  This would be a fascinating story in itself, but Guterson weaves a billion other story threads around the central cord of the trial.  These threads work to bring out the significance of the trial rather than distracting from it.  This book feels carefully, lovingly engineered, like a medieval cathedral built by hand by generations of the same family of stone masons.  Or something. That simile dragged a bit.
     Not only is this book beautifully constructed, but its writing style is full and lush too.  The landscape of the island, the appearances of characters, the lives and lifestyles of the islanders, all of these are described in aching beauty.
     William Zinsser says that writers should strive to write simply, and in most cases he is right.  But I think Guterson has surpassed simplicity and developed a ripe, maybe long-winded, but never frivolous style all his own.
Warning: Irrelevant!!
View of Lake Erie from my hotel room

     Anyway, happy Easter & Passover y'all!
     - Carly

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Best Reading from my Third Semester

Once again, this semester's schoolwork took precedence over this blog.  It had to happen, but now I'm back to let you all know about the wonderful books I read in my classes.
     On an unrelated note, feel free to add me on LinkedIn!  I made an account but I only have four connections so far, it's very sad.

Novels
1. Cane by Jean Toomer - A gorgeous genre-blending novel which describes the lives of black people in rural Georgia in the early twentieth century.

2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - The greatest self-love story of all time.

3. Passing by Nella Larson - A novel which examines the complex friendship between two wealthy black women, one of whom passes for white.

4. Smoke, Lilies and Jade, a Novel by Richard Bruce - A semi-autobiographical, experimental text peppered with ellipses and the names of great Harlem Renaissance artists.

Short Stories
1. "The Closing Door" by Angeline Grimke - This story demonstrates with intimate, hea…

Book Review: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

Hey! Before we start the review, I want to address two changes that I've made to this blog.  You might have noticed that the blog's title has changed from "The Book Thieves" to "The Book Bum," while the web address has not changed.  I made this alteration because I feel like I've outgrown the old title, plus I think it's lowkey plagiarizing a book with a similar title?  So I picked a new one and I may change it again in the future.  I kept the web address the same because I'm not sure how changing it will affect the people who already follow this blog.  Will everybody be confused?  I'm not sure, so I'm keeping it for now.
     The second change is that, from now on, guest bloggers are welcome to write for The Book Bum!  If anyone is interested in writing a review, comment on this post or let me know in person.  My first guest blogger is my boyfriend, Elijah Logan, who wrote today's book review.

Elijah's Review Junot Diaz’s Thi…

Book Review: Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

This groundbreaking novel was praised (and criticized), at the time of its publication in 1973, for the unapologetic spirit of its heroine, Molly.  As a working-class woman who is attracted to other women, she is rejected by her family and marginalized wherever she goes, from the South to New York City.  Despite these obstacles, she insists that she doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks of her.  In fact, she rattles on for paragraphs at a time about how little she cares for the opinions of others.
     At the time of Rubyfruit Jungle’s publication, this was probably the heroine that the lesbian and queer community needed - audacious, unflinching, irreverent, and indestructible.  These are qualities which queer women have historically aspired to in order to survive.  However, as both a modern reader and a modern queer woman, it seems to me that Molly possesses these qualities in unbelievably pure form.  Her careless, blustering rants lend an appearance of two-dimensionality…