Book Review: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

“You are all a lost generation.”

3876Read: 14th, October,2016- 19th, October,2016

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 23 seconds. Contains 1079 words

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Book Description: The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

This is the second book that I read written by Hemingway, the first being, The Old Man and The Sea which I liked. But I’m not quite sure about how I really feel about this book, The Sun Also Rises.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway which he wrote in the mid-1920s is a book about Lost Generation or Wasted Generation.

Lost Generation: noun, the generation reaching maturity during or after First World War, a high proportion of whose men were killed during those years.

Ernest Hemingway volunteered to serve in Italy as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross during the First World War so he himself was a part of the Lost Generation that he talks about in this book. These people lost a part of themselves in the war. The experience of the war deeply changed the way people see themselves and who they think they are. So yes this book is about the generation who faced and suffered during the First World War and Hemingway in this book tries to talk about how the war changed people and how they couldn’t ever be the same people they used to be, and how they could never come back to the society and felt like the outcast.

Now let’s talk about the book.

This book is a beautiful melancholy and it captures the entire generation, the lost generation as I talked about earlier. His characters show that they have dreams, that they want to accomplish, they want to achieve something but they can’t because they lost themselves.

“Going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.”

These people were trying to have a good time, but most of it as Hemingway described in this book was booze, women, food, going to places, and hanging out. They were doing many things but nothing was really happening in the book.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”

Similarly how nothing was happening in their lives(that makes sense.) They were lost in the modern world and the whole time they talked and talked but about nothing, that shows the chaos and how they were lost in the chaos(I don’t know what am I writing, I’m lost).

“This is a hell of dull talk…How about some of that champagne?”

This book was very stereotypical Hemingway.

The book in itself was very calm and slow paced, but most of the things that he wrote seem to me of no importance. A large descriptions about what they drank or how much money they spent on that bottle of scotch, so many details but of no use. I see that he did that on purpose but why I don’t see.

I did start to like this book once they reached Spain and I also liked the bull fight part and did start catching up with what was happening(and I guess that was half way through the book.)

“The bulls are my best friends.”
I translated to Brett.
“You kill your friends?” she asked.
“Always,” he said in English and laughed. “So they don’t kill me.”

I couldn’t really understand their emotions because he didn’t talk about them and none of his characters did.

Brett was every man’s love interest and nothing deep really happened. I don’t even know what they felt and what they felt about each other.

My problem with everything that was happening in this book is that I couldn’t really relate to it, most of the things sounded ridiculous to me. Yes, maybe something more suitable for that generation but not so much to this.

The day I started reading this book, it was late at night around 1 A.M. and I was laying on my bed reading this book on my phone, lights were off and the window was open so that I could enjoy the fresh air and then I came across this passage from Chapter 4 and I loved it because it was so much similar to the setting I was in and it is one thing that got stuck in my mind. I was thinking about my version of Brett and trains were running on the tracks and that is only sound you could hear in the silence of the night. I may have cried a little bit because of the whole situation that was building up and fell asleep as I came towards the end of the passage.

When I think about that moment, I think of it as a moment that I shared with Hemingway, in a way(very cheesy, I know, but it did happen and I’ll always remember it.)

“I lit the lamp beside the bed, turned off the gas, and opened the wide windows, and I sat with the windows open and undressed by the bed. Outside a night train, running on the street-car tracks, went by carrying vegetables to the markets. They were noisy at night when you could not sleep…

…I lay awake thinking and my mind jumping around. Then I couldn’t keep away from it, and I started to think about Brett and all the rest of it went away. I was thinking about Brett and my mind stopped jumping around and started to go in sort of smooth waves. Then all of a sudden I started to cry. Then after a while, it was better and I lay in bed and listened to the heavy trams go by and way down the street, and then I went to sleep.”

“It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night is another thing.”

Book Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck on Friendship and loneliness.

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

186521Read: 12th, February, 2017

Estimate reading time: 5 minutes, 35 seconds. Contains 1116 words.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Three months back I went to a bookstore and found two book kept side by side, at first I was very indecisive when it came to making a choice between this book and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, I really like both the writers so I ended up buying both of them and reading both of them though I still have to read last few pages of In Cold Blood, I’ll make it happen, I know that and I’ll write about it soon.

So about this book, the book cover says: The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength.

Before I begin I must say that I love John Steinbeck’s books, I haven’t read them all but whatever I have read I always loved it. I really like the profound messages one can find while reading his books and how he can write stories about rookies and ordinary working class people and make them relatable to everyone reading them. Great Depression indeed provided him with a whole lot of subject to write about and it’s worth reading.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck which he wrote in the year 1937 is based on the theme of friendship and loneliness. It’s a story of two drifters in search of work during the time of Great Depression, it’s a story of their companionship and friendship and how people need each other.

“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”

George and Lennie have no one other than each other in the whole wide world, they don’t have a place to live. But they have a dream, one common dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Lennie asks George to tell him about their dream repeatedly throughout the book because Lennie is forgetful and he likes when George tell him what they both would do when they will have land of their own.

“Everybody wants a little bit of land, not much. Jus’ som’thin’ that was his. Som’thin’ he could live on and there couldn’t nobody throw him off of it.”

George is street smart and wise while Lennie is big, strong and dumb or I may say mentally handicapped(I don’t know how to put it subtly). Lennie likes to touch soft things but since he is strong that most of the times he kills them and creates trouble for both of them.

“Trouble with mice is you always kill ’em.”

George is a good friend he takes care of Lennie though he sometimes feels trapped with him because he thinks he can be so much more if he doesn’t have to take responsibility of Lennie. He constantly complains that if he did not have Lennie then he could have a girlfriend or go down for drinking and build a life for himself but then he takes care of Lennie as a parent and he genuinely want Lennie to stay with him.

“Guy don’t need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus’ works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain’t hardly ever a nice fella.”

When you read this book you can feel emotional appeal and can feel for every character. The undertone of this book is loneliness, every character is lonely, some are so lonely that they long for attention, they are afraid they will lose their partner, won’t let go because they are afraid they will be left alone, be the leader so that they get to have followers and try to stay put with people and what happens to people when they are isolated.

Few things were terrifying for me because I’m someone who tends to isolate.

“A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’ or stuff like that. Sometimes he gets thinkin’, an’ he got nothing to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so. Maybe if he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy and ask him if he sees it too. He can’t tell. He got nothing to measure by. I seen things out here. I wasn’t drunk. I don’t know if I was asleep. If some guy was with me, he could tell me I was asleep, an’ then it would be all right. But I jus’ don’t know.”

Curley’s wife, although a bizarre woman but yes she longs for attention, she indeed is left alone and she does feel lonely. Candy won’t let go of his dog because he knows that he will be left alone even though his dog stinks and left with no life, Curley always looking for his wife afraid he would lose her to someone else, Slim being the leader so that he can listen to people and be around them.

In Chapter 3 Candy says, I oughtta shot that dog myself, George, I should not oughtta let no stranger my dog.

George from above statement did learn some lesson.

I really like the symbolism of the snake which Steinbeck used twice in the story, once when George and Lennie first came to the ranch and second time towards the end of the story.

“A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shadows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.”

The symbolism of snake bring the forces of evil and symbolizes something bad is to come and here in this story it totally foreshadows death. In the beginning of the book that very snake glides without harm.

This book is straight realism, it’s life and has some kind of sweetness but most of it is heart-wrenching and a bit depressing.

I think I’ll never forget about this book because the way it ended was heartbreaking and completely brutal. I still remember how I felt while reading this book and how the ending completely drained me.

Book Review: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy

“Death is finished,” he said to himself.  “It is no more!”

18386My Rating: *4 Stars*

I read this book few days back before going to sleep and I must say that this book made me think a lot.

The only reason I don’t pick up Russian books is because they are fully loaded with Russian names and in the end, I end up calling people whatever name I want to. So, the only name I remember is Ivan Ilych.(I know you don’t have to know this, but it literally sucks.)

So as the title suggests and you can totally make this out that it’s about death of a person named Ivan Ilych.

The theme of this book is Death and just so you know I love reading books that deals with death.

This book makes you think inward and ponder upon the subject of life and death, sure it does. When I started reading it, the tone of the writing was really cold and it does suit the setting that was of a funeral with some slap on the face humor which I wonder was there or it was just an effort made my Tolstoy to bring the readers out of the depressive setting that he created in his book.

Tolstoy did talk about morality and there were few situation where even I gave out a chuckle or two and then I thought how inappropriate it was. He starts with how when someone dies people for a very brief time show their sympathy, they feel a bit sad for the person who died, but they feel more happy for they didn’t, for they are alive and it’s not their time, yet.

I want to quote few lines from the funeral part of the story…

His acquaintance…

“Schwartz was waiting for him in the adjoining room with legs spread wide apart and both hands toying with his top-hat behind his back.  The mere sight of that playful, well-groomed, and elegant figure refreshed Peter Ivanovich.  He felt that Schwartz was above all these happenings and would not surrender to any depressing influences.”

Schwartz didn’t give a hoot. He was there just to mark his presence.


His wife…

“Oh, terribly!  He screamed unceasingly, not for minutes but for hours.  for the last three days he screamed incessantly.  It was unendurable.  I cannot understand how I bore it; you could hear him three rooms off.  Oh, what I have suffered!”

And then his wife said that she suffered. I ask from what? The screams of her husband that she couldn’t tolerate? OH MY GOD! Reading those lines made me feel worse.


His friend…

“The service began:  candles, groans, incense, tears, and sobs.  Peter Ivanovich stood looking gloomily down at his feet. He did not look once at the dead man, did not yield to any depressing influence, and was one of the first to leave the room…

…Peter Ivanovich found the fresh air particularly pleasant after the smell of incense, the dead body, and carbolic acid.”

He just wanted to get out of the awkward situation that he was in, the funeral. So, that at least he can feel happy about his life and that he was alive.


I suffered from all insensitivity these characters showed, made me think for once that how people really do that kind of shit all the time. Some of them feel sad when other people suffer but they feel more happy for themselves because they are all well and fine, then there are few people who don’t give a hoot about anyone, they only think about what they can get out of others suffering, how others suffering can benefit them. And some of them feel relieved that at least it’s all over so that they can move on in life.

Ivan was a nice man, he lived a well to do life, he owned a good house, had a good career, money, a good position in the society and a family. If you look at the surface he had it all. But one day when death announced itself to him, everything came crashing down.

“Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”

When pain and agony made him question his life, when he looked back in time, he realized he lost all the joy with time and he started questioning life. All that he had was what the society was expecting from him, not necessarily what he wanted out of life.

“False. Everything by which you have lived and live now is all a deception, a lie, concealing both life and death from you.”

“And in imagination he began to recall the best moments of his pleasant life.  But strange to say none of those best moments of his pleasant life now seemed at all what they had then seemed—none of them except the first recollections of childhood.  There, in childhood, there had been something really pleasant with which it would be possible to live if it could return.  But the child who had experienced that happiness existed no longer, it was like a reminiscence of somebody else.

 As soon as the period began which had produced the present Ivan Ilych, all that had then seemed joys now melted before his sight and turned into something trivial and often nasty.”

Alone while suffering and waiting for his death he questioned himself and his soul. He saw his life in a different light. He suffered his destruction all alone and died everyday a little thinking that no one really cared to understand his sufferings.

“It can’t be that life is so senseless and horrible. But if it really has been so horrible and senseless, why must I die and die in agony? There is something wrong!”

And then he died and we came to an end.

“Death is finished, he said to himself. It is no more!”

And there it was “The Death of Ivan Ilych”.

It’s a short book but I believe one should read this book, it can be a heavy read for some people but worth reading. Once you’ll start reading it, I’m sure you won’t be able to put it down.

Short Story Review: The Flood by Émile Zola

“Everything was misty. It was the terrified end of a day melting into the night of death.”

the floodMy Rating : *4 Stars*

Depressing, quite depressing.

This story is based on the 1875 flood of the Garonne River in Toulouse, France and as it was reported nearly 3000 lives were lost. This event inspired Zola to write this short story, The Flood, which is set in the village of Saint-Jory.

It’s a story of a seventy-year-old farmer, Louis Roubien, who lives with his family: his brothers, grandchildren, sisters and his children.

Zola tells how Roubien family, after struggling for a very long period of time finally tastes prosperity and become one of the richest family(or maybe the only richest family) in the village. They own vast lands that they use for farming and cattle farms and how they have it all in abundance. When the story begins, it is shown that this is their best year.

To quote Roubien:”For fourteen years I battled with the earth for my daily bread. At last, prosperity smiled on we, and last month I was still the richest farmer in the parish. Our house seemed blessed, happiness resigned here. The sun was our brother, and I cannot recall a bad crop.”

Zola used powerful imagery to describe the beauty of the village, of setting sun and imagery which ensue peace.

“The sky was blue, an immense blue sheet of profound purity, in which the rays of the setting sun were like a golden dust. Never had I seen the village drowsing in so sweet a peace.”

But then the evening transcended to the blind wrath  of nature and it’s beauty turned itself into a devil that brought destruction and death for the villagers.

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Not a very accurate depiction.

And the events that followed it were quite disturbing for me. Death engulfed everyone one by one and throughout the night, they faced loss.

In the hour of darkness, Zola through his story portrays, fear and desperation to get out of the clench of death and how in the hours of destruction individuals show their heroism, and do everything to save their loved ones.

Louis lost his whole family by the break of dawn and he felt the pure loss as a single night took away everything from him: his family, his prosperity, and happiness. And he was so weak that he couldn’t do anything and there he was left all alone mourning his loss.

“Then nothing, nothing, a black pit, oblivion.”

I loved this story and totally worth reading.

You can download it, The Flood.

Alfred Sisley-328373

Book Review: The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

“You know how advice is – you only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyways.”

4796My Rating: *5 Stars*

I started reading this book yesterday and finished it a few hours back. It’s raining in here, a lot, I mean a lot and it’s cold. Now that rain stopped, strong winds are blowing and I can’t sleep because when I closed the windows, the wind started making spooky noises and now that when I opened them, the sound is so relaxing, you know the sound of wind blowing through palm trees.

So, again I don’t feel like sleeping and I’m constantly thinking about the book and this book gave me this unsettling feeling that won’t let me sleep. You know the feeling you get after you read a thought-provoking novel, yes that.

This book is beautiful, and that is some great writing right there. Steinbeck is what I would like to call a true literary genius. I haven’t read his other books and this is the first one, but already I’m his admirer. I think this is a finely crafted book.

As I read this book, I came across many little but profound messages, throughout the book, and they were easy to decipher and relate with, and strong enough to stir thoughts into the reader’s mind. Steinbeck, as it turns out, is not only a literature writer but also a philosopher and you can easily identify that while reading the book. This novel came out in the 1960s and before that he already got some of his best literary work published like “The Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden”, I haven’t read them but now after reading this book I’m surely gonna read them. But I’m gonna say that this story is wonderfully told and well structured, but for some unknown reason it is quite often overlooked and I think people should read it. One of my friend on Goodreads said that this book is quite different from his other books.

Now if we come to the story, the synopsis says, Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of Steinbeck’s last novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With Ethan no longer a member of Long Island’s aristocratic class, his wife is restless, and his teenage children are hungry for the tantalizing material comforts he cannot provide. Then one day, in a moment of moral crisis, Ethan decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous standards.

You might have got some idea what this is about. This book, The Winter of Our Discontent, is based on the subject of morality, or more appropriately how morality plays its role in American society, it’s prevalence in 1960’s. It’s an exploration of morality in an individual, in a society. And I think, it still exists in today’s society.

I loved the character of Ethan and all the other characters were also easy to understand. From the beginning itself you can find Ethan as a content person, he did lost his family property(because of a bad business decision, not made by him) and didn’t get to enjoy all taste of money that he could. But in his heart, he was always a content person, a happy person. Always did good and did everything to make his family secure(that is enough to ask). Throughout the book he also talked about many intelligent books and you can see that he is a smart person and can do a lot more and deserve more and that he can be more than a grocery clerk.

But as it turns out when we live in a society many things go into our heads, we want all the luxury and money our neighbors are enjoying or society is enjoying, people can’t keep their heads high up for the simple reason, that they think they are not worthy enough because of the lack of wealth or a respected job.

His family’s discontentment became his discontentment. As a provider, he wanted to provide them everything. Society and friends told him that he could be much more than he is. People told him, if he wants to be successful he have to break some rules to turn it all up for himself, and that sometimes we have to lose our morals to get what we want.

All this discontentment made him do something for himself and his family, day by day little events changed him, he came up with plans(that you would be reading) and you’ll see how everything he planned for fitted altogether. The book has this gray shady setting and sometimes it’s unsettling.

And you can see all this in our society, that a job these days is not just a simple job, it is much more, there is a huge competition, people make other people fall just to go one step ahead and people want to make it big. And no one can disagree with it, it’s everywhere.

Okay, I really want you to read it because this is something worth reading. There are some really good underlying messages and I think you should read it because I can go on and on.

Happy Reading!

[Written on 21st August 2016 at 3:20 A.M.]

Book Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.”

6335

My Rating: *4.5 Stars*

Science Fiction, eh?

NO!

Then what?

More of Coming to Age and Dystopian novel.

Oh!

Btw more of a mixture of genres, Gothic romance, dystopia, coming to age, a tiny winy bit of SF.

Synopsis:

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well-tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.


You know what, we do have a movie! But wait, first read the review and decide for yourself do you want to read it first or watch it. If you’ll watch it first, you’ll not be able to enjoy the very essence of the book. Read it without any hint.


Book Review:

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”

Well, this book shattered me, no, no, broke my heart. You know, I don’t want to tell you anything about this book but I do want to say few things about it. I’ve very conflicting thoughts about how much I should disclose so that you can also enjoy the experience of reading this book followed by watching the movie.

You come across books that are perfect and I love coming across these books and Never Let Me Go is one of them. This book have a such a powerful narrative and the story flows. I like the kind of stories where people talk about their past, they talk about people from there past, I like the small details and memories. You know how when parents or grand parents tell us about their life and what they used to do and how were things back then, it’s always intriguing. Similarly this book have it all, such a good characterization, I liked knowing about their life in Hailsham. This book have this Gothic spell but that is not the only thing that I loved about this book.

Let me tell you what I loved…

The book revolves around the life of three friends Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. The narrator in this book is Kathy who is a care taker and as I said it is more of coming to age book, because Kathy in this book tells about their life growing up in Hailsham and how their life took turns and how it turned out.

download

I don’t know how to describe the beauty of this book but few morning I woke up early just to read this book. When I read it, I didn’t know what was happening, I kept on reading and reading until I understood. This book moved me emotionally and then at one instance it shattered me. I felt so bad for all of them, specially Kath. Everything was so unsettling,  this book raise questions about ethics and morals.

You don’t realize what you are getting yourself into and in one moment everything is clear. His writing and structure of the book will make you want to read the book, but on the same front you’ll find it hard to decipher what he is trying to say and where the story is going and that is what I found unsettling.

I’m not gonna tell you what this book is about, read it, struggle and enjoy.

The book is haunting, sweet and sad at the same time…

Judy Bridgewater – Never Let Me Go(Tommy and Kath made me discover this song)

Darling,
Hold me,
Hold me,
Hold meeeeee,
And never (never),
Never (never),
Never (never),
Let me gooooo

Happy Reading!