Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair 1942

This novel was outstanding and introduced me to Upton Sinclair's 11 volume Lanny Budd series. Dragon's Teeth is the 3rd book of the series. Lanny Budd is a 30-something rich American living in Europe in the early 1930's. The plot revolves around the rise of Hitler in Germany and the beginning of Jewish persecution and the competing forces of socialism, facism, communism and capitalism. Lanny's sister's husband, Freddi Robbin is Jewish and Freddi's family has close connections to the Budds and their struggles in Europe create a riveting plot within the larger historical context. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

Here is a link to a New York Times article dated 7/22/2005 about the Lanny Budd series:

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Laura's Review - The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea
Ernest Hemingway
128 pages

When reviewing a classic like The Old Man and the Sea, it's difficult to find something to say that hasn't already been said. This concise novella packs a punch in 128 short pages. Santiago is the old man in the title, a Cuban fisherman who has gone more than 80 days without a catch. He's a lonely man, ridiculed by other fishermen and forced to fish alone after losing his assistant (forced by his parents to fish with another, luckier, fisherman). Santiago decides to go further out into the sea than the other fishermen and, sure enough, snags a marlin larger than his boat.

The rest of the book recounts Santiago's efforts to reel in the fish (this task alone takes more than a day), and then bring the fish back to port. He demonstrates powerful mental and physical strength as he combats the marlin, sharks, hunger, fatigue, and loneliness. Much has been written about this work's themes of pride and redemption, and comparisons to Hemingway's late career. And while there are certainly symbols and messages in this book, it's also a great story that holds your attention the entire way through. ( )
My original review can be found here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 1961

Harper Lee wrote one novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, and it won the Pulitzer prize in 1961. Its themes still resonate with readers and her novel has become a part of our culture. That, I believe, is success.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee almost perfectly captures the main challenge of growing up: realizing human nature, both good and bad.

(I say "almost" perfect because I am sure there are faults in the novel, but I love this novel so much that I don't want to search for them.)