List of Books I Read in 2009
Newest reviews are at the top of the list.
- Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983): A collection of twelve short stories of desperation and intensity, and chiseled out of stone. Carver, an Oregon native, expertly manages to communicate incredible emotional complexity, in these simple, narrative-driven stories, with deceptive ease. For me the highlight was the final story (of the same title as the book), in which the dismissive narrator undergoes a profound and unexpected epiphany at the hands of a blind visitor.
An appreciated recommendation from Nicole.
- The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2007): The first novel I've read by the author of No Country for Old Men is a post-apocalyptic prose poem about a father and son, well, simply trying to survive in a dying world.
The writing is starkly evocative, and the setting is sharply and deftly drawn. The plot is minimal, focusing on the relationship between the two characters - the father is prepared to survive without regard to concepts of good and evil but seems bound to a moral code because of the boy's presence.
Almost all of the reviews I read since finishing this book hail it as a masterful and touching study of a fierce love between the two main characters, but it didn't read that way to me at all. Really, in a world like this, where everything is a threat and death results from any mistake, your best chance to survive is to find someone you trust; regardless of whether you love that person, if you trust him, the two of you can get through a lot more than either of you solo. Viewed in this light, the father's actions, and sacrifices toward the boy, can just as easily be read as investing in an ally for mutual survival.
I enjoyed the book regardless. However, the ending really bugged me.
- The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (1998): What an incredible way to kick off a career as a novelist. Roy's debut novel tells a relatively uncomplicated story of a family in a small town in contemporary India, and the events that broke them apart, primarily through the eyes of its seven-year-old fraternal twin children.
The author's voice is lush, imaginative, and intensely poetic, and the timeline of the narrative meanders from flashbacks to the present in a fluid languor, taking time to focus on the minute details that establish the mood of each part of the whole. The characters are richly developed, and the plot is unfolded gradually in a non-linear manner that lends the story a secretive feeling.
Just a beautifully executed work; it was a slow read for me because of the denseness of the prose and Roy's unconventional style and use of language. Even so, this is one that I look forward to reading again.