Saturday, August 2, 2008

Project 40: July

I've got three books that I started in July, but I'm halfway through all of them. I'll see you next time! (I've been watching Reading Rainbow lately)

"Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov

I found this one kind of uncomfortable to read. Old Humbert Humbert has a thing for little girls, falls for one in particular named Lolita, moves into the house as her mother's boarder, marries the mother so he can continue to be close to Lolita, then when the mother is conveniently hit by a car after she discovers his pedophilia, he takes Lolita on the road and makes her his lover. She's a typical precocious teenager though, and doesn't really fit his ideal of a little lover. I thought this was going to get better or he was going to get caught, but it never happened. I'm not really sure what the point was, to gross out the reader with reserved erotic descriptions of 12 year old girls or to make you identify with a pedophile or something in between. I might be interested in reading some literary study on Lolita to see what other people think about it. It's not explicit, and the coy way he dances around sexuality is actually kind of poetic, so I give Nabokov points for that. I would recommend this book only to people I thought were mature enough to handle the subject matter. B-

"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel

This book was easy to get through, and I finished it in a day full of plane delays. A zookeeper's son from India, Pi, is moving with his family and a ship full of zoo animals to Canada when the ship sinks in the middle of the Pacific. He's set adrift in a lifeboat with a zebra, hyena, orangutan, and, he finds out a few days later, an adult male tiger named Richard Parker. The hyena dispenses with the zebra and orangutan, and Richard Parker takes care of the hyena. Pi realizes that there's no way to get rid of the tiger, so he has to survive by keeping Richard Parker alive and happy. He survives in the ocean for 227 days. The survival story reminds me of Robinson Crusoe in its detail, and I really believed it was a true story as told to the author by Piscine Patel until I did a little Google research. So Martel made all that up out of his own imagination. Sweet. The first part of the book was also kind of interesting to me because Pi is a very religious boy who practices a combination of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, and is told by his spiritual leaders and family that he can't have it all. His answer is that he just wants to know God. Fair enough. A

"Buddha, Vol. 2: The Four Encounters"
In the second book of this series, Siddhartha battles heartache, royal responsibility, and a few pretty fearsome foes. He begins to feel a pull to become an aesthetic monk and forsake his comfortable lifestyle near the top of the caste system. The storytelling is really effective, and I definitely understood the complicated choices that Siddhartha has to make between family, love, responsibility to his people and the spiritual life of denial he believes he should practice. A

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