Monthly Archives: September 2013

On the Road (1957), Jack Kerouac

180px-OnTheRoadSal and Dean travel back and forth across North America, broke and hungry, meeting up with and leaving behind friends and stray wonderers, loving and fighting and getting high.

Sal is our narrator and a lonely semi-passive participant in this journey to nowhere.

Dean is wild and out of control. Only luck keeps him from calamity. He is an untamed exhausting need to experience, to poke a finger in the eye of what is normal. But when this passion is exhausted he must return home.

Home, a safe place where one stays for a time before being pulled back into the world.

They are lonely together and have a frantic need to keep moving. It is a journey without a destination because when they arrive they find nothing, splinter into their individual parts, turn back – seeking but never finding, only to reform and try again.

Sal and Dean do not know what they want, only that they want something different. They are the restless waves swirling and rolling against the safe and confining shore of society.

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Wuthering Heights (1847), Emily Bronte

200px-WutheringLove and hate on the Yorkshire moors. A tale told to Mr. Lockhart by housekeeper Nelly Dean.

Halfway through the book I was thinking (hoping really) that Nelly was an unreliable narrator – how could all the main characters be so terrible, mean spoiled spiteful – and that we would get the real story from Heathcliff himself. Unfortunately Nelly is not exaggerating and continues her convoluted tale of love and betrayal until almost everyone is thankfully dead.

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Lolita (1955), Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita_1955The narrative in the first half of the novel was very funny. I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh out loud. That is until I realized where I was being led and then I felt like a witness to a terrible crime, or worse, an accomplice.

40 year old Humbert Humbert marries Dolores’s mother for the sole purpose of having access to the 12 year old, whom he has fallen in love with. When it seems that the girl will be whisked to safety by her mother, fate intervenes and orphans her into the care of a loving step-father. Humbert is remorseful and repentant but it doesn’t help, he is still just a well spoken and good looking English pedophile trying to hold onto a spoiled and manipulative pre-teen while avoiding detection and traveling around the country.

Nabokov took me on a journey that started on one side of my emotions and ended far far away on the other.

One of the best novel’s I have read.

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Life of Pi (2001), Yann Martel

200px-Life_of_Pi_coverPi is a Hindu, a Christian, and a Muslim. He will become a religious scholar and a zoologist – but for now he is only a young castaway surviving the sinking of the Japanese freighter Tsimtsum for 227 days on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Robert Parker brings both life and death, a powerful and remorseless God. Pi’s father told him once “never touch a Tiger” – but in the end, he does.

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