Archive for : June, 2015

post image

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan – A Review

Unfortunately the author, Marina Keegan, is not able to enjoy the success of this lovely compilation of her work. This collection of her writings was put together after her very untimely death from a car accident. The title, The Opposite of Loneliness is also one of her most famous writings, published while she was a student at Yale and it went viral for hundreds of thousands of people to read. There is a sense of sadness when reading this book because we know the author is not with us. Her talk of life and death is riveting and difficult to wrap our feelings around considering we know that her life is now over.

Legacy is something most writers work to have. A legacy of their great writing, of their thoughts, this is what writers hope will come of their work. For Keegan, her early work will be left as her legacy, but there looms the thought of what great writings she would have continued to deliver to the world throughout her life. If her college writing could already move us, what would her writing have done ten, twenty or even thirty years into experience? We will never know, but we can take her thoughts from her youth and use them in our lives.

The joy of Keegan’s writing is that it does not only appeal to the young reader. People of all ages can relate to her thoughts and feelings on life, love and the day to day world. The short essays are insightful and full of expression that is way beyond the years of a typical college student. The universal appeal of this book makes it a joy to read whether you are male or female, young or old.

Interestingly Keegan is writing about death in much of her writing; the death of herself even, which is astonishing when you think about her dying only a few short days after she graduated from college. The career that was ahead of Keegan had her working at the New Yorker, writing a play and living a successful and happy life of her dreams. The thought of this dream life getting cut short is enough to make the reader want to pursue their own dreams even more. Not to wait one more second before they go after that goal they have always wanted.

In the end, yes Marina Keegan is dead. Yes, her life was cut way too short, as many young people and their family’s learn throughout the world. But a short life is still and important one. A short life can still offer insights to the world that we might not have come to one our own. It is surly plausible that a short life can be a well lived life that contributes in totality to the world around them. For Marina Keegan, her short life did in fact contribute to those around her. Family, friends and readers of her writings will remember her as a witty and insightful writer who moved them emotionally.

post image

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat – A Review

The author is able to use vivid writing to share the life and story of a seven year old child named Claire. Edwidge Danticat is excellent at pulling the reader deep into the characters and making us love them. In this town in Haiti, Ville Rose, we become family with the community and we desperately search for missing Claire when the most unthinkable happens.

Although Claire is certainly a central part of the story, Danticat is using her as a writing tool to actually tell the stories of all the other characters in the town. We read the individual stories of the people and how they relate and interact with each other. The separate stories might not seem to be related, but as we work further into the book we start to see how everything is actually related.

The rich country of Haiti is the backdrop of this book and Danticat is excellent at showing us this surrounding using words and vivid descriptions. This book works through the psychological aspects of being a child, parent, friend and neighbor. The main characters, as well as the secondary characters, all feel fully developed and richly needed in order to tell this story as well as it has been told.

As you read through this gripping book you will undoubtedly have feelings and emotions evoked that you are not prepared for. Danticat is able to use the English language to pull at your heart as well as drive you to anger. Taking the time to read this book is well worth your time and you will not be disappointed, in fact you will be grateful to know these characters and bring them to life in your mind. Edwidge Danticat is an amazing writer who thoroughly understands the psychological aspects of character writing and story.

post image

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner – A Review

This book is written in a way that is beautiful but yet will be hard for you to describe why you like it. The author, Rachel Kushner, writes prose in an elegant manner that will leave you wanting more. The main character narrates the book and brings us on a journey of work, family and love. This novel will grab your attention and throw you into the politics of the people. The power of the characters and the story builds throughout the book and may take a little longer than usual to take a hold of you, but once the story grabs you there will be no turning back.

The main character, Reno, is an artist in New York City where she begins to learn and grow under the expert teachings of Sandro Valera. Valera is a sculptor who uses large aluminum pieces to bring angels together. Valera is older than Reno but they seem to be equals in intellect and dreams. The beginning of the book is slow and difficult to withstand, but as the characters and story build, we become more and more mesmerized.

New York in the 1970s is a character in itself throughout this book. The turmoil of America during this period of time was seen throughout the country, but very strong in New York City. The city is viewed as an artsy and dark place with the people of the night swooning around the people of the day. Kushner brings in famous artists through their relationships to the characters and this helps drive the interesting factor as you read.

Kushner is skilled at character writing and throughout the book we certainly feel drawn to her writing in that way. We feel the inner lives of Reno and the other characters. The action they complete the thoughts they think, we are one with the characters because of the skilled writing of Kushner. There are gems of literature thrown throughout this book that Kushner is just begging the reader to attach to.

The Flamethrowers will thrust you into the world of motorcycle racing, art, and of course, politics. What good book about New York City in the 1970s would not contain the politics of this time period? Kushner is highly concerned with the senses of the characters and we can feel them explained and withdrawn to the point that we are totally understanding of each of the main characters. The writing is intense and the characters flawed, just like a perfect story should have.