Review: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I’ve had this novel forever and although my friends kept going on about how marvellous it was, I was still hesitant. Because I don’t read many blurbs (or reviews) for novels I was left thinking that this would be a story about a talking rat. Well, all I will say is it’s not! I also had no idea it was first written as a short story in 1959 and expanded on and published in the mid 1960’s. I thought it was written in the early 2000’s. Nor did I know anything about a movie (but I am not a telly type person). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not dated at all…except perhaps some terminology. I never considered me a real stickler for PC terms, but by golly, I sure felt like some Pollyanna type after reading this and being offended time and time again at times in this book when people referred to mentally challenged individuals.

I really loved this book. However, I find it difficult to find it inspirational and inspiring as many others did. I wonder if that is a flaw in me or if I am just stuck with being a pessimist and a realist.

AAMOF, not only was I not inspired I was a bit pissed off that people really couldn’t see Charlie’s worth until he became more intelligent and then started to decline in intelligence.

Sometimes I don’t mind feeling conflicted over books. On the contrary, I love books that challenge me and leave me struggling to come to terms with my feelings. This one however really bothered me. It wasn’t the story, it was society in general. It was for the Charlie’s of the world that never gain that intelligence and never realise how many of the world look at them. How worth is often weighed by that intelligence. How people are often afraid of people that are mental challenged. And the whole PC of all of it. I wonder if a book like this could even be written today just in case it upsets someone’s sensibilities.

I’m angry for Charlie. More angry than he ever was. I’m angry at so many characters in the novel. I’m angry at those that can only find amusement at other’s expense. At people that tear other’s down in order to only look out for their own interests.

I’m angry at a society that still, today, in many ways, refuses to find a place 0f acceptance for all people, regardless of where they fall in the intelligence spectrum.

Yea…I’m really conflicted. Charlie was a good person. Even before the “new and improved” Charlie showed up at the scene. That acceptance I speak of could have made a world of difference in his life before his operation. Instead the book ends with him felling even less worth as a person than he did at the beginning, which was too damned low to start with. I loved the book, but I find it near impossible to take away just good from this story. Or be inspired by it…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

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Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

2163164Not only did I love the writing style of Mohsin Hamid, I absolutely loved this story. Yes, I even loved the ending that I just KNOW many people will absolutely abhor.

I won’t do a long review on this book. I wouldn’t want my political opinions to effect how you go into reading this book. I wouldn’t want them to effect how you feel about this book.

I will only say, with all the distrust and bias towards Muslims this day and age post 911, people seem to forget that they are, in fact, individuals. They are not an idea, a symbol, or some inanimate objects. I think that society in general has taken them as just that. Inanimate objects or like a small child that has no idea what others are saying right in front of them.

That, no matter what your views are, is heartbreaking. It is also widening the chasm of ignorance that is the base root of so many problems.

The ending of this novel just confirms this.

So read it…and then tell me….what do you believe really happened at the end? What facts do you have to support that belief?

Brilliant book….

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Review: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

maladiesFirst I need to tell you guys something….are you ready for my confession? Okay, here goes….I am not a fan of short stories. After Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature this past week, I figured it was time that I downloaded one of her books to try it. See, I am not so set in my ways that I can’t try something I know I probably won’t like….so that brings me to this book….I had some stuff going on this past weekend, so in a haste to pick out a book, I picked out a short book that I’ve had on my kindle for a while….I had been wanting to try Lahiri for a while as well….Since she is up for the Man Booker Prize, I thought this would be a good time to try her…..

How does all this fit in together? Well, I am the type that rarely reads book descriptions….Soooooo….imagine my surprise of finding out that this book was a collection of short stories! What!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate short stories! Sure, I was willing to try Munro…but NOT now….I was gonna put it off for months….I….don’t…..like….shorts!!!!!!

Seriously, I couldn’t be bothered to try to pick out another book from the hundreds I have on my kindle…it was after 10 pm. I was tried, darn it…..So, I went ahead and started to read….imagine my surprise…..I was hooked from page one….not just from the first story…but from every single one! I have to say, I take back every bad thing I have ever mumbled about short stories….these were brilliant.

I am telling you now….don’t be an arse like me….Don’t tell yourself that you never read “____?____”. Ask yourself….what do you read? Do you usually read thriller books? Romance? Mysteries? Non-fiction? Okay….for the sake of argument, let’s say you read only romance.

So, tell me….the last romance you read….was it brilliant? Did it suck? Was it just okay? Boring? Exciting? Okay, the one before that? And yes, before that?

Do you see my point? Oh, come on now…don’t make me write it out! Okay….you win….here goes….

Not every book you read it guaranteed to be brilliant. Not even if it’s from a genre you absolutely love. Same goes for your favorite author. One day, they might disappoint you….You might have loved every book they have ever penned, but maybe one day you won’t.

This book has taught me a great lesson….I will try very hard to stop judging books by their genre. I mean, I don’t like non fiction, but there are a couple of non fiction books that are some of the best books I’ve ever read. I don’t like fantasy, but a few of my all time favorites are just that! The same with romance….Do you see my point here?

So I can tell you right now…with great confidence….a great story is a great story! No matter the genre it is told in. In these short 200 pages, Jhumpa Lahiri gives us 9 great stories. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. Do the few short pages they take up encompass a massive story? Do they have a beginning, a middle and an ending? Maybe not….but what they do have is some uncanny ability to draw you into the characters lives and make you feel for them. You feel their loneliness. You feel their pain. You feel their emotions. You relate to them. You spend a short moment of time with them and you feel as if their lives matter to you. You care about them. Finally, long after their pages end, you still think of them and you wonder how they are…so I am telling you right now…if you say a short story can’t encompass a massive story…well it’s like saying one short life doesn’t matter when you look at someone who has led a long life. That’s just bullshit. These stories matter. Short or not, they really matter…

I simply can not wait to try another one of Lahiri’s books. I won’t even mind if it’s *only* a collection of short stories….and seriously….I no longer hate short stories anyway….so who cares if they are a collection of shorts…hell, I almost hope they are!

Until next time….

– Urania xx

Buy it now Interpreter of Maladies