Daily Archives: March 10, 2008

From one book to another

So, I started reading Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen.

I’m sad to say that I am one of those readers that does actually pick a book based on the cover. I’m so out of touch with contemporary literature that covers are all that really attract my attention when I don’t recognize any of the authors. This books caught my eye at a bookstore last spring. I put the book on hold at my local library about 3 or 4 times, each time having to cancel the request because I could never make the time to read it. Since then, quite a few people I know have picked up, read and finished this book, so I figure its my turn now. I’m about 6 chapters into the book, and I am addicted. It is a story of an old man (he’s either 90 or 93, he claims) remembering his time working at a circus during the depression when he was in his early 20’s. Its a captivating, sleepy book. The characters are varied and colorful, but its still too early in the book for there to be any major conflict. Its beautifully written and the author has a really natural talent for description. I hope this book doesn’t let me down. =)

The Double – Review

Dropped off at the airport 2.5 hours before my flight, so I had no excuse to not finish The Double, while waiting for take off.

One thing I need to say, is that I really like reading at airports. I don’t know what it is, but location seems to always make a difference in regards to how much I get into, and appreciate a book. I sat by a sunny window and read for a good 2 hours in pretty much absolute quiet. I like reading on the plane, only because I feel more in-tune with the characters. On ground, I’m just me, with my problems and issues, reading about a stranger. On the plane, everything seems to even out, when you look out the window and realize how small the world is, and literally how insignificant we all are no matter how grandious our problems appear. I feel more attached to the character I’m reading about when I’m in this state of mind, I can better put myself in their shoes and really live out the story in the book.

Too bad I didn’t get this feeling from The Double. Publisher’s Weekly marked this book as an allegory, but an allegory for what I can’t really say. Its a look into the darker side of one’s psyche. Its about cowardice, confusion and the determination to create an identity for oneself. Maybe some questions are better off left un-answered.

The main character sees a double of himself in a B-rated movie. The first 260 pages of this book are filled with him researching and trying to find out who this double is, the characters hot-cold relationship with Maria de Paz (his “girlfriend”, if you can really call it that), and in the last portion of the book, all the action takes place, its very quick and very methodical and very very depressing.

What I like about Saramago is that he writes effortessly the human mental state when common sense and instince kick in, but our naturaly proclivity towards curiosity forces us to abandon all common sense. There are times when I would question what I would do in his shoes. There is always a difference between what a person actually will do, and what they think they will do. These two are more often than not, total opposites.

Find this book at your local library

The Double
By Jose Saramago
ISBN 0-15-603258-9
324 pages