The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New

The Abundance

Summary:

In recognition of this Pulitzer prize–winning author’s lauded career as a master essayist, a landmark collection, including her most beloved pieces and some rarely seen work the abundance includes the best of Annie Dillard’s essays, delivered in her fierce and muscular prose, filled with absorbing detail and metaphysical fact. Intense, vivid, and fearless, her work endows the true and seemingly ordinary aspects of life—a commuter chases snowball-throwing children through backyards, a bookish teenager memorizes the poetry of Rimbaud—with beauty and irony. These essays invite readers into sweeping landscapes, to join Dillard in exploring the complexities of time and death, often with wry humor. On one page, an eagle falls from the sky with a weasel attached to its throat; on another, a man walks into a bar. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and I voluntarily chose to write a review

Review:

I tried on this one, I really did, but after 100 pages I was done.  Trying to read this book felt like reading the journal of the high school girl who thought she was artsy.  Each essay dragged on and seemed to be fascinated both with its own language and over describing each aspect of the scene.  The dead flies in the bathroom confirmed to me that I do not think I’d get along with Dillard in real life.  I just don’t think I can see the same level of philosophy in her observations.

I don’t know what Dillard’s other writing is like and I’d probably give it a shot, but these essays just were not for me.

Rating: 1 stars!

Who should read it? Only people who know they’re fans of Anne Dillard.

Measure of a Man

Measure of a Man

Summary: 

He's been called "America's greatest living tailor" and "the most interesting man in the world." Now, for the first time, Holocaust survivor Martin Greenfield tells his incredible life story. Taken from his Czechoslovakian home at age fifteen and transported to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz with his family, Greenfield came face to face with "Angel of Death" Dr. Joseph Mengele and was divided forever from his parents, sisters, and baby brother.

In haunting, powerful prose, Greenfield remembers his desperation and fear as a teenager alone in the death camp—and how an SS soldier's shirt dramatically altered the course of his life. He learned how to sew; and when he began wearing the shirt under his prisoner uniform, he learned that clothes possess great power and could even help save his life.

“Measure of a Man” is the story of a man who suffered unimaginable horror and emerged with a dream of success. From sweeping floors at a New York clothing factory to founding America’s premier custom suit company, Greenfield built a fashion empire. Now 86 years old and working with his sons, Greenfield has dressed the famous and powerful of D.C. and Hollywood, including Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, celebrities Paul Newman, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jimmy Fallon, and the stars of Martin Scorsese's films.

Written with soul-baring honesty and, at times, a wry sense of humor, “Measure of a Man” is a memoir unlike any other—one that will inspire hope and renew faith in the resilience of man. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and I voluntarily chose to write a review

Review:

This was a short, but fascinating book that I couldn’t put down.  Martin Greenfield is a larger than life character that immediately brings you into his world.  He speaks candidly about his time in Auschwitz and doesn’t hide harsh realities.  In some ways, it was hearing his stories immediately after being liberated from the camp shows more insight to his character than the time up to that point.  One of the things that I appreciated most about him as a person is his matter of fact approach to problems, one day at a time.

I do have to say that towards the end of the book I was a little frustrated with the tone of congratulations that seeps in, but I also struggle to begrudge that from someone who managed to be so successful.  I both dislike and liked the celebrity anecdotes because of that angle.  Nonetheless this is a book I’d highly recommend!

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone who has any passing interest in World War II or tailoring.

How to be Happy

How to be Happy

Summary:

Eleanor Davis's How to be Happy is the artist's first collection of graphic/literary short stories. Davis is one of the finest cartoonists of her generation, and has been producing comics since the mid-2000s. Happy represents the best stories she's drawn for such curatorial venues as Mome and No-Brow, as well as her own self-publishing and web efforts. Davis achieves a rare, subtle poignancy in her narratives that are at once compelling and elusive, pregnant with mystery and a deeply satisfying emotional resonance. Happy shows the full range of Davis's graphic skills -- sketchy drawing, polished pen and ink line work, and meticulously designed full color painted panels-- which are always in the service of a narrative that builds to a quietly devastating climax. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

I didn’t finish this one and gave up after 5-6 of the mini comics inside of the book.  Originally I had picked this one up at the library because it had come highly recommended.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find the art visually engaging and therefore it was tough for me to try to suspend reality to immerse myself in the story.

I was expecting more of a cohesive narrative and instead it reads like a collection of short stories.  Much of the art doesn’t have talking, which I can be completely fine with, but I found it made it lacking for me.  I’m sure many will love it, so take a look yourself and see if you like the art.

Rating: 1 star!

Who should read it? Folks who think the cover is gorgeous and are willing to have super open mind.

Mastiff (Beka Cooper #3)

Mastiff

Summary:

Three years have passed since Beka Cooper almost died in the sewers of Port Caynn, and she is now a respected member of the Provost's Guard. But her life takes an unexpected turn when her fiancé is killed on a slave raid. Beka is faced with a mixture of emotions as, unbeknownst to many, she was about to call the engagement off.

It is as Beka is facing these feelings that Lord Gershom appears at her door. Within hours, Beka; her partner, Tunstall; her scent hound, Achoo; and an unusual but powerful mage are working on an extremely secretive case that threatens the future of the Tortallan royal family, and therefore the entire Tortallan government. As Beka delves deeper into the motivations of the criminals she now Hunts, she learns of deep-seated political dissatisfaction, betrayal, and corruption. These are people with power, money, and influence. They are able to hire the most skilled of mages, well versed in the darkest forms of magic. And they are nearly impossible to identify.

This case - a Hunt that will take her to places she's never been - will challenge Beka's tracking skills beyond the city walls, as well as her ability to judge exactly whom she can trust with her life and country's future. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was a fantastic conclusion to the series and I particularly liked the ending.  The fiancée in the beginning seems a little hard to believe, but once you understand some of the motivating factors, it makes more sense to me how Beka would have ended up in the situation.  She’s not one to be overly expressive and likes being cared for as well.  That chaos and mixed emotion sets everything up well for the challenge she’ll have to face regarding the Hunt and working with the royal family.

I do have to say that there were some revelations that made me a bit upset, but in a “why can’t all characters be perfect” way, which I’d complain about if they were.  People, and characters, should have faults and I think Pierce had some realistic character moments in this book.  This was a fast-paced engaging book that I couldn’t put down and certainly would highly recommend to those who think there’s nothing more Beka Cooper could have done.

Warning: Contains repeated violence.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of the series – if you don’t have the background as to what the “Dogs” are, it would be a bit odd.

Want to read the whole series?

  • Terrier (Beka Cooper #1)
  • Bloodhound (Beka Cooper #2)