Friday, April 23, 2010

Fine Art for Dummies

I loved it! I loved it! I loved it! I had read Kostova’s earlier novel “The Historian” a while back and quite enjoyed it. When I saw that my local book store had a copy of her new book I immediately had to put it on hold at my local library. In the end, I preferred this book to her previous one. This novel begins with a man trying to attack a painting in a museum. He is arrested and soon found to be mentally unstable and is handed over to the care of a psychiatrist. He refused to speak and so his shrink must interview his family and friends to find the source of his compulsion and destructive imbalance. Alongside his story is the turbulent history of the painting he attempted to destroy and the artists from its era. All the characters in this novel are painters and so it felt like I was having a mini art lesson. From the biography on the back of the book I learned that the author has a Masters in Fine Art. I love art and wish I knew more about its technique, composition, and history and so this book was a delight to read.

Too Much Hype

There has been so much hype around this book and with the blockbuster movie hitting the rental shelves the hype has blossomed exponentially. The library would only loan it out for 14 days with a $1/day late fine! (I was amazed! Wasn’t this book published years ago?!) I saw a preview for the movie and I was in tears just from that! (I love Eric Bana!) After seeing the preview I instantly wanted to see the movie. When at all possible, I try to read the book before seeing the movie or else I feel like I’m reading a script, and I have actors’ images in my head. I was happy to find that my local library had a copy of the book with the original cover and not the film cover for the same reason. Does anyone else dislike movie covers on books or does it not really matter?
The problem with too much hype around a book is that I normally end up feeling let down and I’m sad to say that that was the case with this book. I just didn’t really like it and I can’t put my finger on what specifically that I didn’t enjoy. The characters never seemed to haunt me after I put it down. I read it quickly more because of the 14 day time constraint and less about a compulsion to know what happened next in the story. The whole idea of a man that can’t stay in the same time is just odd to me and I just couldn’t get my brain to believe that it was real.

Myself: Hopelessly Behind the Times

I must be the last person on the planet to have read this book but I’ll write about it anyway because I did read it. The teenage girl that lives next door talked about these books with so much excitement that I decided to give them a try. We all know the premise of this book: human girl and vampire boy fall in love. It’s yet another version of Romeo and Juliet! This novel is written for teens and you can really feel that with the fast pace of the prose. For us adult readers, I found it was an ‘airplane book’: one that you can read quickly and be easily entertained without too much thought. Some people read other vampire novelists (ex. Anne Rice) with relish but I could never really get into them. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t find that aspect of the story more distracting. Surprise! Surprise! I put the second book and the movie on hold at my local library!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Drood, Collins, & Dickens...Friends?

I love a good long book to sink my teeth into and at almost 800 pages this one definitely did the trick. This is the story of a most devious character, Drood. He is first introduced to us during the railway accident that almost killed Charles Dickens. This strange man, Drood, haunts Dickens' mind and he becomes obsessed with finding him. The story is told through the eyes of his good friend and fellow author Wilkie Collins. Together they travel through London 's terrifying Undertown, within the sewers and along since forgotten crypts, to find him and learn his story.

I realise that this is a work of fiction and not the actual source story for Charles Dickens' later novel, but it definitely made me want to read more of his work. Also, it made me more curious about the actual men, Dickens and Collins. Was Dickens truly as cocky as he is portrayed (ex. making even his family call him Venerable?) I know Collins used laudanum to great excess but was his life really such a complete and outrageous drug trip? Was the almost sibling rivalry betwee these two authors accurate? Was London's Undertown really as terrifying as it was portrayed? Regardless of the answers, this novel made me ask questions, and I always love a novel that inspries me to delve deeper into my own research.