REVIEW: The Plague

I’ve decided to do my review of Albert Camus’ The Plague as a pro and con list. Because, that’s the kind of mood I’m in.

Pros

  • Interesting overall plot
  • Well-rounded, likable, and relatable characters
  • Strong fictional case study on human behavior in times of crisis. All sides of human reactions are brought to light, and very believable
  • Smart use of humor in a dark setting, which was key in making this novel an enjoyable read. It very easily could have descended to an unreadable, depressing, and gruesome level; Camus brilliantly avoids this

Cons

  • SO MANY WORDS. Why, Camus? The Stranger is so beautifully succinct, what happened here?
  • Where are the women?  Adding a main female character among the central male characters would have enhanced the study in human behavior
  • Pacing. Proper pacing is a must in every aspect of life, but particularly when story-telling. Certain chunks drew me in completely, others were a drag to get through
  • Weak execution of tying up certain characters’ plot lines

To be clear, for me, the pros absolutely do outweigh the cons and I plan on continuing to make my way through Camus’ body of work. Mostly I wish Camus had played to his strength; concise storytelling as beautifully executed in The Stranger. He makes for a better Hemingway than a Fitzgerald.

Rating: 3.5 Rats

Bibliotherapy

My faithful readers!

While I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from my reviews due to a non-stop month, I have still been avidly reading and will have new ones for you starting tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is a fantastic article my aunt shared with me (thanks J!) on reading as therapy. The article focuses on Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, bibliotherapists and authors of “The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies.”

Links to the article and the book’s website below. 

With love and literature,

D
Can Reading Make You Happier?

The Novel Cure

REVIEW: An Improvised Life

Several years ago I was lucky enough to be front row and center at an Alan Arkin interview. It was inspiring.  I was moved not only by his amazing skill and knowledge regarding the art of acting (the love of my life), but primarily by his outlook on how to live a successful and fulfilling life.

I was even further inspired after reading his memoir, An Improvised Life.

As someone who has discovered passion and joy through various avenues of life and art forms, it was refreshing to read about a fellow artist who believes in the importance of being well-rounded and well-balanced; not defining yourself by your profession, or putting all your requirements for happiness into one basket. Although An Improvised Life, for the most part, is specific to the life of an actor, many of Arkin’s principles and stories are relatable to people of all aspirations. Yes, sections of this book concentrate heavily on acting, and there are readers who might not be as fascinated as I am by the ups and downs of a struggling artist during the mid-20th century – but, Arkin’s humor, charming prose, and bite are enough to seduce anyone into wanting to hear what he has to say.

Would I recommend this book to every reader I know? Of course not. But, along with recommending it to all of my fellow actors I strongly recommend it to those readers who enjoy memoirs, and human interest pieces. An Improvised Life is beautifully written and offers a unique view on what it is to be human; serving as a comforting reminder that we are all making it up as we go along.

Rating: 4 Golden Statues