REVIEW: The Good Soldier

Oof. Disjointed. Meandering. Whiny.
The above were my notes on Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier. Clearly we are in for a glowing review…
The Good Soldier begins with the famous line “This is the saddest story I have ever heard,” and yes, the story relayed to us by John Dowell is certainly tragic, what is even more sad is the writing.
Ford jumps back and forth on an arbitrary timeline that doesn’t serve anyone – not the reader, nor the characters. Though a well-developed plot at its core, and an examination of the muddy truth behind appearances, The Good Soldier is so disjointed, and Dowell so obnoxiously arrogant in his tower of innocence and victimhood, it detracts from the heart of the novel.
It is beyond me as to why The Good Soldier continuously stays on multiple lists of “best novels.” 
Rating: 2.5 Bad hearts



REVIEW: The Exorcist

William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist is worth every hour of sleep it will make you lose.

Blatty brings to life a mother’s worse nightmare through an exploration of mind, science, and faith. The Exorcist is certainly more terrifying on the page than on the screen, which relies on visual gimmickry to evoke shock and omits the more horrifying aspects the novel. The novel is more three dimensional: delving deeply into possible mental causes for Reagan’s journey from innocent young girl, to possessed demon as well as the leap of faith required to explain the transformation in terms of religion. The writing is jarring and chilling thanks to Baltty’s sharp skill at bringing every character and horror to life.
The Exorcist is a one of a kind novel with Blatty’s ability to inject heart into the horror genre, much like King does.
Rating: 4 Bowls of Pea Soup

REVIEW: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

I tried PKD and I loved him.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick came highly recommended from a trusted source. That source is still trusted.

With an intricate but not convoluted plot and strong conflicted characters, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch offers an exploration of philosophy, religion, and the complex realities of human nature. It takes a moment to feel oriented in the world PKD creates, but once you give in to the surroundings, you are in for one hell of an insightful, colorful, and trippy ride. 

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch will leave you wanting more.

Rating: 4 Hallucinatory Escapes

REVIEW: The Crying of Lot 49

I tried Pynchon and didn’t love it.

While Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 consists of offbeat and intriguing characters, immersed in an interesting enough plot, Pynchon’s style is unnecessarily distracting and dense. Almost as though he wants it to be a struggle to wade through his writing; like a post-modern convoluted Faulkner.

The strength of Pynchon’s writing is enough to keep you on the hook until the end of The Crying of Lot 49; but he is certainly an author for a specific audience, but may not be for those looking for a gentle climb rather than an uphill battle.

Rating: 3 Stamps

REVIEW: After the Quake

Wanting to take a dip into the Murakami pool of writing for some time now, but not wanting to commit to hundreds of pages off the bat, I thought,”What better than a short story collection to get a feel for his work?”
My love fest for short stories continues with After the Quake, and a new love for an author has been ignited.
Exploring snippets of various citizens’ lives after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, Murakami combines realism, surrealism, and humor to highlight the most basic elements connecting us all: love, loss, longing, etc. In this sense, his writing mirrors some of my favorite South American writers who find the cracks that let the light shine through.
With only six stories making up After the Quake it’s hard to pick highlights, but the two standouts for me are Landscape with Flatiron and Thailand. Murakami hardly misses a beat.
Rating: 4.5 Super-Frogs 
Special shout out to AK for the recommendation!

REVIEW: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll, a controversial and colorful character himself, creates a vivid and trippy world in his upside-down fairy tale travels with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Down the rabbit hole we go, bumping into unforgettable creatures along the way; staples of many a childhood. A journey through the unknown, promoting individuality and exploration of imagination.

At the center though, is a brat.

While in full support of Carroll cranking up the imagery and spirit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, he could have cranked down the precociousness of his leading lady. Alice has the common “too smart for her own good” air popular among children’s lit; but it goes from charming to obnoxious faster than you can say, “Drink me.”

Alice is pretty much the original millennial (or at least the media idea of what millennials are…which they generally aren’t, but we will leave that for another day and a different blog); and while the idea of continuing on adventures with Lewis Carroll is appealing, I’d prefer Alice stay home for the rest.


Rating: 3.5 Mad Tea Parties


REVIEW: Tuesdays with Morrie

Morrie Schwartz was a beautiful human. One of those rare lights we should all be so lucky to come bath in over the course of our lifetime. A light which brings universal wisdom, patience, and compassion for all. His interviews with Ted Koppel moved and inspired me, I can’t recommend watching them enough. Unfortunately, my job here isn’t to review Morrie Schwartz as a person, it’s to review the writing that immortalized him. Sadly, that writing doesn’t do Mr. Schwartz the justice he deserved.

Mitch Albom is not a good writer. His writing is amateurish, saccharin, and self-indulgent. I first expressed my thoughts on the matter when I didn’t recommend The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I had higher hopes for Tuesdays with Morrie due to the subject matter; but Albom disappoints again.

The fact is, Tuesdays with Morrie is more about Mitch than our titular hero; this is a fact that would be bothersome even if the memoir was written by a talented word smith.  While, yes, we are getting to know Morrie through the eyes of a former student, it is Morrie who brings the goods and touches our souls; it is Morrie who would probably be the first to tell Mr. Albom to put his own ego aside.

It is clear why Tuesdays with Morrie is so widely read: Morrie Schwartz is one in a million; but, the messenger who brought him to international light does not deserve the amount of credit he has received.

Is Tuesdays with Morrie worth reading? For sure, there is something to be gained from Morrie’s heart by all. Should one then go on to read anything else Mitch Albom wrote? No.


Rating: 3 Motivational Tuesdays