I was first introduced to "The Caprices" by Sabina Murray in one of my English classes at San Francisco State. We had to choose just one story for our required paper but I remembered being so taken by the first story before I knew it I read the entire thing. It reminded me a lot like Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" because both authors used a war campaign as the backdrop for their stories. In Caprices, it was the Japanese occupation of the Phillipeans during WWII. Also, like O'Brien, Murray has an exeptional writing style, beautiful prose and a gift for story-telling. She was awarded the PEN/Faulkner for this book.
This is a collection of short stories that examine the human conditions during times of crisis. The stories are diverse enough, with deep rich character development, and yet still find a way to bind together to make a collection. "Guinea" and "Yamashita's Gold" are worth reading alone as well as the unforgetable "Position", the story of the island that bears witness to the passing of history from Magellan, to Amelia Earhart, to the dropping of the atomic bomb.
An unforgetable book!
Readers of Julian Barnes and John Banville will chomp at the bit for Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. Coetzee, a Noble and two-time Man Booker winner, has got to be one of the greatest writers of the last quarter century. A gifted story-teller and a master at literary techinque.
Disgrace, a gripping yet eerie story of David Lurie, a professor of Romantics at a South African college. After an affair with one of his female students, Lurie is left jobless he leaves Cape Town to his daughter's house in the country. What unfolds next is a novel filled with unthinkable circumstances that makes you want to walk away, but you can't. Cotzee delivers prose with such high eloquence which makes it impossible to put down. Despite the dark themes of this book, Coetzee's sentences are filled with undeniable lightness. This book will stay with you long after you are done. No wonder this dude won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Long Goodbye was the first of the Phillip Marlowe books that I read, and at once my connection to Raymond Chandler began. It was one of the first books that I could see so vividly, connect so closly, and care so much for. After The Long Goodbye, I was hooked! Leaped directly into the other titles, The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely and The Lady In The Lake. I spent my whole summer that year with one of the greats. I really think every reader should try at least one Raymond Chandler book in their lifetime.
I thought long and hard about how I was going to review this book for you, so I decided to let the master give you a few reasons himself. Here are some quotes from The Long Goodbye:
“I'm a licensed private investigator and have been for quite a while. I'm a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged, and not rich. I've been in jail more than once and I don't do divorce business. I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things. The cops don't like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with. I'm a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers or sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, nobody will feel that the bottom has dropped out of his or her life.”
“I belonged in Idle Valley like a pearl onion on a banana split.”
“The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back.”
“A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all. You can't predict anything about him for sure except that he will be someone you never met before.”
“The French have a phrase for it. The bastards have a phrase for everything and they are always right. To saygoodbye is to die a little.”