Child of God, Cormac McCarthy

Child of God, a Book Review

Review

At times funny and charming and most other times out right haunting, Child of God is another excellent work by the renown writer Cormac McCarthy. The book centers on Lester Ballard who is largely disliked by the community at large. Lester has a few friends but they are never quite treated as such but rather as a means to achieve something else. The book centers on disturbing themes such as pedophilia and necrophilia and is base loosely on real life events.

As always McCarthy’s style is minimalist and completely removed of any excess in terms of grammar and punctuation. In reading McCarthy a reader will come to realize the amount of waste that comes in reading other writers. Hemingway’s influence on McCarthy largely apparent in this case and in some ways, McCarthy provides more direct impact.

The scenes within the book unfold more or less linearly but don’t all directly relate to the plot. Some scenes only serve the purpose of providing context to thing to come or in characterization of Lester Ballard. Having the book played out this way is effective when it comes to an overall picture but it is not difficult for one to get lost or to determine the purpose of these scenes.

Overall Child of God is a strong novel with highly adult and disturbing things that will not be suitable for all readers. Those who had trouble going through Nabokov’s Lolita, will find similar, if not worse, trouble getting through this novel. If you can stomach these distressing themes, then you will find an excellent read with Child of God

Quotes

“To watch these things issuing from the otherwise mute pastoral morning is a man at the barn door. He is small, unclean, unshaven. He moves in the dry chaff among the dust and slats of sunlight with a constrained truculence. Saxon and Celtic bloods. A child of God much like yourself perhaps.”

“Bowing, pointing, smiling. The microphone in one hand. Among the pines on the ridge the sound of the auctioneer’s voice echoed muted, redundant. An illusion of multiple voices, a ghost chorus among old ruins.”

“Old woods and deep. At one time in the world there were woods that no one owned and these were like them.”

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Between the World and Me, a Book Review

Review

Severe, conscious stirring, and wildly aware, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book Between the World and Me reads as Coates is speaking with his son. The work embodies elements which had forced their way into his own development, spanning themes as racism, American history, seeking belonging, police brutality, and the attempt to understand all of these elements as they interplay. The answer is never easy- found. Between the World and Me is a powerful work whose intensity will leave some readers feeling a tense burden and will leave other readers with a dismal sympathy.

I coupled reading Between the World and Me with a viewing of the movie “Get Out”, the combination was made expressly clear to me as Coates referred to to black bodies. The use of bodies permeates the book and is used as a way of personifying blackness and black people. It was only a page in the novel that I realized the power the remaining text would hold. I read, “The question is not whether Lincoln truly meant ‘government of the people’ but what our country has, throughout its history, taken the political term ‘people’ to actually mean.”  In the quote was Coates refined power of voice and a even finer power of consciousness into race.

A white friend of mine, who I also went to see “Get Out” with, was also reading the book. During both the movie and later through texts about the reading I learned of how uncomfortable it made her. Coates’s text was intense for her and I’m certain that parts of it had sparked guilt or otherwise disgust in the action of “people who think themselves white”. It was in those reactions I realized Coates was on to something and highlighting the problem in such a way that it cuts so deep as to make people feel uncomfortable. He was moving with the power of his words in ways I never thought possible.

In the presence of greater writers a reader has to stop reading and take stock of exactly what made the writing great. I knew the moment I started that I was in the presence of a writer of extraordinary prowess, not of someone who writes just to communicate ideas but who has been surrounded by great language his entire life. I first felt de-legitimized, then inspired, know that one day I could use words like Coates. Another living black writer who could move the world with a pen. It was an extraordinary experience.

Quotes

“… how do I live free in this black body? It is a profound question because America understands itself as God’s handiwork, but the black body is the clearest evidence that America is the work of men.”

“But a society that protects some people through a safety net of schools, government- backed home loans, and ancestral wealth but can only protect you with the club of criminal justices has either failed at enforcing its good intentions or has succeeded at something much darker.”

“The black people in these films seemed to love the worst things in life — love the dogs that rent their children apart, the tear gas that clawed at their lungs, the fire-hoses that tore off their clothes and tumbled them into the streets. They seemed to love the men who raped them, the women who cursed them, love the children who spat on them, the terrorists that bombed them. Why are they showing this to us? why were only our heroes nonviolent? I speak not of the morality of nonviolence, but of the sense that blacks are in especial need of this morality.”

“I almost never danced, as much as I wanted to. I was crippled by some childhood fear of my own body. But I would watch how black people moved, how in these clubs they danced as through their bodies could do anything, and their bodies seemed as free as Malcolm’s voice. [In the next paragraph] All I then wanted was to write as those black people danced, with control, power, joy, warmth”

Things Fall Apart, a Book Review 

Review

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe explores African tribal culture, religions native to those  tribes, and the influence, or ruination, from an invading religion. Through the lens of a tribal leader Okonkwo, the reader is able to understand and nearly come to believe as the tribes the books center. Also through him is a critique of Christianity and British colonization.

The reader would find it hard to sympathize with Okonkwo initially. He is a “man’s man,” a man of war and of restrained feelings. Violence to him comes easier than it does to most and he is fondly nostalgic of his time in war. It is only through his failure to bend to the whim of the British invaders that the reader starts to develop sympathy but by then fate of the surrounding tribes is all too apparent. There wasn’t much growth to Okonkwo, though. Things happened to him and he would retaliate. It was this exact characteristic which supports the unchanging character and is therefore legitimized within the context.

Achebe’s style is reminiscent of the culture of which he speaks, lending to a grand cohesiveness to the work. Even in metaphor and simile Achebe applies a reverence of nature and of the many gods. There was also an elegance within Achebe’s writing one would find difficult to explain definitely. In all the bad there was an exuberance and pleasure taken within the sentences. Even if this wasn’t Achebe’s intent the feeling certainly bleed into the work anyway.

Quotes

“The Crowd had surrounded and swallowed up the drummers, whose frantic rhythm was no longer a mere disembodied sound but the very heartbeat of the people.”

“The faint and distant wailing of women settled like a sediment of sorrow on the earth.”

“‘If you had been poor in your last life I would have asked you to be rich when you come again. But you were rich. If you had been a coward, I would have asked you to bring courage. But you were a fearless warrior. If you had died young, I would have asked you to get a life. But you lived long. So I shall ask you to come again the way you came before.'”

 

 

Ender’s Shadow A Book Review

Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card is a spin off from the famous book Ender’s Game but takes the same events through the character Bean. Bean grew up in poverty in the city of Rotterdam where he dealt with gangs violence and death. But Bean was intelligence, incredibly so by most standards, it was his intelligence that would move him from the suffers of poverty into something much larger than himself.

As far as character’s go Bean was dynamic. He was arrogant in his intelligence, or else Orson Scott Card is arrogant in his paintings of intelligence, but despite that Bean made mistakes and miscalculations. For someone who is familiar with Ender’s Game it could be hard to tell if the intrigue of Bean if through already knowing the events of the book but it is safe to say Bean “feels” like a different character. His strategic insights can keep interests in him high, him admitting his faults and growing (both physically and emotionally) makes him a likable/relatable character.

Card’s writing style wasn’t impressive but it wasn’t bad either. He did, however try a bit too hard with creating humorous moments between characters. No moment that Card depicted as funny for the characters was funny for the reader.

Below are worthwhile quotes from the book:

“I mean, some of these refugees, they might be brilliant, but they’re caught up in desperate times.”

“Intelligence and education, which all these children had, apparently didn’t make any important difference in human nature. Not that Bean had really thought they would.”

“One mind can think only of its own questions; it rarely surprises itself.”

Fahrenheit 451 a Book Review

Is it about censorship? Perhaps a critique on society as a whole? Does paper actually burn at 451 degrees Fahrenheit? One can say much about the possible meanings and interpretations of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. It suffices to say, regardless of the interpretation, that Fahrenheit 451 is an enduring novel and will continue to be so well beyond any of our lifetimes.

Fahrenheit 451 centers on fireman Guy Montag. Firefighters in this realm don’t put out fires, instead they burn houses down. Specifically the burn down books and houses and people that contain them. Guy Montag navigates this world in a daze and when he is awakened from the haze the world around him is an ugly thing. The events following Montag’s enlightenment are perhaps Bradbury’s critiques of society at large.

Calling Bradbury’s style “plain” would do it a severe injustice but he was able to express in plain sentences what other writers would explain in terms of “indescribable feelings” and the like. There is a beauty in the work that seems hidden or otherwise embedded in the text that a reader could only hope to pry out on a first read. It is only after a thorough simmering that one might be able to delve deeper.

Each character serves a purpose in painting ailments of society. This review will refrain from mentioning them for fear of giving away plot, but it is enough to say that even the characters were created to be an emblem for types of people.

Below are noteworthy quotes:

“Do you see? Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more:

“Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

“The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.”

“To everything there is a season. Yes. A time to break down, and a time to build up. Yes. A time to keep scilence and a time to speak. Yes, all that. But what else. What else?

Ray Bradbury’s work will continue to enchant its readers and encourage literary conversation for years to come. And it in thinking of all that happened within the book I think that above all, Bradbury was trying to get readers to discuss, analyze and interpret and because of that, he was wildly successful.