one-liners


Following the acclaims of “The Remains of the Day” which earned the Booker Prize in 1989, Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go” (also shortlisted for the Booker in 2005) held great promise.

Perhaps it was naiveté, or blind trust from being in the hands of an accomplished author, but it never occurred to me until after 100 pages that this books skirts science-fiction, a genre for which I still have to acquire a taste. The story, narrated by a young woman reminiscing about her childhood and early life within the confines of a contemporary English boarding school, tells of the bonds of friendship with her classmates as they grow up without knowing the fate reserved for them in the outside world. In a flat, monotonous tone and without a trace of humor, wit, or irony, “Kathy” relates mundane events in her daily life so banal that it makes us wonder where the real interest of her story lies. “As I say,” and “I’ll come to that in a moment,” or “as I later understood” were phrases often repeated to prod the reader to turn the page. Nevertheless, I pushed on to the end to discover the ultimate tragic destiny of these young adults.

To say more at this point would spoil the story. Once I grasped the delusion though, the book falls apart on several levels. A good number of themes surface — ethics, morality, medical pioneering, love and friendship — but remain inadequately addressed and explained. The novel unfortunately ends in the same vacuum in which it began.

About Kazuo Ishiguro: author of six novels, A Pale View of Hills (1982, Winifred Holtby Prize), An Artist of the Floating World (1986, Whitbread Book of the Year Award, Primio Scanno, shortlisted for the Booker Prize), The Remains of the Day (1989, winner of the Booker Prize), The Unconsoled (1995, winner of the Cheltenham Prize), When We Were Orphans (2000, shortlisted for the Booker Prize) and Never Let Me Go (2005, shortlisted for the MAN Booker Prize), and a book of stories, Nocturnes (2009). He received an OBE for Services to Literature in 1995, and the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1998.

Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
304 pages

Discontentment in 1960’s suburbia New York? Yes, we know all about that, at the very least from watching the TV series Mad Men.

So what makes “Revolutionary Road” stand out and earn a movie to boot? Nothing that I can discern. Four jaded characters, four conflicting points of view, a stillborn plot, a fumbled ending. The cast isn’t very likable — people arguing interminably with each other over trivial issues until they lose all interest for each other as well as for readers, and all that’s left is just plain dullness. One line articulated by the novel’s leaden heroine, April Wheeler, “Wouldn’t you like to be loved by me?” was worthy of a snicker.

Better stick to the stories of John Cheever for a much more masterful depiction of the period. Or watch Mad Men.

Revolutionary Road
by Richard Yates
346 pages

most people worry about one thing or another at one time or another.

i tend to worry a lot more on average than the average worrier. of course, when you have children, parents, a home, a job, that’s already quite a list of things to worry about.

and then there are things that i should be worrying about, except that i haven’t gotten around to it yet. like exercising. or eating properly. or reading books that are on the list and not on the shelf. or finishing a project i haven’t started. or about a friend who’s thousands of miles away whom i can’t reach or help.

when my kids were little, i used to read the ‘mister men’ or ‘little miss’ series to them as bedtime stories. they assuage children about their concerns, worries, fears. i read the books for them and for myself. there is one called ‘mister worry’. he reassured me that he and i were in the same boat; yet no matter what we do, we will worry forever.

Mr. Worry is the thirty-second book in the Mr. Men series by Roger Hargreaves. Mr. Worry worries about everything. If it rains, he worries that his roof will leak, if there is no rain, he worries that all of his plants will die. He worries about the other Mr. Men, and he meets a wizard who suggests he make a list of all his worries and the wizard will make sure none of them happen. When there is nothing to worry about, Mr. Worry is happy for a week, until he is worried about not having anything to worry about.

Mr. Worry appears under the titles Monsieur Inquiet (French), Don Preocupado (Spanish), Ο Κύριος Ανήσυχος (Greek), 걱정씨 (Korean), 煩惱先生 (Taiwan), Unser Herr Sorgenvoll (German).

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Who ever said that fat people don’t have sexy imaginations?

Plump, virginal Janice reluctantly writes romances in the hope of earning enough money to find the man she loved and lost 20 years ago, but her agent is hiding her healthy financial position. So when a new publisher wants Janice’s help with a very marketable product, it is time for her to get sexy.

It basically came down to two guys for one girl. My guy lost. Sniff.

At the age of twenty-three Carrie Bell has spent her entire life in Wisconsin, with the same best friend and the same dependable, easygoing, high school sweetheart. Now to her dismay she has begun to find this life suffocating and is considering leaving it–and Mike–behind. But when Mike is paralyzed in a diving accident, leaving seems unforgivable and yet more necessary than ever. The Dive from Clausen’s Pier animates this dilemma–and Carrie’s startling response to it–with the narrative assurance, exacting realism, and moral complexity we expect from the very best fiction.

Chick lit at its worse. If such a thing is possible… To avoid at all costs.

Prada-wearing magazine editor Lisa Edwards thinks her life is over when her “fabulous” new job turns out to be a deportation to Dublin, launching Colleen magazine. No more jet-setting to the fall collections. No more fabulous parties and photographs in the society pages. The only saving grace is that her friends aren’t there to witness her downward spiral. Might her new boss, the disheveled and moody Jack Devine, save her from a fate worse than hell?

Overuse of the exclamation mark – perhaps to jolt readers out of an occasional torpor while struggling to turn the pages. An observation of men and women at the cross-road of middle age who are reexamining their successful and less than successful lives.

In Salthill-on-Hudson, a half-hour train ride from Manhattan, everyone is rich, beautiful, and — though they look much younger — middle-aged. But when Adam Berendt, a charismatic, mysterious sculptor, dies suddenly in a brash act of heroism, shock waves rock the town. But who was Adam Berendt? Was he in fact a hero, or someone more flawed and human?

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