A story of a young man’s unrequited love, tangled in a web of death, mental illness, and the impact of sexual experience upon a person’s life. I was unaware that that last point would play such an important role in the story of Norwegian Wood, which made reading on the bus next to an older women conspicuously reading over my shoulder a bit of an interesting experience. In general, however, this novel focuses on the confusing time that is a person’s late teens, and how certain moments have the power to stay with us all through our lives.
Norwegian Wood begins with a 37-year-old Toru Watanabe, suddenly being hit with a wave of nostalgia, and memories from the 1960s when he was around 17-20 years old. And the trigger of these memories? An orchestral version of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”. The rest of the novel is where Toru recounts all that occurred during this early and altering time in his life…
Speak is a young adult novel that deals with the aftermath of a young woman’s rape: a time wherein she feels she cannot tell anyone what happened, leading to a period of depression. I hate to think that these things happen to people who are so young and vulnerable, and yet I know that it does occur, and more often than not, the blame is placed on the wrong person, or the victim is too afraid to speak to someone who can help them. Laurie Halse Anderson portrays this issue in a serious manner, which I think is very important, yet she doesn’t allow for it to be so dark that there is no hope for redemption. While I could not possible know what rape victims feel, or even have an inkling as to how it may stay with them throughout their entire lives, I want to believe that there is still the possibility for happiness after such a trauma.
But for more information on the plot and what I thought about it, my full review for Speak can be found here.
I don’t really know why I’ve found myself liking Hellboy so much lately, but I really do enjoy him as a character a lot, as well as how Mike Mignola uses dark folklore tales as the basis of his short, episodic stories, just changing them slightly to suit the world of Hellboy. And there are always little explanations from Mignola as to where the stories came from, which I find to be incredibly interesting. Then again, I have a thing for supernatural lore being used in different works, if just in influence, or being reinvented in a new way, and The Right Hand of Doom definitely follows the pattern of Hellboy’s past volumes in that it plays little installments from his life involving different paranormal threats, which may or may not be connected to a bigger picture. I really enjoy it, but I know that some people aren’t into that kind of thing, just like how I like the somewhat less-detailed nature of Mignola’s drawings, which makes them almost seem more moody and dark (heeeeey, early expressionism, nice of you to drop by), while others enjoy more detail. Really I have been finding the Hellboy series to be one of those things that if you like it, you like it quite a lot, but if you don’t, then you are indifferent to it and just don’t see the appeal.
In any case, a breakdown of all the different stories involved in The Right Hand of Doom can be found here.
I know a lot of yee fellow Cannonballers have already read and reviewed this book since it came out this summer, so I’ll try to keep it brief. For me, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was an exercise in reminiscence on the past, and the wonder of childhood: my full review for it can be found here.
Despite hearing countless references to The Bell Jar and it’s author over the years, I never had any idea what it was about. And so finally, I decided to read it, with all it’s beautiful language and strange meanderings of thought and progress. I found myself both understanding and irritated throughout it, and while I liked reading it, I don’t know if I could have stood if it went on longer than it did. I also don’t understand why this novel and Sylvia Plath’s life has become so romanticized in the modern day, but maybe that’s just me. The life presented in the novel is a struggle of mental instability, and while it is important to read stories like this in an attempt to understand those afflicted, it by no means makes you feel good, nor should it be a mark of aspiration, despite the tragic poetics that may be deciphered from the words of pain. In any case, my full review of The Bell Jar can be found here.
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of tarot cards: how they work, the different beliefs behind them, and more than anything, the symbolism involved. And so, on the spur of a moment, I picked up a book (and set of cards!) on tarot, these ones specifically being in the style of Steampunk. And surprisingly, I feel like I made a bit of a connection to these cards, as weird as that may sound. The images just strike something in me, even if I don’t quite know how to do the whole “reading” thing yet, except for on a level of personal interpretation. Either way, my full review on this particular tarot guidebook can be found on my blog.
I find that in a lot of romantic comedies these days, there is always that scene where the female is discussing her past relationships, only to at one point mention her “experimental college phase” that included a relationship or sexual experience with another woman. “Hahaha! Everyone does it! Look how uncomfortable or surprised the man she is currently dating looks right now!” But then I think, is that kind of experience really that common? Do girls always find that one, really intense friendship that leads to them experimenting romantically or sexually? Is it always just a “phase”? For some, obviously it is not. We know that. So why are these experiences so often played up for laughs?
Annie On My Mind deals with two young girls in their last year of high school, discovering a new sort of kinship in each other, that eventually leads to romantic love. It is serious and confusing for them, and in all honesty, it feels real: like a real situation that might happen between two friends that realize maybe their feelings are more than they thought they could be. And although this novel may have some downfalls, it made me think of myself, and some things I have felt in the not-so distant past (well… a few years back, I suppose). So I apologize if you don’t like how personal this review gets; you can turn back now if you don’t care to hear all that, I don’t mind, and it is quite unusual for me. But the main reason that I liked this book was because of the resonance I felt to it.
[My full review for Annie On My Mind can be found: HERE]