Friday, January 27, 2012

A random stream of consciousness book review. Just because.

The book isn't stream of consciousness; my review is :) Book to be discussed:

In case you don't know this about me, I am a complete book nerd. I read multiple books at a time, and while I try to seek out new works, I've always been much more into the classics and pretty much anything from the 1930's and 40's. I find it really rare that something published in the last 15-20 years keeps me satisfied as much as an older work does, so when I discovered Mark Helprin's works I was very pleasantly shocked and thrilled. I first read (and promptly re-read) 'Winter's Tale', which floored me I fell so in love with it. I hate to even try to review it; suffice it to say it's a vast and intertwining love story about New York City, and that I recommend it more than highly.

So then I sought out 'A Soldier of the Great War'. I won't go totally English major on you, but I just finished this book, and I have to say that Helprin is now firmly cemented as my favorite modern day author. I see his 'Winter's Tale' as astoundingly well-written and surreal and moving, but if you aren't into something quite so intense, you should definitely read 'Soldier'. It's not as staggeringly beautiful as 'Winter's Tale'; it's much more accessible and easy to read and has a fairly simple and fun-to-follow plot that keeps you really engaged. While I'm big on the overwrought (well, what some people would call overwrought but I call wonderful) language and descriptors of 'Winter's Tale', it's clear why 'Soldier' was more widely embraced. It still reads like a canonical tome but is also a basic survival/love/how humans approach the concept of living tale. Plus, as you can tell from 'Winter's' if you've read it, Helpin's a hell of a knowledgable guy about pretty much everything, and the detailed scenes in 'Soldier' of war in the trenches, Italian politics, rock climbing, etc. paired with his poetic (or, rather, 'prosetic') musings on mortality and family are told so easily and naturally that Helprin's genius as an author is stupidly unequivocal. Add to that that he adds in moments of hilarity, most notably when the protagonist is trying to explain orgasms to a young, uneducated factory worker, and the book really does keep you continuously engaged and on your toes. If you read it, let me know; there's one scene that I won't ruin for you that made me gasp aloud it was so gorgeous and heartwrenching. I haven't had that happen since I read Djuna Barnes's 'Nightwood' in 2007, and it's one of the best feelings in the world.

On that delicious note, have a glorious weekend!

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