Wednesday, December 31, 2014
The Moonlight Palace is narrated by a teenager by the name of Agnes "Aggie" Hussein. Aggie lives in Singapore in the 1920's in a dilapidated palace called the Kampong Glam. The Hussein family was once a kind of royalty and the palace was once an opulent relic handed to her family in exchange for the family handing Singapore over to the British. Now the family lives in poverty, the palace is in ruins, and Aggie is facing the very real possibility that she may lose her family home; a home that is ingrained in her blood.
Monday, December 22, 2014
The narrator of the story is Kurt Vonnegut, he doesn't call himself Kurt Vonnegut, but after listening to an interview with him, I can say with authority that the narrator is a man writing a story about a man writing a story about the WWII massacre at Dresden (very postmodern meta-fiction). The frame story is told in first person perspective and introduces us to the historical event that was the fire bombing of Dresden, Germany. The narrator/Vonnegut talks about how hard it has been to write a story about Dresden, "because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre." So what follows is Vonnegut's disjointed tale of Billy Pilgrim that doesn't feel disjointed at all, but rather a well composed and complete story that isn't told in chronological order. You have to be a really good writer to pull off this kind of story telling and make your reader feel like the story couldn't have been told any other way, despite the absurdity of it all.
Monday, December 15, 2014
The Paying Guests takes place in London in 1922. Anything written between 1900-1945 already has my attention because I'm fascinated by this time in History. London is still in tatters after the first World War, veterans are broken men with menial prospects, and once prominent families face the reality of their wavering wealth. Frances Wray lives in the upper-class neighborhood of Champion Hill, only with the loss of her two brothers in the war and her father to bad health, she and her mother are left with a large old house they can't afford and a former lifestyle they can't maintain. The Wrays lost their wealth due to bad investments and now must take on "paying guests" to stay afloat.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Strayed took to the trail during the great meltdown of her life. Her mother died from cancer at the age of 45 which sent her into a grief driven downward spiral resulting in cheating on her husband, a heartbreaking divorce and a heroin addiction. All of this is revealed to the reader in flashbacks as Strayed makes progress on the trail. Strayed's prose is deliberate and clear, which makes following this clueless 26-year-old on a dangerous solo journey through the pacific wilderness a little less infuriating than if she attempted to sugar coat all of her reckless decisions.