Welcome to my Inner World. I am a French self-taught artist, and these past twenty years I have made Norway my home. Moving to the Lofoten islands was the greatest present I ever made to myself and the Arctic landscapes are indeed a true treat for any artist’s eyes. I live with my British soulmate,… Continue Reading
Yann Martel’s imaginative and unforgettable Life of Pi is a magical reading experience, an endless blue expanse of storytelling about adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting “religions the way a dog attracts fleas.” Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family and their menagerie and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26-foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker (“His head was the size and color of the lifebuoy, with teeth”). It sounds like a colorful setup, but these wild beasts don’t burst into song as if co-starring in an anthropomorphized Disney feature. After much gore and infighting, Pi and Richard Parker remain the boat’s sole passengers, drifting for 227 days through shark-infested waters while fighting hunger, the elements, and an overactive imagination. In rich, hallucinatory passages, Pi recounts the harrowing journey as the days blur together, elegantly cataloging the endless passage of time and his struggles to survive: “It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I’ve made none the champion.”
An award winner in Canada (and winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize), Life of Pi, Yann Martel’s second novel, should prove to be a breakout book in the U.S. At one point in his journey, Pi recounts, “My greatest wish–other than salvation–was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One that I could read again and again, with new eyes and fresh understanding each time.” It’s safe to say that the fabulous, fablelike Life of Pi is such a book. –Brad Thomas Parsons —
Bad things come in threes for Toru Okada. He loses his job, his cat disappears, and then his wife fails to return from work. His search for his wife (and his cat) introduces him to a bizarre collection of characters, including two psychic sisters, a possibly unbalanced teenager, an old soldier who witnessed the massacres on the Chinese mainland at the beginning of the Second World War, and a very shady politician.
Haruki Murakami is a master of subtly disturbing prose. Mundane events throb with menace, while the bizarre is accepted without comment. Meaning always seems to be just out of reach, for the reader as well as for the characters, yet one is drawn inexorably into a mystery that may have no solution. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is an extended meditation on themes that appear throughout Murakami’s earlier work. The tropes of popular culture, movies, music, detective stories, combine to create a work that explores both the surface and the hidden depths of Japanese society at the end of the 20th century.
If it were possible to isolate one theme in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, that theme would be responsibility. The atrocities committed by the Japanese army in China keep rising to the surface like a repressed memory, and Toru Okada himself is compelled by events to take responsibility for his actions and struggle with his essentially passive nature. If Toru is supposed to be a Japanese Everyman, steeped as he is in Western popular culture and ignorant of the secret history of his own nation, this novel paints a bleak picture. Like the winding up of the titular bird, Murakami slowly twists the gossamer threads of his story into something of considerable weight. –Simon Leake —
The Atlantic Monthly, Phoebe-Lou Adams
Mr. Murakami’s long and devious novel opens in a resolutely mundane way, with the narrator cooking spaghetti. The significant items in the ensuing phantasmagoria soon appear, however–a dry well, a house abandoned because of a series of tragedies, a so-called alley blocked at both ends, the statue of a bird looking sadly unable to fly, and the unidentified wind-up bird that creaks invisibly in a nearby tree. “Wind-up” can mean either an end or a preparation for action. Whether his target is Japan or the world, Mr. Murakami’s work sums up a bad century and envisions an uncertain future. His protagonist is a harmless fellow who merely wants to recover his cat and his wife. The troubles, real and delusional, that he encounters can be seen as extravagant metaphors for every ill from personal isolation to mass murder. The novel is a deliberately confusing, illogical image of a confusing, illogical world. It is not easy reading, but it is never less than absorbing.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, master paper engineer Robert Sabuda has created a pop-up version of Dorothy’s adventures in Oz that fans will find hard to resist. Modeling his depictions of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the rest after W. W. Denslow’s original art, Sabuda adds a third dimension that would have rocked Denslow’s–and Baum’s–world. A rapidly spinning cyclone actually casts a breeze over the startled reader’s face. Glorious red poppies wave seductively in a field. And the Emerald City positively glitters with green, especially when young readers try on the special tinted “Spectacles for You” provided in a pocket on the page. The abridged text, provided in minibooklets set onto each page, covers enough basics for the Oz novice, but we recommend a read-aloud of the original, as well, for all the glory and detail of Baum’s fantastic tale. Sabuda’s homage to the classic is truly spectacular; even purists will gasp in delight at the sight of the humbug wizard floating away in his shiny green, gold, and blue hot-air balloon. This great introduction to the story of Oz doubles as a fun collector’s item.
From Library Journal
When Maggie discovers a witch’s diary and herbal compendium hidden in the old fireplace of her house, she becomes the recipient of occult knowledge that leads her to a place of decision and gives her the power to harm or heal the family she loves. The author of The Tooth Fairy tells his eerie tale in language devoid of frills and sensationalism, creating suspense and dread within the normality of everyday life.