Friday, June 26, 2009

What I Just Read: The Painted Bird

Thanks to two 4+ hour bus rides and 2 hours to myself in Central Park I finished this book in one day, the actual finishing happened somewhere in Central Connecticut on a dimly lit bus.

The Painted Bird
by Jerzy Kosinski is a story of a young boy, who through his parent-less wanderings through Eastern Europe witnesses and befalls unspeakable (though not to him) attrocities at the hands of the local village populations. Reminded me a lot of Night by Elie Wiesel (in the fact that it was a story about the atrocities of WWII through the eyes of a child).

The stories in the painted bird are meant to be shocking and gut wrenching but to me his words had very little effect on me. The scenes he depicts were just that to me, scenes. I do not disagree that rapings, beatings and torture are horrific and indefensible acts but having not felt any of the effects of such actions. I think that may have been why I was surprised, partially due to Katy's reaction to the book, at how it was not as graphic as I thought it would be.

On the whole I enjoyed the book, in large part to the changes in the main characters thought process through out the book. Much like A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah who reflects on the mental toll that war and soldiering during his childhood had on him the painted bird talks about how adult events such as war, sex and torture are damaging to children.

To put it bluntly the design of this book is terrible in almost every way possible. For starters orange, purple and gray are not colors that work well together, and when you lay them on top of one another they really hurt the eyes.

The bird on the cover looks like someone used MS Paint (ha Painted Bird get it?) to put it on there. As a matter of fact this whole cover looks like it was put together in MS Paint by an Elementary School kid. The fact that it was made some time in the 60's or 70's is no excuse they should have updated it by now.

On the inside the words are smooshed together while leaving an inch for the margins. My question is why not give more spacing for the words or make the book smaller as a whole?

Next up is Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk. Last time I came in contact with something associated with Mr. Palahniuk was Fight Club (the movie not the book), just as the title credits were beginning I was told the whole plot of the movie. Now as a warning, if you know what happens in this book and you somehow bring it to my attention before I finish, I will kill you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I Just Read: An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England

Winner of the longest title of the year award.

Seeing as how I no longer have to write silly English papers and I am no longer required to know Spanish I thought I might read a few things of my choosing. That is of course until I start school again on Monday which includes Logic and The History of Boston, which may prove to be some interesting reading in itself. To the book!

An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England is one of the books that you are on the fence about until you come to the climatic scene and then the book is abruptly over. For the majority of the book I found myself struggling to pay attention and wanting to jump over paragraphs the author dedicated to stories the main character thought were the life stories of total stranger. While some were incredibly entertaining others were woefully drawn out and were simply delaying the inevitable ending of the book.

The book reminded me of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in the way that narrator is very simple minded and the reader tends to understand what is going on before the narrator does. The problem is in Loud & Close the narrator is a child and in Arsonist's he is a grown man, or as the narrator likes to say a grown ass man.

Good book, with a different take it could have been great. Not a must read but a good one no less.

I like the cover, for one it takes balls to go with an orange cover ( I would say as much balls as it took for me to wear a bright orange shirt to school once a week in 8th grade but I think that was more stupidity than anything else) and second the burning lady (not once, not twice but three times) was a nice touch. What I didn't like is the lighter orange around the title letters, too far man.

After much internal deliberation I have decided to forgo Daniel's favorite author Murakami and the beautiful looking Lullaby by Palahniuk for now in lieu of the more jarring book The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski. As I understand it is very doable and desirable to read in a day; and seeing as how I have about 6 hours of bus riding tomorrow (to and from NYC) I like those qualities.