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“Away” By Amy Bloom — Quite The Remarkable Story, Impeccably Told With Touches Of John Irving.

by Anura Guruge


Click to access the Amazon listing for this book.


Second book, back-to-back (the other having been the haunting “Doctor’s Wife“) that I have read on the wife’s recommendation. She, however, said it would be a ‘quick read‘. It was NOT and I am glad of that. I like to savor books, reading sentences over-and-over again, to appreciate their structure and admire the intellect it took to compose it in the way it was. I am always in awe of good writers — totally humbled by the great. I was not familiar with ‘Amy Bloom‘ BUT I am willing to rate her alongside my IDOL John Irving. Higher praise cannot spring from my fingers.

Quite the story.

So, why does she bring to mind the legendary John Irving. The research she has done, and what she then share with you about a plethora of esoteric topics from 1920s matinee idols on ‘Broadway’ to zionist paradise camps in Siberia. I learnt a LOT from this book. Kind of a crazy coincidence. I had just finished reading ‘Journey‘, by James Michener, a few weeks before I started this book. That book was all about a journey to ‘Dawson’ (just across the border from Alaska on the Canadian side) and ‘Dawson’ was also a key destination in this book! That was neat. I already knew a fair amount Dawson from the first book which added to my delight in reading about it again.

Yes, this book, like nearly all, have a few paragraphs that drive you to distractions. But, that is OK. Small price to pay for the rest which, by and large, is exquisite.

Real good read. You will enjoy it. IF you let it, it will educate you on numerous arcane topics.


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by Anura Guruge


STILL Cracks Me Up When I Get A Royalty Cheque For TECHNOLOGY Books I Wrote 16 Years Ago!

by Anura Guruge


The statement always come in September and the payment hits the bank at the end of the month.

This year it was 1/4 of what it was last year, BUT it is still enough to guy me a gallon of red wine and I am cool with that.

This was a ‘Web Service’ book I wrote and published in 2003 — 16-years ago!

Click to ENLARGE.


This was last year.

Click to ENLARGE.



If these were NOT technology books it wouldn’t crack me up at all. But, these are books that are now 60% out-of-date! Yes, some of the basic principles will still be the same but a lot of water flows under the bridge over the course of 15-years when it comes to technology.

These books have a ‘Look Inside‘ capability and people can return them. That I am still getting royalties mean that people must still find some value in them. That pleases me. These were good books when I wrote them.

I also got pretty decent advances on each of the books. So, I am pleased. I am smiling.

SMILE.


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by Anura Guruge

“The Doctor’s Wife” By Elizabeth Brundage — Wow, Quite The Story; Would Make A Gripping Movie.

by Anura Guruge


Click to access the Amazon listing for this book.


Quite the book. Quite the story. I just checked IMDb.com. I can’t find a movie of this book. That is pretty amazing. IF a book was made to be a hit as a movie it has to be this. C’est la vie. Maybe it is still in the making.

It is an ‘old’ book. It had come out in 2005. Deanna had picked it up at our ‘Swap Shop‘. I heard so much about it while she was reading it that I too had to read it.

Very topical. Very powerful. Does make you think and wonder.

She is an incredibly gifted writer. No denying that. She had me in AWE with her writing. I was, thus, amused to see that she won a ‘James Michener‘ award. So, she has to be good.

I will confess that the book was amazingly two-paced — maybe, very intentionally. The first & last chapter are classic page-turners. You can’t wait to see what the next sentence holds. But, parts of the middle were hard going — possibly even a tad boring.

But, definitely a book to read. I might even order one of her others. I am glad I serendipitously stumbled across her.


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by Anura Guruge


‘Journey’ By James A. Michener — Strangely Unsatisfying, Didn’t Read Like A ‘Michener’.

by Anura Guruge


Click to access Amazon listing.


No, it wasn’t because it was atypically short for a Michener. It is true that the paperback, in its entirety, is under 190-pages!

But, I have read another short Michener: ‘Miracle in Seville‘. That was different.

During much of this book I was convinced that he had NOT written it. That he had just lent his name to it so that the publisher could make a quick buck. But, curiously, this book, as its last chapter per se, contains a lengthy stream of consciousness from Michener talking about how this book came to be. The story was culled from his ‘1,000-page’ ‘Alaska‘. It, set 99% in Canada, was out-of-place in that novel and they were trying to keep it from getting too long. So, they took this tale out of that book and eventually Michener got around the publishing it as a standalone.

Maybe that is why it reads strange. In parts he seems rushed. The story is not very well developed. It feels sloppy.

Yes, great characters and you can really relate to them — especially if you, like I, are British. But, in the end I was left unsatisfied, unfulfilled. Like they say about Chinese. In the end you didn’t feel full.

Not a Michener I would recommend. I have just ordered Alaska in paperback.

Maybe I have read too much Michener. This was the 5th Michener in the last 18-months — and they included ‘Hawaii’, ‘The Covenant‘ & ‘Tales of the South Pacific‘. That is a lot of words from the same person.

It will be a couple of weeks before I pick up ‘Alaska’.


The ‘Michener Corner’ in my study.
Separate from all the other books.


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by Anura Guruge


‘The Book Of Air And Shadows’ By Michael Gruber — Best Imitation Of ‘The Da Vinci Code’?

by Anura Guruge



Click image to access the Amazon listing.


Quite the book, and quite the story. Incredibly clever, with twists within twists and a level of detail about so many diverse topics that leaves one in awe. I have never heard of Michael Gruber before but I have to acknowledge that he is one heck of a storyteller, writer and intellectual. Bravo. The sheer detail he just throws into the story reminded me, more than once, og one of my favorite authors, the incomparably brilliant, John Irving. That said, this book, intentionally or not, is very much ‘The Da Vinci Code‘ redux. Nothing wrong with that. I know that many have tried, but Gruber does a great job getting close.

Is it as good as ‘The Code’? Maybe not — but Dan Brown had a even more compelling and intriguing subject to base his story than William Shakespeare.

To be honest parts of the story and plot are too far-fetched, trite and totally implausible. Life is never that pat, neat or tidy. But, others parts make up for this failure.

I was surprised at how harsh some of the Amazon reviews were. I really don’t think it was that bad. Actually, it is a GOOD book. I already gave it to an English scholar and told her that she will enjoy it. Plus, I am, of course, recommending it here! And even that seems unnecessary. It was, as it says on the cover, a ‘New York Times Bestseller’. So, it sure doesn’t need my imprimatur.

If you enjoyed ‘The Code’ you should give this a try. I doubt whether you will totally regret it. A tad hard to get through the first chapter, BUT then it gets more compelling and towards the end it is indeed a page-turner.


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by Anura Guruge


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