Tag Archive | James Michener

“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


“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 Oregon Trail: A New American Journey’ By Rinker Buck — Interesting, But Not As Compelling As I Had Hoped.

by Anura Guruge


Click to access Amazon book listing.


I had seen this book at a bookstore during our trip to ‘Moosehead Lake‘, Maine in April, but bought it, used, from Amazon as is my wont with books like this.

The ‘Oregon Trail’ and all stories of the 19th century Western migration intrigues I mainly because I was lucky enough to have read a few very compelling books on the topic, ket among them: James Michener’sCentennial‘, Irvin Stone’s mesmerizing ‘Men to Match My Mountains‘ and J.S. Holliday’s ‘The World Rushed In‘.

Well, I am glad I read this book. I learnt a LOT, about the history of the trail, about mules (that I knew next to nothing about), the seemingly incredible ‘Buck’ family and some American history. Given that I am a history buff (in my old age) this book had some wonderful information and insights.

But, this book left me ‘hungry’ — and a lot of that, quite literally, was because Rinker was so stingy with his details of how and what they ate! I kid you not. I was hoping that this would be more of a trail diary — maybe a journal. Lots of stuff, on a daily basis, about what they did, what they saw, how they got from A-to-B, what they ATE, where they slept etc. Well, there isn’t that much of it as I would have liked. That was the let down. It was also sparse on the exact route they took — whether they were on main roads, back country roads, dirt roads etc. I got two maps (below) to try and and follow the trail. I also used Google Maps.

It was OK. Obviously it was a bestseller. So, he obviously hit on the right formula. Good for him.

Yes, I will recommend it with a slight hesitation. Do what I did. Pick up a used copy. That way you won’t feel as bad if you felt let down by the entire trip narrative. SMILE.



 

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by Anura Guruge


‘Secret Lives Of Bees’ By Sue Monk Kidd — A Strangely Alluring & Satisfying Book.

by Anura Guruge



Don’t make fun of me for recommending a book that was published in 2003. Sorry. I very rarely read a book as soon as it is published — ‘The Da Vinci Code’ the one exception I can remember.

We appeared to have picked up a copy of this alluring book at our local ‘Swap Shop‘ where you can invariably find a good book or two. I think it had been languishing around the house for some time. Having read ‘Hawaii‘, ‘Miracle in Seville‘, ‘The Covenant‘ & ‘ Tales of the South Pacific‘ within the space of 10-months I needed a break from Michener. I saw the book, liked the title and started reading it.

Yes, of course, millions have obviously raved about this book ahead of I. The cover itself has the splash banner that says ‘A New York Times Bestseller‘.

To I it was a less intense version of “To Kill A Mockingbird“! Set slightly later in the South but a story that revolves around the racial inequality and tension of pre-Civil Rights USA. Very cleverly done. Kind of disappointing to learn that it is all fiction. It definitely feels very real.

You want to know what happens next. As such it is quite the page turner. Yes, there is some ‘fluff’, but that is ‘OK’. I assume it was meant primarily for a female audience. That bothers me none. I enjoyed it. I have some familiarity of Black Madonna worship around the world. So, I enjoyed that aspect.

They have made a movie of the book. I watched the trailer. Hhmm. Some actresses from “Hidden Figures” a movie that I have already watched twice. But, from the little I saw, it didn’t seem to jive with the book. So, I am not going to rush into watching it.

Highly recommended. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and read it.


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by Anura Guruge


James A. Michener, Based On His ‘Tales of the South Pacific’, Might Have Been A Closet Racist!

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE.



Do not get me wrong. I am a HUGE fan of James A. Michener, as the photo below of my little ‘shrine’ to him in my library amply testifies. Also, if you do a SEARCH of this Blog (using the included SEARCH feature) of ‘Michener‘ you will see that I rave about him.

I know he was a good man, had a good heart and was a true philanthropist.

But, I finished reading his acclaimed, award-winning ‘Tales of the South Pacific‘ (1947) and I was NOT impressed. There were parts in it which were very disturbing. Yes, I appreciate that he wrote per 1946 standards BUT his tone and timbre when he deals with non-whites is patently wrong and offensive.

He repeatedly calls Polynesians and Chinese SAVAGES. I show but three examples above. There are more. Go to Amazon and use the electronic ‘Look Inside‘ feature. You can search for words with that. Type in ‘savages’.

You could NOT get away with that today.

Polynesians and Chinese?

Yes, that I am Asian probably makes me a tad more sensitive than others.

I like Polynesians and Chinese. They are NOT savages.

He also is very dismissive of American blacks in the forces. YIKES.

I also question his sexual-orientation. He comes across as ‘not that partial to women‘. Yes, I know he was thrice married and his last wife was Japanese. But, he was more than happy to leave his first wife for long periods of time and he was childless. Hhhmmm.

I was looking forward to reading this book. I had just finished ‘The Covenant‘. Yes, there were bits in there that raised my eyebrows and hackles, but nothing like what I encountered, alas, with ‘Tales of the South Pacific’.


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


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by Anura Guruge


James Michener Accuses Us Singhalse Of Being Renowned International Thieves As Way Back As 1820!

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE.

This will be around page 369 of “The Covenant” depending on which version you have. It is at the end of the long, pivotal chapter, titled “The Missionary”.


Click for Amazon listing for the book.


Yes, I am wading through the 1,000+ page ‘The Covenant‘ by James Michener with my usual enthusiasm for Michener’s writing. I learn so much from Michener that I have no choice but to forgive him his occasional fobile. Indubitably, I think the world of him. How I wish I could be 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000 of the writer he was.

But, James confounds me every once in awhile and he takes my breath away.

This statement, that us, the Singhalese (and I spell it without the ‘g’) are well known thieves caught me by surprise. And way back in the 1820s.

We have many shortcomings but thieving isn’t high among them — I think.

Of course, we have thievery BUT I had never thought it was anywhere beyond average.

James has a thing about Ceylon.

He, extensively travelled, must have visited Ceylon at some stage. He mentions Ceylon often,

But, I am not sure about this reference.

Not a big deal. Just amusing. He might even be WRONG!


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


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by Anura Guruge


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