Saturday, August 31, 2013

“Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn – The Core Problems of Humanity

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (Book cover)
An ad is placed in the paper, telling only of a teacher seeking pupils. A disillusioned writer applies, only to come face to face with a surrealistic creature in the shape of a gorilla, named Ishmael. The book itself, also titled Ishmael, written by Daniel Quinn, is the story of how the writer and the gorilla telepathically debate through a philosophical dialog on various aspects, morals, actions, events and beliefs of human history, trying to get at the core of our problems, and how we may yet salvage ourselves.

Much of the book is modelled after Plato’s Republic, and virtually all the dialog between the two protagonists is philosophical in nature. Though there are various oversimplifications which make me raise my eyebrows, many of the thoughts are quite sound and definitely thought-provoking.

Just to give you an idea of what is discussed, they start at the very beginning, the creation of time itself, and they go on through the centuries, analyzing the most notable and peculiar events and actions to have happened through human history. They use those analyses as basis for their search for the real problems which lie at the core of modern humanity, such as our constant lust for war, power, control and conquest. They try to trace the problems all the way back to their roots, sometimes even going back to biblical times.

Friday, August 30, 2013

“A Tap on the Window” by Linwood Barclay – Weaver of Fates

A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay – book cover
A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay is what I like to refer to as a good old detective murder mystery; the author doesn’t try any fancy tricks, and rather delivers us a compelling story with plenty enough twists and turns to keep us guessing.

Just to give you a run-down of the plot, it follows private investigator Cal Weaver as one night he picks up a hitchhiking teenage girl, Claire Saunders. Unfortunately, he becomes drawn deep into Claire’s life, and on the next day finds himself as the number one suspect for the murder of Claire’s friend. From there on out, Weaver starts to unravel the dark side of this seemingly idyllic little town while searching for Claire in hopes of clearing himself and finally getting some answers.

As mentioned in the beginning, the plot is on the simple side, though that doesn’t take anything away from it. It is quite easy to follow, and even experienced mystery readers will find some of the twists surprising and hard to predict. Though at first things may seem confusing as we are fed seemingly unrelated pieces of the whole puzzle, as the story goes on the plot makes more and more sense, culminating in a memorable climax where all is revealed.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison – Slaved by Ghosts

Beloved by Toni Morrison – book cover
The hardships slaves encountered during their captivity are relatively well documented, and there are plenty of different books and novels detailing them. However, very few of them have actually gone to explore the lives slaves led after being freed and the kinds of obstacles they had to face when gifted with liberty. In Beloved by Toni Morrison, we are treated to such a story as we make the acquaintance of Sethe, a former slave of the Sweet Home farm who has been free for more than eighteen years now. However, her life is far from being in order as she is still haunted by ghosts, both figurative and literal ones. The memories of all the atrocities committed at the farm never leave her mind, in addition to which the ghost of her dead and nameless baby haunts her home, breaking mirrors and leaving prints in cake icing.

The story is told through numerous flashbacks that are out of order, giving the reader bits and details into Sethe’s life and the torments she had to go through while living on that farm. Morrison’s way of charming the English language actually elevates that technique to another level, gifting us with one breath-taking image after the next.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell – The Cycle of Revolutions

Animal Farm” by George Orwell (Book Cover)
Animal Farm by George Orwell is without question one of the most influential and celebrated novels of the 20th century, and though many people rightfully claim that it serves as an analogy to the Russian revolution of 1917, I believe that it is about the process of revolutions in general.

Just to give those who haven’t heard about it a little heads up, the story takes place on a farm where the animals have managed to overthrow their human overlord and have taken up charge, putting their own system in place. Though at first everything works well, slowly but surely the pigs, who believe themselves more intelligent, let the power of being in charge get to them, giving in to greed, violence and gluttony, leaving all the other animals under the same conditions, or perhaps even worse ones than the humans bestowed upon them. I have to say before going on, Orwell’s Animal Farm is without a doubt one of my favorite books of all time, for it perfectly illustrates humanity’s naivety in regards to change. All too often we hear that things will be better once someone else is in charge, but the truth is that ruling over a farm, city or even country is a process which eventually sends one rolling downhill. When the power is transferred to someone new, everyone is excited at all the possible prospects.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

“The Synchronicity Key” by David Wilcock – Is there a Cycle?

The Synchronicity Key by David Wilcock book review
Perhaps we will never figure out how this universe works and what precisely, if anything at all, governs over our fates, but we certainly have a lot of time left to figure things out, and David Wilcock has attempted to take us one step closer to the truth with the help of his book titled The Synchronicity Key.

Now, before getting into the book, I believe it is important for you to know who David Wilcock is. Though most people dismiss him as a fringe scientist, the truth is that even though he does quite often stray from mainstream science to explore other possibilities, he only uses rock-solid proof to make his theories. In other words, he explores the various aspects of the universe few other choose to delve in through the meticulous lens of modern science.

In any case, The Synchronicity Key is basically an exploration of a concept most would refer to as universal architecture. Wilcock puts all of his knowledge to use in an attempt to find and expose the “hidden architecture” according to which the world works. Using plenty of disciplines and concepts including astrology, history, fractals, quantum physics, spiritual geometry, the synchronicity theory and various scientific studies, Wilcock attempts to demonstrate that the architecture does indeed exist, and it has caused events to repeat themselves in a cyclic manner over the course of time.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty – Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Cecilia Fitzpatrick is living a relatively normal life, having three charming daughters, a husband with whom she has been living for fifteen years, and being the P&C President of a very successful Tupperware company. One day though, she stumbles upon a post-mortem letter written by her husband over fifteen years ago, right after the birth of their first child, and its contents turn her world upside down. Tess is the second protagonist of the story, and her life is in even greater turmoil as she tries to find refuge in her childhood home once her husband confesses that he is in love with her cousin, business partner and best friend. The last protagonist of the story, Rachel, is haunted by the murder of her teenage daughter around twenty years ago, and with her family moving away to New York, she decides to get in touch once again with the man she believes to be her daughter’s killer, a regular school secretary.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty is certainly a very ambitious novel, bringing to us three dark stories which, as the story progresses, grow closer and closer. At first, what relates the three women isn’t necessarily apparent, but the letter written by the first husband, Jon-Paul, ends up being the catalyst that brings their lives together. This makes for a very exciting book where there is seldom a dull moment, whether we are taken into the crumbling mind of Tess or are trying to find a killer as Rachel.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 17

Greetings to all, and welcome back for this seventeenth edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature. Once again, I have taken the time to gather some of the news from the book world which I found to be most noteworthy of our attention, and so we will be taking a look at a strange case of book-related bullying, seven science-fiction hoaxes people thought to be real, and more information into the strange life of George Orwell through newly-discovered letters.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

“The Source Field Investigations” by David Wilcock – Fringe Science Proven

The Source Field Investigations by David Wilcock - book cover
In the scientific world there are two main flow courses: there is mainstream science, and there is fringe science. What differentiates the two is that it is believed that mainstream science is more grounded in facts and reality while fringe science is about the exploration of the wilder theories about this universe. For this reason, many do not take fringe science seriously, but the way I see it, The Source Field Investigations by David Wilcock will change all of that.

In his book, David Wilcock (who also had a great appearance on Ancient Aliens) basically puts together all the research he has done for the past decades, exploring practically every concept and idea classified as fringe science he could get his hands on.

Amongst other things, he examines the possibility of the universe being a living and intelligent thing, there being a greater kind of force governing us, ancient conspiracies, spiritual evolution, and much more. He look at all the unanswered questions and possibilities that have been keeping humanity busy for the last centuries, trying to find an explanation for everything.

Friday, August 23, 2013

“Night Film” by Marisha Pessl – Silver Screen Murder

Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Book cover)
Stanislas Cordova is one of the most revered underground movie directors of all time, seeing most of his movies banned from the theaters for their psychologically-disturbing subjects and depictions. One day, his daughter is found murdered, but it seems as if very few are actually giving a damn about it.

And so, a formerly-disgraced journalist, Scott McGrath, becomes a sleuth and launches himself into an amateur investigation into the fate of the daughter, alongside his two sidekicks, Nora and Hopper. Their quest for the truth will take from the dark and unknown reaches of the internet, through the surrealistic and secret world of Cordova himself, all the way to the occult.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl is far from being your run-of-the-mill murder mystery, and one of the main reasons for that is the inclusion of various multimedia elements to it. For instance, we are, from time to time, presented with pictures originating from various websites, notes found by McGrath during his investigation, transcripts, receipts, photographs, not to mention that Ashley Cordova, the daughter, is represented by an actual model. This makes the book feel much more interactive, as you are given the opportunity to examine the evidence with your own eyes rather than imagine it, giving you the impression of being the detective yourself.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty – The Bliss of Forgetfulness

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (Book cover)Alice love is a bright and young woman whose entire life is full of potential and still ahead of her; she is madly in love with her husband and her first child is already on the way. Fast forward to some years later, and Alice, now thirty-nine years of age, comes to the realization that she got dumped off the gravy train a while ago; she has three children, is headed for a divorce, her sister barely speaks to her at all, and above all, she cannot recognize herself anymore.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty is about Alice’s attempt to reconstruct the events which transpired in the past ten years of her life in order to not only understand why things got the point where they are, but whether or not she can actually start everything over in hopes of a brighter future. As the title of the book points it out, Alice isn’t just having some kind of realization… she literally forgot all that happened in the past ten years. She still remembers herself as that happy 29 year-old, with no recollection of having her other two children, being on bad terms with her husband or her sister. Moriarty does a very good job at making us feel Alice’s anxiety and horror when she makes all of those realizations, filling the beginning of the book with mostly sadness and despair.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

“The Girl You Left Behind” by Jojo Moyes – Partners through Centuries

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes - book cover
The year is 1916, and Sophie must contend with her husband departing for the French front of WWI, leaving nothing but a portrait of her he painted before becoming a soldier. As fate would have it, the little town Sophie lives in falls to the Germans, and her beauty sparks her downfall as the local German commander starts eyeing her. Slowly but surely, his obsession with her grows more and more dangerous, to the point where Sophie becomes willing to literally risk it all just to be reunited with her husband once again.

Fast forward to about a hundred years later, that portrait Sophie had with her has been passed down to Liv Halston by her husband right before he died. The quest to find the portrait’s legitimate owner and figure out the story behind it draws Liv and Sophie close together in an unexpected way, putting the former under the ultimate test, forcing her to decide between what she needs and what is right. Jojo Moyes has crafted a somewhat peculiar love story in The Girl You Left Behind, dividing the book in two parts and linking them in a subtle and, as is revealed later, a very powerful way. She found a way to bring together two characters who lived a hundred years apart, showing how slowly and yet thoroughly life can work at times. This is the kind of love story with dark and sometimes even grueling undertones, depicting its characters as being able to achieve a higher spiritual and emotional plane only through hardships few could be subjected to.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

“The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” by Jan-Philipp Sendker – The Cruelty of Love

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker – The Cruelty of Love
Four years ago Julia Win’s father vanished without a trace, barely even leaving any kind of goodbye. Needless to say, Julia wasn’t exactly unfazed by this turn of events, and though time did help some of her wounds to heal, she nevertheless still has trouble coming to terms with her father’s life and decisions.

Upon finding an old letter addressed to a woman in Burma she never even heard of, Julia decides the time has come to track him down and find the truth once and for all. Her quests leads her to the small Burmese town of Kalaw, where she is greeted by an old man who promises to tell her the story of Tin Win, Julia’s father, before he ever managed to come to New York.

As it turned out, Tin’s life was everything but a walk in the park, as he had to go through near-blindness and abandonment before meeting Mi Mi at the age of ten, a girl whose physical affliction (crippled legs) allows the two children to grow closer and develop a bond many will unfortunately never discover in their lifetimes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

“Can You Keep a Secret?” by Sophie Kinsella – The Irony of Fate

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella - book cover
Emma Corrigan is about as normal as a person can be: she has caring parents, a loving boyfriend, a fulfilling career, and countless secrets never meant to be shared with people. These secrets include the replacement of her mother’s goldfish with an imposter, weighing ten more pounds than she claims to, and constantly jamming the printer out of pure spite.

We all have a collection of skeletons in our mental closets, and everything goes well until someone opens the door and they all fall out… metaphorically of course. Such is the path Emily’s life takes, as one day she spills virtually all of her secrets straight into the lap of a handsome stranger on a plane. The only problem is that, as she finds out soon enough, said handsome stranger is actually the CEO of the company she works for, and things only go from bad to worse.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 16

Greetings everyone, and welcome back for the sixteenth edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature. This time around, our weekly dosage of news will come in the form of a look at the winners of the PEN 2013 awards, followed by a glance at a rare first edition children’s book that was auctioned silently, a new piece of evidence which supports the idea that Shakespeare had a hand in writing The Spanish Tragedy, and we will cap things off by looking at some cool works of art put together with books.

Friday, August 16, 2013

“The Liberty Amendments” by Mark R. Levin – Reviving the Constitution

The Liberty Amendments by Mark R. Levin - book cover
Those who have followed the news in regards to American politics over the last few years know about the blatant disregard towards the constitution on numerous occasions as various bills were passed which many thought to be illegally-intrusive on the sovereignty of the state and individual freedom (more precisely, the Patriot and NDAA acts). Fortunately, there are still people out there willing to speak out about this issue, and Mark R. Levin is one of those who went all out, writing a book titled The Liberty Amendments, in which he basically dissects how the constitution was infringed, why we need to restore its authority and edit it up, and how we can really change things to ensure each of us can maintain our individual liberty.

Though there is a bit of fear mongering in this book, I am saddened to say that most of the points discussed by Mark R. Levin were quite true, not to mention very well-argued. Levin doesn’t pull any punches and basically begins by painting for us what he believes to be the real picture of what the United States are like. Supporting his ideas with concrete examples and evidence (for lack of a better word), Levin shows us that respect towards the constitution is nothing but gone, that individual rights are being butchered left and right, and how there is an ever-growing tendency to have one centralized government ruling all the states.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

“How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You” by The Oatmeal and Matthew Inman – The Most Important Survival Guide

How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal and Matthew Inman - book cover
Cats have been venerated on this planet since ancient times, starting with the Egyptians’ obsession with them, even heavily inspiring their deities’ physical appearance off of them. Today, though it may seem like things have changed, those who regularly scour the waves of the Internet know that if anything, our obsession with them has grown far worse than it ever was.

Most video and picture hosting websites are littered with pictures of cats, and fascinatingly, even the most banal pictures manage to attract the attention of countless people. And so, it is with great pleasure that I present you with How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal and Matthew Inman, what can be basically called a survival guide for when the cats finally decide to turn on us collectively.

To get a bit more serious for a second, nearly every page in this book is composed of what we call infographics. For those who don’t know what they are, basically speaking, they are a visual, eye-pleasing and graphics-heavy method for delivering information. As you can guess, in this particular book the graphics and illustrations used are quite silly, and the comedy itself is a bit raunchy, and yet has a certain sense of class to it, never crossing the line.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

“The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey and Robert Barnard (Intro) – 500 Years too Late

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Trey and Robert Barnard (Intro) - book cover
Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant, while being the best, is not spared from the ravages of life, as a broken leg is keeping him away from his duty. Not being the kind of man to lazily stumble around the house all day long, Alan becomes fascinated by Richard III, a feeling reinforced by a modern portrait of the man which goes against all common knowledge, depicting him as an honest, noble and sensitive man.

It doesn’t take much to push Grant to start his own investigation into the murder of the Little Princes in the tower, and even though he may be coming about 500 years late for the job, he is determined to get to the bottom of things and find out what kind of man Richard III truly was. With the help of an American scholar and a British museum, he sets out on an adventure that spans countless years and brings up more questions than answers.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman – Demons of Change

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman book cover
Piper Kerman is a woman with what many would readily describe as a perfect life; a good career, a loving boyfriend and a supportive family. She is a far cry from the woman she was ten years ago, when she delivered a suitcase full of drug money, a crime which has caught up to her, and long story short, it landed her fifteen months in a minimum-security prison. Orange is the New Black is Piper Kerman’s autobiographical account of her experience behind bars, detailing everything from the small daily rituals to the relationships that were forged in what could be referred to as one of the “lighter” circles of hell.

Especially fascinating, in my opinion at least, is the amount of detail Piper puts into all of her descriptions. We get to learn virtually everything about life inside a woman’s prison, or at least the one she was at. We follow her every step as she changes from Piper to inmate #11187-424, learning about how life changes when you need to follow very strict rules, both in regards to the guards and the other inmates. We get to see how prisoners are treated by others, and how they have to adapt to this new lifestyle to preserve their sanity, dignity and integrity.

Monday, August 12, 2013

“Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline – Fate Down to Bad Luck

Orphan Train by Christina Kline Baker - book cover
Molly Ayer is very close to growing out of the foster care system, and to make things worse, the only thing keeping her from ending up in juvenile jail is the community service position she is holding, which consists of cleaning out the house of an old lady. Molly struggles on through her life, feeling as if none truly understand her or are worth the effort to form a relationship with.

However, as she helps Vivian sort through her box of memories, she discovers that in her youth, Vivian was an Irish immigrant who, after becoming orphaned in New York, was put on a train with countless other children, each one with a different fate mostly determined by sheer luck (mostly bad luck, unfortunately). Slowly but surely, the two begin forming an unlikely relationship which strengthens even further when Molly decides to help Vivian find at least a few answers to the many mysteries and questions which have been plaguing her from that time.

As you can guess, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is far from being a fast-paced and action-packed thriller, so readers with shorter attention spans should steer clear of this. On the other hand, what this book does offer is a very uplifting and inspiring tale of strength and endurance in the face of unknown danger and unbeatable odds.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

“Bones are Forever” by Kathy Reichs – Peaceful Canada

Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs (Book cover)
Andrew Ryan is a homicide detective working in Montreal, going through his routine one day at a time. The plot quickly thickens as Ryan is sent to investigate the case of a woman whose nightly visit and sudden disappearance at a Montreal hospital raised some concerns.

Upon following some obvious leads, Ryan makes is way to the woman’s apartment, only to discover two things: that she is known by at least three different, and she has the decomposing bodies of three infants. Shaken by this ghastly discovery, Ryan must work with his counterpart from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Ollie Hasty, and the one crush of his life, Temperance Brennan, racing across Canada all the way into remote diamond-mining territories in search for the horrific answers to the disturbing questions their digging has raised.

Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs certainly takes a turn for the macabre very quickly, and from there on out it seems as if the author prides herself in being able to instill an unnatural fear and discomfort in the reader. The settings feel desolate, grimy and unforgiving, making you forget about the fact that this specific case is only the tip of the iceberg as far as crime is concerned.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 15

Hello everyone, and welcome back once again for the fifteenth edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature, where news, facts and discoveries from the world of literature flow freely as a river.

This time around, we are going to be taking a look into the history behind those simple and enthralling five-line limerick poems, we will take a look at some of the most amazing fictional libraries in this world, and finish things off with a glance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The Origins of the Limerick Poem

Perhaps somewhat in the spirit of haikus, limerick poems are very short and simple, being only five lines long and composed of a couplet and a triplet. In most cases these poems are quite light-hearted and comedic, and as it happens an entire book was actually written on the subject of its fascinating and often misunderstood history.
Book examining the history of ‘limericks’ is launched

"A NEW book focusing on the history of the five-line limerick poem has been launched at the University of Limerick.

Respected local historian Dr Matthew Potter has produced the book - named ‘The Curious Story of the Limerick’. Its launch at the Pavilion in UL formed the centrepiece of the Tailteann Nua Festival. The book looks at the history of the five-line poem, and those who have written them, from its origins in England to the present day.

It also examines where the name ‘limerick’ for the poem comes from. Addressing an audience of more than 100 people, Dr Potter paid tribute to French poet Rolland Pauzin, who helped him create a link with W.B. Yeats and the Limerick.

“It was he who drew my attention to the possibility that W.B. Yeats might have been involved in coining the term ‘limerick’, and I would hope to expand on this. By next year, I would hope to establish beyond doubt how the limerick got its name,” he said.

The most surprising thing about the research project, Dr Potter said, was that William Shakespeare, James Joyce and Rudyard Kipling all used the limerick in their time.

Read full article: Limerick Leader (Limerick's Newspaper since 1889) - Book examining the history of ‘limericks’ is launched

Book examining the history of ‘limericks’ is launched
Dr Michael Potter, author of the book The Curious Story of the Limerick and Mayor Kathleen Leddin 

Libraries from the Virtual World

Though the real world may be full of impressive and breathtaking libraries, the virtual world of movies, cartoons and television shows also has its fair share of literature to offer, and so the people at Paste magazine have actually compiled a list of the best fictional libraries, amongst which are included the library from the Harry Potter series as well as the famous one from Clue.
12 Best Fictional Libraries

"There are few things more relaxing than immersing yourself in a good book. Maybe it’s a rainy day, maybe you’ve finally got got your hands on the newest J.K. Rowling novel or maybe you’re just re-reading an old favorite. Either way, to ensure optimum mental health it’s important to unplug and appreciate the written word once in awhile. And the perfect reading spot? The library, of course.

Not only do libraries offer a wealth of reading material, but they also provide a quiet, distraction-free reading zone. While there are certainly some impressive real-life libraries, few match the ambiance of these incredible and iconic fictional ones. To get everyone’s reading-juices flowing, we’ve compiled a list of 12 of our favorites.

Read full article: Paste magazine - 12 Best Fictional Libraries

The Library from Doctor Who

The Library from Clue

The World’s Reading Festival

Thirty years ago the Edinburgh Book Festival made its debut, and the festival, which runs until August 26th, will put on display more than 800 authors over the course of 700 different events, celebrating three decades of international literature exposition, one of the very few of its kind.
Edinburgh International Book festival celebrates 30 years

"The Edinburgh Book Festival, which is celebrating 30 years, is the "largest and best-respected literary festival in the world", according to its director. Nick Barley said the festival, which runs until 26 August, was "more popular than ever" and tickets sales had been "extremely positive". More than 800 authors from around the world will take part in 700 events during the festival. All the events take place in the city's Charlotte Square Gardens.

Mr Barley, who has been the festival's director for four years, said its continued success was a "testament to his predecessors".

Jenny Brown, the festival's first director, back in 1983, said there was nothing like it in Scotland at the time, and in fact there were only two other similar events in the UK. Now there are more than 300.

She said: "It was conceived of as being a big, one-off celebration of books and the written word at the Edinburgh Festival, which had every other art form represented but nothing on literature.

"To our astonishment we had a brilliant programme, with people like John Updike and Anthony Burgess, and the public loved it."

Mr Barley said there had been an "explosion of literary talent" in Scotland over the past 30 years.

Read full article: BBC - Edinburgh International Book festival celebrates 30 years

The first Edinburgh Book Festival was held in 1983

And so comes to an end the 15th edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature, and I truly hope that you enjoyed yourselves reading it as much as I did writing it, whether you were genuinely curious about where limerick poems came from or had no idea about Edinburgh’s celebrated festival.

I will hopefully see you again next week with more interesting bits and pieces of information from the world of literature which caught my eyes. Until then, happy reading everyone!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

“The Night in Lisbon” by Erich Maria Remarque – The Refugee’s Perspective

The Night in Lisbon by Erich Maria Remarque - book cover
When stories revolving around the Second World War are written, for the most part they are told from the perspective of either soldiers or politicians. However, it seems as if many forget about the refugees, the simple civilians who suddenly saw their lives threatened and were forced to flee from their homes by any means necessary.

The Night in Lisbon by Erich Maria Remarque looks into this unique perspective, as a young refugee boy who, while staring at a boat leaving Lisbon for America, is accosted by a mysterious stranger with two tickets, and a heck of a story to tell, revolving around re-entering Nazi Germany after running away from it in order to save his wife. As it goes on and on, the boy and the man begin to form a powerful connection, one that takes a few hours to build but centuries to destroy.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison – Weep, and you Weep Alone

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - book cover
To start things off, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is probably not the book you are thinking of, the classic where a man manages to achieve physical invisibility. Rather, this is the story of a man who manages to achieve figurative invisibility, living his life with nobody ever taking notice of him. Naturally, that man wasn't always a recluse in his lair. He had a long and tumultuous life filled with ups, downs, trials and challenges that shaped him into the one he became.

Everything began way back, as the nameless narrator finds himself expelled from college for having the audacity to explain to a white student the reality of life for black people living in the South, which of course comes with plenty of violence, humiliation, racism, rape and rampant prostitution. Naturally, the narrator really doesn’t take these types of news too well, and so decides to move to New York City, where he becomes the spokesperson for what is known as “the Brotherhood”, slowly realizing how blind and misguided Men of this world truly are.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

“I Wear the Black Hat” by Chuck Klosterman – Am I Evil?

I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman - book cover
For most part of his childhood and adolescence, Chuck Klosterman was walking the straight line and only related to the characters and people who transpired positivity and goodness. However, as the illusions of youth faded away Klosterman noticed something strange; he was having much more fun siding with those who would be classified as evil rather than good.

This one realization eventually pushed Klosterman to write a book titled I Wear the Black Hat, in which all of the text is centered on exploring the modern concept of villainy.

Self-admittedly, Klosterman did not go to the dark side because of the evil… rather, it was because bad guys were being villainous on purpose, because that is what they liked to do. In other words, those people want to be evil, but really what does the notion of evil entail in itself?

Monday, August 05, 2013

“Unseen” by Karen Slaughter – The Ever-Present Evils

Unseen by Karen Slaughter (Book cover)
The word about Karen Slaughter’s writing has only recently begun to spread, and it is in great part thanks to masterpieces such as Unseen. The story in this book follows detective William Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as he infiltrates a dangerous, violent and depraved gang of bikers. Finding himself cut off from the world (none of his friends, loved ones or relatives know about his assignment), Trent begins to look deeper and deeper into his own mind, digging up many demons for him to struggle with while trying to bring the gang to justice. Meanwhile, the love of his life, Sara Linton, is following an investigation of her own into the shooting of her stepson, and as fate would have it, the two cases become intertwined, with none of them being the wiser.

Unseen is one of those rare books where the author manages to masterfully combine an entertaining story with profound examination of the human mind. To start with the former, Slaughter has a mastery of the language very few can claim to possess, knowing how to evoke emotions with her descriptions. She knows how to make you teary-eyed through the description of a relationship, just like she knows how to keep you interested in the story at all times. Parts of the story are told through flashbacks, and they are used in quite an ingenious way to break up the pace and create numerous small cliffhangers, making this book one of the best definitions of what a page-turner really is. The relationships between the different characters are quite complex, not to mention that the whole conspiracy has been put together in a very believable way.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 14

Good day (or evening) everyone, and welcome back for yet another issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature. For this fourteenth iteration of the series, we are going to be looking into some underrated self-published books that are likely to encounter a surprising amount of success, followed by an exploration of Norfolk, England’s most secretive literary county, and capping things off with an introduction to the foremost expert on Israeli literature.

Self-Published Dark Horses

For as long as books and media have existed, it seemed that the coverage was focused on the interests of the writers rather than the readers. Fortunately, it seems as if things are starting to improve in that domain as a number of self-published efforts have already sent some ripples across the literary world, and they include works such as Amniotic City by Lucy Furlong and The Imagination Thief by Rohan Quine.

Six self-publishing surprises

"If the media wants to do its very best for readers, as opposed to writers, then its coverage of self-publishing needs to focus on those areas where it offers something really different, something readers won't find, or will struggle to find, when perusing the shelves of Waterstones or the regular review section. So what I want to do here is offer a whistlestop tour of a few works of interest nestled away in self-publishing's backwoods.

Each of the six authors I highlight has done something exciting and different that both generates a frisson of discovery and is worthy of attention. And each should help to dispel the myth that is still so prevalent: that finding great self-published work is like looking for an original metaphor on a bestsellers list.

Lucy Furlong's Amniotic City

I met Lucy Furlong on Twitter following an event at the Poetry Café. As I always do when I meet new people, I had a look at her website, and discovered that she had written Amniotic City, a beautifully produced fold-out psychogeographical poetry map that depicts London's hidden feminine archetypes. It is easy to dismiss artisan self-publishing as a triumph of style over substance – wonderfully produced objects hiding second-rate content. And in many cases that's valid. But not here. This is a beautiful exploration of the way a city can consciously and unconsciously suppress an important part of its nature, and how a little imaginative trowel-work can reveal what is hidden – and transform the things you see around you every day. You can hear Lucy perform at the launch of issue 10 of the excellent Structo magazine on 2 August.

Read full article: The Guardian - Six self-publishing surprises

Imaginative trowel-work ... Lucy Furlong’s Amniotic City

The Secrets of England

England has forever been known as one of the most interesting countries in the world when it becomes a question of literature, and especially murder mysteries. As it happens, the country itself is full of mysteries, with one of the biggest ones being Norfolk.

On the outside, the county appears to be a simple and quaint place to settle down, but once one gets to do some exploration, it becomes apparent that unexpected twists and turns await you at every corner.
Ian Sansom: the secrets of literary Norfolk

"Critics and commentators are always prey to big ideas – the bigger the better, in fact – and so tend to overestimate certain factors in the production and formation of books, preferring to emphasise the influence of some particular social, historical, political, institutional, linguistic or psychological fact or force and to ignore certain others. These explanatory fashions come and go. Thus we currently have cognitive poetics, ecocriticism, and post-colonial theories all being successfully applied to explain various aspects of our national literatures. But as yet – alas – we have no County Theory of English Lit. This is my big idea.

If we were to apply some of the quantatitive methods for analysing literature developed by the great maverick literary theorist Franco Moretti, a map of the UK as a whole adjusted for size according to literary production might produce a hunched, swollen-headed creature with an enormous Scotland, a bulging Northern Ireland, withered limbs, an empty heart, and a vast and protuberant Norfolk.

Read full article: The Guardian - Ian Sansom: the secrets of literary Norfolk

Subtly strange and wild … sunset on the Norfolk Broads. Photograph: Alamy

Israeli Literature

Though the country may have not officially existed for a very long time, Israel has nevertheless managed to collect an impressive amount of profound and thoughtful literature. Professor Menachem Perry, now seventy years of age and working as a scholar, editor and publisher, is considered to be one of the foremost experts on Israeli literature, being extremely knowledgeable in political, religious and spiritual matters, holding firm views backed up by years of experience and thinking.

If you want to get better acquainted with him, then I suggest you check out the link below… I do realize that you need to subscribe to read it, but it only costs $1 for 4 weeks, and that’s an expense nearly anybody can afford. If you can’t, then simply type his name into Google and you’ll find lots of interesting readings to keep you occupied.

Israeli literature's No. 1: Prof. Menachem Perry

"Professor Menachem Perry is the great patriarch of literature in Israel. Not for nothing does he arouse a good deal of antagonism; after all, patricide is a part of the culture. He is extremely knowledgeable, with distinct tastes and firm views in a world that has a hard time both expressing such things and being able to choose."

Read full article: HAARETZ - Israeli literature's No. 1: Prof. Menachem Perry

Saturday, August 03, 2013

“Winterdance” by Gary Paulsen – The Race Against Nature

Winterdance by Gary Paulsen - book cover
Many people scoff at the idea of partaking in unreasonably-challenging activities and competitions, but what they ignore is that such trials are the ones which shape people and help them ascend to what can be basically described as a greater level of existence.

Such was the experience of Gary Paulsen as he undertook the unnecessarily-cruel and challenging race called Iditarod, which basically involves going all the way from Anchorage to Nome (that’s about 1150 miles) with your only method of transportation being winter dog sleds. The experience was chronicles in a book very appropriately titled Winterdance.

This book is divided into two parts, with the first one being dedicated to the preparation to the race, and the second one being about the race itself. To start at the beginning, the first part is nothing short of hilarious, and the best part is that Paulsen doesn’t even need to spend much effort to turn this thing into a comedy.

Friday, August 02, 2013

“Light of the World” by James Lee Burke – The Murders that Almost Were

Light of the World by James Lee Burke (Book cover)
James Lee Burke has made a name for himself in literary circles as being a very talented author when it becomes a question of creating a multi-layered and complex story with many seemingly unrelated plotlines that brilliantly join together in a massive climax.

His Dave Robicheaux novels are where, in my opinion, we can see that most clearly, especially his latest one, Light of the World.