; movieschocolatebooks: April 2015


Friday, April 24

All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr is the first American writer I read when I arrived in Boise. It turned out that he was, as myself, a resident of the city whose reading at the university library I had missed upon my arrival. Still, courtesy of a fellow worker with a fine taste for reading, All the light we cannot see ended up in my greedy hands right away.

It was a hot story among the pretentious, book club reading librarians and other book enthusiasts so I had to be a fast reader and pass it to next in line. As it was the case, the book read smoothly and quickly. All the light we cannot see is an easy one that keeps you involved in the almost implausible tale and satiated with sentimentality. If you have a sensitive nature, the book is bound to make your eyes water with compassion and your heart tingle with emotion. Nevertheless, there is something catchy about it since it is the 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction and it made me think twice about the reasons that prevented me from reviewing it at the time and the success behind the story. As an unwritten, defiant rule, I feel drawn to write about books that stir strong emotions, especially positive ones and feel reluctant to badmouthing a book. I am an avid reader whose love and loyalty for books go beyond the quality of the reading. Out of respect, I always finish a book- it is a strenuous, yet honorable duty. 

All the light we cannot see is the unbelievable story of two children caught in the horror of World War II. Werner is a German, Albino orphan with a penchant for assembling radios whereas Marie-Laure is a blind, motherless, French girl who loves books. A radio is hidden by the Resistance in the girl's house and this leads to a memorable meeting and an unhappy ending. There is a very thin line between fiction and historical truth in the book and Anthohy Doerr walks it virtuously. Still, there is so much drama in between the otherwise well-knit lines that it almost turns the book into a modern version of Les Miserables. To my mind, the success of the story resides in this very lyrical manner of processing the traumatic into a diverting banal. It is similar to a grand fairy tale for grown ups that sparkles like a diamond with magical powers called the Sea of Flames and melts the outlines of an evil war into a supernatural plot.

Besides the manipulating dichotomy of  good versus evil and the belief in the basic goodness of mankind, the book is remarkable for its intricacy and imaginative resources. You can easily feel the writer put a great deal of effort into research, details, language, and narrative verve. He takes the universal story of a spiteful war and has the boldness to turn it into a more than decent book which although appeals to a lot of emotions, has a tightly composed structure. The sights and sounds of wartime come palpable and real in his writing and for a brief moment, you feel there is promise -not for the characters since the tale is drawn in sad, overwhelming shades of blue, but for the human potential of endlessly reinventing itself through storytelling. In his heart-warming manner of leading the reader, Anthony Doerr strives for complexity by asking some of the right questions.

With reading and writing equally, it is a matter of luck. You fumble in the darkness feeling your way towards the impermanence of your own place within the great pattern of things. You might end up with the right kind of book in you hands or with the delivering rows of letters on your paper or empty-handed. Cultivating your self-awareness as a reader or writer comes from the ability to articulate meaning in books, may they be read or written. The greatest peril is to strive to entrap the metaphor and in some instances, the core of it all feels a bit ambushed in Doerr's story. Nevertheless it took him 10 years to write the book and he is a writer indeed in the perseverance and endless hours he put into his passion for words. I believe his aiming at describing the world the way he sees it, is to understand what it means to be humane and he does that.

Apart from my contradicting feelings towards the book, All the light we cannot see will forever be, to me, Boise in full August delight, smelling of good life with good people.

Saturday, April 18

The Fast and The Furious by NICO

Vrei sa ai o stare de bine? Ca mersul la o pertrecere, o petrecere cu prietenii, un drink, glume si relaxare? Atunci filmul acesta este exact ce ai nevoie... este o stare de relaxare si buna dispozitie, este o gluma fara pretentii, un moment de iesire din rutina.

Despre ce este? Masini si Vin Diesel ...si replica: ''Woman, I am the cavalry!'' by Dawyne ''The Rock''.

Sincer? Am vazut doar primul film din aceasta serie. Mi-a placut. La vremea respectiva era ceva nou, viteza, masini, tineri teribilisti si frumosi, amoruri de inceput...era exact ce generatia mea avea nevoie, o acadea buna si de calitate. O acadea a tinerilor, era o hrana pentru teribilismul varstei si al generatiei. Un fel de cocktail party reusit. Ce am gasit acum? Acelasi ''party'', fara pretentii si subintelesuri, fara mofturi si asteptari de film de arta sau etalare de talente actoricesti marcante. EXACT! Am gasit o petrecere, am gasit glume spuse bine la momentul oportun, replici scurte si la fix tintite, personaje ce si-au jucat rolul exact cum se astepta toata populatia privitoare de Fast and Furious si am mai gasit o managerizare a succesului foarte bine pusa la punct. Am gasit explozii, femei frumoase, muschi si actori de actiune. Daca initial acest film se baza pe prezenta greilor filmelor de actiune, intr-un final, punctul forte a fost exploatarea unei tragedii...

Nu spun ca a fost bine sau ca a fost rau, spun doar ca au exploatat acest aspect al mortii unuia dintre actori (Paul Walker), la maximum, l-au facut erou, au intors filmul si l-au mulat pe acest subiect. In acest film avem avem echipa completa (o compilatie a celorlalte partii ale seriei Furious) a lui Dom, Vin Diesel, o avem pe Michele Rodriguez, frumoasa si puternica, activa si cam atat- parerea mea, avem masini scumpe si transfornate in adevarate bijuterii, soare si multa, multa tehnologie...si bineinteles, il avem pe The Rock, venit sa puncteze si sa ridice anumite momente ale filmului, cu minunatia sa de muschi si putere.

Am impresia ca toata aceasta pleiada de actori si actrite initial aveau rolul de a ridica filmul in eventualitatea in care subiectul nu era destul de atragator sau era prea fad (chiar ar fi fost). Apoi mai este personajul negativ interpretat de JASON STATHAM!!! Cum sa ai un asa personaj negativ?!?! Este peste puterea mea de intelegere...Este printre putinele dati in care am tinut cu personajul negativ, cand ma gandeam la o negociere, la un consens intre personajele pozitive si cele negative, cand speram sa treaca de partea celor buni. Dar daca stau sa ma gandesc, partea negativa trebuia sa aiba un echivalent destul de puternic, iar el a contrabalansat excelent... Daca intreba, as fi raspuns ''Yes,please, I do want some cookies from your dark side!'' dar, noi suntem niste oameni normali, ce traim in Romania si mergem la cumparaturi la supermarket, zburam cu avionul cand avem vreo vacanta si ne urcam in masinile prezentate acolo la vreun meeting festiv- vorbesc de majoritatea oamenilor, nu de exceptii, iar ei sunt actorii care ne fac traiul mai colorat. Anyway, Jason Statham putea fi un copac si tot il apreciam. Vin diesel a fost Groot, copacul si nu a facut asa impresie.

De ce sa mergi la acest film? Pentru ca este ca desertul si relaxarea cu glume, dupa o masa elaborata si bine gandita. Este nepretentios si iti aduce aminte de adolescenta. Este exact ceea ce ai nevoie intr-o dupa amiaza cu prietenii. Este filmul unei prietenii. Este un pool party reusit.

Saturday, April 4

An unnecessary woman by Rabih Alameddine or WE'RE BEIRUTING AGAIN!

"I imagine looking at this room through a stranger's eyes," Aaliya says of her apartment. "Books everywhere, stacks and stacks, shelves and bookcases, stacks atop each shelf, I in the creaky chair… I have been its only occupant."

There is this lover of Math, an engineer, hiding inside himself, half a painter, half a writer. He wrote a book about a seventy year old retired book seller and lured me into believing that he was a woman. Rabih Alameddine turns out to be a gifted writer who painted Aaliya Saleh, his heroine, in such vivid colors and dainty details that I was certain he was a female writer.

An unnecessary woman by Rabih Alameddine revealed to me a world I had no sense of- that of Beirut, the Elizabeth Taylor of cities, which shelters not only civil wars and the necessity of an AK-47 rifle in bed. The book portrays the simplicity of life into a different corner of the world, surprisingly rich in the drama of everyday life. Aaliya is in her seventies, a widow who worked in a book shop all her life, translating her passion for reading into large boxes of books no one shall ever read. She has no children of her own, no close family, no friends. What she has is blue hair, a love for music -Mahler, Mozart, Beethoven- an inlaid lust for books, humor, a sharp mind, a critical eye, a lively memory and the ability to make a lemonade of the lemons life bestowed upon her. Apparently, this book is not about anything crucial and grand, yet it envelops you into a world of essentials. It is, by all means, a book for clever people, well-read bookworms who will appreciate the literary references and take notes on a light heart.

It is daring and slightly outrageous to be writing about a woman in her seventies. This woman has nothing spectacular to brag with, no major accomplishments, no significant relationships, yet there is such depth and richness within the layers of the narrative that you are left wondering about your own intricacy, mainly. Such filigree of emotions and natural way of conveying them into words require a sensitive touch, a skillful pen and a curious eye. You would think a woman would qualify for the task. Surprisingly, a mathematician tried his hand at shaping Aaliya to the reader and he made her irredeemably universal.

Aaliya is bold. She dyes her hair blue, even if by mistake. Then she makes amends with her estranged, screaming of a mother. And washes her feet. Such moments are heart-breaking. Rare, unique, exulting of subtle emotion and tension. Similiar to having a man take out blackheads from your back after making love to you. It takes a certain kind of sensitivity from the reader to comprehend the delicacy of such moments, finding themselves somewhere between intimacy and distaste. Life throws at you the most unexpected labours -washing the body of a loved one might be a bliss or a pain.

It is fascinating to picture Aaliya Saleh creating secret literature while constantly exhaling literature through her old lungs, and storing it in her bathroom. If you share such hidden thoughts and desires about books, buying them in piles, waiting to finish one just to start another, in the most natural succession, if you have read at least a part of her favorite writers and find yourself quoting books, then you are part of this woman's world and she has come to the right hands. She is Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs, Lila in The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante, Muriel Barbery's Renee in The Elegance of the Hedgehog. She is the wonder in all of them and then some more. The extra snippet comes from Jean-Paul Sartre and Virginia Woolf to Javier Marias and Fernando Pessoa, Sebald, Roberto Bolaño, Italo Calvino, Sadegh Hedayat, Knut Hamsun, Bilge Karasu, Imre Kertész, Danilo Kiš, Cees Nooteboom, José Saramago, Bruno Schulz, Leo Tolstoy, and many others.

“Reading a fine book for the first time is as sumptuous as the first sip of orange juice that breaks the fast in Ramadan.” Some books are worth fasting. And then, after purging the literary veins in yourself, enjoy the feast!