Feed on
Posts
Comments

Category Archive for 'Psychological study'

When her husband Sam dies alone of a heart attack in the minutes that she has been waiting to join him at a favorite restaurant in Vermont, devoted wife Antonia makes it her primary focus to create an afterlife for him. She needs something that will enable her to relive memories and past events with him while she lives her everyday life. When Mario, a young, undocumented worker from Mexico who works on the nearest farm, comes to clean her gutters, he eventually asks for a favor – Will she please help him call his girlfriend who is now in the US but far away from him in Vermont? Developing her themes of love and loss in life and death as they affect Antonia, Julia Alvarez creates several subplots involving other characters, all reflecting powerful emotions without descending into sentimentality or maudlin self-analysis. Mario, his girlfriend Estela, and José, his fellow worker on the farm, are one plot, dealing with the problems of illegal immigrants desperate to create new lives in the US. The second plot line revolves around a get-together of Antonia and her three sisters in Massachusetts to celebrate her birthday. The failure of sister Izzy to appear for the celebration, as promised, becomes the all-consuming issue for the other sisters for many days, and the need for Antonia to be present as they and the police all search for Izzy force her to be out of state when some of the issues involving Mario and his undocumented girlfriend are becoming critical. Abandonment, betrayal, the sadness of loss, and anger lead to personal growth, further develop the original themes, and flesh out this dramatic and sensitive novel.

Read Full Post »

With a first chapter set at the Stork Club, where Oona O’Neill, then a sixteen-year-old “voluptuous child,” sits at Walter Winchell’s Table 50, author Jerome Charyn creates a mood of wild nights and war-fueled abandon in New York shortly after the recent Pearl Harbor attack. Oona, young daughter of Nobel-Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill, is waiting for her beau, J. D. Salinger (Sonny) and an evening of fun and dance. That night Salinger receives his draft notice to appear immediately at Fort Dix for counterintelligence work for the US. He spends the next three years at war in Europe, and everything changes. Those whose familiarity with the life of J. D. Salinger focuses primarily on his hermit-like existence later in life, will find his early activities from 1942 – 1946, detailed in the opening chapters at the Stork and in the crises he faces throughout the war, particularly insightful of his life and personality. Author Jerome Charyn is particularly careful to connect the events in ways which allow the reader to feel the traumas and horrors and to gain some understanding of the dramatic changes in his personality after the war.

Read Full Post »

Few authors convey the inner thoughts of characters with the insight and sensitivity of Hungarian author Magda Szabo, and this novel may be one of her most insightful. Setting the novel in Hungary in the 1960s, the novel is surprisingly non-political, though the failed revolution of 1956 against their Soviet occupiers is a recent memory for her characters. The novel, dealing with the subject of love and how one expresses it, focuses not on one main character, but on four main characters, two men and two women of different generations and commitments. Creating a novel which is almost totally character-based, Szabo uses the plot primarily to provide incidents which reveal character. When Vince, husband of elderly Ettie, dies in a hospital, Ettie might have come into her own as a personality, but daughter Iza soon decides to become heavily involved in “helping” her mother in her day-to-day life. Each tries to do what is “right,” but so many gaps exists in their understanding of each other, based, in large part on their very real differences in background, history, personality, and generation, that their connection becomes frayed. Other connections involving other characters face additional problems. Presented honestly and personally, author Magda Szabo creates her characters and their stories, giving them additional depth and universality by organizing them into four parts – Earth, Fire, Water, and Air, as she tells their stories of elemental love.

Read Full Post »

The Game of the Gods, by Paolo Maurensig, just released, focuses primarily on the people who play chess, their feelings about playing, and what the game means to them, not on the specifics of the game itself. As the story of a former, almost forgotten chess champion from India develops, it weaves such a spell about chess and those who play it that even those, like me, who are not chess fanatics, can become totally absorbed in the story of Sultan Khan. His early life as a low-caste Indian, his experiences as he masters the game and begins to play on the international level, and the effects of the game on his personal life make him seem so “human” that the author is also able to elevate the narrative beyond the personal to include the history of the game, its mysteries, and the philosophies which give it religious status for many players. Its likable characters of varying cultures and different outlooks add breadth to the characterizations, themes, and visions of life. Though the novel would have benefited from a tighter plot with fewer locations, few novels these days have as much élan as this one does. I recommend it highly to those looking for some fresh insights into new worlds at a time in which many are desperately searching for a change of pace.

Read Full Post »

With two main characters who have little to suggest that their stories will become the charming, funny, insightful, and un-put-down-able chronicles that eventually evolve, Irish author Rónán Hession demonstrates his own creativity and his own ideas regarding communication and its importance or lack of it in our lives. He ignores the generations-old traditions of boisterous Irish writing and non-stop action in favor of a quiet, kindly, and highly original analysis of his characters and their unpretentious and self-contained lives. Leonard and Hungry Paul, both in their early thirties, are serious introverts with few friends, but events occur which inspire each of them to become just a bit more social. For Leonard, it is a young woman; for Hungry Paul, it is the realization that a new job comes with the possibility that he may have his own apartment, not live at home. I cannot remember when I have read a book which so thoroughly and honestly touched my heart. The writing is intelligent, memorable, real, and very funny, and I am already impatient for Rónán Hession’s next novel.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »