UNBROKEN by Lauren Hillenbrand, is the inspirational story of a courageous and resilient man, Louis Silvie Zamperini who, after flying a series of dangerous missions during World War II, spent over forty days stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a life raft with two of his buddies. They were scorched by the sun, buffeted by storms, and subsisted on a minuscule amount of food and water. Subsequently, Zamperini was captured and interned in a series of brutal Japanese POW camps where he was treated mercilessly by his sadistic captors. Miraculously, he emerged, battered and emaciated, but still alive. Little did he know that some of his biggest battles still lay ahead.
“Tender” and “noble” are two words I have never used to describe a Roth character. In fact, Rothâ€™s usual suspects are razor sharp with a mean streak of self-loathing to befit the most unlikable anti-heroes of the American literary canon. Not to mention, most of his characters are so self-obsessed and entrenched in complicated sexual proclivities that they seldom do the right thing. And much to the chagrin of my feminist friends, Iâ€™m amused, if not seduced, by these delinquent male protagonists, and look forward to their self-deprecating demise each and every time I encounter them.
Which is precisely why my love for Eugene “Bucky” Cantor bemuses me in a way I can’t describe. Cantor, the leading man in Roth’s latest novel NEMESIS, is so decent, so likable in a non-Rothian way, that if you’re a stalwart fan of Alexander Portnoy or David Kepesh, two of the most deliciously depraved characters to ever grace Roth’s fiction, then Bucky Cantor materializes like Mother Theresa. And yet never before have I ached for such a character – identified with such a man whose nobility and innocence would have previously escaped me.
October 16, 2010
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 1940s, Holocaust, New Jersery, Newark, Philip Roth, Polio, Time Period Fiction Â· Posted in: Facing History, Literary, Man Booker International Prize, NE & New York, y Award Winning Author
A FIERCE RADIANCE by Lauren Belfer is a compelling novel. Comprised of several genres, this is a book to pick up and savor. I was kept riveted by a combination of history, romance and mystery. This mix makes for a thrilling ride that kept me enthralled throughout.
The era is 1941 through 1944. The book opens just after Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor. Our country has declared war and young men are being drafted or signing up for the military.
Although she wrote all her life,Elizabeth Jolley didnâ€™t get her first book published until she was 53. Thereafter she published 15 novels, four story collections and four non-fiction books. The daughter of an Austrian mother and English father and a transplant to Australia from England, she became one of Australiaâ€™s most celebrated authors and won at least 16 awards. Yet by the time of her death in 2007, her books were out of print.
THE INFORMATION OFFICER, by Mark Mills, takes place in 1942 in Malta, a “little lump of rock in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.” Major Max Chadwick’s job is to manipulate Malta’s citizenry by putting a positive spin on their grim situation in his weekly bulletins. Because of its strategic location, Malta has great military value, and the Germans plan to force its surrender by bombing it to kingdom come.
In Stephanie Barron’s THE WHITE GARDEN, thirty-four year old landscape gardener Jo Bellamy visits Kent, England, in October 2008. She has come to Sissinghurst to see the magnificent home of the writer Vita-Sackville-West, who was an avid gardener herself and a close friend of Virginia Woolf. Jo’s client, the fabulously wealthy Graydon Westlake, has hired her to replicate the famed White Garden on his East Hampton estate. When she arrives at her destination, Jo is greeted with barely concealed disdain by Imogen Cantwell, the head gardener. Cantwell has a bad feeling, “as though a serpent, in the form of this mild American woman, had suddenly slithered through Sissinghurst’s garden.”