All the King’s men by Robert Penn Warren

With words that flow and caress and make use just the right amount of tiny details to get to the essence of the people that Robert Penn Warren describes.

This book is full of artful characterization and is most certainly worthy of a re-read. This is also a piece of history as the author brings alive the American South of 1920s and 1930s.

The story is about Willie Stark, man of humble beginnings who rose to a position of power as a governor of an unnamed Southern state and is supposedly loosely based on the life of Huey Long, the Governor of Louisiana. The main character is Jack Burden, the narrator of the story. He’s a reporter when he meets Willie Stark early on in his career and is there as witness to his political rise. Later, he works directly for Willie and becomes a key player in the blackmailing and political conniving that surrounds the Governor.

We get to know Jack through the people in his life as well as his own introspections and watch the orgy of events that grow in layers and complexity. Nothing is quite what it seems and there are multiple sub-stories that unfold as the basic action of the book trots along. Just when one begins to get grip of what is going one BAM! Yet another layer of depth and meaning explodes. In a very metaphysical way everything has an effect on everything else. This book is quite fast paced despite all the plots and sub plots going on and is quite impossible to put down.

This is not a read to be missed!

All the King's men Robert Penn Warren

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Where the Wild Things Are by By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)

Where the Wild Things Are is one of those rare books (along the lies of Dahl, Dr. Seuss…) that can be enjoyed equally by a child and a grown-up.

Max dons his wolf suit in quest of some mischief and gets banished to bed without supper. Fortuitously, a forest grows within the confines of his room, allowing his wonderful wild rampage to continue unhindered. Sendak’s color illustrations are blissful, and each turn of the page brings the discovery of a new wonder.

The wild things with their mysteriously mismatched parts and adorable giant eyes manage somehow to be scary-looking without ever really being disconcerting and at times they’re downright hilarious. Sendak’s defiantly run-on sentences lend the perfect touch of stream of consciousness to the tale, which floats between the land of dreams and a child’s imagination.

Children can really identify with Max and his rebellious thoughts. Upon banishment to his room for misbehavior, his imagination helps him to run away to where the wild things are and collect his thoughts. Sendak certainly remember what its like to be a child and feel like no one understands what you are basically feeling, and not quite understanding yourself. Ruling the wild things helps Max understand that he just wants to feel loved, and helps parents to keep in mind that such outbursts from children are essentially cries for attention – for someone to just love them. Mr. Sendak understands children! When you read this book it will transport you back to your own childhood and you will remember that lost feeling of being a child.

Where the Wild Things Are by By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)

Where the Wild Things Are by By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)

Where the Wild Things Are by By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)

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Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Márquez won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature. Love in the Time of Cholera (El amor en los tiempos del cólera) (1985) is another favorite. Set in the late 19th century, it tells a story of the power of unrequited love, and how lovesickness (much like cholera) can plague human existence. The novel involves a love triangle between Fermina Daza, Florentino Ariza and Juvenal Urbino which endures for fifty years, revealed through a flashback from childhood to old age. As children, Fermina and Florentino experienced a brief romance leaving Florentino obsessed with Fermina and lovesick. In his unsuccessful attempts to alleviate his all-consuming longing for Fermina, Florentino not only engages in 622 affairs, but immerses himself in a life of poetry and literature. He identifies with romantic poets. Meanwhile, at the age of twenty-one, Fermina is forced by her father, a wealthy mule merchant, to marry Juvenal Urbino, a doctor. Their arranged marriage endures. Fermina becomes a devoted wife. In contrast to Florentino, a romantic, Juvenal Urbino is a man of science, a doctor with a rational mind, committed to the eradication of cholera, and capable of providing Fermina with a sense of security. The novel opens with Juvenal’s funeral, after which Florentino again declares his undying love for Fermina, which makes her furious. Until the novel returns to this scene and Florentino’s renewed declaration of love for Fermina, one is left contemplating whether his love is a kind of noble or a pathetic, Don Quixote-like foolishness. In the final pages of his novel, Márquez answers that question. As with One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera reveals the extraordinary genius of Márquez. Highly recommended for patient readers as the story is an epic, well kindof 🙂

 Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The potrait of the artist as a young man by James Joyce

A good place to start with Joyce. His works are about as challenging as they come in the literary world. Keep “Ulysses” or “Finnegan’s Wake” once you are done with the potrait. Not that it is easy to get along with though it will be very rewarding to the persistent ones. “Portrait” is certainly not a light read. Joyce’s meandering narrative and curvatious prose can be confusing. One could quite possibly find one self reading a sentence about five times in order to figure out what one has has just read.

All its wordy content aside, “Portrait” is an essential read because the story of Stephen Dedalus carries so much resonance. One can relate pretty easily to his search for answers. Stephen faces existential questions that should ring true for any young person coming from any culture at any time.

He tries to find satisfaction by giving in to his lust, and when that doesn’t suffice he jumps to another dimension in seeking fulfillment through religious devotion. In the end, however, neither of these extremes provides answers he’s looking for. Stephen’s story demonstrates one unfortunate fact of life: when you’re on the quest for the meaning of it all – there are no easy answers.

Ultimately, as Stephen tells his friend Cranly, he decides that his solution is to “express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can,” even if it means making mistakes or being spurned by society. In “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” Joyce sketches some important brain fodder that have since become prominent in literature, notably noncomformity, self-expression, coming of age, and the nature of religious belief.

“Portrait” was written with plenty of intelligence and tonnes of soul, no surprises as to why it’s still read after all these years.

The potrait of the artist as a young man by James Joyce

Lolita by Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

Lolita (1955) is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The book is internationally famous for its innovative flow and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle-aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and sexually involved with a 12-year-old girl named Dolores Haze.

Soon after its publication, Nabokov’s Lolita attained a cult classic status, becoming one of the best-known and most controversial examples of 20th century literature. The name “Lolita” has entered pop culture to describe a sexually precocious adolescent girl. The novel was adapted to film in 1962 and again in 1997.

Lolita is considered to be one of the Best English-language Novels.

Nabokov wrote Lolita while traveling on butterfly-collection trips in the western United States that he undertook every summer. Nabokov attempted to burn unfinished drafts of Lolita and fortunately for us was stopped by a friend of his.

Lolita by Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov