Sunday, January 25, 2015

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

ISBN: 0-553-24777-8

So the edition of the book that I read is 144 pages long. It is not dense--language is not complex. For some reason, though, it has taken me an unacceptable length of time to get through it. I can't think of any reason other than it just couldn't hold my attention. 

There are no frills and that's fine. I've read novels narrated from the perspective of a blunt third person before. Hemingway, for example, was a master of this technique and I adore most everything that he has written. I don't need sprawling prose in every story I read as long as the content given is interesting.

I guess what I'm saying is I just didn't feel it.

The title of the book tells it all. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is a prisoner in a Soviet labour camp in Siberia, wrongly convicted, of course, and this is how a day goes for him. It sucks. He's feeling a tad under the weather but doesn't want to risk getting thrown in the equivalent of The Hole for feigning illness just in case his fever goes down. So he goes about his day. He has to march out to a work site in the freezing cold with tattered clothes and boots with holes. And then he has to shingle a roof. Pretty sweet, right?

The highlights of his day include scoring an extra bowl of gruel and having enough money to buy some tobacco.

Although his day didn't seem pleasant in the least and he shouldn't have had to endure any of it to begin with, it could have been much worse. Has anyone seen Oz? He could have had a really bad day...

There is a lot of truth to this fictionalized account: Solzhenitsyn spent eight years in a camp. Maybe ODITLOIDs credence contributed to its high-regard and success.

Perhaps the novel was revolutionary or groundbreaking in 1963 (its first publication,) or maybe the quality is lost in translation.

Whatever it is, I just don't get it. 

Take that, 1960s!

Friday, January 23, 2015

This Is How We Do It

So I've set up the blog, named it--albeit with a mediocre title--now all that's left to do is read and review some books, right? Wrong, silly readers, how could you even think that? First I have to outline the format of the blog. Otherwise, you would all be lost with no idea how to read the jumble of words in front of you.

I'm kidding, of course, it's just a simple blog.

Title, author, ISBN, description and my thoughts. I'll end with whether or not I think it's worth reading.

And that's how it is going to get done. I promise to have the first book up very soon. For some reason, I'm having a tough time getting through it. Good start. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm Ready

This is the one. Seriously, this is the blog that I was meant to write. After several failed attempts at blog stardom, I've finally found my niche. It's not sports, it isn't self-deprecation either. It's books.

You see, I've read a lot of goddamn books in my lifetime. It's the one "hobby" I've had since childhood that has actually stuck. So, given the probability of dementia in my later stages of life (genetics, dude, what can you do?) I'm going to chronicle the books I read from this day forward. All of the words I read (in book form) from now unto eternity will be reviewed and preserved, for your benefit and mine.

I won't quit this time. I'm making this happen.