Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Reviews (Wuthering Heights, Sandman and The Shack)

I recently read the book The Shack. By the way I am enjoying the time without Internet at home because it is giving me a lot of time to read books. I have finished the whole Sandman series of comics, read Wuthering Heights and then lastly The Shack. And now I am reading Philip Yancey's Prayer and also Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. This much in a matter of a month. Wow!

Anyway I will review the books here one by one:

Wuthering Heights
By Emily Bronte

If you look at the list of most important books of all time, you will see Wuthering Heights up there. I started reading it about a month ago, and the english is, well, very traditional. The story telling is pretty traditional too. But I can see how it must have been revolutionary when it first came out. 80% of the content is narrated by another character in the story and only about 20% (or could be lesser) is about first hand encounter by the protagonist of the story. In this case, well, the question of the who the protagonist is, is not based on the amount of coverage given in the story, but rather, defined on the basis of who the book begins with and where it ends with.

I love the book. The character of the villain (or the man because of whom the story exists) is a very sinister man to a few, and a passionate lover to a few. Human character is shown in great clarity. Sometimes you sympathize with the villain. And then another chapter, you are wishing for him to die.

The book is stark, and yet at the same time very subtle. Romantic yet fearful. Dark yet emotionally charged. It stays on the list of few important books of all times for a good reason.

***

Sandman
by Neil Gaiman

What can I say about a story like this. Here is an epic series of comic books that contains stories beyond humanity about gods and demons about otherworlds about fantasy, about reality, and it is not ridiculous, as any book trying to be as large would end up being.

It follows the Spirit/demon/god/master of Dreams on his many quests and how they affect humans (or reality as we know it). Sandman is this dream god, Morpheus, the god who comes to little children and waves sand on their eyes so that they fall asleep and enter dream world. He is timeless and immortal.

Sandman is part of this family of gods/masters/spirits, who among them are included Death, Desire, Delirium, Despair and Destruction. It also touches upon many myth, folklores from China, England, American (of course), Arab, the Biblical stories, Heaven and Hell, Satan and angels, and many of his made up or obscure tales and legends.

***

The Shack
by W.M. Young

This book was a bestselling title, read my over millions. It is a Christian fiction, and I was very skeptical when I picked it up (after being lent to me by Evlyn to be read) because in my experience, Christian fiction isn't a genre to die for. In my opinion Christian fiction is some sort of a complimentary name given to the many books written by Christians whose sole purpose are to enlarge the tents of the Church, and not necessarily for the literary genuis that they carry.

I was afraid this book was one of them.

But anyway it didn't stop me from picking it up after seeing that Michael W. Smith wrote a good feedback on its back cover saying he has read it over and over again. So, I thought, lets see.

The Shack is not my favourite. The story telling is very well done. The language is somehow very simple, and most times that is nice. But as I read I felt like I was reading some young adult book. Everything was a bit too spelt out. Spelt out in a way that you feel like the writer is keeping you in a strict vigil and not allowing you to stray from the specific path that he wants you to go through, so as to get the full experience of the story. Understandable, yeah. But quite objective. But then again confusingly enough, the writer decides to go silent about certain things.

For example, when the character Mack meets God (yes, he does, in this book) he looks at how the Trinity works and 'somehow' felt that they loved each other so much (meaning the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). Somehow. That sounds like a very lazy way out from explaining why he thinks that the Trinity loves each other so much. There are many instances like this that happen through out the book.

The simple story telling reminded me a lot of stories from Reader's Digest. That I understand is a genre by themselves. So I can imagine it will appeal to a certain group of people (or the general public, if I may say so).

There are many benefits that I felt when I read this. It was going back to the idea that God is simple and the way he manifested himself to this character and the people he adorned were very simple. You cannot miss it. It is almost a bit over emphasized, I think. You see God's character singing songs and talking light matters, making food in the kitchen, and Jesus even drops a bowl of food in the kitchen to the amusement of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Yes, very beautiful pictures of God being the simple Being that He is.

I think it definitely is a book to be read and pondered by every human on earth. You can't over analyse a book like this too. Because that is exactly what God as a character (and God as the real God too, I think) keeps emphasizing, don't over analyse that you forget to live every moment of everyday.

I think the favourite scene of mine is the part where Jesus offers to Mack to walk on water across the lake to a small island. They were surrounded by mountains. And the lake was placid.

And Mack reluctantly stepped on to the lake, and knew that it was the most stupid thing he ever did in his life (even the stupidest thing to think of in all his life, I would add).

4 comments:

Rathiulung KC said...

nice review. i am still skeptical about reading the book, the The Shack though. overrated i think, though i haven't read it yet. Is there any way of reading the Sandman online?
i wish our internet connection goes dead too. but then i wish not too. i cannot talk to people at home then.
but still i miss those real times of solitude in our rooms, no internet, no mobile phones. no temptation to get lost in the tangled world. just us, our room and the books. comics. really miss that.

Christina Panmei said...

neat!!

{oh ben!} said...

thanks. yeah not having internet is a blessing.

and about The Shack. dont be critical. just read it to learn some new understanding about God.

{oh ben!} said...

oh sorry, i am not sure wher you can find sandman on the internet. maybe not. but if i do find out i will show you. its a long read. a big commitment once started.