Books We Should Be Talking About · Pulitzer Prize Winners · Reviews

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury glowed quietly on my bedside table for about a year before I opened it for the first time. I recall fragments of the thought behind the decision of reaching out for it the moment I did, but I am afraid the mending pieces were instantly consumed by the spectacular wording of the novel.

“He stepped into the bedroom and fired twice and the twin beds went up in a great simmering whisper, with more heat and passion and light than he would have supposed them to contain.”

Before I dive right into the storyline, I must mention the writing because it’s absolutely extraordinary. Please don’t ask me to explain why, it merely is. There’s nothing particularly intricate about it. To be honest, I found the language to be rather simple, but the way it was used… Sigh. The repetitions, the texture of the chosen words, the descriptions… I can still hear the deafening bickering of Mildred’s family and friends, I can feel Montag’s anger boiling, his blood rushing through his veins as he stands on the edge, on the verge of exploding… and then silence. What a fascinating experience.

“If there was no solution, well then now there was no problem, either.”

I must say that I found the scenario to be exceptionally frightening. For a moment I felt the bitter taste of hopelessness on my tongue – it’s an incredibly poisonous one, if not truly lethal. With everything that has been happening around the world lately, this is the sort of book that asks to be read, perhaps even out loud, for everyone in proximity to hear. If we all took a glimpse of this future, a future where memories are a target being obliterated by the ones proudly wearing vests of victimhood, a future where memories are remembered by outcasts instead of created by the uniqueness of every soul… perhaps then we would choose not to go down this road, a road battered by the insane amount of times we already went through it, spilling blood all over and then attempting to wash it away with tears…

“And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering.”

There is as much heartbreak as there is hope in this book. There are no perfect beings here, just choices – and we all have one.

“That’s the good part of dying; when you’ve got nothing to lose, you run any risk you want.”

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Poetry · Pulitzer Prize Winners · Reviews

“American Primitive” by Mary Oliver

I don’t know if you have ever seen it, or at least heard of it, but there’s a rather famous sculpture of a naked woman bleeding light through the cracks on her body. The piece is called Expansion and is from the talented Paige Bradley. As I read American Primitive by Mary Oliver, my brain apparently couldn’t help but connect the two.

“and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain – not a single
answer has been found –
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.”

Mary Oliver acknowledges the cracks. Instead of seeing them as something that makes us flawed though, she seems to celebrate them for allowing the light to shine through. For her, every moment is a matter of perspective. It all comes down to us, to the way we choose to interpret what our eyes fall upon. She seems to find splendor at every corner.

“But we were fourteen

and no way dust could hide
the expected glamour from us,

or teach us anything.”

We might all be walking around with our eyes open, but Mary Oliver sees. I couldn’t be more grateful for her poetry. It feels as if she is lending us her senses, as if she is tempting us with her senses – go out and see for yourself, it’s beautiful, even when it hurts.

“there is no end,
believe me! to the inventions of summer,
to the happiness your body
is willing to bear.”

One detail that appears to be more evident in American Primitive is Mary Oliver’s gift for creating certain textures with her words that are beyond palpable. It’s quite an experience.

If I were to describe American Primitive in one word, I believe I would go with feathers. They are soft to the touch and yet together they cover wings that lift bodies into the sky.

Pulitzer Prize Winners · Reviews

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird has been on my shelves for years. It was a gift from a university friend with whom I have not spoken in ages. I will be sure to send her a note after finishing this review.

I truly cannot believe it took me this long to read this book. Then again, I am also grateful that it did, for I think there is a right time to read things and this was definitely the moment, and with the perfect company that encouraged me to give it another go (thank you so much, Cécile).

A lesson on humanity, I would call it. If I had to choose just one word to describe it? I would go with wise.

There is certainly a lot to say about this book, but I am not sure which words to use, for the perfect ones were already used in the writing of this beautiful novel. The best I can do is advise you to read it. If you have tried already and failed to bond with it, give it some time and try again. It took me quite a few attempts to get into it, but once I did, I just could not put it down.

These characters are family now, and I am sure I will one day revisit them for I have a feeling that at every reading they will have something else to add.

Thank you so much, Harper Lee, for believing in humankind and sharing these wonderful words. Even when betrayed, they exhale hope. That is something we need, now more than ever.

Pulitzer Prize Winners · Reviews

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan

I am at a loss for words. I have been completely reduced to silences. I am absolutely speechless. I am in awe.

This book is extraordinary. You find yourself being led across these intricate stories and from one to the other there are names that start sounding familiar, like memories from an extremely old past, or perhaps even from another distant life. It is absolutely breathtaking the way they come together. It feels like all these different individual puzzles have come across one another and suddenly realised that all this time they have been but pieces to a major artistic composition. It is so emotional. It goes beyond meant to bes… just iss, weres and will bes, all at the same time.

A book wise beyond its years, I would say. Absolutely extraordinary. Incredibly clever. I just… it is brilliant. You become acutely aware of the pauses, the music being much more than a mere soundtrack to existence, but existence in itself.

It has brought tears to my eyes.

Imagine a blank page. Watch it burn till all that remains are ashes that the wind then spreads for miles. That is me and the feelings I currently have for this book. I am everywhere. Past, present, future. Transformation confused for evolution. Words that lose their meanings unless when guarded by quotation marks. Define “reality”. A voice.

A panoply of inspiring everythings that became nothings and back again. Emotions. This book is bound to cause some damage to whoever reads it. The pain a reminder that we are alive and breathing, alive and breathing now, whether that now lives in the past, the present or the future.

Oh, time… Time’s a goon, right?