Friday, October 29, 2010

An Aside

I am not completely satisfied with the review I wrote for Life and Life Only. It's because it's missing something...a lot of something. I think it is something to do with the human condition. I'm writing this aside to accomplish two things: Sing more praise for Life and Life Only and to express the thoughts that have built up from the very first book I read in these reviews.

There are differences in adversities from the time periods 1940-2000, especially for women. Just prior to reading Life and Life Only I read A Rose For My Mother, which is an autobiography of Nancy Canfield. I recognized the struggles she had gone through: helplessness, hopelessness, being beaten, forgotten, left to be alone as a child, uncared for, unloved just because she was a daughter and not a son. And then to read Life and Life Only and realize that my childhood (born 1984) most resembled Dan's childhood rather than Nancy's and my mother's childhood (born 1961) and my grandmother's childhood most resembled Nancy's is a fantastic example of how far the treatment of women in society has come.

I wrote in a college paper once that the literature of a time period is a direct reflection of the society from which the author came. Life and Life Only is an indirect documentation of how the times have changed, especially for women. Because my childhood resembled Dan's more than Nancy's, it is a true indication that men and women are on a more levelled playing field in our time period. I think the story that Life and Life Only tells is more than meets the eye. I think it's a reflection of today's society and a reminder that we are progressing.

To further support the claim of the progression of the human condition, I need to mention Stieg Larrson and his beautiful array of powerful, intelligent, strong and talented women. Because Larrson was Swedish and his female roles are more prominent than the females in the US books I've read recently, it makes me wonder if those on the other side of the pond are more progressive than the US in the area of the progression of the human condition.

At any rate, Larsson, Canfield & Moyer write stories that are good indicators of the societal changes over time. What are some other things that can be traced and documented by our literature?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life and Life Only by Dave Moyer

Life and Life Only by Dave Moyer is a story about a young man and the trials and tribulations of life. If you enjoy books like Revolutionary Road then I would recommend this book. However, if you're looking for drama and the obscene then Life and Life Only wouldn't satisfy your need. The characters are wholesome, natural and good. All of Moyer's characters are full and complete, as is the story. Young men in college who need to feel everything is going to be OK should put this read on their book list because Moyer's story (and Dan's mother) reminds us all that no matter what happens, it IS going to be OK. Life and Life Only was introduced as being about "baseball and bob dylan." But Life and Life Only is so much more than that. It's a coming of age story filled with natural life events and transitions. By simply telling the story of thousands of young men (and women for that matter), Moyer pinpoints all the segments and transitions individuals make today and might could even act as a precautionary tale for us all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Rose For My Mother by Nancy Lee Canfield

A Rose For My Mother by Nancy Lee Canfield is a truly inspiration piece, not just for women either. Being a HUGE Charles Dickens fan, I was quickly taken with Nancy's autobiography of her childhood, which described a life of foster homes and being torn from her family. Her early adult life encapsulated the very essence of the unjust and helpless life most women lived in the 50s and 60s. Nancy Lee perfectly epitomizes the frustrations and discriminations of womanhood. Her later years, however, seem to rescue her and set her free into a world where her imagination and determination are the limit.

The story is that of a woman who grows into her paranormal sensitivities and flourishes in the world of parapsychology. Nancy Lee believes anyone can tap into these sensitivities. She writes that she was alone a lot as a child and this forced her to become inward. This inwardness provided the route to access her psychic abilities. At the end of the book there is an appendix that describes how to meditate, relax, and cleanse your mind to ready the body for these experiences.

I cannot begin to describe how much I really enjoyed A Rose For My Mother. Anyone who enjoys Charles Dickens will love this autobiography (and I'm NOT an autobiography fan).

Congratulations on your publication, Nancy Lee, and I hope to see more prose from your pen.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

Larsson takes a realistic approach to his story-telling in his Millennium Series that continues on in the third installment, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Next." Larsson creates characters that are fully developed and unique.

Larsson loves strong women. And because he loves strong women he creates strong female leads in his story. You have Erika Berger, fearless Editor-in-Chief. She refuses to succumb to a tireless stalker, even when she is physically hurt. Next is Annika Giannini, Mikeal Blomkvist sister and attorney. Giannini never backs down from a case involving women's rights and abuse. And of course the infamous Girl with the Dragon Tattoo herself, Lisbeth Salander. She's the strongest of them all and the tiniest. And in the third and final book, introducing the rock hard body of Monica Figuerola who makes a bold statement that a woman can be physically tough and maintain femininity and sex appeal. It is refreshing to see these vibrant, tough women that Larsson has birthed.

The story is a continuation of The Girl Who Played With Fire. It begins with Lisbeth Salander having surgery and surviving a gunshot wound to her head. And just two doors down from her hospital room is the man who ordered the bullet put there: her father Alexander Zalachenko. Only one gets out alive.

Also on her plate, Lisbeth has to fight against a number of convictions, including attempted murder and assault. Knowing Lisbeth's sensitive background, Mikael Blomkvist hires his sister to defend Lisbeth. Equipped with Giannini's intuitive and quick-witted style, and video evidence of explicit material, Lisbeth is acquitted of all charges.

In the meantime, Blomkvist has worked out yet another mass expose into the sex trade. And who would be heading it up but Alexander Zalachenko?

It is the strong female characters that keep a reader moving through the book. The whole series is commendable. Hats off to Mr. Stieg Larsson and, unfortunately, a good night. RIP Mr. Larsson.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Birth of An Assassin by Tony Bertot

The Birth of an Assasin by Tony Bertot is a story a young boy called Theo. Theo grows up in a world of Italian mobster crime families. Losing his father to a mob bomb in his own shop, he and his mother flee to their homeland of Palermo, Italy.

The time frame is WWII so Italy is itchy with Nazi German posts. It is there in the homeland where Theo learns to shoot and he becomes very skilled at it. It is also here that his mother is brutally raped and murdered and Theo decides no one will ever hurt anyone he cares about again. He avenges his mother's death and then sets out to avenge his father's death in the US.

Theo and his boyhood friend, Nick, have a few adventures in catching up with the people who were responsible for Theo's father's death. In the end, justice is served, but at a great loss.

The Birth of An Assassin is the prequel to The Heart of an Assasin. Both books can be ordered here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson is the second in a series of three books called the Millenium Series.

The Girl Who Played With Fire starts with Millenium Magazine pairing up with a freelance journalist (and his criminologist, doctorate-seeking girlfriend) to produce and publish a book that would expose individuals (including police officers, members of parliament, journalists, etc)in Sweden for sex-trafficking. At the same time Advokat Nils Bjurman has decided to seek revenge on Lisbeth Salander for what she did to him two years ago. When the journalist and criminologist turn up murdered, a Colt .45 Magnum, owned by Bjurman and has Lisbeth Salander's fingerprints on it, is found at the crime scene, making it appear that without a doubt Froken Salander is the murderer. Ultimately a mass manhunt for Salander ensues.

When the security firm Salander worked for decides to team up with the homocide investigators to solve the mystery and find the truth about what happened that night, they discover a traitor is among them who is leaking their information to the media and making sure Salander takes the wrap for the murders, whether she is innocent or not. Meanwhile Millenium Magazine has begun their own investigation headed up by Salander's former lover and friend, journalist Mikael Blomvkist.

What is discovered is the curious past of The Girl Who Played With Fire and the unearthing of a sex trafficking scandal. It is certain that everyone will be running to the stores to purchase the third in the series, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest." Find a review of it here at the very soon.