Tag Archives: Book Review

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 106: Leviathan by Paul Auster

What is friendship?  Especially what is male friendship?

Paul Auster gives us an answer in his novel, Leviathan.

Leviathan is an Old Testament reference meaning a dragon-like monster, serpent or even a crocodile that represents evil. While, Auster’s novel is not biblical or religious on the surface, there is definitely a strong philosophical underpinning that made it interesting to read.

The novel begins with a man blowing himself up on the side of the highway in Northern Wisconsin. And we find out immediately that man was Ben Sachs and his story will be told by the novel’s narrator, Peter Aaron.

Peter was Ben’s best friend and he decided to tell the story of their friendship right up to the point of Ben’s tragic end. While reading Peter’s version of their friendship, I’ve learned that friendship can have a tighter bond even than with siblings. But, what appears to the outside world of a person’s life is definitely not what’s going on behind close doors.

One of the most fascinating scenes in the novel is where Ben finds out that Peter had sex with his wife and that conversation between them(Ben reveals his own adultery as well) was the saddest and most authentic I’ve read in modern fiction.  It made me read Proverbs 5, where Solomon gives a stark warning against adultery and how one must steer clear of that temptation or it will definitely pull you in.

I got the sense the author felt the random events and coincidences are things that could shaped a person’s life in one direction or another.  While, I disagree with his premise. I did find those coincidences in the story make me think about those things that happened in my life.  Where they coincidences?  Or orchestrated by something beyond myself?

Leviathan was the smoothest novel I’ve read in the past few years.  The pace and flow of the first 100-150 pages was nearly perfect.  Auster is a very talented writer.  However, the last 100 pages or so, I’ve felt a little let down and thought the random events and coincidences became too convenient in order to finish the novel.

I don’t think this is a novel for everyone but it does reveal the real nature of friendship and how self-deception and idealism can cause self-destruction.  An interesting read and recommended.

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 103: Queen of Angels by Greg Bear

Queen of Angels by Greg Bear has been a book I’ve wanted to read for years. I’ve seen it at used bookstores and bought it several times intending to read the book but never get around to it until recently. Queen of Angels is an ambitious, thought-provoking science-fiction novel that deals with race, crime, religion,… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 102: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

When I heard that Ray Bradbury had passed in 2012, I realized that I had never read any of his books. Wow, that surprised me. Well, in honor of his passing, I decided to read his most popular and enduring work, Fahrenheit 451. “Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 99: Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus

Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus tells the story of Jamaican agent Desmond Coke and his companion, Lij Tafari. They are on the run and Desmond wants the boy to have a normal life, but it seems unlikely because of those who want to capture Lij for nefarious reasons. This alternate history tale has the United… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 95: The Wood Wife by Terri Windling

In my previous post, I decided to give myself a reading challenge where I will read the books on my physical and digital shelves for this year.  The goal of this reading challenge is to read more of what I already have instead getting something new. Also, I hope to discover some great reads that… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 92: Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

Does a son have to repeat his father’s transgressions and life choices? It seemed like S.A. Cosby was trying to answer that question in his thrilling third novel, Blacktop Wasteland. I have seen this novel posted on my Instagram feed recently and several Goodreads friends posted about the book and I had to read it.… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 88: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

“And so, by circuitous and unpredictable routes, we converge toward midcontinent and meet in Madison, and are at once drawn together, braided and plaited into a friendship. It is a relationship that has no formal shape, there are no rules or obligations or bonds as in marriage or the family, it is held together by… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 82: Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

What does it mean to being smart? It seems we have judged intelligence by IQ and rational knowledge throughout human history. However, there was a book published over twenty-five years ago that challenged the notion and looked at emotions as an important factor regarding intelligence. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman presents a claim that it… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 70: Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

Sometimes in reading a novel for the second time, you will not get the same feeling when you read it previously. This is the case for Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata. Snow Country is considered to being Kawabata’s masterpiece.  And for many reasons, I agree with that assessment. However, as I’m getting older, I realize… Continue Reading