Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

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 101: The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson

The Opposite of Art is the story of the genius artist, Sheridan Ridler, who is known for painting nudes without faces. Ridler gets quite a reputation in the art world as a cad to the ladies and an arrogant jerk to everyone else that comes in contact with him. Well, he has an accident at… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 100: Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Bag of Bones is the story of Mike Noonan, a bestselling novelist with a great life until his wife dies in an accident near their Western Maine summer home. From that accident, Mike’s life is turned upside down and inside out. Because of that event, Mike gets writers block, discovers their summer home is haunted… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Story Review 8: Recitatif by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is one of those authors I have admired and respected but not loved her fiction. I have read Song of Solomon, Jazz, & Paradise of her work. Song of Solomon is my favorite but my feelings as a reader on a storytelling level have been lukewarm at best. However, this short story (the… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 98: Aura by Carlos Fuentes

Carlos Fuentes is a writer that I have wanted to read for a long time.  I have seen his books, The Old Gringo & The Death of Artemio Cruz, in used bookstores for years.  I have always meant to get one of those books, but never did.  However, I read an online review about Aura last week… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 91: Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I love book cover art.  I was scrolling through my Goodreads page recently and noticed one of my friends add Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine to their TBR list.  The beautiful cover got my attention, and I bought book the next day. Sabrina & Corina is the debut book of Kali Fajardo-Anstine and has… 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 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