Tag Archives: Marion’s Favorites

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 105: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Have you ever read a book that you knew instantly you should have read years ago? I knew it after reading the first chapter of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I was working at a mom-and-pop bookstore in Santa Fe, NM in 1996 when this novel was published. I remembered the sales rep from… Continue Reading

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 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 Story Review 5: Galapago by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

  I have stated recently that I’m reading more short stories as a part of my reading life. As much as I love reading novels, I’m appreciating the short story on its own terms. Last year, I read an excellent short story collection, Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. My favorite story of the entire… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Story Review 4: L’Alchimista by N.K. Jemisin

I have read a lot more short stories in the past year.  I have always considered short stories the stepchildren of contemporary fiction.  Novels are the alpha and omega for most contemporary fiction (literary & genre) readers.  Novellas (short novels between 20k-50k words) have become popular in the social media age.  But the average reader… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 96: Black Titan by Carol Jenkins & Elizabeth Gardner Hines

  “Athletes and musicians who have made millions in their industries deserve our respect, but it is critical that blacks understand that our history, and our (often neglected) successes, run deeper than that. All children need to be made familiar with images and stories of blacks who have found success in the boardroom and the… Continue Reading