Tag Archives: John Irving

“Away” By Amy Bloom — Quite The Remarkable Story, Impeccably Told With Touches Of John Irving.

by Anura Guruge

Click to access the Amazon listing for this book.

Second book, back-to-back (the other having been the haunting “Doctor’s Wife“) that I have read on the wife’s recommendation. She, however, said it would be a ‘quick read‘. It was NOT and I am glad of that. I like to savor books, reading sentences over-and-over again, to appreciate their structure and admire the intellect it took to compose it in the way it was. I am always in awe of good writers — totally humbled by the great. I was not familiar with ‘Amy Bloom‘ BUT I am willing to rate her alongside my IDOL John Irving. Higher praise cannot spring from my fingers.

Quite the story.

So, why does she bring to mind the legendary John Irving. The research she has done, and what she then share with you about a plethora of esoteric topics from 1920s matinee idols on ‘Broadway’ to zionist paradise camps in Siberia. I learnt a LOT from this book. Kind of a crazy coincidence. I had just finished reading ‘Journey‘, by James Michener, a few weeks before I started this book. That book was all about a journey to ‘Dawson’ (just across the border from Alaska on the Canadian side) and ‘Dawson’ was also a key destination in this book! That was neat. I already knew a fair amount Dawson from the first book which added to my delight in reading about it again.

Yes, this book, like nearly all, have a few paragraphs that drive you to distractions. But, that is OK. Small price to pay for the rest which, by and large, is exquisite.

Real good read. You will enjoy it. IF you let it, it will educate you on numerous arcane topics.

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by Anura Guruge

‘The Book Of Air And Shadows’ By Michael Gruber — Best Imitation Of ‘The Da Vinci Code’?

by Anura Guruge

Click image to access the Amazon listing.

Quite the book, and quite the story. Incredibly clever, with twists within twists and a level of detail about so many diverse topics that leaves one in awe. I have never heard of Michael Gruber before but I have to acknowledge that he is one heck of a storyteller, writer and intellectual. Bravo. The sheer detail he just throws into the story reminded me, more than once, og one of my favorite authors, the incomparably brilliant, John Irving. That said, this book, intentionally or not, is very much ‘The Da Vinci Code‘ redux. Nothing wrong with that. I know that many have tried, but Gruber does a great job getting close.

Is it as good as ‘The Code’? Maybe not — but Dan Brown had a even more compelling and intriguing subject to base his story than William Shakespeare.

To be honest parts of the story and plot are too far-fetched, trite and totally implausible. Life is never that pat, neat or tidy. But, others parts make up for this failure.

I was surprised at how harsh some of the Amazon reviews were. I really don’t think it was that bad. Actually, it is a GOOD book. I already gave it to an English scholar and told her that she will enjoy it. Plus, I am, of course, recommending it here! And even that seems unnecessary. It was, as it says on the cover, a ‘New York Times Bestseller’. So, it sure doesn’t need my imprimatur.

If you enjoyed ‘The Code’ you should give this a try. I doubt whether you will totally regret it. A tad hard to get through the first chapter, BUT then it gets more compelling and towards the end it is indeed a page-turner.

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by Anura Guruge

“Walk In The Woods”, Adaptation Of Bill Bryson’s Book, Was Painfully, Dreadfully Awful.

by Anura Guruge


Click image to access “IMDb.com” listing for this dreadful movie.

This movie, which like the book could have been brilliant, failed, and failed miserably on two fronts.

It was NOT TRUE to Bill Bryson’s (compelling) book & it was NOT TRUE to reality.

There are NO, I repeat ‘NO’, grizzly bears anywhere on the Appalachian Trail. For them to show an extremely well trained grizzly (who thought it was so funny himself that he had a permanent grin on his face) attacking a camp on the AT is a sick, a very sick joke.

Bill Bryson was 47 when he walked the trail. Robert Redford, who plays Bill Bryson in the movie, was a very old and decrepit 79. 79! That is a 68% difference in bloody age and it makes a bloody difference.

Bill Bryson lives in historic and amazingly picturesque Hanover, New Hampshire — home of Dartmouth College. The furthest north that the film crew travelled was Sharon, Connecticut — about 300 miles south. To try and pass of communities in CT as being in New Hampshire makes me, a proud NH resident, mad, very mad.

Dreadful, dreadful movie.

Why Bill Bryson, who I have always admired and respected (and would part with one of my testicle in order to emulate) would sell his soul for this atrocious movie totally and utterly baffles me. Why? He can’t want MORE money. He is RICH! Never understood the insatiable greed of rich people — never having had the luck or luxury of ever being rich. Why? John Irving is another of my top 10 authors. I think he is the cat’s whiskers. Why he bastardized his iconic “The Cider House Rules” for the movie always disappointed and disillusioned me. The only good thing that happened from that was I married Deanna — the only female I had met who understood that the movie was just tripe and bore no resemblance to the book!

Wedding 075

Why there was a copy of “The Cider House Rules” next to our wedding cake in 2003.

Related posts:
>> All the Way.
>> Mortdecai.

++++ Search on ‘movie’ & ‘Disney’ for many, many related posts >>>>

by Anura Guruge

Irving Stone’s Monumental ‘Men To Match My Mountains’ Sure Worth Reading To Appreciate The Opening Of The U.S. Far West.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

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++++ See Category ‘Books’ on sidebar for my other book posts >>>>

To say that I am a slavishly devoted fan of Irving Stone does not still adequately capture my deep emotional connection with this magical author’s writings.

Two of my all time favorite books are by Irving: ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy‘ (Michelangelo) & ‘The Origin‘ (Charles Darwin). Both these books made such an impact on me that I could even claim that they were life influencing.

Ditto with ‘Men to Match My Mountains‘. As with books by John Irving (funny that two of my most favorite authors are both ‘Irving’), James Michener et. al. I pick up any Irving Stone books that I encounter. So I know that I have had this book for over 15 years! I was always waiting for the right time to read it. I had read Michener’s ‘Centennial‘, about Colorado, earlier in the year. Since I did not grow up in the U.S. my knowledge of U.S. history has huge gaping gaps. I really had no idea as to the history of Colorado and was fascinated by Michener’s incomparably related narrative. I wanted to learn more. So I knew that it was getting time to read ‘Men to Match my Mountains’. I started reading it, appropriately, during our April trip to the Grand Canyon (though this book only deals with California, Nevada, Colorado & Utah).

The book is mind blowing. I learnt so much. So many characters. So many well known names, Stanford, Huntington, Fremont etc. that I was not aware of the backgrounds. I never realized the epic adventure of building the ‘Central Pacific Railroad‘. Though I have a fairly good collection of books on trains I was devastated to realize I really didn’t have any decent books on the building of this railway. That has been rectified. I bought two books. I had never heard of Hubert Howe Bancroft. I can sure relate to him.

So this book was, yet again, as with the other two Stone books, life altering for me. I now have an appreciation, tentative as it may be, as to how the Far West came to be — and cowboys really don’t play a big part in that.

If you are interested in the history of the Far West you can’t go far wrong by starting with this book. Obviously, Irving does not need endorsements from me. He is a true legend. I am, yet again, in his debt.