Saturday, April 02, 2011

"A good samurai will parry the blow"

She must have loved that quote, I lost track of how often she quoted it.  It can't have been too many, because that would be wrong -- and for me there was nothing wrong with this book.  I'm not sure which book this one pushes off my top ten list, but it's position is secure.

Art, science, religion, philosophy, growing up, settling vs. striving....this book weaves them all into a fabric that wraps reality and dreams together.  At various points I might have told friends what I though this book was about, but that changes as you read it.  Unlike Cien Años de Soledad, which also follows a family through the generations, this book comes into sharper and sharper focus as the years go by, and you realize the character you at first enjoyed is really background for the more vibrant character you are enjoying now.

One point that should be kept in mind: this book has no relation to the Tom Cruise movie of the same name, and only a passing relation to samurais - the title is an allusion to the Kurosawa movie "The Seven Samurai", which is a favorite of one of the characters.  It does have some negative criticism for the movie:
Cast your mind back to this film for one moment.  Identify, if you can, a suitable moment at which to place your arm around the shoulders of your companion and kiss her.  You cannot?  No more could I.  After half an hour, no suitable moment presenting itself, I chose an unsuitable moment -- I was rebuked.
I really want to recommend this book, but I'm not sure that everybody can appreciate it.  Although the book has no sluggish parts, it does use some techniques that might be confusing and off-putting if you don't get them.  There will be things beyond your comprehension you might want to just skip over, but they are brief.  If you are contemplating suicide, there are some helpful techniques to avoid it (for example, watching "The Importance of Being Earnest"), but they might not work -- but if you do commit suicide after reading this book, it is not because the book depressed you, it is because the depression was just too deep for the book to lift.

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