Thursday, January 19, 2012

Books Reviews...

Quote for the Day:
"A child of five would understand this. 
Send someone to fetch a child of five."
~Groucho Marx

I have just finished two books and thought I'd do a review on them for all you bibliophiles out there!  :)

For those of us who grew up in the USA in the 60's and 70's, we had few sports heroes, unlike today when there are MANY sports "idols".  

In boxing, we had The Great Muhammad Ali..."floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee".  In basketball there was Karim Abdul-Jabbar.  And in chess we had Bobby Fischer...the man who made chess popular in America.

That brings me to my first book review..."Endgame:  Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall-from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness" by Frank Brady.   

  • Endgame is acclaimed biographer Frank Brady’s decades-in-the-making tracing of the meteoric ascent—and confounding descent—of enigmatic genius Bobby Fischer.  Only Brady, who met Fischer when the prodigy was only 10 and shared with him some of his most dramatic triumphs, could have written this book, which has much to say about the nature of American celebrity and the distorting effects of fame.  Drawing from Fischer family archives, recently released FBI files, and Bobby’s own emails, this account is unique in that it limns Fischer’s entire life—an odyssey that took the Brooklyn-raised chess champion from an impoverished childhood to the covers of Time, Life and Newsweek to recognition as “the most famous man in the world” to notorious recluse.

This book was very interesting and definitely showed how narrow the divide between "genius" and "insanity" can be!   Until reading this book, what I knew about Bobby Fischer came from the news I heard about him when I was in school when he was on his winning streak.  I had no idea what a truly mentally ill person he was as he pretty much dropped out of the public eye from 1972-1993.  Don't let the almost 400 pages scare you off...the last 75 or so are just "notes" and references. 

The second book was an audiobook I've been listening to... "A Widow's Story:  A Memoir" by Joyce Carol Oates.   


  • Early one morning in February 2008, Oates drove her husband, Raymond Smith, to the Princeton Medical Center where he was admitted with pneumonia. There, he developed a virulent opportunistic infection and died just one week later. Suddenly and unexpectedly alone, Oates staggered through her days and nights trying desperately just to survive Smith's death and the terrifying loneliness that his death brought. In her typically probing fashion, Oates navigates her way through the choppy waters of widowhood, at first refusing to accept her new identity as a widow. She wonders if there is a perspective from which the widow's grief is sheer vanity, this pretense that one's loss is so very special that there has never been a loss quite like it. In the end, Oates finds meaning, much like many of Tolstoy's characters, in the small acts that make up and sustain ordinary life. When she finds an earring she thought she'd lost in a garbage can that raccoons have overturned, she reflects, "If I have lost the meaning of my life, and the love of my life, I might still find small treasured things amid the spilled and pilfered trash." At times overly self-conscious, Oates nevertheless shines a bright light in every corner in her soul-searing memoir of widowhood.
Another LOOOONNNGGG book...85+ chapters.  The beginning captivated me but I found the redundant theme of her depression and of her loss of will to live seemed to drag on interminably.  However, it was like watching a train wreck...I couldn't stop.  I really felt like if I didn't finish the whole book then she would be left forever in her depressed state and I just didn't feel like I could abandon her there.  I really did want to find out how the book ended, and to do that...well...I just had to finish listening till the end.  (That's the bad thing about can't flip pages and skim passages to get the "gist" without actually reading the whole thing.)    :(   In the end, it was spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine and taking up a new hobby that finally started bringing her out of her funk.   
Sunshine and a hobby help lift depression...who knew???  *Loretta says sarcastically* is with certain reservations that I recommend this book.  I found the beginning part, from where her husband gets ill to where he dies, very eye-opening from a nurses' standpoint.  Sometimes as nurses we tend to get a little hardened as to what the hospital experience is really like for patients and families.  This book really made me look at things from the family/spouse's side of things.  For this reason alone, I thought this book was definitely worth the read.   You can take it from there and decide if you want to slog through the rest of the book...or just skip to the end...

Remember:  The reviews/recommendations here are always free...and I make sure you get your money's worth!!!  :)


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