Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Book Reviews: Sloan Wilson and J.K. Rowling

I've fallen behind on book reviews mostly because the end of the school year totally sucked all my energy. But, with a whopping 3 days of summer vacation under my belt, I'm ready for a few quick book reviews.

First, I have finally started, like 10+ years too late, the Harry Potter series. I've only read the first two, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Since it seems like most of the world has already read these books (or watched the movies) I won't give a full review of either. But, I will make two observations though: #1 I am impressed by the author's imagination and the sophistication of the books' plots. Very enthralling stuff! In fact, on several occasions I caught myself thinking about Harry & the gang and wondering when I'd be able to sneak in some reading time, and #2 I have been surprised by the level of my own frustration when I encounter those moments in the book (and I don't have a good example ready for you) when it becomes really obvious that these books are meant for elementary school kids. Nonetheless, good series though. And, while they were not as good as the books the Harry Potter movies #1 and #2 were pretty good too.

The other book is Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Wilson's book is the like millionth one that I've read recently that falls into the post WWII, 1950's disillusionment genre; I suspect it might just be the last one for awhile too. I'm getting a little burned out! Anyway, in The Man we meet Tom Rath, a WWII veteran, who returns home to his wife, Betsy. For no particular reason, so it seems, Tom won't speak to anyone about his war experience. His silence allows for a kind of rejection of responsibility for his past actions. Consequently, he seems unable, or even unwilling, to connect to anyone or anything in the present. So, Tom remains passive, detached, disinterested, without purpose. When he accepts a new job, it challenges Tom to find his place not just in the job but, ultimately, in life. Thus, Tom is forced to confront his past in order to reclaim his future. Great story. Didn't care for the ending. But, still, a great story. I haven't seen it but I've heard that the movie version of this, starring Gregory Peck I think, is supposed to be really good too.

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