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The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi Into the chaos of a prolonged drought step Angel Velasquez—a "water knife"; Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist; and Maria Villarosa, a young migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky: All three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt and dirtier than any of them could have imagined. Learn more | See similar books
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Commonly mislabeled the worst of the Glass family saga, and of J.D. Salinger's work in general, Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters, and Seymour, an Introduction, deserves much praise. Salinger takes a lot of care and thought in writing these two short stories. Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters features Buddy Glass attending his brother, Seymour's wedding. Seymour never physically appears in this story, but Buddy narrates so much about him that he is very much a main character. Seymour, an Introduction is a more difficult read. What at first appears incessant ramblings of a grief stricken sibling, at second glance becomes a well crafted work of genuis. Every word is carefully placed, to describle Seymour, Buddy's relationship with Seymour, and Seymour's impact on everyone he met. While getting through the second story, may be difficult it is a worthwhile challenge. You will learn everything about Seymour, from the way he wrote poetry, to the way he shot his marbles, and from Seymour you will learn an entirely new way to view the world, and everyone in it.
Both of these stories were beautiful, beautiful beautiful. It baffles me to read all of these reviews written by people who were wild about "Raise high..." and almost indifferent toward "Seymour:" I feel that Seymour was the single most important book out of the Glass series. Yes, it's difficult to get through the first time, because, as Buddy says, the General Reader's most immediate want is to "see the author get the hell on with his story," which Buddy doesn't do because, really, there is no "story." However, if you are the type of person who can sit still long enough to follow through with Buddy's run on sentences and footnotes, et cetera, you will find, tucked in several places throughout the story, "the good, the real," the holy. I've read this book about 5 times, and I can't help walking around dazed for days after I'm through with it, marvelling at the tiny things that have suddenly taken on a sort of surreal beauty. My personal Salinger favorite. -Bridgdawg@aol.com
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Truly, what a wonderful final publication for Salinger. While many might argue the point of Salinger's work being over-hyped, it is just that which makes ALL of Salinger's work really, under-estimated. Criticisms ran aloft when Carpenters/Seymour first came out (read the absolutely cruel New Yorker review) but this collection of short stories truly is wonderful art. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters is a wonderfully constructed story, with each part leading beautifully into the next. However, it reads almost like any other Salinger story (which is not by all means a bad thing). It is with Seymour: An Introduction that J.D. really mesmerizes, totally disregarding most any kind of story-telling guidelines. He rambles on and on, and never really stops, but it is within this incessant rambling that its true wonder lies. Deep with compassion, often funny and full of wisdom, I think I can safely say that it is like nothing you will ever read. Like all Salinger work, its first impact might be that of a disastrous nonlinear tale (the New Yorker review suggested the title be Seymour: A Disaster) and in a way its as if Salinger was a "seer" in that he predicted there'd be those readers who'd wish he would just "get the hell on with the story". However, those readers patient and allowing enough to let the many layers unravel themselves will be justly rewarded.
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Just what it is about Salinger I don't know, but I was captivated from the first time I read Franny and Zooey. Maybe it's the down to earthness of the dialogue, the kookiness of the characters. Maybe it's the way he says things worth saying without being too lofty or literary, or maybe it's the way that you feel part of his world, get into the heads of the characters. Whatever it is it's good, and too complicated to define easily, which makes it better. Buy this book and all the books. The Glass family can be your friends too.
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I was recently paging through a new book by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy) where he offhandedly comments on various works of literature he has been reading-- it seemed like a clever idea, and I was bored. Apparently, Mr. Hornby read through the entire work of Salinger in a week. Though he was largely satisfied with Salinger's collection of stories, he complained that these last two entries in the Glass Family Saga (which I am reviewing here) were tedious. Hornby noted that he wasn't very interested in the character of Seymour, and he especially didn't care about how Seymour shot his marbles.
Well, I'm afraid that if you've read any of the Glass family stories and don't care much for Seymour, then you had better avoid this two story collection. Salinger's work (including Catcher) is permeated with the loss of a brother who meant the world to his siblings. Every crease and crevice of his face was meaningful, every sigh and utterance. The way Seymour shot his marbles as a boy DOES have relevance, because his philosophy of not aiming (a variation on the Zen practice of archery) is one of the central themes of the stories.
Thus, if the appearance of aimlessness bothers you (the narrator of these two stories, Buddy, is a strong adherent-- so watch out), then you might want to stick to more conventional fiction. I found the entire five story cycle to be the one of most profound pieces of work I have ever come across, but then again-- Seymour isn't for everyone.