My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Water for Elephants

June 29th, 2008 | Category: Opinions

I recently finished one of my audio books, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. It’s not quite my usual fare, but I did enjoy it. The story is narrated by Jake Jankowski during two points in his life, age ninety-one, or ninety-three (he’s lost track), and as a young man of twenty-one. At ninety-one, or ninety-three, Jake’s relegated to finish things out in a nursing home and he’s not particularly happy about it. Jake’s not content to eat pureed goop and stare passively at the world outside his window. In his younger days, Jake led a rather interesting life. Just before college graduation at the age of twenty-one his parents are killed in a tragic car accident. This is bad enough, until Jake discovers that his parents took on a massive amount of debt to pay his college tuition at the Cornell University school of veterinary medicine. Jake has no family, no money and no home. The car accident and the bank claimed everything respectively. Devastated, and absolutely flat broke, he drops out just before exams and, not quite thinking clearly, hops a train bound for God knows where. The train belongs to a rather dubious depression era traveling circus, full of shady characters and cheap booze. A traveling circus that just so happens to need a vet.

Water for Elephants isn’t a complicated tale. It’s a story of loss and romance, of misfits down on their luck with no place to go. Gruen does a spectacular job at painting vivid images with her prose. One can see the dingy train cars, the raucous midway, Jake’s lonely nursing home bed. Though dark quite often, the book isn’t totally bereft of hope. Jake might not be entirely lost, not quite knowing how many years are behind him. It’s definitely worth a read.


Speaker for the Dead

June 11th, 2008 | Category: Opinions

So, I finished Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead.  Speaker for the Dead is the second book in a series continuing the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, former destroyer of worlds. Because of the nature of space travel and the way time works while traveling at the speed of light, Ender’s a man in his early 30s who has lived for over 3000 calendar years, giving the series quite an epic feel.

I’m not here to talk about the first book, Ender’s Game, which was spectacular, I’m here to focus on this the second book. Speaker for the Dead is really a book about truth and how freeing it can be to live a life in which all secrets are laid bare. A Speaker is akin to one reading a eulogy at a memorial service, but rather than paint deceased in the best possible way, they simply tell the story of a life, factually and impartially. A Speaker tells of everything from acts of kindness to one’s flaws and sins, honestly and completely. Yes, it can be a painful process for those left behind, but ultimately, it allows them to examine their relationship with the deceased and their relationships with each other without lies and false pretenses. It’s beautiful, really. In a way, it’s kind of how I see Ira Glass and what he did for me.

At any rate, read Speaker for the Dead, it’s an amazing experience.

My next audio book is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.