The Museum of Extraordinary Things

img_6038Book: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Date Read: April 11 to May 13, 2018

Rating: 5 (of 5) stars

This book was not what I was expecting. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure what I was expecting when I picked this one up. It came highly recommended by a friend, although I feel like our taste in books does not always have a huge overlap. It’s not that I was expecting it to be bad– I was just expecting something different than what I got.

While this novel could be called a romance, there is much more to it than that. Honestly, the romance aspect of the story was the least interesting part to me. There are several layers to the story– romance, mystery, perhaps even adventure. I particularly liked the historical aspect, tying in the events of the city in 1911, and touching on the labor movement. I knew the setting was historical, but thought the history aspect ended there. I was pleasantly surprised with the inclusion of historic events, and how they were intertwined with the characters. The firsthand depiction of the fire at the Triangle Factory was fascinating, albeit horrific. I appreciated Eddie’s perspective on the world, and how different it was from Coralie’s. Seeing the developments and changes in each of them through the novel was interesting.

After saying that, I feel that I should emphasize the word “appreciated.” There was quite a bit about Eddie that I did not like, but I do think his character is redeemable. He is cynical and selfish, and there was much in his behavior that just sort of irked me. However, his ability to view the world differently through his photography and his impulse to seek justice for the Weiss family create an appealing contrast to the other aspects of his character. I always have a greater appreciation of an author who can create a character that I do not quite like, but still want to root for.


Boris’s thoughts: “Too many dogs. More interested in the fish. 2 paws.”

No Country for Old Men

img_5897Book: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Date Read: March 9, 2018 to April 1, 2018

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

Anyone who does not believe that there is a sort of beauty in destruction and decay has clearly never read anything by Cormac McCarthy. This is the third of his books that I have read, and I do intend to read more. There is an internal struggle every time I go to my shelf to choose my next book, and my eyes fall upon the McCarthy section. I had finished reading “The Road” shortly before I heard some terrible news– my favorite bookstore, Borders Books, was going out of business. After I recovered from the shock, there was a more pleasant realization: closing stores means discount books. Once prices reached 80-90% off, I bought every McCarthy book the store still had available (among many others). As a result, I have relatively large collection from this author that hangs out on my “to read” list. I want to read them so badly, but I know they will devastate me.

As expected, No Country for Old Men was no exception to this. It was beautiful, and it was horrifying. While it could be said that the first bit of the book moves a little slowly, I love how the setting is built up slowly, bit by bit. This then eventually leads into a whirlwind of gruesome activity. Throughout the book, there are moments of unexpected calm, a short but compelling description of innocuous detail that is quickly disrupted by gunfire. My eyes moved easily over the words, devouring them, but my mind often forced me to close the book even at moments I was dying to know where the next turn would lead.

I very much enjoyed the dynamic between Bell and Chigurh. Although there is no direct interaction between them, they are essential to the existence of the other character. I try not to put too much time into perceived symbolism in my reading– while I feel that there is sometimes some obvious link, I think much of what we discover in literature is what we want to find there. Bell is interesting in the obligation that he feels to his community. Even when he realizes how much of the situation is outside of his control, he continues to search for meaning. He is not willing to accept that the unfolding events are just simply events, with no meaning beyond their immediate consequences. I have seen Chigurh compared to Death, but I think this is too simple. While he presents his actions as the inevitable, he is also self-preserving and elusive. He could be fate, or he could be random chance. Or perhaps he is neither, and both of these possibilities are just what we choose them to be.

Boris’s thoughts: “This all seems too complicated for me. Can you just pick up the book, or put the book down? 2 paws.”