Tuesday, October 04, 2005

For me, I have been reading prodigiously of late. I finished The Devil in the White City, which I didn't love, but which I admired for a cleverly told dual tale. One was the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and the other the exploits of H. H. Holmes, known as America's first serial killer. The two stories alternate and intertwine throughout the book. The problem of all historical suspense is that the audience is likely to know already what happens--the author must create suspense in other ways, which Erik Larson managed well.

I'm also approaching halfway in The Historian, which I found out yesterday is actually on the hardcover bestseller list. Normally I'm not much into horror or vampire stories, but those are not the reasons that I'm enjoying this particular book. Elizabeth Kostova has achieved a sort of pleasant creepiness that pervades the pages. She employs an epistolary method for much of the book so far, and also a lot of parallelism. Her characters are not terribly memorable, although I rather like the plucky heroine (whose name I am not sure has even been mentioned at this point). The similarities to The Da Vinci Code are even more pronounced than I had anticipated. I've made a mental note to see if anyone has written about this similarity.

On the subject of The Da Vinci Code, I watched a teaser trailer online for the movie, to be released in May. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, so I do have some hope. Reading the book, I pictured Harrison Ford or some similar action hero (the plot to me followed fairly predictable action/adventure conventions), but certainly not Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks is no action hero, so hopefully the film will stay away from too much action and focus instead on the meaning and implications of the theories and revelations behind the story, which I found interesting.

Other reading: just started Truth and Beauty, Ann Patchett's nonfiction debut, and it makes me want to write. I've been doing almost no writing lately, but I feel that someday very soon, I'm going to explode with words.

I also finished Walter Scott's Old Mortality and ended up enjoying it, after I got used to the language again. (It's been awhile since I've read anything other than contemporary fiction/nonfiction.) Next for class is Colonel Chabert, a tiny novel by Balzac, weighing in at 83 pages.

Mark and I watched Hotel Rwanda the other night, which I found very thought-provoking. At what point is intervention "okay"? Can any country, no matter how powerful, presume to intervene in another's affairs? Much to ponder there, especially given the United States' recent actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, there are different kinds of intervention; but it seems to me that drawing a line among all these factors is a tricky business.

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