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Monday, July 31, 2017

#50 - The Gambler - Fyodor Dostoevsky

Title:  The Gambler
Author:  Fyodor Dostoevsky
Genre:   Classic Fiction
Read by:  Simon Prebble
Publisher/Date:   Blackstone Audio/2010
Originally published:  1867
Dates listened to:   7/21/17 – 7/30/17
CDs/Hours:  6/6
IBSN:  978-1-4417-1712-2

Set in Germany in the town of Roulettinberg, we find our protagonist, Alexei, ready to partake of the gaming tables, namely roulette, on behalf of his lady-love Polina.  Dostoevsky, like Alexei, had a gambling problem.  His addiction makes the book even more real.  I love the tension of winning, losing, winning and losing again.  And like the red and black, odd and even numbers, we find the relationship of Polina and Alexei on-again, off-again.  It is an emotional roller coaster with changing fortunes and complicated lives.  Dostoevsky at his best.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

#49 - The Graduation of Jake Moon - Barbara Park

Title:  The Graduation of Jake Moon
Author:  Barbara Park
Genre:  Kid Chapter Book
Publisher/Date:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers/2000
ISBN:  0-689-83712-x
Dates read:  7/23/17/ - 7/29/17
Pages:  115

Eighth grader, Jake Moon, and his life haven’t been the same since his grandfather, Skelly, got Alzheimer’s disease.  The kids at school and in the neighborhood make fun of and tease Jake about his granddad’s antics.  Jake knows the man can’t help it.  Jake liked spending time with his grandfather but now he is mostly stuck fastening the Velcro on Skelly’s sneakers, or wiping rice off his chin.  All of a sudden it seems Jake is the grown-up and Skelly is the kid.  

This is a must-read for kids with adults in their lives who have this disease.  At the end of the book is an information page about how to contact the national office and where to locate the nearest chapter, together with some websites to learn more about Alzheimer’s. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

#48 - The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

Title:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author:  Neil Gaiman
Genre:  Magical Realism/Fiction
Read by:  Neil Gaiman
Publisher/Date:   Harper Collins Publishers/2013
Dates listened to:   7/19/17 – 7/27/17
CDs/Hours:  5/5.75
IBSN:  978-0-06-226303-2

The genre is called Magical Realism and I wasn’t familiar with the term and thought I hadn’t read anything like it before.  Yet when I googled it other author names popped up like Alice Hoffman whom I have read but didn’t associate her stories with magic.

The jury is still out on what I think of this type of story-telling.  Gaiman does well with detail and character development and magic.  I’m thinking in these types of stories and Ocean in particular it’s a matter of symbolism.  Lettie, the eleven year old girl, who saves the seven year old storyteller may be equivalent to the Biblical Jesus.  Lettie’s mother could be the Holy Spirit and the grandmother may be our Heavenly Father.  In any event the trinity seem to be ageless and when our protagonist goes back after years of being away from the lane he meets the gramma again who hasn’t aged a bit.
Another way of looking at the story is to just enjoy the way it unfolds and take it for what it is – a fairy tale as seen through the eyes of the small seven year old boy.