Monday, August 13, 2018

Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita: A Book Review


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In terms of innovation and creativity, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita crafts a beautiful tale that mystifies, amuses, and traipses across history. While difficult to fully describe, the novel is both literal and dense, yet the density is rewarding and in no way stands as an exercise in self-flagellation.

Set in 1930’s Moscow, the novel follows that hysteria that the appearance of a gang of magical, omniscient, and seemingly knavish causes in the city. No life is spared, no one is safe, and everything is at risk. On one end a strange foreigner takes over the artistic community with his ghosts, witches, and talking cat, while on the other a mysterious figure known as The Master discusses his motivations for creating a novel that centers on Pontius Pilate. At times these two plot lines and their many spokes seemingly have no connection, yet at others they overlap, intersect, and ultimately intertwine. In the process, the reader is treated to tremendous satire, and a brand of dark comedy rarely found in any media. The results stand as enjoyable and rewarding experience worth both the time and money.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories: A Book Review


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Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories stands out as a calm and complacent piece of literature among the author’s normal social controversies. Written more for children, but enjoyable by adults, the piece centers on a young man named Haroun. Haroun’s father Rashid stands as a storyteller in a sad city (unnamed) located in an unknown country that most likely stands as India. Yet when Haroun’s mother walks out on the family, life is thrown into turmoil and his farther loses the gift of story. It is here, when Iff, a water genie, appears to disconnect Rashid’s story stream, that the pair encounter a whimsical journey to what amounts to imagination land. Here, stories flow, processes too complicated to explain control all, and the populace is under attack by shadows attempting to reverse the stories and render everything, well normal. 


Within these constraints, Haroun experiences a classic hero’s journey. Full of joy, full of classical archetypes, Rushdie’s 1991 novel flows rapidly and is worth the time for any fan of the talented author.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Rabindranath Tagore’s Broken Ties: A Book Review


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Rabindranath Tagore’s Broken Ties, posits a spiritual journey through a life that enlightens one to many of the nuances of Indian culture from the early twentieth century. Fashioned around the life of Satish, a man torn between his atheist uncle, his Hindu father, a Swami he will follow in his later years, and the love of the unrequited love of the widowed Damini, we see rise and fall of both confidence and spiritualism within a man. While meandering, the novel classically tracks the growth of Satish, his life, and more importantly, those around him. For Satish is a focus in a text he does not narrate and rarely directly acts upon. Instead we see his actions, his youth as a beloved (and begrieved) atheist, his wayward years with the Swami, and his final surrender to the world as Damini calls for his love. A quick read and didactic in nature, Tagore splashes the page with cultural splendor that reaches far beyond the man’s plight.