One of the most beautiful stories….

So far it is really one of the most beautiful stories I‘ve ever read. What is it? It‘s John Irving‘s „The Prayer for Owen Meanny“. It‘s not a secret how I love Irving‘s books and I read them once in a while. Can‘t say that all of them are equally interesting, or that they all touched me deeply, but this one really did.

First of all, because of the story. Second of all, because of the narrater. I mean, John Wheelwright is telling a story about Owen Meanny, his life, how they‘re lives were inseparable and why. It is just so beautiful when a friend can tell something so heart touching about his best friend. I don‘t know if this could ever happen in real life. But in both cases Owen‘s story is John‘s story and vice versa. Plus, this  story is jumping in times, so you have to be concentrated on seeking the story, because otherwise you can get confused.

I really loved that in this book we could seek several plot threads, most interesting of whom were political and religious. Both of them can be used quite provocatively, but in this book they were used more likely as questions, issues to be considered. We see how main characters are feeling and thinking about them, so this gives us this trigger to consider them ourselves in todays context or it gives us a chance to consider past retrospectively. Maybe not in the way as John or Owen did, but in our own way, relating to those circumstances we are facing at the moment.

Another thing that fascinates me about this book is the way the friendship of two boys (growing up) is portrayed. It is fascinating because I don‘t know if there actually is that kind of friendship that last from childhood up to an entire life. I don‘t know this kind of stories. In my experience even the longest frienships eventually end up. I think this kind of friendship, a friend(s) as Owen and John are, I don‘t know, it’s a gift from above. Moreover, it‘s great to have a friend who eventually becomes like a mentor, teacher to you, which, in this case is quite unusual due to the fact that John and Owen are the same age. But this wisdom, maturity compensates this lack of height and ability to be a regular (physically) that Owen faces due to his health condition.

And the fact that Owen was not as everyone else, people did not push him away as it usually happens. No. On the contrary they accepted him, they loved him, took care of him. Somehow with his difference he managed to charm people and make them like him.

In this book we can observe a very interesting relationship between Owen and his parents and his relations between him and John‘s family which seems to be more close than with his own family despite the fact that Owen kills John‘s mom. Or maybe it‘s not that strange. I mean sometimes other people, other families are trully closer to us for whatever reasons than our own ones. I don‘t know why it is so, but it‘s true that in his own family a person can feel himself extremely lonely. But maybe in Owen‘s case the reason is that his family thought he was a result of an immacculate conception (a plotline that I couldn‘t take seriously)? They were kind of afraid of him or distant from him. Also, Owen‘s constant claim the he was a instrument of God doesn‘t seem realistic or serious to me too. I don‘t know why. Maybe there was some sort of hidden meaning that I wasn‘t smart enough to get. But for me it was too surreal. Or maybe I‘m not so much into faith, spiritual issues… No, I‘m actually into this and I believe in God, faith, but I just don‘t believe that when someone says that he is an instrument of God he’s actually and really is an instrument of God. There‘s not enough just to proclaim that and believe in it. I just think that there are higher requirements for it.

Anti-war, anti-Vietnam moods are really openly pointed in this book, as well as, those like joining the army. In this case, it is important not because of joining the a army per se, or guarding your country. I think in this case army represents some sort of achievement for those like Owen. It‘s like proving to others and yourself that you can do things no matter what, who you are, what you are. However, war is still seen as evil, as something, a man shouldn‘t do. And at this point it is interesting, because John is a pacifist and his best friend Owen joins the army. So at this point some sort of collision rises in their friendship which develops interestingly.

There‘s quite a lot of surreal elements, like dream – real world. What the boys see in their dreams turns out to be real. Well, actually, not everything that Owen forsaw happened really accurately. However, the basic part  actually turned out to be truth, and he really became an instrument of God. So maybe all this is more real than we think of it. Maybe this is how we build up our life, our faith, by believing in something so strongly until it finally happens. It‘s like programming ourselves to live certain amount of time and then die on a selected day in a selected way. Something to think about.

Of course, this book, as any other, book written by John Irving consists of several permanent elements: New Hampshire, father/real father/lost father, prostitutes, private schools,writers, film creators and, of course, all kinds of accidents. I‘m not saying it‘s abad thing, it‘s actually what makes his books, his stories, his style recognizable.

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We are the heroes of our time

I‘ve titled my this post with the chorus line from Måns Zelmerlöw‘s song „Heroes“ with a reason. Today I‘ll be discussing a novel „A Hero of Our Time“ by Mikhail Lermontov. And I hope by the end of this post you‘ll be able to understand why the title sounds exactly like this – „We are the heroes of our time“. So let‘s go.

I won‘t go into detailed analysis of the structure of this novel, if you want to find out something about this, there‘s plenty of information about it. No, I just want to focus on heroism of a specific time. What it is to be a hero, and who can be that hero and why?

In this novel we pretty much have only three characters: Bela, Maxim Maximych and Pechcorin. The entire storyline goes around the three of them (there are of course other characters but they are only minor characters). For readers it‘s quite comfortable, makes it it easier to read and seek the story.

A Hero of Our Time is a picked up from all the people of our generation and their flaws. That‘s what is said in the novel. You know, it‘s so hard to comment something based specifically on this novel, because either way you won‘t be neither right or wrong. So it‘s a bit difficult to make some kind of conclusion. Like for example, Pechorin sabotages this tartar boy to kidnap and bring him his sister Bela. For her, Pechorin is ready to steal the finest horse of all, from Kazbich. Now, what‘s heroic about this? That Pechorin is risking his life by stealing the horse just to get a woman he likes? That he is thinking he might give Bela a better life though racialy she‘s inferior than he is? Personally, I don‘t find anything heroic here. And that‘s how (for me) goes the entire story of this novel? There‘s just flaws that are transformed into heroicity somewhy.

Mostly we learn about Pechorin from Maxim Maximych’s stories. We find out that he was very calculative person, impulsive. Basically, not much has changed. Today the exactly same features are considered as those that a hero of our time obtains. Not sure if it is right, because each one of us has their own features that represent heroism, any kind of heroism. So this understanding given in a novel does not satisfy me, however, it has the right to be that way, I‘m not going to deny it or anything.

However, it was an interesting moment to observe the clash of two different cultures. Caucasians and Russians. And it was even more interesting to see how Maxim Maximych goes with understanding when something wild (looking from Russian perspective) is done by Caucasians. He just goes, like: „OK, it‘s their tradition. We have to deal with it“. One the one hand it‘s fascinanting how high his level of tolerance has reached. On the other hand, but if their tradition is to kill for whatever reasons so doesn‘t that make you partner in crime, because you didn‘t stop that crime, you did nothing to punish for that crime. So, this respect for other cultures and traditions can be both heroism and anti-heroism.

Another thing that I did not like was Pechorin’s behaviour with Bela. As soon as he saw her, he wanted her. But once he got, he was no longer interested in her. So what is heroic about that? Treat a woman like a thing, a trophy? It‘s actually pretty low.

I don‘t feel like I have anything else to say about this novel. It‘s not a bad a novel. You should read it if you want. But it‘s also not the best novel. That‘s just my opinion.

Back to the heroes of our time. I don‘t know…  Like at the same time as i was reading this novel I also watched „Sons of Anarchy“ series. And when you think about it SAMCRO guys can be also seen as heroes and antiheroes. They have their own code of ethics, they’d die for their families and Club, but at the same time thei are outlaws, they sell guns, they kill (thinking of it as some kind of justice), so at this point they are not heroes, no matter how cool or masculine they are…

Maybe what was thought under the name of hero has changed, or maybe the author was writing ironically, but I just did not find anything heroic about this novel. But then again, anyone can become a hero and actually everyone is in a sense a hero in their particular time, so I don‘t see a reason why we should be so fascinated about all these hero stories coming from books, TV, etc. Let‘s see heroes in simple people who are near us. They are the true heroes. We all are. Don‘t forget that.

A colorful life of Masquerade

Lately, I‘ve been writing so much about films that books were left aside (unfortunately). Well, it‘s time to correct this mistake and discuss books. So, for that reason I‘ve decided to discuss Mikhail Lermontov‘s play „The Masquerade“. It‘s a famous play; it is played in many theatres in different countries. It might not be THE most interesting, beautiful or whatever story to read, but it it is one of those stories that I think is a MUST to be read for a well educated person.

I‘m not going to re-tell the entire story of this play, because I don‘t think there‘s a huge need for this. I‘ll just try to point certain things relating it to story that I think are interesting (well, at least for me). One of them is the importance of social status.

Social status plays significant role in people‘s life no matter how we disagree with it, or how we don‘t care about ir. Nevertheless, it does and it did the same way back in the day, somewhere around XIX century. For the main character of „Masquerade“ status is really important too. Not only because it gives you permision to live in a certain way, but because if gives you freedom to behave in a certain way (and with this I don‘t agree). He lives and behaves the way his status allows him. But is it really so? The fact that someone is rich does not allow him go against rules or laws. The fact that his moral rules differs does not mean they are superior than common moral rules. Yet, law is the same to everybody no matter how you don‘t want to agree with it.

Arbenin (the main character) is also known for killing his wife out of jealousy. Yeah, I realise that the play was written in XIX century and things were different back then, however, whether or not your wife was cheating on you, you have no right (any kind of right) to kill her. Period.

These are the things, emotions, thoughts that occured in my head as I was reading this story. I don‘t know if these were the things that Lermontov wanted to point out. But I pointed them out for myself, that‘s how I interpreted this story. Now, let‘s move on, and discuss some other things.

What I like about this play was its structure. It is really good that it is written mostly in monologues not in dialogues. On the one hand, it is easier to read and follow the story. On the other hand, the characters develop so much better. It‘s like you can actually enter their inner world, something that is on the other side of their appearance. You see them thinking, suffering, you see them making mistakes, but all this is happening while they speak. It‘s like you‘re not standing behind them as they act, but you‘re in their body and are both the observer and the one who acts at the same time. Fascinating.

But why the story with such a nicely sounding title ends up so tragically? I think because of the unwillingness to talk, to check the facts – these simple things sometimes makes lots of troubles. Well, that‘s what happened to Arbenin: his wives‘s bracelet was at her friend and this friend gave it to the man with whom she flirted at the masquearade. And that‘s the reason why Arbenin started to feel jealous. Stupid, stupid, stupid. But in this case, not only these stupid circumstances pushed Arbening to kill his wife, but also other people. Those who knew the truth but remained silent. Those who could say the truth and save poor women‘s live but didn‘t. Those who made things even worse. Sadly but there are oh so many this kind of people out there. And the most scariest thing about it is that these kinds of people are closest to you: friends, relatives, family…

One more thing I‘d like to ask: is there a certain border when love becomes frightening? I think there is. And Arbenin showed exactly that border. When you don‘t trust someone, when you‘re super jealous it can become worst feeling ever. Probably exactly then people decide to get rid off of their second halfs. It‘s at the same time amazing and terrible how such a beautiful feeling like love can be so destructive.

One more interesting detail: I somewhere read that Lermontov‘s „Masquerade“ was based on whether a true story or true details. I don‘t know if it‘s true. But if someone does it would be great if you could share with this information, or some links where we could all read about it.

Secrets of a long lost symbol and further journey through Dan Brown‘s world

There are writers that you fall in love with once you read their book. And it‘s always a pleasure to read something new written by them. Everyone has their own author, or maybe few of them. I do too. One of them is Dan Brown. I remember I‘ve made a post about one of his books, so pretty much I‘ve already told why I like him, so I won‘t go into the same details. All I want to say is that I like how he writes, I like his writing style, creating a story that might be completely untrue, but you will believe it as if it was true. I love how he incorporates history, historical facts, religion, science, figures and symbols from all these fields and joins them all together in this masterpiece of his. I admire this ability of his so much and I wish I could do something like that… However, at the same time in this book there‘s so much of everything that you don‘t even know whether it‘s good or not. On the one hand, you get so much interesting information and things to think about, but on the other hand, these things start to look too unreal. Oh, well… Let‘s move on and discuss „The Lost Symbol“ book.

This book also involves Robert Langdon – a character we all know. See, this is one more reason, that makes Brown‘s books interesting to read. There‘s a character that goes from book to book, so all these stories has duration and connection, and you can see how the character develops. Yes, there might be similar situation, yet it still is interesting. Remember Sherlock Holmes stories they all are the same: mystery/crime – solving it – it is solved schemed stories that are still interesting to read. The same with Robert Langdon – he‘s a scientific, nerdy superman that keeps you alert all the time as you read the story.

This time thes story involves mystries of Capitol in Washingto D.C. No more Italian history and art. This time story is filled with detective and thriller elements and of course mysteries, mysteries, mysteries that has to be solved. And these mysteries are gathered around the organization of Masons. And this organization is known for all kinds of conspiracy theories, mystique stories, so one way or another, it makes us pay attention, because there are lots of people who still think there is something mysterious about Masons. Maybe there is? Who knows. The exact same thing can be said about all these secrets on a governmental level. Sure, there are such secrets, but are they really that groundbreaking? Who knows? Maybe. And that‘s maybe why we know about them only under the title „Secret‘. And this is why we are attached to this book because of all the secrets. Everybody likes secrets and things that might be true, but known only to very few people. The same thing with gossip. Everybody likes them, even though they say the opposite. Of course, if certain things described in this book would have been so secret neither Dan Brown would know them, nor he could write about them and make fortune out of it.

Another thing that fascinates me about Brown‘s writing style is his passion about the places he writes about. Like this time, he so vividly and passionately wrote about some places in Washington that I actually felt this huge wish to go there and see everything myself. And believe it or not, not often books (and their writers) make such an effect on me like „The Lost Symbol“ did.

But more than just historical, ancient secrets, in this book is also raised family relationship issue. Especially between wealthy parents and their kids who pretty often act irresponsible due to their wealth and what they can do with their money. But sometimes kids have unexplainable hate and heartburning for their parents or certain actions made by their parents. It‘s difficult. But when a person lives with these feelings for too long bad things happen.

Religous aspect is also very interestingly developed in this book which is great, because somehow people still think religion and whatever it concerns is really boring and out of date. This is very misleading, because religion is a very interesting topic and wide topic. Moreover, nowadays lots of things are happening to different interpretation of different religions, there are lots of religious fanatics who are really dangerous and scary. So, actually, learning and  studying religions is not only interesting, but I think is also very useful for not to be misunderstood and not to misunderstand it ourselves. How can these books help us? Maybe in no way, but it can be a great trigger to start learning things. And that‘s a pretty good start.

So, all in all, every science is awesome in its own way. And I think we should stop claiming that learning things is nerdy, because actually it is great.

Millenium trilogy: Part 2.

So, today I’ve decided to get back to Millenium trilogy and discuss the second part of it “The girl who played with fire”. For me this part is more interesting than the first one, because we finally get involved into mysterious and difficult life of Lisbeth Salander. We finally are allowed to step in her personal world. We are able to observe her past and things that made her the way she is. We get a lot of personal information aboput Lisbeth but we have to pick a puzzle out of it to see entire picture of who she is. And she’s not an easy person.

This book is a good illustration of how childhood traumas affect us in our adult life. Nothing passes by us without leaving a mark on us. Whether it’s a good or bad mark it still stays. Pretty often people don’t understand that their words or actions might bring a lot of pain to a child that with every year might grow and develop into something else more serious. I’m not talking about some mental illnesses, but it could easily grow into some depression, inferiority complex, or something like that. On some level that’s what happened to Lisbeth. Except, her trauma was more bigger – she threw a milk carton filled with gasoline onto her father and set him on fire, because he violated against her mom. And that explains why Lisbeth can‘t stand men who violate against women and if she can – she punishes them.

But this is not the case of this part. The case is that Lisbeth and Mikael got together again, but in a way different circumstances than the first time. Now Lisbeth is in trouble and Mikael has to save her.

Why I liked this part more than the first one? This time, reading 2nd part, it really felt like reading a true detective, thriller story. The tension, characters, details, not knowing what to expect. It felt great to read it. Plus, as you read and get more and more details you keep thinking how on Earth it might be related to Lisbeth and how Mikael will be involved here? I mean, it is such a tangled up story, written so smartly (I wish I could write like that).

However, you can‘t jus concentrate only and entirely on Lisbeth and and Mikael, because we are presented with new characters that are pretty shady and you don‘t know what will they bring in. So you have to stay alert all the time as you read the story, because those things that are new for the reader, are also new for most of the characters. So the plot tangles up even more.

What is more interesting, is how The System is exposed. Talking about crime and how institutions that shouldn‘t be, but sometime are involved in it and how they can easily fake information. Make someone mentally disabled even if he / she isn‘t, how our biographies can be faked. Sure it sound like secret service job, but I think that is done, more or less, in every country and that‘s actually pretty scary. That‘s exactly what was done to Lisbeth – her biography and mental condition were faked and her life ruined.

Another thing that fascinated me about this book was this sick father and daughter relationship. I mean, I understand why Lisbeth hated her father so much (he abused her mom), but where all this hatred for your own child comes from? I don‘t understand. It‘s sad, it‘s scary, because there‘s a lot of parents like that who have kids and hate them. It‘s a tough social problem and we won‘t get into it right here, right now.

All in all, it‘s a super interesting book to read. And the best part of it is that the story does not end. There‘s one more part – 3rd part and I hope that someday I‘ll discuss it too :).