Middlesex

image The first couple of pages of this novel are spectacular. Full review coming when I have finished the novel…

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 29 December 2011

The Great Gatsby

image What a great book! It is short enough that you can read it in one day. I recommend that you set aside a Sunday and get rapped at in this marvelous piece of American fiction.  F. Scott Fitzgerald is a masterful writer. His prose is a bit reminiscent of Joseph Roth. He sets up a mystery story that makes you crave to find what Jay Gatsby is all about. The novel takes place in 1922. The jazz age is in full swing and the automobile is starting change everyone’s life. Jay Gatsby owns a big house on Long Island where some people are invited for parties and many more show up.  Fitzgerald has a sharp eye for people and the American people in particular and he construct an enthralling mystery. For the entire book I felt like Jazz music was swinging in the background. Some people have called it the best American novel of all time. I have not read enough to make such a grand statement but I can say: You don’t want to miss this book because at the end you will say. “Good Lord, was this story well crafted.”

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 1 August 2011

The Postman

image I received The Postman as a birthday present, fittingly in the mail. I felt obliged to start reading it. After a while it dawned on me that I encountered the plot before in a movie, which I had found terribly disappointing. It walked out of the theatre and wen to dinner early. But the book is better. It is a charming tribute to the writer Pablo Neruda with a love story sprinkled in. But is it a must read? No.

 

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 8 May 2011

Chess Story

imageFor many years, I have been an admirer of Stefan Zweig without knowing it. One of my favorite films during my college days, Secret Burning, flowed out of his pen.  I learned this after I googled Zweig half way into his wonderful Chess Story. He reveals himself as a master of the psychological drama. This one takes place during the Hilter era. Just like Secret Burning, Chess Story pivots around events that largely play in the minds of characters. The story is an allegory for all the different characters that reside in one human being. Zweig writes beautifully. Reading Chess Story is a marvelous treat. I wonder if he has written other pieces that are equally good.

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 9 July 2009

Disappointed Peter (Pan)

image I barely finished Peter Pan. The reader of my diary will remember that I was very excited about the first couple of pages of B. F. Berrie’s famous children’s story. The last few pages again were excellent. But in between lay for the adult reader one hundred forty painfully boring pages.  Even as a child I found it was silly when adults spoke in baby talk.  Those who engage in baby talk think it resembles the level of simplicity in the speech of young children although no child ever talks that way. What is so captivating about the Wizard of Oz is that it truly can capture the interest both of child and adult alike. B. F. Berrie, by contrast, writes a lot of baby talk that gets very tiring. Berrie also commits an atrocious crime against adult sensibility: he fundamentally misrepresents what adult life is about to make his young readers feel very special.

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 18 June 2005

The Tale of the 1002nd Night

image This tale is magnificient. Roth became famous for his novels Job and Radetzky March. For the contemporary reader Radetzky March is tedious. The slow decline of the Austrian Empire by itself can no longer hold our attention without connecting it to a larger, more universal story. The Tale of the 1002nd Night, in contrast, feels fresh, fast-paced and contemporary because Roth places into the background the unresolved question of how the Muslim and Christians will coexist in the industrial age.  In the foreground are the stories of individual human beings (the Shah of Persia, an Austrian aristocrat, a working class girl) who struggle to live in their particular place and position, and who become connected through small chance events. I continue to be surprised how sharp an eye Josepth Roth has and how well he can describe what he sees in the world. Roth knows the human heart in all its complications and weaves together astonishingly gripping tales.

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 27 December 2004

Tonio Kroeger

image   This autobiographical short piece of fiction is the best writing of Thomas Mann that I have laid eyes on. For me it was much more compelling than his famous first major novel The Buddenbrocks. At least one German writer (Martin Walser) claims to have learned the entire novella by heart so that he could readily draw upon it as a role model for his own writing. I suspect there are many more.  I have just reread Tonio Kroeger and once again found that Thomas Mann’s ability to describe human emotions is breathtaking.

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 2 July 2004

Confession of a Murderer

image Joseph Roth died in his Paris exile, leaving behind thirteen novels as well as many stories and essays. The Confession of a Murderer Told in One Night is after Job Roth’s most spellbinding novel that I have read to date. Roth had to flee from the Nazis in Germany. The book is a wonderful parable of the spirit that fuelled the Nazi movement without ever saying one word about it. The story, in fact, takes place in Russia and Paris.

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 24 June 2004

The Story of Job

image Roth has the ability to create suspense even though we are reading about the "Life of a Simple" man. The central theme of the novel is the role of destiny in human life that has become surrounded by the products of science and technology. The tale begins with a prophecy in prerevolutionary Russia and ends up in New York. More I shall not tell.

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 4 January 2004

Collected Fictions of Jorge Louis Borges

I have lately become quite enchanted with Jorge Luis Borges. What a pitty that he did not get the Noble Prize for his work! I hereby bestow upon him the Murmann Prize! If you don’t enjoy his work,  write to me and I may give you back the money you spent on Borges.

Read his story Funes, the Memorious.

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Books, Fiction

No Comments 21 December 2003

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