Category Archives: Book Reviews

Comments on The English Patient by Ondaatje

I read The English Patient for two reasons. The main one, I admit, is that one of my students selected this 1992 Governor General’s Award and Booker Prize winner as the novel she’d do for a reading/discussion assignment I’d given for our Canadian Literature class in the library diploma program at Credenda Virtual College.

The second reason was that I knew it was about a Hungarian during World War II, although I knew little else about the novel. That intrigued me as I’m Hungarian and researching an historical novel set in Hungary, so have done a lot of reading about many different aspects of the country’s history. Continue reading Comments on The English Patient by Ondaatje

Book Reviews for L is for Land of Living Skies

Authors often say writing a book is like having a child–if that’s true, then waiting for book reviews after the book is published is like waiting for a report card! How well did your progeny do? Pass or fail? A+ or getting by with Cs and Ds?  Teacher’s pet or the one in the corner that nobody seems to notice. Continue reading Book Reviews for L is for Land of Living Skies

FlashForward

I’ve just started reading FlashForward by Robert Sawyer — the novel the short-lived t.v. series by the same name was based on. And of course, even when I try not to compare the two different methods of telling a story, I do.

Usually, I find a novel does a better job of building character, especially when it’s written in the omniscient point-of-view, as this one is, but this time I find the characters less cardboard and more flesh-and-blood on the screen. Admittedly, I’ve had 22 episodes to get up close and personal with characters I can see and hear, compared to a few hundred pages of the novel, but there’s more to it than that.

Linda Aksomitis kayaking
Linda Aksomitis urban kayaking on the St. Mary River in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Photo by David Aksomitis.

One thing the novel does do better than the show, however, is put the scientific material to the forefront. Is everything I’m going to do in life already determined, because at some point further down the time line it has already happened, or do I have free will? While most of the characters stand on one side of the equation or the other, I can’t really see why both can’t be true. Surely, I can have free will right now, and the future me down the time line is shaped by these choices.

But of course, then the discussion becomes one of what happens if as a result of the flash forward, and knowing what my future will be, given the choices I’ve made/will make before those two minutes some time off in the future, that I change something.

Obviously throwing myself off a roof, as one character did in the t.v. show, in order to save the woman he was going to kill in a car accident, means that the “cause” has been removed so there shouldn’t be an “effect.” Or, as some maintain, the future isn’t that easy to change and something will still happen to the woman who was supposed to die.

Determinism or free will, which will it be? I for one am still reading and thinking, wishing that FlashForward, the show, would have been given another season for its characters to explore further. I can, at least, still finish Sawyer’s novel and see how it all ends up for the book characters.

Just Call me Joe — Historical fiction for Young Readers

Whenever I’m between book writing projects or thinking my way through a new idea, I read. Actually, I read all the time, so that’s no surprise. Writers are always readers–the two activities are really part of the same process. Can you imagine a cook who doesn’t enjoy trying different types of foods? A painter who doesn’t visit galleries and study the works of others? An architect who designed buildings without ever studying how the different parts all fit together in other buildings? That’s a writer without reading. Continue reading Just Call me Joe — Historical fiction for Young Readers