Posting reviews of a couple of books I read last month: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (Book no. 7) and Lamb by Christopher Moore (Book number 8). One of these I adored to bits, the other I struggled with from beginning to end.
Heart of Darkness by J. Conrad
In Kitchen Confidential, my big crush Anthony Bourdain mentioned Heart of Darkness as a book he verily enjoyed. Look, I totally love him but this is where I draw the line. The tale is one long narration about Marlow’s epic journey to the core of Africa, to the heart of the cruel and corrupt ivory trade, in search for a Mr. Kurtz who runs the show. It’s supposed to be adventure-driven and morally challenging, but I never found my rhythm; in fact last year, I began reading it but had to drop it as following the story line brought me grief. This time, I tried to be a trooper and see it to the end, but I still failed to appreciate it. There is something about the narration that throws me off foot. I picked up on the beautiful way the setting is always laid out and that remarkable, haunting scene on the mountain with the withering slaves will stay with me for a long time, but in all, the impact Heart of Darkness had on me did not reach my expectations. I truly wanted to like it. You failed me, Bourdain.
Favorite line: “I don’t like work, – no man does – but I like what is in the work, – the chance to find yourself. Your own reality – for yourself, not for others – what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.”
Lamb by C. Moore
OH. MY. GOD. Never have I seen anything like Lamb in the Christianity shelves. Highly imaginative, wonderfully creative, and over-the-top witty and funny, I suggest you read this one, whether you are a believer or otherwise. The story is told by Biff, the childhood best friend of the Messiah. As it is, the gospels failed to tell the first 30 years of the Son of God, and Biff, proper name Levi, was raised from the dead to bring everybody up to speed. The result is a hilarious adventure that is as insightful as it is entertaining. I loved it so much as it paints a picture of Joshua, the Hebrew name of Jesus, as a real boy, with mortal feelings and struggles. Mind you, Lamb is a lot about Biff as it is about Joshua; about friendship as it is about faith. It is not the least preachy, don’t worry, but the takeaways are great. I don’t think any part falls into blasphemy, too. It is simply a well written book, with good research and a very clever idea to begin with. I read my family bits and pieces and they are now having a go, too. I think this one falls into my all-time favorite list next to the likes of The Book Thief, The Shadow of the Wind, Looking for Alaska, and The Reader (Hmm… maybe I should make a post about my greatest list). Lamb is simply sensational, the rock star of Christian lit, if it can fall under it.
Favorite line: “Compassion is the same way. That’s what the yeti knew. He loved constantly, instantly, and spontaneously, without thought or words. That’s what he taught me. Love is not something you think about, it is a state in which you dwell.”