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megcampbell3 has commented on (73) products.

The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
The Complete Stories

megcampbell3, March 11, 2008

This read is like walking through rooms of a labyrinthine southern mansion, alone and unnoticed by its inhabitants, witnessing random bits of random lives at what turn out to be pivotal moments. By the time the last paragraph of "Greenleaf" is taken in (the 21st of 31 stories), Flannery O'Connor is some kind of writer's goddess, and the present world is colored by these stories which are somehow equally representative of a projected idea of the 1950's and 1960's in the southern United States, as well as Flannery O'Connor's interior life, famously short-lived. Amazing, disturbing stories.
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(11 of 22 readers found this comment helpful)

Ocean of Words by Ha Jin
Ocean of Words

megcampbell3, March 7, 2008

The stories that comprise "Ocean of Words" seem to make all sorts of interesting things appear from below the still surface of the pond that contains them; what at first glance seem to be meditations on one facet of one plain, round stone are in fact studies of what is born in the muck and how it ascends toward the light differently than what is born right next to it. The differences in these stories are as various as the obvious and unapparent differences between siblings. Who would have thought, side-by-side on the Russian-Chinese border, early 1970’s, thinking Communist thoughts, so much could be so funny. Damn if Ha Jin can't make us laugh, over and over again, breaking the surface (from below) of the very pond these stories bloom within and giving us a good splashing.
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(13 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)

The Rider by Tim Krabbe
The Rider

megcampbell3, February 28, 2008

Perhaps "The Rider", from Dutch chess champion/writer/cyclist Tim Krabbé won’t make a smart addition to the legion of work in the staunch institution that is Literature, but it does a superb job of diving into the head of a cyclist (Krabbé himself) from start to finish in a defining race (the Tour de Mont Aigoual). The book moves through mountains and valleys of energy, from a confident bravado to morale shot full of holes; from full empowerment to reasoning and justification when minor decisions have major outcomes. As Krabbé points out, no journalistic telling will ever truly capture what goes on in a bike race (or, one can conclude, any athletic or intellectual competition). Krabbé perfectly conveys the idea that it is not necessarily the best competitor who crosses the line first, as in, "the journey is the destination". He also perfectly conveys exactly how random and uncontrolled the mind can be while the body is performing under ultimate discipline. The pacing of the writing seems to rival the pacing of the race itself, achieved with perfect edits, Krabbé's mind-body-chatter, and brief, pertinent chronicles of Krabbé's previous races, moments from which have all led to this pinnacle point. This is a must-read for any avid cyclist or racing fan.
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(24 of 35 readers found this comment helpful)

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
Down and Out in Paris and London

megcampbell3, February 23, 2008

Read the first half (down and out in Paris) of "Down and Out in Paris and London" in your favorite café or restaurant, and you might lose your appetite. Read the second half (down and out in London) on an empty stomach, and you might be better able to relate to the day in, day out hunger chronicled therein. This short read is labeled a novel, though it truly seems more an accounting, a diary—or a memoir of a time of extreme poverty in Orwell's own life. I would not call his portrait of those times "Orwellian", as its publisher, Harvest, does. Rather, as an avid reader and thrice-read student of "1984" ("'Oranges and lemons,' say the bells of St. Clemens…"), I was pleasantly surprised by the comme ci, comme ca position of the book's narrator, which comes through both in its obvious resentment of poverty's conditions and in its powerfully retained joy for living. It is this very mixture that allows the novel to read as if Orwell has laid his head on the pillow next to yours and is telling you, just you, this (unfortunately) timeless story. A mellow, marvelous piece of writing.
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(10 of 17 readers found this comment helpful)

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

megcampbell3, February 15, 2008

This slim volume on perpetual travel is equal parts practical advice and you've-only-one-life-to-live inspiration. Having already quit my job, sold my condo, and put everything else in to storage, I was already three or four chapters down the road with Potts before I'd ever heard of him or of "Vagabonding", but the true excitement and pure love that he conveys for a life of wanderlust is enough to give me all the extra confidence (a boost up and onto the horse) I needed; because indeed, I've done a great thing by pitching my whole daily routine with all its attachments in favor of the road for awhile. If well-placed in your days, this book may work the same magic on you.
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(11 of 20 readers found this comment helpful)

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