I am still one book behind schedule for the year, so I will have to catch up! This month the two books I read were The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemmingway. I really liked the short stories in O'Brien's book. I particularly enjoyed how he played with the idea of "real" and "fake" stories. How it doesn't matter whether a story is real or not and how sometimes a fake story can be more real than a real one. This is a great observation.
What is so great about short stories is they give you the opportunity to look at some segment of life and find the brutal humanity in it. For O'Brien, this means constantly reliving and thinking about his time in Vietnam. I think for individuals of the post 9-11 world, especially children, this book could have an influencing effect. We now live in a time when war is ever-present and yet seemingly distant. For those who actually have been overseas and for their families, the difficult transition back into "normal" life becomes apparent. Many of O'Briens stories deal with this time in his life because he cannot completely transition back into mainstream America, and neither could his friends from the war. He simply cannot move on and deal with the things he witnessed, the things he did, and the things he heard about. All of us can go through a traumatic experience like this, which is another thing that I think makes this book universal - displaying some universal truth that is our conscience.
The Old Man and The Sea was a fast and easy read. I have not seen the movie, and I do not think I will. What I took from this classic was the determination and endurance that the human spirit has. Even though the old man is defeated at the end of the novel from forces that are outside of his ability to control, he carries on. He did prevail at sea, and he prevails by not giving up. I also really liked the relationship he had with the boy who was not his son. Fishing brings them together, and the respect and love between them was clearly evident, even though the two barely spoke.
Books to come: Persuasion by Jane Austen and The Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare.
I'd love suggestions if you have any! I need to read 9 more books by the end of the year.