Mark’s #7: The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel by Richard Flanagan

February 20, 2015 // 0 Comments

“Wealth, fame, success, adulation — all that came later seemed only to compound the sense of meaninglessness he was to find in civilian life.  He could never admit to himself that it was death that had given his life meaning (pg. 254).” The winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize for literature, The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel by Richard Flanagan is a captivating novel about war, virtue, suffering, love, and straining in a world of unfulfilled desires and broken dreams. As I read about the life of Dorrigo Evans, I felt as though I was watching the Book of Ecclesiastes being unfolded in literary form.  A womanizer, an absent father, a sometimes careless yet excellent surgeon, a young Australian military doctor, a prisoner of war in the midst of Japan’s infamous Thai-Burma death railway in 1943, and a unassuming leader of other prisoners who would do anything to ensure their survival.  A man of immense contradictions, Dorrigo Evans is a character who spends his life seeking for something to fill the emptiness and longing in his soul.  Yet even when he finds what he thinks he is looking for in the arms of the woman he will […]

Ron’s #23: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

August 29, 2012 // 1 Comment

I have attempted to read this several times over the past ten years, and I finally made it through. Science fiction has never been one of my interests, so please take this review with that in mind. Ender Wiggin is a prodigy who is recruited from Earth into an elite battle school for children to find the next battle commander who will lead them to victory against the alien “Buggers.” As a 10-year-old, he is younger then the other children, and is isolated. The adults pulls on the strings in Ender’s life like marionette operators to cause the desired results. I’ll stop the story there in case you do know about the semi-surprise ending. Someone told me about the ending, but it really did not matter. Overall, it was a mildly interesting story and a good quick read. My main problem from early in the novel is that they had all these little kids arguing and discussing military philosophy as though they were college professors. It all felt so forced and phony. I never could buy that Ender is a child. This is also true with his older siblings, Peter and Valentine. There is a completely ridiculous sub-plot about the […]

Ron’s #12: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

April 23, 2012 // 2 Comments

This is a powerful picture of the horrors of war told through the eyes of Paul Baumer, a German infantryman during World War I. After being convinced to join by an overzealous teacher, Paul and his classmates fight disillusionment as much as they fight the Allies. We as readers sympathize and, in some way, root for they young men, wanting them to succeed, to live. This novel is often referred to as the greatest war novel of all time. I’m not too sure about that because I don’t read too many. I do agree that this is a great one. And for you in the military, this should be required reading.

Ron’s #4: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

February 20, 2012 // 0 Comments

I taught this for the second time this year, and I loved this book even more than when I read it last year. It is an incredible story of love, sacrifice, and unbridled violence. Sydney Carton is raising on the list of my favorite literary characters. To see his transformation from an idle, drunken loser to a redeemed man with purpose and life is excited and inspiring. While I did not see this as clearly last year, A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most Christian novels I’ve read. The concept of sin and evil, along with grace and atonement are clearer on these pages than they are in many other books I’ve read. Even without the powerful message, the writing in this book is so engaging and enjoyable. I suggest making this a selection in one of your next book group. You will not be disappointed. After reading, you will be “recalled to life.”  

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