Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald

There are many love stories that end happily ever after. This is a love story that does not, but because it does not end happily, the reader can better appreciate the love story.

Dick Diver is a well respected and beloved psychiatrist. He falls in love with a mental patient and over the next ten years bankrupts himself mentally and emotionally to keep her cured. She eventually is cured and he is broken.

The strangest part of this book is that it appears that Fitzgerald was writing one story, and when he was about 60-80 pages into it, found a better story to tell. Instead of going back and changing the beginning he left it, seemingly letting the reader get to the point of the real story the same way that he did. It allowed him to tell an incredibly poignant story without getting bogged down in the back story in the beginning.

I don't know that everyone will enjoy the book. But if you like the writing style and story telling of The Great Gatsby, you will like this. In my opinion it is a better story, told better, and filled with more emotion.


White Teeth - Zadie Smith

I did not enjoy this book. It is the story of three families, the Iqbals, Jones, and Chalfins. You get the history of each member of the family. The story climax is the unveiling of "Future Mouse" by Marcus Chalfin. All of the characters are there at the unveling for different reasons, most intent on stopping the unveiling. Millat Iqbal shoots Archie Jones who falls on Future Mouse's cage, setting Future Mouse free.

I really got no great lesson out of the book, and it was not very enjoyable. It was simply a story. My biggest complaint was that at the climax of the book, the author tried to wrap all of the past history of all of the character together to show why each story of each character was important to the climax. This was ambitious and mostly well done, but to me it simply highlighted all of the extraneous story that was included. I would read another book by Zadie Smith, but this story was overly ambitious and failed to be all it could have been.


Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein

Fantastic book. Kind of "Band of Brothers" in sci fi. Plenty of action, but also plenty of character.


Things Fall Apart - Chinnua Achebe

I very much enjoyed this book. It is the story of english imperialism told from the viewpoint of the people the english "civilized." Before the white man showed up, life was happy and peaceful. Bad things happened, but there was always an answer. After the white man showed up and started preaching his religion, son turned against father, traditions that had worked for all of memory no longer work, the sense of community that had led to a mostly peaceful existence was destroyed.

Okonkwo, the main character, refuses to give in to the destruction of his culture, but in the end kills himself in violation of his culture. The message being that when white man "brought civilization" to Africa, the native people were forced to join with them and turn against their culture, or not join and turn against their culture. There was no opportunity to continue their way of life that had worked fine before the europeans showed up.

One of the saddest books I have read.


The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow

Not great. The story is about Augie, as you should have guessed, but Augie is a lazy and stupid character. He flows from one situation to another like a leaf on the wind, with no will of his own. It gets so bad that the author has to address it, and addresses it by having Augie say on numerous occasions that he doesnt know why people are drawn to him and help him, it just happens. In the end, he sacrifices for love and sells stolen goods on the black market to pay for his untalented wife. At one time he does find his calling, running a farm and school house for children so that someone will love him, but gives that up as soon as he runs into someone with more force of personality (anyone) who doesnt like the idea.

On the positive side, it is a very well written book. You feel like you are in the story, you just dont want to be there.