STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION
James Joyce's "DUBLINERS" is an exceptional collection of stories/portraits about some of the residents of Dublin, Ireland early in the 20th century. Joyce's writing is lyrical, intimate and insightful. His characters run the gamut from very poor to very wealthy, and all have their personal battles, triumphs, and jarring revelations. I had heard of this book for years, but never read it because I was intimidated by the fear that his writing would be difficult to understand. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth! Joyce writes in a modern tone that is easy to read and understand. His characters could easily be people from our present day, as their situations transcend time and cultures. This is a book to be read one or two stories at a time (the better to reflect upon). As a whole, DUBLINERS is both astounding and fulfilling. I highly - highly - recommend this classic to all readers!
"DEAD WAKE" is the book that drew me to the rest of Erik Larson's works. This is the suspenseful and heartbreaking historical account of the sinking of the Lusitania. Larson's narrative style easily propels the reader into the lives of the passengers (all factual, by the way); his talent for describing the on board atmosphere and the nuances of the time period are so lucid, one can actually smell the varnished wood walls, the pipe tobacco, and expensive perfume.
Yet, the Lusitania and its crew and passengers are not the only focus of this intimately-researched account. Larson takes us into the German submarine (u-boat) - the stifling heat, the cramped, claustrophobic quarters, and the minds of the dedicated crew and officers. Strange how the same men who risked their lives to save drowning puppies from the brine have no such compassion for fellow human beings on the ships they are ordered to torpedo and sink!
This is a long read, but a page-turner that dissolves all realization of time passing. DEAD WAKE is an incredibly detailed true account of one of the greatest criminal acts of the Twentieth Century. Although the memory of it will stay with you forever, you will want to read this book more than once, and you will undoubtedly recommend it to your friends and family.