domingo, 31 de marzo de 2013

The Starlings of Chatham Road by Doreen McNicol ( A Review)

The Starlings of Chatham Street by Doreen McNicol
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
The title attracted me immediately, and I was pleased to discover that it includes a metaphor, of which I am quite fond.
This novel set me on a path from London to New South Wales a couple of centuries ago through a very realistic plot that kept me glued to the book, which was made comfortable due to lifelike characters and situations. In fact, at some point I even had Oliver Twist -- an all female version -- come into my mind.
The story development took me into the life of Old England's government sponsored charitable institutions known as workhouses. In modern days they are referred to as sweat shops -- in some countries -- and are not government sponsored.
I enjoyed this easy-to-read story, and look forward to a sequel with the New South Wales as its location.

sábado, 30 de marzo de 2013

Miracle Child by James P. Wilcox (Review)

Miracle Child by James B Wilcox
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari

Living through the long-term illness of a loved one is devastating, no matter at what age it occurs. That's what I always believed, but watching the flickering light of a preemie is difficult to put into words. Nevertheless, James Wilcox was able to do it: "...and my heart lays in a thousand little pieces, shattered by his pain."

All the steps described by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross relating to loss were described, though informally -- hope, anger, conciliation, denial.
I know that there is much that is wanted to be written when describing a personal story, and we have to be careful not to flood the reader with too much information. I was hooked on the flow of information and the parents' responses in the first half of the book. But afterwards it turned into an almost daily log that may not be of interest to readers that are not familiar with extremely premature babies' development.
If there were a new edition of this story, I would humbly suggest deleting all the e-mails or updates as they duplicate the on-going narration.
Through my clinical profession I understood all the medical terms and procedures described, and was even worried about the mention of Amphotericin B having to be used at such an early stage in life. I wonder if all this will distract some readers.
For me, besides the miracle of life, the real miracle was the strengthening of Faith in God that this brave father and spouse maintained. In my case, I lost it.

viernes, 29 de marzo de 2013

Until Death Do Us Part by Julia Dutta (Review)

Until Death Do Us Part by Julia Dutta

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
The initial Author's Note made me think that this was going to be a book of stories about women in general, and it even sounded like an apology for what may be ahead. It almost turned me off, but I decided to find out what was so special about the characters and their doings.
I have to admit that it is not usual to read about lesbian or gay themes without erotic sexual details. Ms Dutta was able to leave enough to the imagination while stressing the message of women's right to freedom to choose in all aspects of their life, especially in modern India. This was a surprise for me, as my idea of India's inhabitants' romantic life ended in song and dance rather than sex -- Bollywood at work.
Don't get me wrong. This is not an exclusive lesbian-themed book. It deals with all the struggles women from India have to face in order to survive in a mostly male-dominated environment.
My favourite story was "The Heart is the Garden of Eternal Spring," which touched me in a personal fashion.
The author's technique of dividing each short story into chapters made for easy reading which, accompanied by India English made the experience worthwhile.

martes, 26 de marzo de 2013

Red Sorghum by Mo Yan (Review)

Red Sorghum: A Novel of China by Mo Yan

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
It is difficult to comment on the translation of 2012 Nobel Prize Winner, Mo Yan, most notorious novel. A great percentage of the work in English goes to Howard Goldblatt, the book's translator.
Popular Chinese practices are described, such as the "wailers" -- professional mourners -- that even exist in the West. In some remote communities in Panama, these "plañideras," cry for pay in wakes. Mo Yan reminds us that in spite of geographical divides, humans tend to behave similarly.
Some descriptions are full of tenderness -- "…held Grandma's foot in his hand, as though it were a fledgling whose feathers weren't yet dry…"
The plot is always supported by the fields of Sorghum, which change colors and even shape, according to the actions of the characters, all of them very strong.
This is a novel that is almost a study of metaphors where the sorghum fields may be Mother Earth, who cannot do much to protect all her children.
This is not a work for readers that just want a plot that develops like a movie. This is for the serious, analytical reader.

viernes, 22 de marzo de 2013

Where the Secret Lies by Malika Gandhi (Review)

Where the Secret Lies by Malika Gandhi

Review by Alex Canton-Dutari
I must say that this book was a non-stopper for me. My opinion may be skewed as I have always been interested in Indian history and culture. It was clever by the author to write the name of both main characters as a chapter header to help readers keep track of the era each belonged to.
This book was written in the flowing English spoken by both the Indian immigrants in the UK and those English-speaking native Indians. It is an example of how the language varies from region to region in the world.
Re-incarnation may not be among most Westerners' beliefs. As I read this novel the possibility became quite believable.
I enjoyed Ms Gandhi's Freedom of the Monsoon, and after this one I am sure that I shall be on the lookout for more works.