Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shards by Ismet Prcic

Plot: Young Bosnian Ismet escapes his war torn country, leaving behind his old life and beginning anew - but this is easier said than done. Ismet struggles to make sense out of his existence, tormented by his memories confusingly intermingled with those of others.

Comments: Shards is an abstract story of a Bosnian boy coming of age under the pressures and dangers of constant war in the background and familial insecurity in the foreground. Learning about the conflict in Bosnia from the perspective of a child, then a teenager and a young man, is a new experience and rather shocking. Ismet wrestles with his sense of himself and his place in the world. I can relate to his confusion and frustration in that respect, as I think many people can.

However, due to excessively anachronistic, haphazard shifting of perspective, Shards is discouragingly challenging to read. By the time I finally finished the book, most of my questions were unanswered and I was left with an overall feeling of dissatisfaction. In an attempt to express Ismet's emotions and inner turmoil, Prcic seems to have thrown out as many random, wild concepts and stories as he could, creating a mess of words not worth reading.

Rating: I rate Shards a five out of ten.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Plot: Gwen Cooper adopts an eyeless kitten she names Homer, and his determination to live life spectacularly changes her own life forever.

Comments: While this was a cute story about an inspiring cat, before I started reading I didn't realize how much of an autobiography Homer's Odyssey really is. I liked reading about Homer's shenanigans and various mischiefs. He was endearingly high maintenance. However, the autobiographical elements in the story were somewhat less than captivating. Oftentimes I skipped whole paragraphs of the author pondering the meaning of life. Frankly, her abstract musings bored me and had no place in a story supposedly about an inspiring cat.

It's true that Gwen Cooper's firsthand perspective of the terrorist attack on September 11th was intriguing. Yet I maintain that, having believed the book to be centered upon the cat Homer before I began reading, the life of the author was not terribly interesting to me. Homer's story was, nevertheless, uplifting.

Rating: I rate Homer's Odyssey a six out of ten.