"If you can write, that's great. If you can tell a story, that's even greater. But if you can work a resilient premise into both, you're worth digging to find."

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Alive by Piers Paul Read

Synopsis: Story of the young men who survived the 1972 plane crash into the Andes mountains. 

Writing Style: Reporter storytelling style 

Pacing: Moderately fast 

Personal Highlights: I read this book as a challenge to read a story where I saw the movie first. For starters, the book is far more detailed than the movie. Because I saw the movie (shortly after this devastating event) in the 70’s when I was quite young, my memory may not be the best. With that, I don’t recall the religious aspects of this story, as introduced in the opening. The book also covers more in depth the perspectives of the passengers, who by the way were far younger than remembered. In relation to their beliefs and how they dealt with struggles to survive made a difference when considering the conflicts and decisions disclosed. Overall, both the movie and book were well told, and effective, despite the book exploring and explaining intricate aspects of this event that film could never capture... at least not in 90 or so minutes. Engaging telling of events.

Crazy Rich by Jerry Oppenheimer

Synopsis: A tabloid biographical sketch of Johnson & Johnson heirs. 

Writing Style: Satirical journalism  

Pacing: Moderately fast 

Personal Highlights: Expecting to dive into dalliances going on inside the Johnson & Johnson corporation is how this story...a fusion of interviews, other books referenced, tabloid headlines, newspaper articles and such... quite honestly, caught me by surprise. In a way, finding more about personal discords befallen the family wasn’t entirely fruitless because 1) ...the tabloid perspectives kept the pages turning. 2) the diversity of family dynamics and cacophonies confirmed my belief that families up and down the economic scale face similar challenges. And most rewarding (as far as this reading) was 3), the historical corporate references buttressed my respect for pioneering dynasties. In the case of the latter, whether it was the intention, I ended up growing a larger respect for Johnson & Johnson, particularly in its long-standing emphasis on producing quality products, to include the company’s general ethos... “the consumer comes first.” Quite interesting.

Monday, October 30, 2017

When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

Synopsis: Memoir of a young girl growing up in Puerto Rico and moving to New York. 

Writing Style: 1st person, novel style 

Pacing: Moderately fast 

Personal Highlights: It was a pleasant treat realizing this story occurred in the 1950’s/60’s. I mention it because this was not reflected in the cover.

The novelish writing was a personal favorite. Copious quoted dialogue and vivid descriptions made the story jump off the page, the makings of great pacing. Negi’s curiosity I wholly loved as well. The questions she had for her parents (both admirable people), albeit a father who spent much time away from the home... ‘finding work’ among other endeavors, and a mother saddled with 11 children; telling of those times. Also telling was the introspection drawn from moral customs and approaches used to discipline children. I really was taken by Negi’s description of ‘leaving her body’, particularly when she was in pain, often more mental than physical. Despite these historical events happening over a half century ago, many of her reflections I not only found relatable but relevant today. The ironies weren't missed... events such as 'the experts’ showing up at the schools to teach nutrition when residents grew better food in their backyards, along with her later views on race when she moved to New York. And although at times Negi seemed a little dramatic, attributes of a great storyteller, overall ‘When I Was Puerto Rican’ was not only redeemable, but tremendously enlightening and enjoyable.