Two books that should be read

If you’re the sort of person that reads books that is.  Otherwise, wait for these to come out as movies.  In between working and playing Eve and rotting my brain on the internet, I’ve had the pleasure of reading two wonderful novels, The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin and Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.  Steve Martin is one of my favorite authors so I was biased before picking up the book.  He has a neat way of writing, it’s careful and easy-going at the same time.  Despite the title, it’s not about a narcissist, which is what I figured at first.  Actually it’s about a very sweet and caring protagonist that deals with several neroses that command his life.  The thing I liked about the story was that it never delved into the psychology or psychiatry of his conditions to a point where it would weigh things down trying to explain them.  Sort of like Asimov never tried to write at length and in detail about positronic brains, Martin just presents the character and his behaviors and lets them mold the story because they are character restraints and so dictate the way he may or may not behave which makes everything that much more charming.  The protagonist goes through the story and interweaves his life with those of other characters, considers them, helps them and is in the end better for the relationships he builds with them.  By the time I finished the book, I felt happy and very content, and I really recommend it for people that like Steve Martin’s movies, especially those that he wrote the screen plays for.

Snowflower is a very beautiful story.  I will admit that I have a passion for Chinese and Japanese literature (I would say Asian but I haven’t read enough from all the Asian countries to say something that general).  Most basically, the story is about two Chinese women who are very dear friends, sisters really.  Yet as soon as I think of the story like that I have to mention a caveat: it’s not a story about these women changing the face of China or even the way their families view women.  What I’m trying to say is that it’s not a story shitting all over men and empowering women and rights and other feminist ideas.  It’s very true to the time and place and traditions.  The facts were that women were lowly and had to be obedient and were used and overlooked and treated without respect.  The story doesn’t try to go against any of these facts or bring up the protagonists as rebellious, fire-hearted heroins.  Their rebellions are small and quiet.  I think I’ve spent too much time on this warning.  My frustration with feminism as I know it is showing through.  Anyways, Snowflower is about an amazing friendship that carries on through the lives of two women and carries them through good events and bad ones (marriage, children, death, disease).  It’s sad at times but because of their love, these women are endearing to read about and it’s a powerful motif.

Hopefully my recommendations lead to someone going out and reading these books.  They are very well written and despite being very different, definitely worth adding to your library.  And with the way movies are going, will probably get turned into films sometime soon.

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