Thursday, September 13, 2012

When The Crow Sings, by Jacqueline Wales.

It has been a few years now since I've read this book. It is however still etched in my mind, as if I had just put it down yesterday. Jacqueline Wales, weaves a mesmerizing tale about a long chain of  women, linked together by poor decisions and their inescapable consequences through the generations in a single Scottish family.

Generation after generation, these women are caught in the misery and despair they inherited from their mothers and their immediate social environment. Destined to face the same situations, reacting in the same fashion and ultimately facing the same consequences. These women live an infernal catch 22, as if the destiny of all the women in that family was predetermined to end tragically. Their life is a speeding runaway freight train on its way to the end of the line and the cliff beyond, on full power, without any brakes, or engineer at the helm, prisoner of unyielding rails hurling it towards destruction. A grim ending of a succession of miserable lives, marred by heartache, abject poverty, moral misery and cold absence of Love. A downward spiral that seems to go on for ever until one of them battles her way out of that nightmarish existence, by sheer will power and brute physical force. The comeliness of that woman is the blessing in disguise that allows her to break free and ultimately find peace, love and a chance at a normal existence...

She is not however, the heroine of the Novel. Her strength and compassion for her sister, and ultimately her niece, were the grains of sand that started the breaking down of the "Machina Infernale" on which the women in her family were riding powerlessly to their doom, one after the other. Her compassion fanned the flames of the rebel spirit and the courage of her niece who was already well down the road to perdition on which her ancestors had walked before her. Her niece found the courage to break the cycle and finally get her own chance at happiness, out of ignorance and out of misery. It took an extreme act of courage and  an agonizingly painful sacrifice. One that would haunt her for the rest of her life, but she did it, not so much for herself, but for all the future generation of women in her family. She reversed singlehandedly the tide of misery for the posterity of the women that will come after her in her family. She did it for the only reason worth such a sacrifice in her eyes, for what she never knew herself from her own mother. She did it for love.

Historically factual, When The Crows Sings, opens  a window in the privacy of the blue collar urban society of Scotland. A Northern European country, which is by all standards, an industrialized, developed nation. A country united with Wales and England under the Banner of the United Kingdom, not a sub-Saharan Country in the African Continent, not a nation of the Indian Peninsula or even in Latin America. The story begins in the early 20th century and ends nowadays. The shock comes from the scenery you glimpse through that window. The living conditions, the ignorance, the despair  could have been plucked right out of a Novel of Emile Zola about the life of the working class in the 19th century Industrial Revolution in Europe. Never could I have imagined such absence of hope, such despair and deep poverty in Northern Europe in the 20th century, my century. The characters are my contemporaries, yet it could describe the state of mind of the inhabitants of the slums of Calcutta in India, or those of the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

Jacqueline Wales, uses her incredible talent to capture and to violently throw the reader in the midst of the characters. She teaches us not just the vernacular but the actual dialect of the Scottish common folks. There are moments of passion, joy and other powerful emotions. But be warned, this book will grab your full attention from the very first page and until  the very end of the last page. It will leave you panting with emotional exhaustion trying to catch your breath. Your mind will be reeling for weeks after you've read the very last words on the very last page. A surprise at every turn, a tense story, wonderfully told, raw with precision and clarity, mind gripping and heart wrenching. This book is read by many women, but was written for everyone. I am as macho as a man comes, without the misogyny, but it still wrung my gut at every other page. I started reading it in the plane on my way from Miami to New York,on a business trip. I only put it down long enough to get into the cab and check in my Hotel. I skipped, unpacking, showering, dinner and read all night non stop till it was time for me to get ready for my first meeting in the morning. I went to the meeting with the book's omnipresence in the back of my mind, strangely focused in spite of the lack of sleep, but invigorated by the realization that the Strength of the Human Spirit knows no bounds. If an itty bitty little girl could surmount so much adversity with so much courage, against all odds and turn her life around in such a grand way, then there definitely is hope for Mankind. My meeting went extremely well. I felt strangely serene during the entire time, knowing that no matter how bad things seem, there is always a way to turn it around, no matter how seemingly impossible.

No matter what I just wrote about this book, you will be surprised by what you will read, you will be hypnotized and unless you are from Scotland and know firsthand what the book describes, you will not think of Scotland the same way again, at least not the Urban Scotland you imagine.You will talk about it to everyone you know and for years to come. Prepare yourself to be stunned.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trop de bons bouquins pour ne pas les partager.

Tous ceux qui me connaissent, savent que je suis un lecteur avide. Je lis pour des raisons professionnelles, principalement des essais en economie, rapports financiers, biographies, livres de motivation, de sujets politiques ou d'affaires de tous genres. Je rapporterai et ferai mes commentaires sur ceux-la dans mon autre blog: "Entrepreneurial Warfare for the Independent Mind".

Ce blog-ci fut creer pour tous les autres ouvrages que je lis. Pour la plupart ce sont des nouveaux auteurs ou des auteurs qui n'ont pas encore atteint une renommee de dimension internationale, pas meme nationale, mais dont j'estime qu'ils meritent d'etre lus et partages. Ils sont encore a decouvrir ou si ils sont deja de grande renommee, sont a re-decouvrir. Je porterai mes commentaires sur ces livres la, ici meme, sur ce blog. Je le ferai dans la langue ou je l'ai lu, qui est tant que possible en version originale. Il y aura diverses sections telles que celles qui suivent:

  • Fantaisie Epique
  • Horreur/Fantastique
  •  Sciences-Fiction
  • Biographies.
  • Histoire: livres, articles et Blogs (Pesonnellement, ma section preferee), 
  • Romans Fictifs
  • Romans (Non fictifs ou inspires d'une histoire vecue).
  • Gastronomie, cuisine/recettes, oenologie (Romans, references et livres de recettes)
  • Classiques de la Litterature dans leur langue d'origine si possible (Portuguais pour P. Coelho, Camoes. Espagnol pour Allende, Garcia Marques, R. Dario, J.M. Heredia, J. Marti. Anglais pour Wilde, Melville, London, Hemingway, G.Stein, Twain, Steinbeck, Dickens... Francais pour R.Merle, M.Pagnol, Flaubert, etc.
  • Coin des auteures (En fait il y aura un segment pour chaque auteur ou j'y copierai leurs ecrits, leur extraits, leurs articles). Ces sections seront dans la langue maternelle des auteurs et de la majorite de leur lecteur. Certains articles seront peut etre traduit dans une autre langue, si je juge pertinent de le faire ou pas.
L'objectif de ce blog n'est pas de vous impressionner en etalant l'etendue de la quantite des ouvrages lus ou la nature de ces derniers. J'ai passe l'age du besoin de me prouver a qui que ce soit, moins encore a moi-meme. L'idee est de partager ma passion pour la lecture et, le plus important, de vous donner envie de lire les livres au sujet desquels je ferais mes commentaires. Il s'agit de chatouiller votre curiosite pour que vous vouliez vous les procurer a la librairie ou a la bibliotheque, les lisiez et surtout les partagiez a votre tour.

Si il y a un livre que je n'aime pas particulierement (et ceux-ci sont extremement rares ;) ) je n'en toucherai pas mot, tout simplement. Je ne vais pas perdre votre temps et le mien a detruire l'oeuvre de quelqu'un qui a produit d'enormes efforts pour ecrire et publier un livre. Bon ou mauvais, je ne detruit pas un travail aussi titanesque que celui requis pour ecrire un livre aussi petit ou volumineux qu'il soit. Il est evident qu'il est plus facile de lire que d'ecrire. Je ne jugerai donc pas sur la qualite de l'oeuvre, je ne suis pas si pretentieux, mais vous rapporterai mon humble opinion et uniquement sur les livres que j'ai aime lire. Il n'y a rien a gagner pour qui que ce soit a s'engager dans un exercice de destruction systematique du travail de quelqu'un d'autre. Si il y a une critique constructive a faire, je le ferai directement aupres de l'auteur si j'ai le privilege de le connaitre et ce uniquement de facon positive pour l'encourager et l'aider dans ses efforts de toujours progresser. Je ne souhaite pas abattre ses reves ni refroidir sa passion. Je ne pourrais que lui donner mon opinion, qui n'est, sans nuls doutes, pas infaillible.

J'ai un emploi du temps generalement assez charge et je ne pense pas pouvoir poster souvent. Ne vous attendez donc pas a des postings hebdomadaires ou meme mensuels, mais je promets de le faire au moins une fois ou deux par trimestre. Les postings, contrairement a mon autre blog, ne seront pas non plus, de longues dissertations sur des sujets compliques et barbants. Attendez-vous plutot a un bref resume du livre avec mes commentaires detaillants les raisons  pour lesquelles j'ai aime ce livre et pourquoi je le recommande. Je reitere que l'objectif est de reveiller en vous l'envie de le lire en esperant que vous irez l'acquerir chez votre libraire ou l'obtiendrez de votre bibliotheque locale. Decouvrez, ou re-decouvrez-le, et surtout, partagez-le avec vos proches.

Ceci est un blog qui est concu pour etre interactif. Ce qui veut dire que vous n'etes pas obliges d'etre d'accord avec ce que j'ecris. Cependant, que vous soyiez d'accord ou pas, laissez-y vos commentaires. Ca me permet de savoir ce qui vous fait tiquer, vous mes lecteurs, ce que vous aimez ou pas. Demandez moi mon opinion sur n'importe quel livre. Meme si je n'en ai pas encore parler. Si je ne l'ai pas encore lu, je tacherai de l'obtenir et de le lire, afin justement d'en faire un commentaire ici a votre requete, promis.

Partageons notre passion et echangeons nos pensees et opinions, que vous soyez un lecteur, un auteur ou les deux. Que vous soyez connus ou non, souscrivez a ce blog, anonymement ou pas, peu importe, tout ce qui compte est que vous participiez.

Merci d'avance a tous pour votre ample participation.

Heureuses lectures,

Christian-Adam Ribeiraud

Too many good books out there that need sharing

Everyone who knows me, knows that I am an avid reader. I read for business purposes, mainly essays on economics, financial reports, biographies, self help books, political and business books of every type. I will report on those and give my recommendations on my other blog: "Entrepreneurial Warfare for the Independent Mind".

This blog I created for everything else I read. Mostly books of budding writer, who are starting in the writing world. Authors of note, authors who should be discovered, or if already "established" should be shared. I will comment on those books here in this blog. I will do so in the language I read them. There will be various sections such as :

  • Epic Fantasy
  • Horror/Thriller
  •  Sci-Fi.
  • Biographies.
  • Historical books, articles and Blogs (My personal favorite as a History fan), 
  • Fiction novels. 
  • Non-fiction novels.
  • Gastronomy books (Novels and Recipe books)
  • Classical literature in their original version (Portuguese for P. Coelho, Spanish for Allende, Garcia Marques, R. Dario, J.M. Heredia, J. Marti. English for Wilde, Melville, London, Hemingway, G.Stein, Twain, Steinbeck, Dickens... French for R.Merle, M.Pagnol, Flaubert, etc.
The objective of this blog, is not to impress with how much I read or what I read, I've passed the age when I need to impress anyone, much less myself. The idea is to share my passion for reading and most importantly to make you want to read those very books I will be writing about. If there is a book I do not like (they are rare), I will simply not write about them. I will not engage in book/author bashing. There is nothing to be gained for anyone by doing that. If there is a constructive criticism to be made, I will simply make it directly to the author and explain my point of view, which is by no means infallible. So there it is. I have quite a busy schedule  and I don't expect to write long reviews, but rather a meaningful blurb about a book that will tease your interest, then provoke you to go purchase it, or obtain it from your local library to discover it or Re-discover it and see if what I say about it is really what you recall of it. No two person see an object the same way, nor do they interpret the same book the same way, just like a story told touches each listener or reader differently. I will simply give you a glimpse of what I got from each of these books. You may or may not see the same thing, but hopefully, you will want to find out and then share it with others.

This is a blog, which is meant to be interactive. Nobody has to agree with me, but whether you agree or not, do drop a comment. It allows me to know what you MY readers are interested in. Ask me about a book you have read. If I did not read it, I will purchase it and read it, just so I can comment on it. Promise. Let's share our passion and exchange opinions, thoughts about it. Whether you are a reader, an author or both, famous or not, join it, anonymously or not, it doesn't matter, just participarte.

Thank you all in advance for your participation.

Happy Readings,

Christian-Adam Ribeiraud