Mini Reviews: Odd and the Frost Giants, The Subterraneans and The Deportees

Monday, January 20, 2014

Odd and the Frost Giants
by Neil Gaiman


Odd is a quiet boy living in a village in Norway. He's been through so much but he hasn't quite found his place in the world. When his path crosses with Odin, Loki and Thor he finds his strength.

The story delves into issues about growing up, solving problems without using violence and figuring out who you are. Gaiman's adult novel, American Gods, has similar themes on a much more adult level. One line from Odd about the Gods reminded me so much of American Gods...

"No. He doesn't learn. None of them do. And they don't change, either. They can't. It's all part of being a God."

It's a sweet book and one that I will definitely be sharing with my nephews and nieces. Also, I should mention the beautiful illustrations by Brett Helquist. They add so much to the book!

The Subterraneans
by Jack Kerouac

As I've said in the past, I think there's an ideal time period in which people should read Kerouac to best appreciate him. When you're young and have little to no responsibilities, the author's beautiful words and carefree life are much more appealing. When you are grown up and have a mortgage, etc. it's harder to embrace his drunken nights, callous treatment of women,  and complete disregard of responsibility.

At the same time, even when I'm frustrated by what Kerouac is saying I still admire the way he says it. His writing is like jazz. There's often no discernible pattern and I'm never sure what will happen next, but it's beautiful. He can always see the poetry in the world around him, but he also seemed incapable of overcoming his own failings.


"Just to start at he beginning and let the truth seep out, that's what I'll do."

The Deportees and other stories
by Roddy Doyle

There are eight short stories in this collection from the famed Irish author Roddy Doyle. Each one deals with Irish natives interacting with individuals from other countries that have immigrated to the Emerald Isle. 

There's the slightly creepy tale The Pram, about a nanny who is worried about a haunting. Black Hoodie about racial profiling and young crushes. Another story, Guess Who's Coming for the Dinner, takes us back to the premise of the Spencer Tracy movie of the same name. The Commitments introduces us to Jimmy Rabbitte, a musician hoping to get a band together.

The connecting line throughout the book is the changing face of a country. As Ireland becomes a more diverse  place its citizens must adjust to the new world around them.

BOTTOM LINE: I'm intrigued enough by Doyle's writing that I would like to read one of his better-known novels, but I wasn't overly impressed with this collection.


Heather said...

I loved Odd! I keep hoping Gaiman will write another book about him.

I have never read Kerouac and now I'm afraid I may have missed my time! However, the term "writing like jazz" has me intrigued!

I have wanted to try Doyle, since he's Irish and my ancestors are (mostly) Irish. I think I'll start somewhere else when I do finally get to him!

Kailana said...

I read Odd and the Frost Giants a couple years ago and have to admit I hardly remember it. That's terrible... Too many books and my mind gets crowded out, I guess.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Heather - I want to try one of Doyle's novels next.

Kailana - That's why I love writing reviews, even mini ones. Otherwise I'm sure I would forget half the things I read!

Jeanne said...

Callous, yes. That's a good word for a lot of what Kerouac describes. I was just listening to On the Road again this weekend.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jeanne - There's so much beautiful language in that one, but at the same time I want to tell him to grow up and stop treating people so badly.