Book Review: Dangling Man by Saul Bellow

Dangling Man (Penguin Classics): Bellow, Saul, Coetzee, J. M. ...

The text of “Dangling Man” unfolds in the form of a diary. The story follows the complicated psychology of Joseph, the Jewish protagonist, who resigned and waits to enlist during World War II. Joseph had planned to use the delay in enlistment to relax and enjoy his freedom before joining the army. Joseph had no peace of mind. He stayed indoors all day long, lost in his own inner world. Joseph peeks into the world through the closed room, the emotional catharsis in the diary, at the same time record the emotional changes and the world. He did not know who he was, could not find a place in society, and gradually became a lonely patient rejected by his family and abandoned by his friends. Joseph had to talk to his alter ego, the surrogate elf. Joseph swung back and forth between the ideal and the reality, with loneliness and bewilderment constantly attacking him. He even began to doubt about family, marriage, friendship and future, and finally became a dangling man free from the society.

The heroes in Bellow’s works all have good wishes for a better life and the meaning of life. It is the consistent ideal of Bellow’s heroes to pursue perfect self and then perfect social life. However, life rewards them with hurt again and again, so they choose to flee. An inescapable paradox lies between their search and their flight. Just as they dream of playing the lofty role of helping the world and saving the world, in real life they are victims. The eternal contradiction between ideal and reality is reflected in them vividly. No matter how good they are in their professional fields, they are extremely clumsy in real life. Although Bellow’s heroes also persistently pursue their own ideals, they are fundamentally different from the traditional heroes. The traditional heroes leave behind a noble beauty of tragedy with arduous struggle, final failure, and destruction while the hero of Bellow leaves behind a paradoxical color.

-Coreen C.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Amazon.com: No Country for Old Men (9780375706677): Cormac McCarthy: Books

The story takes place in the town of Rio Grande river, west Texas, USA, on the border with Mexico in 1980. A penniless former Vietnam war veteran, Llewelyn Moss, came across several dead bodies, a huge amount of heroin and a large amount of cash used to trade drugs while hunting. The dead were gangsters who had been shot in a firefight. Llewelyn immediately decided to leave the scene of the gun drug trafficking money to take home to hide. During the night, the nervous Llewelyn returned to the trading site. So far, sinister gang leader sends out cold-blooded killer Anton Chigurh, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, and Llewelyn launched the killing journey that pursues each other.

Moss gets in trouble for his lust for money, and his experience is representative of the universal human desire, and the constant pain and fear that comes with it. He reflects the good and evil side of human nature. The ending of the characters gives the world a lot of inspiration. People living in today can’t escape the temptation, who also have to face the temptation. Moss’s tragedy is undoubtedly a wake-up call for those who walk on the edge of desire. The most steadfast self-control is a powerful weapon against temptation. Temptation is the test of personal world outlook, outlook on life, values, moral character and other internal comprehensive quality, among which the most important one is virtue.

In the same circumstances, it is virtue that plays the fundamental role in why some people are able to survive and others are willing to perish. Therefore, in today’s society, everyone should strive to improve personal cultivation and self-protection awareness. At the same time, tempering desire is also key in the face of temptation. From the perspective of behavioral science, desire is a double-edged sword, reasonable and moderate desire is the basic psychological motivation to promote the development of social economy. The unrestrained selfish desire and evil thoughts will make people lose the true, the good and the beautiful and become the prisoners of material desire, and even become the root of evil.

The novel No Country for Old Men shows the dark side of American society, such as blood, violence and crime, attacks the anti-civilization phenomenon of excessive material desire and moral decay under the specific social and historical background, and expresses the sense of helplessness through the absence of heroes. Many Americans do not believe in heroes and worship money, indicating that they think money can bring them more security in life. Neither government nor personal heroes can be trusted. However, the author McCarthy still hopes to express his yearning for the peaceful and tranquil past of American society through allegorical novels, as well as his expectation of energetic heroes who can save human lives and souls.

Shark Wars by E.J. Altbacker

Shark Wars is a very interesting book and I enjoyed it very much. The story is similar to the book Warriors. Instead of clans, the sharks are divided by shivers. Gray and his friend Barkley live with the coral shiver. But Gray gets banned from the coral shiver and becomes an outcast, and then things get interesting. I will leave the rest of the story for you to read.

E.J. Altbacker did a good job making this book interesting, with lots of good twists and a nice cliffhanger leaves you hungry for the next book. This book is based on the heroic quest base genre. The Shark Wars series is a lengthy six novels total, so try to read them all! Shark Wars features a nice balance of dialogue and fighting, and it also has at least 200 pages, it might take a while to finish the book! Shark Wars has a nice variety of characters, and it has an obvious protagonist and antagonist. Every character in Shark Wars in unique and special, you care for some and dislike others.

E.J. Altbacker did a nice job incorporating as many shark types as possible, which I love! A very great book that you should totally read. Don’t miss out on the amazing book, known as Shark Wars!

-Brandon D.

The Shark Wars series by E. J. Altbacker is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero, like the other Percy Jackson books, is a fantastic read about Greek and Roman mythology that’s impossible to put down.  It’s the first book in a trilogy called the Heroes of Olympus.

The story is about Jason, a demigod of Zeus who can’t remember his past, Leo, a child of Hephaestus who has a secret power of fire, and Piper, a demigod of Aphrodite with a way with words.

After an incident at the Grand Canyon with a satyr and a few storm spirits, the trio is brought to a demigod camp called Camp Half-Blood by Annabeth, a distraught demigod whose boyfriend Percy went missing a few months earlier.

At Camp Half-Blood, Jason, Piper, and Leo are chosen to go on a quest to find Hera, the queen of the gods, and free her with what little information they received from their camp Oracle, Rachel Dare, in form of prophecy.   Along the way, they face many monsters back from the dead and different Greek gods, including King Midas and Aeolus, the weather god.  Is Hera freed and the prophecy fulfilled? That remains to be seen by you!

The story doesn’t end with this book, so I definitely recommend reading the other two and the Percy Jackson series that is set before these books.  This series is hilarious, masterfully written, and a great way to learn about Greek mythology!

-Kaitlyn S.

Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.