Friday, December 24, 2010

Crazy Wisdom by Chögyam Trungpa

Rating 4/5

This book helped me finally understand the attraction of Tibetan Buddhism. I have always preferred the simplicity and directness of approaches like Zen; have felt like there were so many bells & whistles in Vadjrana that they get in the way. Now I get why they are used - to create "sudden" awakening. I still don't know if it's the best approach for me, but I found Chogyam Trungpa's talks in this book deepened my understanding of the lineage. I found his explanation of hopelessness gave me a lot more insight than did his student Pema Chodron's. I will continue to read more of his books.

Monday, December 6, 2010

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Rating 4/5

I've read plenty of horror stories before, but never one without a supernatural element. This book wasn't meant to be shelved alongside Stephen King, but it may have just as many shudders per-capita than anything by the Master. Lionel Shriver says she's "a sucker for ambivalence" and that is just what you get from We Need To Talk About Kevin. Ambivalence in the protagonist, and ambivalence as a reader. It is scathing and epically tragic. I took off a star because of how many times I wondered why Eva didn't DO anything about what was going on - why didn't she send Kevin to a psychologist? Why didn't she try to prove to her husband how Kevin was duping him and torturing her? Why didn't she just run away? This last question was briefly addressed, but... I don't know. If it were me, I would've been doing these things, something, anything, and the fact that she didn't was infuriating.

Shriver has an amazing vocabulary and writing style. She draws out the story with just the right amount of mystery and suspense. It was not an easy read - each time I picked it up (including the first time), it took awhile to get back into the story. I almost gave up on page 20, but thankfully stuck it out. Once you get going, it's almost impossible to put down.