Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier

phew! it took me a while to finish this. it’s one of those slow and difficult to read books – at least for me. i can’t believe i know of two people who enjoyed reading the book: there’s my good, geeky friend, rob and my aunt, dr. jing “u.p. cum-laude” riel-romero, m.d.

i think that besides being a certified bookworm, you have to be a nature-lover to appreciate this book. the author’s use of a wide array of plants, animals and landforms to describe events and places was so varied and almost all-encompassing that my scantily limited vocabulary failed to comprehend most of the words. it got even worse when these never before encountered plants, animals and landforms were used in countless metaphors. so i tried to slow down my reading, reread phrases and sentences in an attempt to get context clues as to the meaning of those unknown words. but no matter how many times i would reread phrases and sentences, my highly imaginative mind would still come up a blank so i finally gave up with this super slow reading technique after the first hundred pages and whenever i came up with an unfamiliar word, i’d just say to myself: ok, he’s talking about a plant; or, i believe he’s referring to an animal; or, that has to be some kind of landform. and so went my struggles in reading the book which probably contributed to hindering my enjoyment of it.

but apart from having a background that was deeply rooted in nature, the book was a tale of two lovers, inman and ada, who got separated by the american civil war in the 19th century. inman, having been drafted by the south to fight the federal army, finally got disillusioned about the war and decides to desert (after a few days nursing a serious wound in a makeshift clinic/hospital) and return to his beloved ada. ada, on the other hand, having had to deal with her father’s death after inman left for the war, tries to survive with the help of a new found friend, ruby, and perhaps try to find meaning in the hope that one day inman will return.

and that was the whole gist of the novel: a war was brewing, inman returning to ada, ada waiting for inman. but the drama of the book came from the different characters inman and ada encountered along the way as they provided insights, whether positive or negative, helpful or bitter on the many intricate details of life, like for instance, the vagrancies of war and death, the persistent existence of pain in man’s temporary journey on earth, or even the duplicity of religions and their so-called leaders.

as thought-provoking as those comments may sound, if given another chance, i wouldn’t want to read the book. but i guess that would always be the dilemma. how would you know for sure whether you’ll like the book or not if you don’t read it first?

rating: 2 of 5 stars * *
not for everyone, and sad to say, not for me.


rob said...

By the way Roehl, I never read the book. I did watch the movie but fell asleep to it.

roehl said...

rob, i could have sworn you were the other guy i know who's read the book. and yes, i remember you didnt like the movie. so is there another story the past 2 years whose book you liked but whose movie you hated?

anyway, wont edit my inaccurate review. the "good geeky friend" had a nice ring to it. :-)

rob said...

One book that I liked but hated the movie version was 'Runaway Jury'. The movie had none of the good parts of the book. The movie had no background stories of each juror, you knew right away that Easter was a good guy (in the book you weren't sure), there was virtually no suspense in the final jury decision, and worst of all, they actually had the gall to change the actual court case (book: big tobacco, movie: gun rights). Runaway Jury must be the worst movie version of a book I've ever seen.