Pincher Martin by William Golding: A Book Review

pinchmartin

I included British writer William Golding in my favorite –writer list on Goodreads , along with one of America’s best novelists Toni Morrison andE. L. Doctorow , Dutch writer Ian McEwan, famous American educator Frank McCourt, one of America’s best essayists Richard Rodriguez ,one of the best Black American revolutionary writers Richard Wright, atheists Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens , and Filipino children writer Genaro Gojo Cruz.

His classic novel Lord of the Flies demonized me to ostentatiously display him up there. I don’t know how I ended up considering him as one of them. I just remember that the novel ‘s main characters broke my heart. I won’t forget Ralph, the boy who led the group but was outplayed and outwitted by the domineering Jack along with his adherents; Piggy, Ralph’s loyalist, the hero of the story who died of his principle for pacifism and unity; and Simon, the boy who was mistaken for a monster and eventually killed by Jack’s group. But I came to understand that I did not make a mistake after discovering that there is a deeper way of how to understand it in the context of politics. Thus, there is a reason why William Golding deserves to be celebrated as one of the best writers in the world of literature, and Pincher Martin is another testimony to this claim.

Pincher Martin bears little resemblance to his immortal and classic Lord of the Flies. Both novels bear on how to survive being a castaway on a far-off island. The only differences are that the former one focuses on one character while the latter one is on a group of children, young students in effect. Besides, the deeper lowdown on the former one on the one hand is on existentialism, individualism, objectivism- steeped in philosophical and psychological questions. The latter one, on the other hand, is on politics aptly portrayed by young characters.

Pincher Martin is a just a taciturn novel for me since it involves one character, apart from the other ones flashed back in the character’s memory. Reading it is like being a castaway, silent, putting yourself in his shoes, musing over the possible approaches to surviving the island. At first, I would feel the trauma and confusion about ending up in that uncivilized place until I woke up to the grim reality. However, as time passed by, I would come to the end of my wits that everything imaginable would fail, so all I would have to do is to beat my head against a stone and realize that the best way to survive is to use my intelligence, education , and training. At the same time, using the three necessary traits to survive, I would suffer from philosophical crisis in that I would doubt my existence on this planet. By the same token, out of physical and mental pains, I would be subject to psychological conditions like mirage or any forms of delusions.

Pincher Martin is another revelation for me that William Golding was such a skilled writer. In this novel, he showed the real quality of a gifted writer that writing a novel not only focuses on the characters’ papers they embody but also on the other perspectives. In this novel, Golding tried to paint another portray of being a castaway. He perfectly described what a castaway could be, being alone on an island. It is not just about how to survive but also how to help oneself get over the possible philosophical realizations one must face since no one is an island. However, Golding’s intention is not as conspicuous as his Lord of the Flies which I thought that I was just reading an adventure. The novel turns out to be deeper than its story. In other words, Pincher Martin, to put it bluntly, is like a brochure handed out by a flight attendant which will give you tips on what the possible things you might experience and do when you are a sole survivor. To make the brochure worth reading, it is inserted with beautiful quotes.

Admittedly, I had a hard time reading it despite that it is said to be lightly written. I guess what the book reviewers are referring to is its narration centering around Pinch Martin’s surviving scenes. But in terms of philosophical realizations, they are not at all. I am sorry. I am not that really smart. I am just a smart ass. Enough said, Joey!

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: A Book Review

secretIt is now one of my most favorite books, along with A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Frank McCourt’s trilogy ( Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis, and Teacher Man) , and Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  ( I have just realized that most of the books above have something to do with children. Eureka!  ^_^ )

Its major theme about gardening excited me so much that I  slept  through  it  for one night  ;horticultural skills run in my blood . I love planting and gardening.

When I was in my   kindergarten, I did build my own little  garden behind our nipa hut in our province. I planted different invasive and flowering plants . So,   my neighbors were all amazed   at me because I was still too young to build one. However, I can no longer build a garden since my family and I live here in Manila. I did one when I was  in elementary but failed because the soil here  is not as arable as in our province. Besides, I don’t have time to do so.

If  gardening  were such a highly paid job, I would surely grab it and devote my life to it and at the same time read a book surrounded by the plants and flowers. Presto, it would be  beautiful and enchanting ambiance.

Like in the story how Frances Hodgson Burnett describes the ambiance, I am familiar with the smell of leaves after pouring down in torrents,  of the river  which  water smells  brackish wafting up in the air,  with the warm welcome of the sunshine in the breaking dawn, the marvelous blossoms of flowers in a garden, the  canopies of the huge trees in a forest. Also, I experienced to climb   the trees and trying to reach   the end parts of their  boughs laden with  clusters of enchanting fruits. But the more thrilling one  was  that I tried to bother the nests of birds laid  up  on  the trees. I was a naughty and pesky boy too. ^^  I miss my provincial life!

It may   not be  beautifully-written but if you read it in hindsight, you will realize that  it  is really  meaningful, intended to inculcate good virtues in readers.

  1. Hope

In the story, Mary Lennox   hopes that the garden has the big potential to revive its spirit. With her  great effort , she will  plant some  sorts of flowers again with the help of of her newly-met friend  , Dickon, whom she is very fond of. Also,   with the great impact of the Secret Garden upon Mary, she will help her mysterious cousin, Colin Craven , to be positive in life. He was born bed-ridden in the assumption that he is an invalid.

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

2. Love and Loyalty

This virtue is  illustrated by Ben Weatherstaff, the  gruff elderly gardener who introduces Mary to the robin redbreast. He clandestinely tended the garden during the ten years in which it was locked, out of love and loyalty for the Mistress Craven.

“To speak robin to a robin is like speaking French to a Frenchman”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

3. Secrecy

 Since the title of the book is The Secret Garden, no matter what your   ideology about  honesty, you will learn  more the importance of secrecy.  This principle reminded me of a famous etiquette writer’s question that, “ When someone let you her/ into her world, would you tell the other people outside what you saw inside?” My reply to it, however, is ,” It depends on the situation.”

4. Friendship

Mary’s friendship with Dickon and Colin Craven teaches me to be congenial toward other people as well as love my best friends.

“You can lose a friend in springtime easier than any other season if you’re too curious.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

5. Positive Attitude

I liked Mrs. Snowby’s  , Martha’s mother, positive attitude. She influences all the main characters.  For instance, she sends a skipping rope for Mary because she is aware of the fact that  Mary   has   poor health. Also, she sends her healthy milk to put on weight. In fact,  Mr. Craven and Mrs. Medlock both look up to her wisdom despite her poor and austere way of life.

“Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

The story is also interesting to ponder over in the context of psychology, religion, sociology, and philosophy.

In addition,  I was challenged by reading some dialogues with Yorkshire accent. I tried to turn over the contracted words in my mind until   my nose bled a great deal. But later on I learned to love and imitate it as did Mary Lennox.

However, I want to make a fuss over  three things :

  1. Where is Camilla? If you have seen its Japanese TV animation series,  you may know the fortuneteller and healer, Camilla. I can’t forget her  because  I liked the character she played in the story. She is also a symbol of a wise woman aside from Mrs. Sowerby, but scared because of her dour and somber aura.
  1. Also, I can’t forget the scene when Mr. Craven walks through the woods where he finds out that someone is hunting there without his permission. This scene gave me an idea then that he has  aristocratic authority.
  1. As far as I remember, Dr. Craven is a crafty character who intends to weaken Colin’s health since he knows that Archibald Craven has been crest-fallen since his wife died. When he dies, he will inherit all his wealth.However, in the story, he turns out to be an uncle who knows what ” flesh and blood “ means.

Anyway, I just guessed that the   story may have been added with some ideas  since it was adapted for  a Japanese TV  animation series .

Thanks to my student for this book present. Without my literary intercourse with her, I would not know that Frances Hodgson Burnnett is also the author of  the other  two famous children’s novels such as  A Little Princes, known as   Princess Sara and Little  Lord Fauntleroy.  So, I’m gonna read them too. ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

I’m Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti: A Book Review

Niccolò+Ammaniti+-+I'm+not+scared+3Niccolò Ammaniti is an Italian writer. This book, I’M NOT SCARED ( Io Non Ho Paura in Italian), said to have redounded his fame and caught the interest of the international mecca of the literati. Me too! Me too! Me too! I want to count myself in them.

The first idea occurred to me while reading the first and second parts of this novel was Mark Twain ‘s The Adventures of Thomas Sawyer;it is sort of a picaresque novel.The main characters are also as young as Thomas Sawyer,so I was expecting that the story was something excerpted from one of the scenes in the book which centers around one concept. The only big differences are that Thomas Sawyer on the one hand,is naughtier,more audacious,has more sense of adventures with the Pollyanna principle.(No doubt children find him amusing.) Michelle Amitrano, the protagonist,on the other hand,is deeper. He bears all the hallmarks of naiveté, a young child full of curiosity about life,faith,family,and so on- a typical child as we used to be.It may be due to his parents’ ignorance of child psychology since his father is busy with his “monkey business ” , and his mother is often petulant.So when you read it,emphatic with him as though regressing to his age,you might jump to the conclusion why he channels his sexual energies into jejune and puerile adventures.I like Michelle. I can relate to him. ^_^

On the brink of finishing the denouement , I opined that I am almost familiar with the story I’m fed up with. TV writers and directors are always adapting this kind of story for TV films and dramas which they may have drawn inspiration from other novels, just the like of this Nicollo Ammaniti’s who himself may have done it likewise since this novel was published in 2001;then translated into English by Jonathan Hunt in 2003.Thus, I may give 1 star if I watch it on TV.
As a matter of fact, it has been adapted for an Italian film and I wonder if it is as interesting as the book. Could I give it 1 star too? Or I could be brainwashed as when I saw the film adaptation of the LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding of which I understood the story more, and eventually it ended up as one of my most favorite novels.

Nevertheless, nothing beats reading such kind of garden-variety story put into a book, written with beautiful sentences,peppered with vocabularies I am almost familiar with, and I could commit to memory more. Then,I was amused,chuckling, snickering,turning my head ;at the same time, I was moved ,holding my breath ,skipping a beat until,at the end of the story, I was cut to the bone as though I could not get over the fate of Michelle- I was screaming bloody murder. Blanketyblank father of his! Whoa, it is readable in one breath.

When you finish the story,you might say the ending is tearfully lamentable. But I would say that the ending as the writer intended is clearly understood. I won’t ask anything more because I have had an idea. He should not have narrated it more. Also, no need to appeal to its sequel. The ending is enough to leave you bewildered,tinged with a wave of painful reactions- anger, pity,and disappointment. It is a tearjerker more than on TV films and dramas I have watched .

Lesson learned: As the hackneyed saying goes,” FEAR IS AN ILLUSION” like what Michelle said to his friend Filippo ,when he was left in the hole,” You are not scared …there is nothing to be scared of .” Oh, poor Michelle! T_T

This book is a good read. The story is rather deeper, more realistic and sensible- something different with the other stories on TV if it had not been for the styles how the writer himself molded the sentences.

Rating : 4/ 5 stars