Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Book of Life

Stuart Nadler
ISBN: 978-0-316-12647-2
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Source: Crazy Book Tours

Forced together on a trip from Manhattan to Rhode Island, a father and son attempt to renew their bond over lobster, cigarettes, and a buried secret. A pure-hearted artist finds his devotion cruelly tested, while his true love tries to repent for the biggest mistake of her life. Unwittingly thrust into an open marriage, a man struggles to reconnect with his newly devout son. And in the book's daring first story, an arrogant businessman begins a forbidden affair during the High Holidays.
This novel was unexpected.  From the given synopsis (above) I didn’t expect a book of short stories, but that’s exactly what this book contains.  I enjoyed these short stories for two reasons.  First, it made the book’s pace quick.  Before I knew it, I was finished.  Secondly, it presented me with different stories focused around the same topics, giving a well-rounded understanding of what the author is trying to get across to the reader.  I enjoy short stories once in a while and this book came at a great time, for me.
The stories presented involve characters dealing with conflict in their life.  Most are Jews. The issues include family, love, grief, faith, temptation and forgiveness.  The author has a beautiful writing style that grabs your attention quickly.  The book opens with the story that gives the book its name.  In it, the story introduces a man involved in an affair.  The affair is quite messy since it entangles so many aspects and people within his life.  I simultaneously despised and understood the main characters.  It was quite rare for me to feel this way.  In addition to a set of intriguing stories, the author provides a clear, concise description of his characters, their feelings and the situations they find themselves in.
Each of the stories has things in common, mostly dealing with nationality and infidelity that tie them together in different ways.  The tension is realistic between the characters.  Their vulnerability is obvious and their mistakes, unintended.  The characters in these stories aren’t intentionally setting out to hurt one another, the book really echo’s life in its vulnerable and imperfect forms.  While it is not my normal type of read, this book surprised me.  Stuart Nadler has a wonderful writing style that creates an ease within the flow of the book and hooked my attention.  Overall, I enjoyed it.

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