Sunday, May 31, 2009

Book Two Finished: Zorba the Greek

Success! Two weeks, two books. This time I returned to one of my all-time favorites, Zorba the Greek. Nikos Kazantzakis is one of my favorite writers since his characters and even plots are earthy and full of life. His narrative biography of St. Francis paints a very realistic (that is, unsaintly) view of this great saint. His Last Temptation of Christ shows us a human Jesus few Christians can be comfortable with, but reminds us of the humanity of Christ. His character Zorba is the embodiment of life lived with abandon, but that does not mean without restraint. While Zorba loves women, food, wine, and work with equal fervor, he also respects his role in life and how others must be treated. Kazantzakis gives us a character who recognizes his role and his responsibility to community, but never lacks in living a full life. What is most memorable about Zorba is that he dances -- this is how he talks. Happy, sad, distraught, and overjoyed are emotions displayed in the dance because they are beyond words.

Important for me to keep in focus is the narrator of the book, the "boss" who is too lost in the world of books. When Zorba asks the simple question, "why do people die?" the narrator is at a lost.

"'I don't know Zorba,' I replied...
'You don't know!' said Zorba in round-eyed astonishment, just like his expression the night I had confessed I could not dance.
He was silent for a moment and then suddenly broke out.
'Well, all those damned books you read--what good are they? Why do you read them? If they don't tell you that, what do they tell you?'"

If you have never read anything by Kazantzakis, you have great reading ahead of you!

Reading Challenges
So how easy is it do this reading? Not easy! As I've mentioned before, I do not read usually before 10pm, and by then sitting down to read for an hour can be hard. I've found reading at the kitchen table helps since I'm not too comfortable. Once I'm into the reading I'm fine, but getting started can be a challenge. Writing this blog is helping since I'm hoping people are keeping me honest. But having completed two books in two weeks gives me encouragement as I move forward. All this and the Red Wings are in the Stanley Cup Finals which means I'm more distracted than ever.

Next read: The Music Room by Namita Devidayal. The subtitle is "A Memoir" which made me almost start running -- I'm not a huge fan of memoirs. But this promises to give me insight into Indian music, which I enjoy, so it should be interesting. I read the first chapter in the library and was pulled in, so this may be a memoir I enjoy.

Are you out there?

My favorite daughter (Maria) is the only one actually "officially" following my blog, but I know my eldest (Gray) is reading this through an RSS feed. So if you are following it in some way, please send me an email at just so I know.

Happy reading!

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