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Posts Tagged ‘story’

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.

So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

 

The Book Thief is by far the best book I have ever read.

Yes, bold statement, but true. And yes, in the grand scheme of it all, I am only a small reader in a worldwide pool of voracious readers, and have yet to even scratch the surface of the number of great books out there in Literature Land. But to date, it is ranked as my number one by a very long way.

It was the writing that captured my attention … When she looked up, the sky was crouching; … the words fell like injuries from his mouth; Her feet scolded the floor; Air breathed up her pyjama sleeves. They would each greet me like their last true friend, with bones like smoke, and their souls trailing behind.

Marcus Zusak, an Australian writer, gives a master class on how to write prose that is poetic, a narrative that is insightful, and he weaves a storyline that is every bit heart-wrenching from what we’d expect from a book based around Nazi Germany war times. However, hemmed beautifully amongst the dark veil that shrouds the story, Zusak brings light, and it shines wonderfully to lift our spirits, to guide us steadily, and to help us to the end of a truly captivating story.

Of course, there are interesting characters that you learn to love and some that you learn to hate, and a narrator, without giving it away, is simply to die for. These characters create a platform that teaches us the many layers and the varying colours of the human soul.

Liesel Meminger, the book thief, is the main character. Her brother dies on their journey to live with foster parents in a small country town in Germany, and she is alone to start a new life with nothing more than a book she stole at his burial. Through her life with her new family and friends, Rudi Steiner and a Jewish stowaway named Max Vandenburg, we learn about friendships and hardships, love and death, and about courage and hope in the midst of cruelty and adversity.

The Book Thief is masterful and eloquent. It is crafted with intelligence and saturated with creative genius. The story has power and the words are like dancing musical notes, blending wonderfully to create art that easily moves you. I was captured, touched, and provoked to feel—driven to tears and laughter within a single sentence.

If you’re a reader, then I urge you to absorb yourself in the narrative. If you’re a writer, then I beg you to take note of the style and technique and applaud the effort it has taken to create such a masterpiece. I highly recommend reading this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

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It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.

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Definitions for conciliate – verb [kuh n-sil-ee-eyt]
  1. to overcome the distrust or hostility of; placate; win over: to conciliate an angry competitor.
  2. to win or gain (goodwill, regard, or favor).
  3. to make compatible; reconcile. 

They flexed and snarled and paced liked caged animals waiting for him. There were two. An audience gathered at the prospect. Conciliate or fight? He shrugged. The choice was an easy one. Smiling, he rolled his sleeves, balled his fists, and moved in.

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Take note, it’s our job to listen and our job to learn,

to follow where life leads, around every turn.

It’s our job to see the world with a curious eye,

to dissect and analyse and find out why.

It’s our job to hear what hasn’t been said,

from a look or a nod or a pat on the head.

It’s our job to pause and smell the fresh air,

ahhh … a trigger of memories everywhere.

It’s our job to taste life’s luxuries, to absorb its flavour,

to be present and focussed, so our lives we can savour.

It’s our job to accumulate, then blend it to share,

a part of who we are, our souls laid bare.

Take a sprinkle of imagination, and add your experience with a shake,

let your ideas cultivate your soul and words your destiny make.

So, note the green at your feet or the blue of the sky,

feel the wind on your face, observe the plane up high.

Note the expression from a child, ‘Where is my dad?’

a mum’s lonely silence … an ache to fix their sad.

Note the idle conversation to keep issues at bay,

from a new forbidden passion, a couple’s love gone astray.

Note a twinkling of a star, to the rising of the sun,

from the mundane activity, to a child having fun.

Note the sparkle of a rainbow, the gentle kiss of snow,

the churning of the sea, a full-moon glow.

From mountains and valleys, from places hot and cold,

learn who you are from the young to the old.

So take note of it all, it’s the little things to observe,

and note-take this advice for your legacy to preserve.

 

 

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Definitions for dulcinea – noun [duhl-suh-nee-uh]

  1. a ladylove; sweetheart.

Every day he watched from across the street, waiting for his dulcinea to walk past. She was elegant, radiant and ever so beautiful. There was no harm in that, was there? He asked and answered himself in a single breath, agreeing that it was nothing more than a harmless crush. But when he began following her, he knew there was no turning back.

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A friend—an angel—spoke and I listened. This is what I learnt.

‘Problems create doubt, uncertainty and the illusion of difficulty,’ she said, adjusting her glasses with a strong point of her finger. ‘But,’ she paused, taking a deep breath, a faint curl at the corner of her mouth indicating, to the acute observer, a smile.

We were focused on her and she relished the attention. She always did. Deliberately, she held us, delaying her words so that her wisdom would not be easily discarded, but savoured like her sweet biscuits she so often shared on our monthly workshopping meetings. She removed her glasses from her face and swiftly produced a handkerchief from the waist pocket of her red blazer, dabbing softly at her weeping eyes. It wasn’t sadness or weakness that caused this uncontrollable weeping but rather courage and strength of a problem once faced and the only visible giveaway of the major surgery that she’d once been through.

In the months after its return, her problem grew to be a daily challenge and her journey to overcome it would be met each day with renewed determination and her best effort to beat it. There was no other way. It was her positive outlook on life that shaped and carried her, helping to steer her through the years to a mature age and into a time and place and that circle of teachers that were destined to cross paths with my life and to influence me … and she did. Her wisdom was worth her weight in gold and we listened intently. There was much to learn if you paid attention. She watched us, her warm brown eyes alive and interesting, examining us as though we all have secrets, and she was extracting ours, before continuing, ‘if you change your mindset and consider a problem not as a problem but more of a challenge, then success is already yours. A problem will discourage or stop you, if you let it, but a challenge is something you instinctively recognise as a test and you will rise to meet it. So dismiss problems and accept challenges, and triumph in your effort … because your best is good enough!’

So, from one writer to another, and now to a few more, listen and learn and let her legacy live on.

RIP E.B.

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Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.

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