The reason I ask is that I love reading all sorts of books, from science fiction to fantasy and horror to stuff like the historical novels of James Clavell and the contemporary techno-thriller tales of Tom Clancy.
Some of my friends may prefer one genre to another, but – generally speaking – If I wish to discuss a particular book with anyone, I can usually find someone I know who has read it.
And thus we come to Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. This book, which has to be one of my "all-time favorite reads," is sitting on the shelf in my office as we speak. It must have been 20 years or more since I read it, but I still think about it to this day. Every now and then, something will happen to make me say "That reminds me of…"
Take the film Hugo for example (Click Here to see my review). The first time I saw the big train station in Paris and we are introduced to the kid living behind the walls, I thought "Ah, Ha! That reminds me of…"
The thing is that I've never, ever met anyone else who has read this book. If the truth be told, I would have assumed that it was now long out of print. However, the last time I was in an airport, strolling around waiting for my next flight, I meandered my way into a book store, and saw a new release of Winter's Tale prominently displayed on one of the center stands.
I just bounced over to Amazon.com where I discovered the book has 256 reviews with an average of four stars. Out of these, 156 readers accorded 5 stars, while the remaining options were strangely similar (27 = 4 stars, 22 = 3 stars, 25 = 2 stars, and 26 = 1 star).
Some of the reviewers really didn't like this book at all, finding it "boring" or "never ending," and I can understand why a lot of people might feel this way, but I identify with the reader whose review was titled Sheer Insanity and Gorgeous Magic. As this reviewer said:
Winter's Tale, a gorgeous masterpiece by master writer Mark Helprin is a book about the beauty and complexity inherent in the human soul, about God, love and justice and the power of dreams, those that take place while we sleep and those that we conceive while awake.
Ignoring reality, Helprin's book is a glorious and ethereal melange of magic and insanity in which people are picked up by a wall of clouds that engulfs the city and then deposited in other times and other places.
Actually, it's almost impossible for me to summarize (or even say) what this book is about. The tale is so involved and convoluted and rich and magnificent and confusing and strange that … it leaves me speechless (and that's not something you hear me say very often).
So, the bottom line is I continue to live in hopes that one day I will meet someone who has read this book and who enjoyed it as much as I, so that we can quaff a beer or two and discuss this little rapscallion and compare notes.
Until that glorious day, have you got any tales to tell about books you've read that you want to share with someone, but no one you know is interested?
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