John Harding: One Big Damn Puzzler PS

Ion and subseuent play of Hamlet for the islanders Agreed that the essay Shakespeare in the Bush is a nice true anthropological counter piece The humor is sometimes crass sometimes dark but all in all I really did like this book There are other tales heavily intwined with Shakespeare that are successful but a satisfying and comical read This is kind of book my brother would love It really reflects the authors engagement with the idea of and the possibilities of fiction Some people call this magical realism I don t really know what to call it except that writing style that Sam really likes I could tell from the first paragraph that it would be a really inventive and fantastical read and I was not dissapointed I doubt that you could write a novel with a character who is translating shakespeare into pidgin english and not produce something fantasticalSometimes it seems like kind a cop out to wri It s not that I like everything I read I m ust adding my faves The title of this one is a pidgin English translation of Shakespeare s that is the uestion If you ve ever read the essay Shakespeare in the Bush you ve already got a leg up on this book The Anglo Saxon bard meets a tutti fruitti world an obsessive compulsive American lawyer lands on a Pacific Island where not only the rules but also the whole playing board are different I ve been reading a lot of tales set on islands lately fiction memoir history this is strictly coincidence other than perhaps a subconscious desire to isolate myself I picked this up entirely at random I swear and once again I m on an isolated South Pacific island with a strange cast of characters an unusual and fictional societal structure and a wearingly sympathetic narrator As in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society no fault here OBDP came first and a couple other recent offerings the schtick is the effect of litratoor on a naive society I think we can be done with this shtick now for a while In OBDP the litratoor is Hamlet and I like that up until the part when the author tries to parallel events in his novel uite literally in time with events in the play I mean so literally that the play is actually being performed on stage while the novel s forward motion takes place in the audience Harding is uite fond of allusions so much so that a reader might feel battered by them I was with him for the island life seuences hanging on for the OCD vignettes but completely off the bus with the 911 references Even now in 2011 including 911 references in fiction is tricky business We all as inhabitants on this earth experienced it but we certainly experienced it differently and remember or memorialize it in our own ways Harding makes a big assumption in our perception of that event in rounding out allusions in his fictional tale The planes were crashed by suicide terrorists this really affects Harding but to me that s the least of my concerns from that event The 911 bit happens well toward the end of the book kind of where you least expect it but after the first allusion to a clear fall morning you know exactly where it s going and you re not completely willing to go there Oh come on do we have to Well it turns out I don t think we did That little dollop of moralizing on top of an already very confected conclusion was Charming the Firefighter (In Shady Grove, just too many calories for my taste I really liked this book when itust stayed happily and lazily on the island I didn t need to see New York City or our narrator s childhood From time to time it was a nice scene break until you enter 911 and you can call the whole scene broken All in all I like Harding s technical skill his character development and his imagination but I think he s too devoted to making it all MEAN SOMETHING I might have stopped reading on page 357 and been perfectly satisfied but like Harding s perception of an American I m a little offended he served me than necessary and I m feeling a touch of bloat. Logic strange notions about sex and addictive rendering of English to moments of aching sadness as much as life affirming farce this exuberantly original novel confirms John Harding as one of contemporary fiction's most entertaining and observant chroniclers of the human conditio.

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Books Free One Big Damn Puzzler PS –

I was reading this book right before Zoe was born Actually I went into labor before I could finish it and we had to return it to the library About a month after she was born we went back to the library and my Kustav Klimt bookmark was still inside the book so I checked it out and finished the book It was one of those books that make you laugh out loud The characters are so interesting and different I highly recommend this book It about this man who happens to have a hilarious case of OCD who is in charge of investigating a crime that happened many years ago and repaying this small village back for the crime There is also an anthropologist who is not too happy that this guy has money to give to this island village and how it will change the way they live This is a hard book to describe It is essentially a bit mad and here there and everywhere but is a tragic comedy afterall It roles in so many aspects of Shakespeare which is its main theme as well as mental health magic otherness politics colonialism gender and sexism Sometimes it was a bit slow and maybe outdated a little but it was also from the perspective of characters who are outdated a little anyway 1995 It s incredibly farfetched to the point where it is slightly realistic and I enjoyed it Its not one I could read over and over again though The description intrigued me on a South Pacific island the one man who can read and write is translating Hamlet into the island s patois a blend of native words and scrambled present tense English Is be or is not be is be one big damn puzzler Unfortunately this idea is subordinated to less compelling characters Lawyer William Hardt comes to the island in an effort to win reparations for the islanders who lost loved ones and limbs to the land mines left behind by the US military William never really comes alive his main characteristics seem to be naivete and OCD His efforts to find a woman who was raped by American soldiers threaten to disrupt the island s traditions which brings him into conflict with both Managua the Shakespeare afficionado and Lucy a British anthropologist with whom William has an affair that the author strenuously insists is a grand romance But in the end his efforts do bring millions in reparations William leaves the island and we move ahead six years to 2001 It s then that the book really goes off the rails William is on his way to the Twin Towers on a morning in early September when he bumps into his unpleasant childhood chum Sandy coincidentally the lawyer who represented the US in the reparations case Sandy reveals that Lucy has a daughter and that basic math strongly suggests she s William s daughter too Shaken William blows off his appointment to return to the island And by this chance William is spared when a plane crashes into the World Trade Center I m not in the camp that says it s too soon or not appropriate But this feels so tacked on and the story becomes so programmatic when William returns to the island Because his very American effort to Do Good has led to islanders than ever losing their limbs the influx of money has been spent on satellite dishes Coca Cola and fatty snacks leading to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes It s not that I disagree with where the author is coming from Does American interference abroad wreak catastrophe I ve read Noam Chomsky I read the newspaper But this feels again perfunctory and implausible The real nail in the coffin is this bit of clunky Making India Work juvenile prose He thought how he d carried out his own September 11 on the island He had done far damage than any terrorist ever could An enjoyable book on so many levels If you like books that make you laugh out loud you ll probably enjoy this one But it s not a light hearted romp It deals with the human condition challenges stereotypes mocks conventional wisdomandust about everything else including itself and even creates a new world and its own languag. On a remote South Pacific island paradise an elderly tribesman is translating Hamlet into local Pidgin English Much to his annoyance his struggles with the Bard are interrupted by the arrival of an unexpected visitor William Hardt is a young American lawyer he has Obsessive Compul.

E The book is set on a fictitious South Pacific island that is unspoiled by the modern world until one well meaning misguided American arrives to help The book is self described as a tragicomedy and that about sums it upMy only complaint would be about the author s invention of the islanders Pidgin English It was not a problem except that I can t stop thinking in it It is be driving me damn battyRecommended by Juliet One Big Damn Puzzler The title says it all doesn t It s got mod all over it You know you are in for a circus of eccentric characters with some sort of bad government or evil billionaire or organization that secretly rules everyone s lives hidden away at the center of the storyline and by the end of the novel Aunt Betty s goat has been reunited with his childhood friend chicken who barks and Dimitri the bus driverGreek immigrant has had his musical based on the life of Woodrow Wilson produced and it s a hit The thought of it makes me wince tiredly But guess what I was right and I was wrongThis novel by John Harding is a circus of eccentrics and it does have bad government at its heart but I am happy to say that the likes of the goat chicken and Dimitri do not materialize and therefore neither does my tiredness Instead One Big Damn Puzzler is a rambunctious but controlled adventure with a great deal of witOn an island paradise in the South Pacific American lawyer William Hart has arrived He has decided that the islanders are owed reparations from the US government The British had beat the Americans to the island and left behind pigs that now ruled the ungle unfinished buildings the English language and Shakespeare The Americans hadn t been such benign tourists They left behind guns land mines and a taste for soda The island culture that resulted from natural development the British and the Americans is uniue The evolution of the islanders could alter dramatically once again based on Hart s law suit and would that be a good thingAs Hart gets to know the island and its citizens author Harding keeps everything broad but still human By doing this Harding saves One Big Damned Puzzler from being pure farce His creation of the islands history has enough reality to be accepted as possible so that when he places his peculiar characters within it their behavior and lookout become on one level a natural progression of their historical experience I did enjoy One Big Damn Puzzler Occasionally Harding seems a little too eager to point how amusing he can be but that is a minor complaint This novel is a clever well imagined look at a trampled over society that survived anyway More like 2 12 stars The seed of the plot had a lot of potential and the British humor had me laughing aloud a few times but on the whole I found the book rather scattered The plot wanders around uite a bit without a lot of forward momentum and spends a lot of time on tangents concentrating on the main character s OCD This was funny at times but got a little old I also thought the characters on a whole were rather cartoonish the Americans are either boorish or clueless the one British character is all dry humor refined and the natives are rather patronizingly naive At the same time the story did have some rather poignant moments and I have to give kudos to the author for inventing an entire pigeon language that was both completely comprehensible and very funny So not bad I d be curious about the author s other books which got him popular but I can t say I really liked this book I am a Shakespeare nerd So this is reuired reading to all the negative reviews I will admit it twists and turns and has many tangents sub plots and other basic deterrents from cohesion I don t know who said it but sometimes I find the digression interesting than the point the best is that the two main points involve an island marred with amputee from undetonated land mines receiving insurance checks and a translat. Sive Disorder and he has come to help And from that moment on nothing will ever be the same For what and who he finds there will challenge both his and our values and our ideas about love life and even deathBursting with good things from the islanders themselves with their curious.