The Old Man and His Sons

   Heðin Brú

First Sentence:     A school of blackfish is in Seyrvágs Fjord – two or three hundred small whales, swimming silently round in little groups, and longing to be back in the broad ocean again, for this is not the way they intended to go.

Back of the Book:
These are the Faroe Islands as they were some fifty years ago: sea-washed and remote, with one generation still tied to the ocean for sustenance, and a younger generation turning towards commerce and clerical work in the towns.
Following the blood, foam and fury of a whale kill, the normally cautious Ketil finds himself caught up in the frenzy of post celebrations, enthusiastically bidding for more meat than he can afford. Thus in his seventieth year, Ketil and his wife, along with their youngest son, struggle to repay their debt. Forced to accept the brutal reality of their precarious existence, they scavenge for driftwood and stranded seals.
Vibrating with a spirit, almost at times a savagery, that recalls ancient Viking sagas, The Old Man and His Sons deftly captures a vanishing way of life.

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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Carson McCullers

First Sentence: In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together.

The town in question is in Georgia, the time is the 1930’s, and the mutes are John Singer and Spiros Antonapoulos. When Spiros gets sent to an institute, John Singer is left alone and begins to meet the townsfolk. Four of them in particular: Biff Brannon, owner of the local diner; Mick Kelly, a young tomboy in love with music and her ‘inside place’; Jake Blount, an alcoholic drifter with dreams of revolution, and Dr. Benedict Copeland, a black doctor full of ideals, and somewhat estranged from his family. Each of these characters begins to visit Singer in his rented room and each of them feels a profound affinity with the deaf-mute, projecting their own desires and dreams onto him. Of all these characters I found Mick to be the most endearing. Her love of music is contagious, and I found the passages about her to be the most affecting:

That was the realest part of all the summer – her listening to this music on the radio and studying about it.

I just love the way these parts are written:

She stood in front of the mirror a long time, and finally decided she either looked like a sap or else she looked very beautiful. One or the other.

Even though John Singer is forever around people and everybody can relate to him, we get the feeling that he can relate to nobody. He is always alone, even when he is surrounded by people and as time goes by he begins to feel Spiros’ absence more and more. I found this book to be extremely enjoyable, full of wonderful writing and memorable characters, it definitely left an impression on me.

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