Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Ringmaster’s Daughter

I would say it again… Jostein Gaarder is the master of storytelling! Not only that he crafted a puzzling frame story for this book, but he also “deceived” us on the title. The Ringmaster’s Daughter is NOT at all about the daughter of a circus owner—which for some years made me mistaking this book as a bit childish. It is far away from childish. The Ringmaster’s Daughter is about how traumatic childhood experience can hugely change someone’s life.

Petter “The Spider” was leaving a book expo in haste because he thought his life was in danger. So, we know that he is a bookish man, who has done something that makes other literary people from the expo wanting to kill him. After he arrived safely at a secluded hotel, he forced himself to write his story—as usual with Gaarder: story within story.

Little Petter lived with his mother—his dad has left the house—and he had a unique ability to create stories from…well…everything! His brain is hyperactive, and he couldn’t stop it from inventing plots of stories. Connecting that with the book expo, he should be an over-productive writer, right? But no, Petter doesn’t like to be famous, and he don’t have patience to write novels. He just created plots—a lot of them! Later when his mother died, and he was on his own, he founded Writers Aid, a corporation that helps writers around the world get brilliant plots for their next novels. Suddenly Norway—where The Spider lives—was flooded with new novels; not only that, literary world suddenly getting a booming; all because of this one man, the ghostwriter, Petter. Oh and he got rich from it. But then... as in all things that are built over falsity, the bubble is threatening to blow out.

From there I know there’s something wrong with Petter, but what? And what about the little man with green hat who at first dwells inside Petter’s head, but then becomes real although only Petter can see him? And of course there’s Panina Manina the ringmaster’s daughter who didn’t know his father until it’s too late, which seems to be Petter’s favorite story. Not until the end though, did I get the meaning of them all. Here’s a spoiler…. Petter turns out to have traumatic experience when he’s a kid. Right after that he likes to have those active thinking. It’s just his mechanism to shut his brain from remembering the traumatic thing. So I guess the little man with green hat is his consciousness. At first he’s just a boy with active imagination, and so the little man only appears inside his imagery world. But when he’s grown up and brings the imagery world into reality (Writer’s Aid), the little man too must do his job in the real world. Mystery solved!

As always, Gaarder crafted the story amazingly. I also loved the plots and stories created by Petter. Hey, it feels like reading Italo Calvino’s If a Traveler’s…. stories in a story! Two things that I just realized after reading this are: our existence in the universe (Gaarder taught philosophy for high school anyway), and his love of oranges. Yeah… I think I read about oranges in several of Gaarder’s books; he must love oranges very much! J

For all that…. Four stars for The Ringmaster’s Daughter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Life in Books: A Book Tag

Thanks to Melisa, I will have something to post in this blog, finally! If you are wondering why I have abandoned this blog since… early this year (X_X), I have explained all in this post. Hopefully this book tag will return my blogging spirit!

1. Find a book for each of your initials

I picked two of my favorites for this year.

Far from a Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

2. Count your age along your book shelf: What book is it?

Goodreads made it easier than counting along my actual book shelf; so here is the 44th book from my “own-shelf” shelf:

The Racketeer by John Grisham

3. Pick a book set in your city/state/country

There are not many Indonesian books in my wishlist, but one of them is:

Max Havelaar by Multatuli

4. Pick a book that represents a destination you would like to travel to

I love Paris too much to not wanting to travel there again….someday….

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

5. Pick a book that is your favorite color

One of my favorite books in my favorite color: Red

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

6. Which book do you have the fondest memory of?

I don't know about this. Maybe I don't have one in particular, but this book has set me to be Zola's fan.

L'Assommoir by Emile Zola

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

8. Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest sense of achievement?

Couldn’t read this book this year, hopefully next year!

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

If you want to do it, you’re free to tag yourself! ;)