"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Trouble by Jesse Kellerman

If are looking for a fast paced psychological thriller, Jesse Kellerman has written one that will likely make your blood go cold and to make sure all the doors and windows are locked.

Trouble is an intense and suspenseful novel that had me quickly turning the pages to find out what happens next. Living and working in New York City, third year medical student, Jonah Stem, is hoping to survive the year. The hours are long and the duties are arduous. One night after an exceedingly long shift at the hospital, Jonah goes in search of new shoes only to come across an injured woman begging for help. Without much thought, Jonah steps in, killing the attacker. Suddenly Jonah finds he is a hero, nicknamed “Superdoc,” and while the police and District Attorney’s office consider whether to press charges against him, Jonah becomes the defendant in a civil lawsuit brought on by the family of the dead man.

The woman, Eve Gones, whose life Jonah saved seeks him out to thank him and the two soon become embroiled in a heated affair. They make an instant connection and their passion burns fiercely. Eve is beautiful and intelligent, however, there is something not quite right about her and her story as Jonah soon discovers. Suddenly Jonah must look over his shoulder at every turn as his fear mounts for his life and that of his friends and family. Can he maintain his own sanity.

Jonah’s character was softened by his care and attention to his former girlfriend Hannah, who suffered from mental illness to help and relieve Hannah’s father. Author Jesse Kellerman captured the strain and stress of the events in the novel on Jonah in his treatment of both Hannah’s father, George, and his own family.

Lance DePauw, Jonah’s roommate, provided comic relief throughout the novel. He had an enthusiasm for new projects that eventually would be left incomplete and a penchant for using hidden cameras.

Jesse Kellerman, son of Jonathan & Faye Kellerman, shows promise as a writer. He pulls the reader into the story immediately with his edgy, bordering on humorous writing style. The medical slang and nuances of being a medical student were well positioned throughout. The first part of the book moves at a rapid pace, setting up the story and taking readers on an intense ride. The second portion of the book, however, slowed down a bit as if the author was dragging out the inevitable climax, which had yet to come. The novel came to an end suddenly without warning and seemed anticlimactic. Despite that, Trouble has all the makings of an entertaining psychological thriller. It certainly offers a new twist to the idea of being a Good Samaritan for better or worse.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

I am, for the most part, a person that looks on the bright side of things, and on a happiness scale of one to ten, a strong 8.5, maybe more. But why? How? And what is it about where I am that makes it so?

Eric Weiner attempts to answer all these questions in his book, The Geography of Bliss, a year of exploration to ten of the happiest places in the world.

He begins in Rotterdam’s World Database of Happiness. He discovers that the study of happiness, like any other scientific field of study, is not particularly warm and fuzzy, that happiness is subjective, and that some things, like happiness, are beyond measuring.

Still, from the Netherlands, a country of tolerance and freedom, Weiner visits the clean and punctual streets of Switzerland. He finds a connection between boredom and patience, patience and happiness. And that perhaps, a combination of three makes it easier ” to just be.”? He then goes to Bhutan, a real life Shangri-La, a place where other expats warn, ” If you stay here long enough, you lose touch with reality.”? But maybe warning is not the right word to describe it, for the simplicity of life in Bhutan brings him peace, as he falls deeper into the trance of a country that prioritizes Gross National Happiness. From there Weiner spends time in Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India, and wraps it all up in his home country of the United States.

In the end, he concludes that, ” Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude.”? A conclusion and yet there is not even an inkling of a definitive answer.

In the comforting words of one of the leading happiness researchers, Jon Helliwell, "It’s simple. There’s more than one path to happiness.”?

Where will it lead you?