I am still alive, studying hard for Jeopardy and slowly working my way through book 32. I will get my pace back on track after my audition and will return to posting reviews regularly. In the meantime, here is a link to a very fun movie game, Clockbusters. My wife came across this game and showed it to me, and now I pass that gift on to my faithful readers. You are given three pictures and have to guess the movies to which they refer. I got 47 out of 50 on the original, and then thought of two more on my second try (I had to cheat to get #50). On the sequel, I got 46 the first time and added one more on the next try (and cheated to get the rest). Give it a try!
Last night I completed my last novel for the next five weeks, Freedom or Death by Nikos Kazantzakis. Many thanks to all of my readers for the encouraging words about my upcoming Jeopardy audition. I will try not to disappoint! This book definitely did not disappoint. It is set on the island of Crete in the late 1800’s. Crete has been oppressed by the Ottoman Empire for 200 years. Once or twice a generation, the native Cretans rise up against the Turks with their battle cry– “Freedom or Death!” Each time, the rebellion is ruthlessly crushed. This book tells the story of one of these uprisings. The original title of the book was Captain Michales, and the hero of the book carries that name. Michales is a chief, or Captain, of the Cretans in Megalokastro (modern Heraklion), the city in which the Ottoman Pasha resides. Tensions between the natives and the Turks build until they erupt and send Michales into the mountains to make war. He and his fellow palikars know that they are fighting a losing war. Each man uncovers his true self when faced with these overwhelming odds. Many eventually surrender. Michales does not. He goes to his doom shouting the Cretan motto– “Freedom or Death!”
Kazantzakis is a native of Crete, and this book is certainly a powerful evocation of the spirit of his native island. It is a gripping tale about an oppressed people’s struggle for freedom. This is much more than a story about a long-ago rebellion on a distant island. This is a story about freedom of spirit. Through brilliant characterization, Kazantzakis shows us the many conflicting urges that pester the spirits of men. The various characters respond to these urges in different ways, but one man towers above them all: Captain Michales. Michales suffers from the same demons as other men. What sets him apart is that he pushes those demons down to pursue his most fundamental belief– that Crete should be free. Michales is the liberated spirit, refusing to be made into something he is not by a world unconcerned with individuals. Even as others take the course deemed reasonable by society (surrendering), Michales stands his ground and holds on to his belief. All of us could learn from his example. Find what you believe in and pursue it doggedly. When the world tries to shackle you with the ‘reasonable choice’, shout at the top of your lungs– “Freedom or Death!”
The Current Count–
31 Read, 69 To Go
A recent development could potentially impact my quest for 100 books– I have been selected to audition for Jeopardy! My audition will be June 13th in Kansas City, MO. After the novel I am currently reading, I will not read another novel until June 14th. Instead, I will read reference books and historical works in order to prepare for the audition. This might slow my pace a bit. I am still confident that I can get to 100, but it will require me to work even harder in the second half of the year. It will be worth it to meet Trebek!
Another month has passed, and I am steadily making progress towards the 100 book mark. April was a slow month for me, but a big push at the end maintained my respectability. After six books, my total count is now at 30. I am one book ahead of my pace from last year. My pace is currently at 1 book per 4 days. I will have to step it up in order to get back to a 1/3.65 pace. Fortunately, summer break is right around the corner. I should be able to up my literary intake for the months of June and July. My target for May is 8 books. Here is the breakdown for April:
One Philosophical Book: The Birth of Tragedy
Favorite Book from April: Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. The title character is one of the most truly original characters to be found in literature. If you haven’t read this book, do so immediately. It is a healthy reminder to us all that a bit of peasant wildness is not such a bad thing from time to time. I also highly recommend the movie version, but read the book first.