I read this for our reading group at Cosmic Dog Yoga. I usually choose the monthly book based on something I've read about it. We've been getting kind of heavy lately, though, so I wanted to pick kind of a fun book. Dharma Punx did well a few months ago, and this seemed similar. NOT!! I hated this book! It was really nothing more than a few hundred pages of bragging about what low and pathetic morals you can have and still be considered a Zen master. Don't waster your time!
I've had Away on my list for some time and finally got around to choosing it from my list of 132 (ack!) books I want to read. It's written by a psychotherapist, and since I am one too, it always interests me to see their take on human nature. I read the reviews on Amazon and the negative reviewers seemed to think at some point, the book became unbelievable. I think there is some truth to it -- it's hard to believe that on person could have such terrible luck, year after year after year. But, we are so far removed (most of us) from the true immigrant experience and how difficult it really was to survive, that it might just seem unbeleivable to us. Even if not, it's fiction, people! I don't require total believability on the part of my fiction author friends. I liked the book and the characters - and while I probably won't pick it for the top 5 of the year or anything, it's definitely worth your time.
I just recently read a recommendation for Serena, and although I have about a gazillion books in line ahead of it, the review was so compelling that I picked it up right away. Rarely, if ever, have I read a book with such an evil, despicable main character that really worked. Usually, in this situation, I would say "I hate this character. Why do I even care what happens here?" I think it's very difficult to write a hateful main character and still keep your audience. To do it, you normally would want to draw your reader in with some redeeming quality, some reason to root for the character, even though they are bad. Ron Rash apparently felt none of this pressure. He has succesfully written about the most horrifying character ever, and still kept me reading voraciously late into the night. You won't be able to put this one down and you will be shocked until the very last page. Read it!