Review – Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Hi,

This is a book review, BUT I’m pretty exited about today’s release of the movie Winter’s Tale! If you haven’t heard about it, here’s the trailer:

When I first saw the trailer, I remembered the book the movie is based on, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. I had come across it a few months before, but I decided not to read it because the reviews were sharply divided. For me it looked like one half was raving about the book being brilliant, while the other half was complaining about it being boring. I was intrigued by the synopsis but I didn’t want to risk reading a 700-page book that would bore me. But then came the trailer and I was fascinated. I mean, they wouldn’t make a movie out of a boring novel, right? There had to be something about the book that made it worth reading. So I read it. And here comes a review that was very hard to write.

Synopsis:

New York City is eagerly awaiting the 20th century when a burglar is saved by a white horse. This incident will change his life forever. About a hundred years later a young, formerly very rich, man makes his way east across the country to find out more about the mysterious golden salver his father left him. He intends to board a ship to Europe, but something seems to hold him in New York City. The city has changed with the years, but some things are still the same. Things like the cloud wall.

My Thoughts:

Winter’s Tale is a very complex novel. It’s main focus lies on New York City, but not the New York City we know. Not even New York City as it was around 1900, which is the time the first part of the novel is set in. Mark Helprin created his own version of this famous North American city we all know. If it doesn’t feel weird for you in Part I of the book, wait until you reach Part II. I was really confused! I had no idea what time I was in. Was that still the past (because the language and other details suggested that)? No it wasn’t, but where was I? If you try to find that out with the help of clues you usually pick up on the way, you’re lost. Well I was. I just started to accept it. This world is different even though it shares lots of similarities with ours.

Peter Lake for example. He looks human. He is human. If he would have had a better past, he might have become a normal, working-class citizen of New York. Things turned out a little different though and he starts to do things you can’t comprehend. You could call Peter Lake a main character, but I could be biased by the movie trailer. I’ve thought about it. There are so many characters in this novel. Every one of them is introduced in more than just two pages. At some point it got quite confusing to remember who was who. Many of these characters (e.g. Hardesty & Virginia) are very important and take up large parts of the novel. I can’t say if there really is a main character. What do you think?

As you can see, Winter’s Tale is a rather confusing adventure, but there is one thing that makes it worthwhile: the language! Okay, two. There’s also Athansor, the flying horse. If I had the time, and I hope I’ll have it someday, I would sit down and just read passages of the book for sheer pleasure. Mark Helprin can turn words into magic. Though I have to be honest with you. I did not fully understand Winter’s Tale, but as I’ve seen on the internet, there are many who didn’t, even after rereading it for the xth time. Do I think you should read it? Yes, if you have time on your hands. If you are terribly busy right now, read something light and get back to Winter’s Tale when you feel relaxed.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

I’m wondering how they made such a complex book into a movie. I’m looking forward to Akiva Goldsman’s interpretation!

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Musical – Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

When was the last time you thought, “Wow. That was absolutely breath-taking?” Well, the last time I had to sit back and could literally feel my jaw dropping was not too long ago, one month to be exact. During my New York trip I treated myself to a Broadway show and decided to see the musical Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. If you want to know why I think so highly of the production read on and find out yourselves.

Now in its third year, the spectacular Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has turned out to be the most expensive and technically elaborate theatrical production of all times. The story is based on the Marvel comic-strip superhero and the Hollywood film of 2002. The Broadway show lasts for two and a half hours, including one intermission, and tells the story of the teenager Peter Parker, whose unremarkable life takes a sudden turn when he learns about his astonishing powers. He soon has to take great responsibility over the people and the city of New York.

The flying sequences and aerial stunts are jaw-dropping! The actors move around the stage in mystifying speed and make it a superbly dynamic show. The splendour stage design contributes to a breath-taking atmosphere and extravagancy. An 18-piece orchestra in two rooms backstage perform marvellous live music written by U2’s Bono and The Edge, and all eighteen songs are performed live on stage.

Go ahead and watch the trailer and decide yourselves whether or not you would want to see the show. Lately, more and more negative reviews about the show have been published, referring to the musical as one of the bigger flops in Broadway history. I can assure you that I found the musical overwhelming and think of actors, musicians, producers, and everyone who put their hands on the project very highly and would like to conclude with praise for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark: a flabbergasting show!

5 Star Rating: Recommended

Travel Review – New York City

“New York remains the most fabulous city on earth,” claims travel journalist Graham Boynton, and boy, is he right. Spending ten days in the Big Apple, I could appreciate a great deal of New York’s wonders, starting from juicy burgers to breath-taking Broadway shows. There are numerous reasons for why I made New York City my travel destination: a rich palette of cultural offerings, the ringing tills of Fifth Avenue, magnificent high-rise buildings, and extravagant boutique hotels.

Once the city had whetted my appetite, I couldn’t get enough of it. I enjoyed memorable walking tours through Greenwich Village, Soho, Little Italy, China Town, and the Financial District and experienced two more of New York’s five boroughs: Brooklyn and the Bronx. The city’s constant reinvention makes it an eye-catching venue which I looked at with great admiration.

I appreciated the glittering lights as described by Edith Wharton and dived into the big city’s night life while standing on top of the Rock. The Empire State has it all: from overcrowded and stuffy subway rides to cultural diversity in the various New York neighbourhoods. It’s no secret that life in New York has its price, but there are quite a few things to do which are for free, including spending time in Manhattan’s oasis: Central Park.

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Visiting the magnificent Metropolitan Museum, strolling through Washington Square Park to walk off some of my lunch, admiring the New York Public Library and walking all the way up from Battery Park to 42nd Street contributed to making my stay an unforgettable experience. I loved my vacation, I loved the city, but I didn’t like what they call morning caffeine intake. Honestly, New Yorkers have to start taking coffee seriously!