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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena [Ebook] ➡ A Constellation of Vital Phenomena By Anthony Marra – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk In a snow covered village in Chechnya, eight year old Havaa watches from the woods as her father is abducted in the middle of the night by Russian soldiers Their life long friend and neighbour, Akhmed In a snow covered village in Chechnya, of Vital PDF/EPUB Ã eight year old Havaa watches from the woods as her father is abducted in the middle of the night by Russian soldiers Their life long friend and neighbour, Akhmed, has also been watching, and when A Constellation PDF or he finds Havaa he knows of only one person who might be able to helpFor tough minded doctor Sonja Rabina, it s just another day of trying to keep her bombed out, abandoned hospital going When Akhmed arrives with Havaa, asking Sonja for Constellation of Vital Epub á shelter, she has no idea who the pair are and even less desire to take on yet responsibilities and riskBut over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja s world will shift on its axis, revealing the intricate pattern of connections that binds these three unlikely companions together and unexpectedly decides their fateA Constellation of Vital Phenomena is simply spectacular Ann Patchett.


10 thoughts on “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

  1. Jeanette (Again) Jeanette (Again) says:

    The history of ethnic strife in Chechnya is long and confusing Anthony Marra bypasses the facts and figures and takes us directly into the lives of ordinary people trying to make a meaningful existence amid the rubble and death and ongoing violence Living in a state of constant trauma changes all the rules Young and old, ethnic Russians and Chechen Muslims, the characters lives intersect in such a way that they cannot hate each other with the intensity prescribed by their ancestors.With a co The history of ethnic strife in Chechnya is long and confusing Anthony Marra bypasses the facts and figures and takes us directly into the lives of ordinary people trying to make a meaningful existence amid the rubble and death and ongoing violence Living in a state of constant trauma changes all the rules Young and old, ethnic Russians and Chechen Muslims, the characters lives intersect in such a way that they cannot hate each other with the intensity prescribed by their ancestors.With a complete absence of emotional manipulation, Marra takes us back and forth in the lives of the characters, moving along a timeline from 1994 to 2004 As they move in and out of periods of war, we see the events that led them to their current behaviors Their choices begin to makesense when we see how they have suffered, and the sins they have committed in the name of self preservation These are the sins for which they are now seeking absolution, whether from a higher power or from those they have wronged.I m a picky reader, and my friends tell me I m a hard grader when I rate books I m always skeptical when I hear raves about an up and coming author who s supposed to be the latest writing phenomenon I always have to give them a chance, though, because once in awhile they turn out to be as talented as promised Anthony Marra is one of those who deserves all the praise he s receiving If you like serious literary fiction, this is a novel you won t want to miss.ADDENDUM If you think you re too much of a history dolt to enjoy this book, don t let that stop you A quick overview here with focus on the First Chechen War, Interwar Period, and Second Chechen War, will give you enough context to understand the impact on the characters, the economy, and the infrastructure of the country


  2. Melissa Melissa says:

    Verbose and mundane in tone but somewhat enlightening to a reader unfamiliar with Chechen historyRecently mesmerized by a stunning debut, one that made me step back and look at the people in my life a littleappreciatively, I found myself craving something along the same lines a story with a deep and resounding message Having seen a few comparisons made between A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and A Place for Us, in weight of the story, not necessarily style, I thought this would be Verbose and mundane in tone but somewhat enlightening to a reader unfamiliar with Chechen historyRecently mesmerized by a stunning debut, one that made me step back and look at the people in my life a littleappreciatively, I found myself craving something along the same lines a story with a deep and resounding message Having seen a few comparisons made between A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and A Place for Us, in weight of the story, not necessarily style, I thought this would be a smart choice I have to say, I don t get the comparisons From tone, texture and significance, there are little to no similarities Utter confusion is my first attributable thought to the storyline and characters that live among the pages Anthony Marra drops the reader into the midst of the second Chechen war and spends zero time on the background of the region, giving the reader very little to draw from It took a bit to get my bearings and situate the cast, but it wasn t all in vain Marra presents a character driven novel and flits back and forth between the first Chechen war that started in 1994 and the midst of the second in 2004 The heart of the story encompasses a young girl left fatherless by a family friend turned informer and the people willing to put themselves on the line to keep her safe The author takes his time unraveling each character s backstory and in turn examining the relationship dynamics Incredibly sad and with very few bright spots, it was the culmination of the varying storylines that brought things full circle and made the arduous trek feel worthwhile There s no denying, Marra has a very distinct style Unfortunately for me, I can t say it s one I find myself eager to experience again His writing is incredibly dense which meant, I was aware of each word on every page making this somewhat of a taxing experience As I reached the end of the book, I struggled to decipher the point of the story orpointedly the why. I took a step back, let things resonate for a few days and came to the conclusion that reading isn t always about turning that final page with a life affirming message as a token of completion Sometimes it s simply about succumbing to the journey living, breathing and experiencing a time and space I never willThank you to the Traveling Sisters Brenda, Jan and Marialyce for sharing this experience with me It was the great discussion this book churned up and the resources you all provided that kept me from raising the white flag in surrender.


  3. Diane Diane says:

    This beautiful and haunting novel is one of my favorite books of 2013 It takes place in post war Chechnya, but don t be alarmed if you don t know much about the Chechen conflict with Russia the rich storytelling and the gorgeous prose will draw you in, and by the end of the book you could captivate an audience with these wartime stories But first, you must meet Havaa, a precocious little girl whose father was just taken by federal forces, probably never to be seen again Havaa ran into the w This beautiful and haunting novel is one of my favorite books of 2013 It takes place in post war Chechnya, but don t be alarmed if you don t know much about the Chechen conflict with Russia the rich storytelling and the gorgeous prose will draw you in, and by the end of the book you could captivate an audience with these wartime stories But first, you must meet Havaa, a precocious little girl whose father was just taken by federal forces, probably never to be seen again Havaa ran into the woods to hide, which is why the soldiers didn t find her The girl s mother is dead and she has no one else A neighbor, Akhmed, helps Havaa escape to a nearby town and convinces a doctor, Sonja, to look after her Soon our cast of characters will expand and we will meet Akhmed s wife, Havaa s father, Sonja s sister, and other residents in the village of Eldar, each of them with a story to tell.One of my favorite characters was Sonja, a tough doctor who left Chechnya to attend medical school in London, but she returned to her war torn country to try and help her sister, Natasha, who later disappeared Though she was the elder, Sonja was always thought of as Natasha s sister, the object rather than the subject of any sentence the two shared She walked alone down the school corridors, head sternly bent toward the stack of books in her arms Sonja hadacademic journal subscriptions than friends She could explain advanced calculus to her fifth form algebra teacher but couldn t tell a joke to a boy at lunch Even in the summer months, she had the complexion of someone who spent too much time in a cellar Everyone knew Sonja was destined for great things, but no one knew what to do with her until then Another character I loved was Akhmed, a man who studied to be a doctor but who would rather have been an artist He jokes that he is the worst doctor in Chechnya, but he still manages to help his patients and their families, sometimes by drawing portraits of those who have been killed or taken by the feds.Anthony Marra s writing is beautiful, with stunning sentences that made me pause and reread them If I hadn t been reading a library book I would have underlined innumerable paragraphs The page long sentence on p 139 was so emotional and breathtaking that I actually gasped Each chapter opens with a timeline, pinpointing a year between 1994 and 2004, and the flashbacks illuminate what happened to our characters during the war While the chapter focuses on one character s perspective, the stories ebb and flow together like overlapping melodies This is a novel whose plotting and gracefulness I admired so much that as soon as I had finished it, I immediately wanted to start over and read it again What details What connections This is the kind of novel I love to read one that is complex and meaningful and full of humanity and life and I wish I could give a copy to every bookish friend I know Ann Patchett, who is one of my favorite writers, told The New York Times that this was her favorite book she s read this year Agreed.Note If you re wondering what the title means, it is taken from a definition in a medical dictionary Life a constellation of vital phenomena organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation


  4. Em Lost In Books Em Lost In Books says:

    I picked this book for my read an award winner challenge After reading the blurb, I knew this is going to be a sad story but what I didn t know was that it was going to be this disappointing So many glowing reviews made me think that it was going to be a book that I would going to remember for a very very long time, that too in a good way.Story revolves around Akhmed who is taking care of his bedridden wife, but has to leave her behind to take his neighbor s daughter, Havaa, to local hospita I picked this book for my read an award winner challenge After reading the blurb, I knew this is going to be a sad story but what I didn t know was that it was going to be this disappointing So many glowing reviews made me think that it was going to be a book that I would going to remember for a very very long time, that too in a good way.Story revolves around Akhmed who is taking care of his bedridden wife, but has to leave her behind to take his neighbor s daughter, Havaa, to local hospital There he request Sonja to take in Haava First Sonja refuses to take in Havaa, but Akhmed volunteers to help her with patients in exchange and Sonja relents Sonja is the sole doctor running this hospital, taking care of ill She is also looking for her sister, Natasha, who has been missing for some time Khassan, a 79 year old, is neighbour of Akhmed His son Ramzan is a Russian informant and the one responsible for killing so many of his own village men Author has woven a story around these characters going back and forth in time Though good at times I have few issues with the book 1 I had a hard time placing the events because change in time frame was so sudden Most of the times I was few pages in before I realize that I was reading events from past.2 Different story lines took too long to converge in the end Other than Akhmed and Khassan, none of the character was impressive They were dull 3 Sentences like theseIn twenty eight years and seven months, at a limnology conference in Cologne, the girl would meet the man she was to marry nine years later At the age of forty six she would have her one and only child in the same maternity ward she was born in, a boy to carry her father s name hers would be the second had sot hold him At the age of sixty eight she would hold her first grandson, also to carry her father s name hers would be the third hands This book is full of these kinds of references Initially, I was very impressed but halfway through I realized they were not related to the story They re part of the epilogue that we don t have in this book It was told us through these I was tired of these by the end of the book.But there are plenty of glowing reviews for this book here on GR If blurb impressed you, go ahead Perhaps you might end up liking this


  5. Katie Katie says:

    As well as being the most cleverly structured novel I ve read all year A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon also features some of the most memorable characters Ostensibly the novel is set in Chechnya though in many ways the novel depicts a generic modern war and the terrifying lawlessness that prevails in an invaded country I have to say I learnt next to nothing about the Chechen wars Marra uses an invented town in the novel and at times you feel he s also using an invented country As with mo As well as being the most cleverly structured novel I ve read all year A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon also features some of the most memorable characters Ostensibly the novel is set in Chechnya though in many ways the novel depicts a generic modern war and the terrifying lawlessness that prevails in an invaded country I have to say I learnt next to nothing about the Chechen wars Marra uses an invented town in the novel and at times you feel he s also using an invented country As with most novels set during wartime it s easy to care about the characters whose survival is threatened on a daily basis Essential to the plot is our emotional investment in Havaa, the eight year old girl whose father is disappeared one night and Akhmed, an inept surgeon who prefers drawing and takes it upon himself to ensure Havaa s survival Survival is often depicted as the struggle to keep memory of loved ones alive The novel is garlanded with tokens of memory Every character carries a key memory of another character and these form a brilliantly executed mosaic of mysteries Ostensibly it takes place over five days but the numerous flashbacks scatter compelling mysteries throughout its pages We wait for the past to catch up with and connect each character There s so much excitement to be had in making all these connections and his handling of the order of the flashbacks is masterful in keeping this excitement at a high pitch throughout Perhaps the connections are too numerous and the characters overly endowed with artistic gifts to make this any kind of convincing appraisal of an historical event Marra deals with this problem by using a whimsical tone throughout to offset all the brutality and senselessness It s a tone that reminded me of Nicole Krauss The History of Love and Foer s Everything Is Illuminated And it s another triumph that Marra gets away with it, largely because of the inspired lyricism of his prose Not once did I have trouble suspending disbelief because he succeeded so well in forging in me a deep emotional connection to his characters Probably best to point out this won t be everybody s cup of tea It s a labyrinth of a novel that requires intense concentration If you read even a single page with your mind elsewhere you ll soon find yourself a bit stranded


  6. Violet wells Violet wells says:

    Anthony Marra s Chechnya is every bit as bleak and brutal as the post apocalyptic world Cormac McCarthy creates in The Road Life is valued by the governing powers as cheaply as in the Nazi concentration camps The novel isn t so much about the wars in Chechnya per se as how individuals relate to each other when law and order has been perverted out of all recognition and they only have their own moral compass as a guide The novel features eight characters who will all have a bearing on each oth Anthony Marra s Chechnya is every bit as bleak and brutal as the post apocalyptic world Cormac McCarthy creates in The Road Life is valued by the governing powers as cheaply as in the Nazi concentration camps The novel isn t so much about the wars in Chechnya per se as how individuals relate to each other when law and order has been perverted out of all recognition and they only have their own moral compass as a guide The novel features eight characters who will all have a bearing on each other s lives These characters are paired up a father and a daughter, two sisters, a father and a son and a husband and wife In common with other contemporary American writers Foer, Krauss, Lethem and the Australian Peter Carey Marra s characters are all of the quirky and socially dysfunctional variety a 21st century tribute to Dickens groundbreaking legacy These characters of Marra s made me think a lot about the role of character in the novel How, for example, the best novels create a new human archetype Don Quixote, Heathcliff, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, old man Karamazov, Rhoda, Molly Bloom spring immediately to mind And how rarely 21st century novels have scaled these heights in characterisation For all DeLillo s stunning prose and uncanny percipience regarding the modern world he hasn t really created a new character Offhand only Elena Ferrante s Lila springs to mind as a character who has added a truly distinctive and memorable face to the pantheon Beguiling though Marra s characters are you can also sense the artifice There s something artificially constructed about them They don t quite ring true He s a little over anxious that they charm and entertain us Marra is a fabulous storyteller He s also a very good prose writer And a highly accomplished architect Technically he ticks all the boxes It s very clever, for example, how five days in the novel bring to a head the emotionally fraught events of ten years in the lives of his characters And clever too how he uses ostensibly crass artefacts to create plot, continuity and epiphany But overall I felt the characters let this novel down a bit They were just a bit too standard quirky, a bit too effortlessly loveable It s a novel that appealed greatly to my mind but didn t quite win over my heart For all its cleverness I found it a little bit soulless, a bit too self consciously forged from the mantras of a modern American writer workshop program


  7. Steve Steve says:

    We all know, as William Tecumseh Sherman once noted, that War is Hell Later, Jean Paul Sartre concluded that Hell is other people It therefore stands to reason that war is other people Good thing for me that it s about others because what Marra described in this book sounded awful We got chopped off fingers, burned down houses, torture induced ratting, and a whole host of other atrocities It was set in Chechnya in 2004 with much of the story backfilled from the prior decade of war Russ We all know, as William Tecumseh Sherman once noted, that War is Hell Later, Jean Paul Sartre concluded that Hell is other people It therefore stands to reason that war is other people Good thing for me that it s about others because what Marra described in this book sounded awful We got chopped off fingers, burned down houses, torture induced ratting, and a whole host of other atrocities It was set in Chechnya in 2004 with much of the story backfilled from the prior decade of war Russian politics and regional dynamics were deemphasized, though, so it was somewhat generically about any oppressed, occupied state The focus was clearly on the human side Three main characters filled the pages The story began as eight year old Havaa watched her house burn down from the relative safety of the forest she was told to hide in when the Russian soldiers arrived She became far safer when neighbor Akhmed, a kindly but inept doctor, walked her to a hospital where there was one remaining doctor, a Russian named Sonja His best hope for Havaa was that the brusque but talented Sonja would take the girl in Havaa was precocious, and was maybe one of the few people in Sonja s league intellectually, so that helped her odds But these things have to develop at novel length pace, right The cumulative conflict along the way has to reach a tipping point A secondary set of characters got POV spotlights as well, including Akhmed s physically and mentally compromised wife, Havaa s loving father who had just been taken away, Sonja s beautiful better liked, now missing sister, and an old villager named Khassan who had written a massive history of the Chechen people Khassan s son, a pariah for informing on his neighbors, had a story, too a sad, multi sided one The title came from an old medical textbook Sonja owned Only one entry supplied an adequate definition, and she circled it with red ink, and referred to it nightly Life a constellation of vital phenomena organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation Marra no doubt wanted this to applywidely to his entire book, with life intensified by perils of death Did he succeed Well I ve been trying to sort that out It s safe to say that he s a young man with promise And I give him plenty of points for ambition The parts I d criticize are really a matter of taste I know, too, given all the stars this one gets from discerning friends that my own view is not the popular one, but I did find it a tad overdone This may seem odd coming from a guy whose catch phrase is Nothing exceeds like excess, but at times I felt that A Constellation of Vital Phenomena was an entanglement of florid descriptors or maybe an agglomeration of symphonious hyperbole More than once I got a sense of him in a creative writing class, vying for teacher s pet status The structuring was fine, with the to and fro in time generally adding interest He did have this quirk, though, were he d randomly fast forward the life of some insignificant character, telling us for no apparent reason that, say, twenty eight years after the war a nameless sentry we just met retired from his career as a teacher It was a device that called attention to itself, and risked breaking the spell Better to crawl deeper into the skin of someone we re meant to care about.I m giving this 3.5 stars and rounding to 4 The vitality is there, as is the poignancy The fact that I debated my own feelings about it meant that he made me think, which I should count as a good thing I ll be interested to see what a few years of ripening will do to Marra as a writer It s a good bet his book of short stories, The Tsar of Love and Techno, will influence my eventual view


  8. Shelby *trains flying monkeys* Shelby *trains flying monkeys* says:

    Upon starting this book I had heard of Chechnya I couldn t point it out on a map though Or even have told you what part of the world it was in This book takes you there Not just in mind..but in spirit also The author states he chose to write about this area after hearing about the death of journalist Anna Polikovskaya from her reporting she did from Chechnya He read up on the non fiction reports he could find from the area I m glad he did it My eyes would have glazed over from the eno Upon starting this book I had heard of Chechnya I couldn t point it out on a map though Or even have told you what part of the world it was in This book takes you there Not just in mind..but in spirit also The author states he chose to write about this area after hearing about the death of journalist Anna Polikovskaya from her reporting she did from Chechnya He read up on the non fiction reports he could find from the area I m glad he did it My eyes would have glazed over from the enormity of it The story begins with 8 year old Haava seeing her father taken by soldiers in the middle of the night Even at that young age she knows that her father isn t returning Akhmed her neighbors sweeps her up and runs because she is also a target He hides her with a frustrated Russian Doctor named Sonja Sonja and Akhmed are amazing characters They both come to life in the book I ll remember Akhmed for a long time after finishing this His humor in the face of such tragedy He admits he is a horrible doctor with a wry sense The story takes place over 5 days..5 days that will stick with the reader long afterward The author does use flashbacks so that you become entwined in these characters lives For a first book this book is absolutely amazing I received an copy of this book from blogging for books in exchange for an honest review.


  9. Michael Michael says:

    I loved this portrait of ordinary people doing their extraordinary best under the duress of war in Chechnya Their human spirit shines through like the grass that grows in the cracks of a sidewalk I was inspired with Marra s ability to portray how in the face of war s devastation, people focus their purpose on whatever family members or shreds of community they retain, and when even that is gone, they forge a virtual family Most of the story takes place in a few days in 2004, with flashbacks t I loved this portrait of ordinary people doing their extraordinary best under the duress of war in Chechnya Their human spirit shines through like the grass that grows in the cracks of a sidewalk I was inspired with Marra s ability to portray how in the face of war s devastation, people focus their purpose on whatever family members or shreds of community they retain, and when even that is gone, they forge a virtual family Most of the story takes place in a few days in 2004, with flashbacks to the two periods of invasion of Chechnya by Russian Federation forces in 1994 and 1999, which was marked by massive civilian casualties by bombings and artillery strikes During extended periods of occupation, systematic repression and torture was rampant to assure that this republic did not break away as so many other Soviet states did after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 The book is not concerned with the politics and combat of the specific war, but with the miracles of human nature within the society impacted by such events Marra stretches hard to make language capture this life as a constellation of vital phenomena Almost everyone is a hero in this tale The two main characters are doctors Akhmed is a Muslim primary care doctor in a rural community in southern Chechnya He saves an orphan girl, Havaa, from federal forces that killed her father and burned her home In the first pages, we experience him finding eight year old Havaa and placing her in sanctuary at the hospital in the nearby city of Volchansk Sonja is a female surgeon of ethnic Russian origin who has taken over the running of the hospital in this bombed out city The price she asks of Akhmed in return for the favor is for him to serve on her medical staff, which calls for daily forays from his caretaker role for his disabled wife The evolution of Akhmed and Sonja s relationship was wonderful for me She is superbly competent but gruff and cynical, with no bedside manner, whereas Akhmed is warm and self deprecating, but poorly equipped for the task He was alwaysinterested in art than medicine His most recent art was putting up around his village large portraits on panels of the disappeared, a touching act Marra bases on a real event Sonya schools him in trauma care and lessens his despair by instilling a sense of purpose, and he in turn helps humanizes her, makes her laugh, and raises her hopes of finding her missing sister Humor helps break down barriers between them He was an incompetent doctor but a decent man, he believed, compensating for his physician limitations with his empathy for the patient, his understanding of pain I shouldn t spend so much time with you You ll turn me into a first rate surgeon and a boor I think it s the other way around , she said A gauze of afternoon cloud cover had wrapped around the sky and she looked up and into it I m overcome by the inexplicable desire to speak to you with common courtesy Havaa s story of resilience and poignant efforts to make sense of her family s loss makes her a hero too Although Sonja generally hates kids, we see Havaa s precocity begin to win her heart when the child first speaks to her of her disappeared fatherHe s an arborist He knows everything about trees I m still a minimalist Do you know what that is Havaa nodded, expecting the question It s a nice way of saying you have nothing It s important to know big word , the girl said, repeating her father s maxim No one can take what s indside your head once it s there You sound like a solipsist Another key character, is Khassan, a friend and neighbor of Akhmed who has worked his whole life on a 3,000 page history of the Chechen The muted voice of the people is epitomized by the succession of regimes that have refused to allow him to publish any of it except the segments up to the Middle Ages He is further silenced by the interruption of his friendship and regular chess playing with Havaa s father and by his termination of all communication with his remaining family member, a son who has been tortured into becoming an informer for Russian security forces The most moving part of the book for me lies in Khassan s finding relief from his isolation by disclosure of the story of a secret love affair from his past to Akhmed s bedridden and demented wife This story takes place against the background of Stalin s transplantation of their families along with half a million of native Chechens to Kazakhstan, which lasted from 1944 until repatriation of survivors in 1957.The prose in this book is what often makes it special to me Sometimes it calls too much attention to itself, and sometimes it comes off as clumsy, requiring reading the sentencesthan once to achieve understanding As an example of success, here the torment of Khassan s son is captured as he experiences the impact of having to become an informer Snow had thickened the ground The quiet of the house followed him into the woods Two hundred meters in, raising his head in a long scream, he tore a hole in the silence through which he could walkfreely.Here is an example that does well at first in capturing Akhmed s shock of dealing with a victim of a landmine, but to me it overreaches toward the endhe wasn t the first man he had seen writhing like a noodle in a pot of boiling water, not the first he had seen with half his shin hanging by a hinge of sinew But when he saw this man it was like seeing the first man for the first time he couldn t think, couldn t act, could only stand in shock as the air where the man s leg should have been filled the floor and the room and his open mouth Then the man s pulse was a haphazard exertion against his finger I admire Marra so much for trying and often succeeding that I have to forgive him for flying too close to the sun sometimes Here is a final example, which sings so well about Ahkmed s feeling of loss of his wife to dementia but to me stumbles at the end He was losing her incrementally It might be a few stray brown hairs listless on the pillow, or the crescents of fingernails tossed behind the headboard, or a dark shape dissolving in soap As a web is nothan holes woven together, they were bonded by what was no longer there The dishes no longer prepared or eaten The walks no longer walked, the summer woods, the undergrowth parted by their shins The arguments no longer argued no stakes, nothing either wanted or could lose The love no longer made, desired, imagined, or mourned The illness had resorted to an innocence he was unwilling to pollute, and the warmth of her flesh cocooning his was a shard of their life dislodged from both their memories.Against the forces of erasure, the characters nurture life through their memories, spark hopes for each other, and find windows for humor and for love Morality is frequently compromised, but the wellsprings of their personal integrity are preserved No wonder 13 out of 15 of my GR friends rendered 4 or 5 stars for this debut novel Marra looks too young to believe he could create this out of imagination, research, and visits to Chechnya But he wrote it at 28 years of age, and a Stanford professor where he was a graduate student in creative writing was quoted as saying his skills were already fully developed In an interview included at the end of this book, he cites the influence of Benioff s City of Thieves , which despite its portrayal of suffering at the Siege of Leningrad is filled to the brim with life, love, humor, even joy, all of which only enhance and makereal the underlying historical tragedy


  10. Cheri Cheri says:

    4.5 StarsWhen they took him, he held your name right there in his chest, and you were with him, even if you didn t know it When he reached the end, he did not die He called your name and began to live in you A Constellation of Vital Phenomenais Anthony Marra s debut novel If you ve read this, then you ll understand how unfathomable that seems to me, and likely so to most people when they ve just finished reading this Set in a snow covered village in Chechnya, The Chechen Republic, a 4.5 StarsWhen they took him, he held your name right there in his chest, and you were with him, even if you didn t know it When he reached the end, he did not die He called your name and began to live in you A Constellation of Vital Phenomenais Anthony Marra s debut novel If you ve read this, then you ll understand how unfathomable that seems to me, and likely so to most people when they ve just finished reading this Set in a snow covered village in Chechnya, The Chechen Republic, after the dissolution of Soviet Union, this story takes place between the years 1994 and 2004, weaving back and forth through time As this story begins, Russian soldiers have been busy invading villages, accusing people of having rebel sympathies, aiding the rebelsAs a web is nothan holes woven together, they were bonded by what was no longer there It is on one of these nights that young Havaa s life changes, in the middle of the night she watches helplessly as her father is taken away by soldiers, soldiers who have also set fire to their home A neighbor, Akmed, saves her, and brings her to the hospital, searching for refuge for her He knows someone there, Sonja, a no nonsense surgeon, who is now in charge of what remains of the hospital He needs to find a safe place for herYou are mine I recognize you We twist our souls around each other s miseries It is that which makes us family War begets war, violence begetsviolence Kindness, gradually, perhaps, begets kindness Hope Kindness is an antidote to despair, and while it can t take the place of food, water, shelter, what are we without kindness, without tolerance The ability to get up each day, face another death defying day, with horror or the potential for another day of horror always on one s mindThere are maps to show you how to get to the place where you want to be but no maps that show you how to get to the time when you want to be This was a hard book for me to read, overwhelmingly bleak, filled with despair at times, and while there was almost no real reason for hope, these characters hold onto hope as though it were a lifeline as tangible as food, water and shelter Intense, dark, this sometimes felt impenetrable, but then again this story is thick with complications, complex back stories, and, well, difficulties, because life is full of obstacles, impediments And love, it s also filled with love Love is in these pages, with a beautiful underlying message of forgiveness There are books we love for the way their beauty makes our heart soar, or for the thrills we find inside their pages, some for the things we learned while reading them There are thrilling, terrifying moments in this, and there is plenty to learn about this time period in Chechnya, and there are many, many lovely passages Still, this is not a story that I can say I enjoyed, although it always pulled me back to it until my heart became too heavy once again, and I was forced to put it down for a time Now that I ve read the last page, and many passages over and over again, I realize that this story, like others before, has already become a part of me, a sharing and merging of this story within me, the stories of these souls with mine, and with all of our stories Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book


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