Sunday, December 23, 2007

Quarter 2 Outside Reading Week 5

Part I:
"You can never over-estimate the sheer ingenuity that cowards are capable of bringing to a task. If it's important enough to them, they can outsmart you every time." (262)

significance: Nigel is warning David that the U.S. government, like Nigel's friend Sergei (who he is describing) will likely come up with a way to avoid participating in the crisis in Kutar. As it turns out, he was correct.

Part II:
At this point in the story, the American reporter Stewart has decided that the only way to bring awareness to the ongoing crisis is to discover what is truly going on beyond the ridge in the KPLA's camp. Obviously this is a very risky idea, considering the fact that the rebels are supposedly terrorists who might resort to genocide, and wouldn't have a problem killing him. I'm glad that someone has decided to take a more dramatic action, rather than sit on the rooftop like David and Amira, or constantly argue, as Paolo and the Contessa do. I found that this decision has definitely intrigued me; in the past, I would have no trouble putting this book down once i had finished a section. however, i'm now finding it harder to stop as the story (halfway in) is finally beginning to gain weight. Unfortunately, there are still another 9 days (in waiting for the Esmerelda to come and go with news) in the story left until he departs; I imagine David will go with him, (or so i hope) because if he doesn't, then I'll again be left waiting for something to happen. This book is somewhat slow when it comes to developing, as a sense of boredom, censorship, and distant oppression creep in. Interestingly enough, this slower literary approach has more realistically created the feelings that the characters are experiencing; there is nothing "safe" to talk about that won't stir up uncomfortable feelings, so conversations are dull. People can't go on adventures much, as the streets aren't safe (Nigel was shot just walking to the palace) and the citizens aren't very lively, as they have to live in fear.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Quarter 2 Outside Reading Week 4

Part I
Brevity (213)- Short in duration; brief.

Edwardian (191)- Characteristic of the reign of Edward VII of England.

Part II
At the start of this sixty page section, the author Scott Anderson is detailing the actual specifics of an artillery shell exploding and the effect it has: what areas will be "swept clean", which will leave behind human limbs, and even the slightly morbid tidbit that bees are more attracted to blood than flies are. Using this as a lead into the current events, all hell breaks loose upon the Kutaran capital of Laradan, as the rebels upon the ridge line pour a barrage of deadly explosives on the city, targeting important buildings of transportation and communication sources. Now, I think that, while I could definitely see this occurring somewhere in the story, i think that it is a little out of place right now; there was no provocation for the rebels to attack, and it almost seemed like the story would continue with a secretive evil (the rebels) looming in the distance, but near enough to be felt. Instead, they immediately attack after making it seem like everything was hunky-dory, creating an unpleasant backdrop to the focus of the story: David. This brings another thought to mind; amidst the tragedy of death, casualties, and struggle, I still don't feel that the Rebels are the main issue. They do govern the entire goings-on and daily activities of the main characters, but the situation almost seems like it is just an afterthought. In terms of how the characters at the Moonlight Hotel are acting, it is the most pressing thing they are experiencing, but still is not a tremendous issue.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Quarter 2 Outside reading Week 3

Part I
Pseudo: not genuine, but having the appearance of. (129)

Acquiesce: To accept or comply. (132)

Part II
At this point in the story, the evacuations of Kutar are underway, and people from all over the country are surging towards the southern harbor, so as to make an escape by sea. Amidst the panic going on outside the Embassy's gates, U.S. ambassadors and employees are taking care to leave no papers for the approaching rebels(who have been compared to the Khmer Rogue) to use as an excuse to harm innocent people. The main method of the disposal of documents was massive bonfires erected throughout the Embassy courtyard. It was during this frenzied departure that Jim Draper, the U.S. ambassador to Kutar, asked David if he would be willing to stay behind as the lone United States representative. Almost any other person in his situation would say no; supposedly blood thirsty rebels were closing in on the capital of perhaps the most dreary backwater in the world, while back home was a comfortable job and parents who wanted to see him safe. But, it was David's admirable loyalty to the ideals of America that made him stay; he wanted to show that the United States wouldn't just leave its allies behind-that there was good to be done, and he would be there to do it. Although i don't think i would be willing to remain in such a place as Kutar, this decision certainly places David in a more positive position in my mind. Obviously it is necessary that he stays, otherwise the story would miss this entire crisis (assuming it was in real time) and there would be no moonlight hotel.