Bomi sent me this book as an afterthought to score Amazon free shipping on my birthday present, but it's the sweetest little story I've read in a whilBomi sent me this book as an afterthought to score Amazon free shipping on my birthday present, but it's the sweetest little story I've read in a while. It's the story of a poor artist, his housekeeper, and a stray cat they take in, who looks on as the artist paints a magnificant picture of Buddha and the animals who came to watch over his death. The artist struggles with the fact that traditionally, the cat is a tricksy creature and apparently skipped Buddha's funeral, but his own kitty shows a touching devotion to him and obviously desires to be part of the painting. I admit it, I cried at the end. Bite me....more
I'm . . . not quite sure how I feel about this book. From what I can gather it's a semi-fictional autobiography of the author himself, who used to beI'm . . . not quite sure how I feel about this book. From what I can gather it's a semi-fictional autobiography of the author himself, who used to be a journalist in Cuba. The Havana in this book is not the pretty, sunny, exotic Havana I remember from the documentary _Havana Libre_. It's filthy, sweaty, cut-throat, and depressing. People fucking in alleys filled with garbage and cockroaches. Sleeping on the floor next to the cockroaches. Drinking cheap rum and eating mangoes someone else vomited on. Telling each other to crawl up their mother's cunt.
I will say that the writing is brilliant - you can feel your skin crawling with the realism of the gritty descriptions. Every time I put the book down I wanted to go take a hot shower and scrub myself down to the bone. And despite the disgust the book inspired, I did feel compelled to read it to the end. There isn't much of a plot and several times I couldn't remember whether certain characters were new or had appeared in a previous chapter, but overall I'd say it's an interesting read. (I'm not sure if I'll want to read it again, though. Definitely not the kind of book you want to curl up with on a lazy afternoon.)...more
You know when you express an interest in, say, boats, and then for the next five years all anyone ever gets you has to do with boats? I'm experiencingYou know when you express an interest in, say, boats, and then for the next five years all anyone ever gets you has to do with boats? I'm experiencing something similar at the moment. [/irrelevant observation:]
I loved Shriver's other book, We Need To Talk About Kevin, so I was actually a bit nervous about reading this one - I was convinced there was no way it could be as good as the former. And to be honest, I don't think it was, but I still loved it. It teetered on the edge of being too gimmicky for my tastes - ::coughDaveEggerscough:: - but overall I think it worked. And I think it will strike a personal chord for anyone who's been through more than one relationship. It certainly did for me.
The premise of the novel is the question, "what if...?" - the protagonist is happily married to one man yet feels strangely attracted to another, and one night she finds herself alone with him, on his birthday, and feels the overwhelming urge to kiss him. [Killers:] It was only a kiss! [/Killers:] And from that point the story splits into two possibilities - does she, or doesn't she? It's an interesting idea: one small decision can change the course of your life. And how. The chapters alternate between the two storylines - in one, Irina did kiss the other man; in the other, she didn't. Oddly reminiscient of the "choose your own adventure" books of the 80s.
Shriver, for the most part, is a master at nailing human emotion into hard words. Her writing always evokes for me the lines from "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" -
And I have known the eyes already, known them all Eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase
It's the kind of phrasing that makes you furrow your brow and think, yes, I've felt that way before, except I've never been able to put it into words like that. Sometimes her scenes are painful to read as a result. It's been almost refreshing, though, since for the past few months I've been indulging in frilly, sweet fantasy novels, which hold a pleasure of their own but like most things work best in small doses.
I was also afraid that the ending would be a typical "oh look, she made the right/wrong decision!" but it ends on a rather ambiguous note, and I was left pondering whether there ever was a better choice to begin with. Perhaps the message we can take from this book is not that little decisions made big changes, but that no matter how big the changes seem, life still muddles on with its ups and downs, and perhaps, in some fundamental way, nothing ever does change.
The Post-Birthday World reminded me, in the end, of Eternal Sunshine - not because of the content, exactly, but more because of how I think readers will react to it. I think Eternal Sunshine is an absolutely brilliant movie and it makes me cry buckets, but I have friends who don't really see what the fuss is all about. I think it boils down to your own experience. This book will definitely speak to those who've had some kind of painful relationship experience; who've ever had a moment of wondering what their lives would have been like if they had turned right instead of left. ...more
I imagine this is what Sophie's World would have looked like if the protagonist had been a crazy middle-aged guy who likes motorcycles, rather than aI imagine this is what Sophie's World would have looked like if the protagonist had been a crazy middle-aged guy who likes motorcycles, rather than a young girl in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland.
I'll write a proper review someday - after I've re-read the book. My initial impression is that the dude thinks too much and needs a good slap. Or to get laid. Yes, it's a flippant reaction, and to be fair the book does have a lot of interesting insights, but overall it reminded me of the "Foundations of Interpretative Theory" course we had to take in grad school (ironic, seeing as how the protagonist was also at UChicago). I could have learned a lot more from it if I consistently cared enough to slog through the rhetoric. Sometimes I did; sometimes I did't.
I think part of it might have to do with the fact that I don't care about motorcycles. At all. The person that recommended it to me said my interest (or lack thereof) in motorcycles would be irrelevant, but I dunno. Yes, the motorcycle is more of a metaphor, but still, I would have been far more engrossed had the narrator used something different, like, I dunno, gardening, or Dungeons and Dragons (heh). Also, I didn't really care about any of the characters or what happened to them. It was less of an issue in this kind of text, since most of the story wasn't really about the characters but about the inner monologue of one character. Still, in order for me to like a book I have to identify with SOMEone in it (one of the reasons I disliked Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius).
Anyway, I think it's worth a read if you have any passing interest in philosophy. For me, I think I'll be re-reading it again once I'm in the right mood. ...more
Trash like no other, but highly enjoyable trash. I suppose it's pretty much like Buffy, if Buffy raised zombies for a living as well. And had lots ofTrash like no other, but highly enjoyable trash. I suppose it's pretty much like Buffy, if Buffy raised zombies for a living as well. And had lots of sex with vampires and werewolves....more
A very "hetero-normative" view of love, I suppose. It's an interesting read if only because it concisely sums up commonly held views - masculine and fA very "hetero-normative" view of love, I suppose. It's an interesting read if only because it concisely sums up commonly held views - masculine and feminine love as essentially different, love being a verb and not a noun, etc. This was one of the rare books I bothered to annotate, but most of my notes are simply indignant observations. I suppose Fromm was a product of his time, as we all are, but I just thought it strange that he's still considered relevant by some....more
Very unconventional science/fantasy - urban, gritty, and absolutely mesmerizing. I had to stop after some chapters and take a minute to breathe becausVery unconventional science/fantasy - urban, gritty, and absolutely mesmerizing. I had to stop after some chapters and take a minute to breathe because I'd actually been holding my breath for so long. The descriptions are vivid enough to make you cringe, and while the story drags in certain sections (the parts where they talk about scientific theories - I confess I skimmed those sections, but they aren't terribly vital to understanding the plot and there's not a lot of them) the overall plot moves along at a dizzying pace.
I don't even know how to describe this book. It's a world where humans mingle with other sentinent beings in the shapes of bugs, cactuses, and birds; where a mother who kills her child is punished by having her dead baby's arms attached to her head; where spiders and moths take the form of the most frightening nightmares. The world takes some getting used to, but definitely worth the effort....more
Calling this historical fiction might be a bit of a stretch, but it's a fast and enjoyable read. I'm afraid I do have a soft spot for historical fictiCalling this historical fiction might be a bit of a stretch, but it's a fast and enjoyable read. I'm afraid I do have a soft spot for historical fiction about strong-willed women who really just need to be fucked- er, I mean, loved by a real man (I'm sorry, but that's what happens to all the ones I've read about ... I suppose even Elizabeth Bennet's story could be simplified to such terms). The strong-willed female in question is an Italian doctor, sent to England to investigate a string of serial killings. Of children. Yes, children being mutilated, corruption of the Catholic church, royal politics (Henry and Beckett), an intelligent woman and a man who manages to be an attractive jerk - what is there not to like about this book? All it really needs are vampires....more
I loved this coming-of-age story, made up of a patchwork of dark, upside-down fairytales. The central plot revolves around David, a child grieving forI loved this coming-of-age story, made up of a patchwork of dark, upside-down fairytales. The central plot revolves around David, a child grieving for his dead mother and nursing a dark resentment against his new stepmother and his new half-brother. Connolly weaves a world of children's nightmares that is both fantastic and realistic in how frightening it can be. And I'm not exaggerating when I use the word "frightening" - some passages in the book sent shivers up my spine, and it's really not a book for young children. It's a tale of bravery and love but also of violence and lost innocence, and its themes are more suitable for teenagers and adults....more
I loved reading this book - epic adventure, full of all the traditional elements of a good fantasy: trolls, dragons, warriors, bards, and magic. But tI loved reading this book - epic adventure, full of all the traditional elements of a good fantasy: trolls, dragons, warriors, bards, and magic. But the adventure is made better by the complexity of the characters. There are no clear-cut lines between good and evil in this book - only characters that are very human in their imperfection. I think this book does a good job of pushing young readers to think about cultural relativism - or at least introduce them to the concept.
I was annoyed by the fact that Lucy still remains a brat to the bitter end. The scene where Jack gives her the necklace from Thorgil made me want to reach into the pages and give that girl a good slap. You'd think that the ordeal she went through would have changed her somewhat. I wasn't quite sure what the author's purpose was in leaving her as a spoiled and selfish child. On the other hand, I suppose she is still quite young (6?).
Anyway, some Chase notes: I would recommend this book be bumped up to E710. The language is deceptively simple but there is a lot that goes on - too much for our E610 kids to keep track of. Another solution would be to reduce the amount of reading per week, but then we'd be doing this book for two months....more