Sharp, clear language about a muddy subject: depictions of the agonies of war via photography. As I'm coming from this from the angle of a performanceSharp, clear language about a muddy subject: depictions of the agonies of war via photography. As I'm coming from this from the angle of a performance artist, my specific interest in that is of depictions of pain and strife within the artistic field – even then, this was a rewarding read. But for those specifically interested in documentary photography, or photography as a medium in general, this is an indispensable read....more
Will give a more thorough review after my second read-through, but this was surprisingly smooth sailing for the majority of the essays. It's Myth TodaWill give a more thorough review after my second read-through, but this was surprisingly smooth sailing for the majority of the essays. It's Myth Today that kicks you in the tuchus, and understandably so....more
It took me a while to read Les Misérables, but part of it was a bit of proverbial coitus interruptus. First a book club book (a weak excuse) and thenIt took me a while to read Les Misérables, but part of it was a bit of proverbial coitus interruptus. First a book club book (a weak excuse) and then life being very life and I ended up waiting to read Book V roughly 10 months after I had finished Book IV. It is a credit to Les Misérables that I was able to jump in with only a little bit of turbulence over my winter holiday and able to come through strong and with the same emotional attachments as I had the winter prior.
Before I get too ahead of myself: I hear it's important to get a solid translation of Les Misérables in order to get the wonderful reading experience that I did. There are people who compare translations like it's a sport; I remember reading an article someone posted to me where a devotee had lined up different editions and was comparing them to the sentence. Apparently, I happened into a wonderful translator with Denny; he professes in the forward how he was committed to preserving the poetics of Hugo's words if not the exact language, and the playfulness shows.
What snared me about Les Misérables was that rambling bit of poetics, of attempting to scramble to the end of each sentence just to see what Hugo was attempting to twist next. It's true that it's a book about excruciating hardship and loss, of love and duty, of piety and blasphemy, of revolution and conservatism, of the heartbeat of a nation itself – the themes are so well-loved and well-covered that we know them from film and the stage. But reading Les Mis is an act of meandering through language, of exploring every nook and cranny of an idea and seeing it to fruition. Hugo was a completionist; his tangents in Les Mis are legendary and often relegated to appendixes in the back. (Full admission: I read them. I am also a completionist.) For those who want a well-gleaned story that gets straight to the point, I would heavily suggest you look the other way. This book is not for you, although I maintain that this particular translation is fast-paced even as it maintains the spirit of Hugo's twisting, brambled prose. True, Hugo is saying things in ten sentences that you could probably say in one, but he's displaying an insane tale as he does it. Everything is so high-stakes that you're persuaded to push on and on until it's three in the morning and you've wiled away far too much time. It's dense, but it's a nail-biter.
And even as you are attempting to find out when you might meet whom and when so-and-so might be saved, back to that language: it blossoms and bubbles, unfurls into moments that you wish you could quote instantly at any point. Hugo can make anything sound beautiful, from Waterloo to the sewers of Paris (of which he devoted an entire chapter – did you know the word cloaca? doesn't it sound gorgeous? especially when you consider that it's discussing your actual shit?). To gallivant through his paragraphs is to go through the Tuileiries, to the halls of Versailles; each sentence is so plush, so verdant, so tangible as they run through your head. For such exquisite agonies, I still want to live inside these words, to rattle them off at a moment's notice in order to take me to that place where they first took me when I absorbed them off the page.
I am neither a person who cries at the end of books nor one who vows to re-read things unless they are exquisitely important, but the end of Les Misérables sent me into hysterics as I realized that this would be the last time that I would ever experience this book for the first time. Now I get another experience, which is to revisit this book and to grow old with it over time. What a treasure to be given, to have a book that you know that you will love forever, that will become your old friend. This book is making me want to reclassify what I consider books that are beloved to me, that's how formative it is. Even though it took me ~1 year to get it done, I'm happy for the journey it gave me regardless....more
Wilfred Owen was the first poet to make me even interested in the genre, which I suppose some people would find to be as a bit of a surprise. For theWilfred Owen was the first poet to make me even interested in the genre, which I suppose some people would find to be as a bit of a surprise. For the longest time, the genre intimidated me, but then a friend started talking about how Owen twisted his words and the poignant sadness of his short life's tale, and I reasoned, "Why not?" So I nosed around the Poetry Foundation and found a few I rather liked. Later, I picked up this chapbook from Project Gutenberg. It was a wise decision.
Naturally, some of the poems within are rough, but given that none of these were necessarily meant for publication due to Owen's untimely death, they're all exquisite little creatures. It would be easy to quote "Anthem For Doomed Youth" or "Dulce et Decorum est" (which are good), but I'll go ahead and quote these two lines from the stanza of "Greater Love," which manage to rip me open entirely: "Your slender attitude / Trembles not exquisite like limbs knife-skewed..." I only have a few words for this: holy shit....more
When I started reading Orthodoxy, I made a point to go in cold. I wished so very much to only focus on Chesterton's language, the way he wove his sentWhen I started reading Orthodoxy, I made a point to go in cold. I wished so very much to only focus on Chesterton's language, the way he wove his sentences into a fabric, rather than focus on the modus operandi of the rhetoric.
This was a very grave mistake.
In order to understand Chesterton's rhetoric, you must possess within yourself a more complete understanding of Catholic philosophy and mindset than I presently possess. It colors his argument and the language he uses to such a degree that I, an agnostic on most of my days, felt very much lost at sea. This makes sense, really; Orthodoxy is not a traditional example of Christian apologetics, as Chesterton fully admits that this is merely his journey of how he came to build his belief set. As such, it's not Jesus For Dummies 101 - no, it's implied that you're not ignorant to basic Christian doctrine. You wouldn't have been at that point in history anyway; if, for all the godlessness Chesterton bemoaned in these pages, he could see contemporary society... well.
As such, I couldn't follow his gorgeous words due to being far too lost in the forest to look at the trees. Sometimes, his arguments outraged me to the point that I couldn't put aside the fact that this was written a century or so before and could only gnash my teeth. If I had been more knowledgable of my context, this wouldn't have been an issue for me. As it stands, however, it is.
Perhaps I'll return to this when I have a solid knowledge of from whence Chesterton's arguments come. But until then, my rating places this book solidly in the middle. ...more
**spoiler alert** Admittedly, I thought I had read this but I am surmising that I only managed to touch the tip of the iceberg with certain bovine cal**spoiler alert** Admittedly, I thought I had read this but I am surmising that I only managed to touch the tip of the iceberg with certain bovine calamities (which were, for the record, roughly only the second chapter into the book). Point being: I was delightfully surprised to find that Anne of Avonlea was a book I hadn't tapped in my early adolescence -- probably, I surmise, because I was too unready to deal with the fact that Anne Shirley starts to grow up. Actually, at the time, I totally thought she had grown up, as if sixteen and seventeen are the oldest of maids. Retrospect teaches me how crazy this is, of course, and means that I (obviously) managed to finish this tale well and good.
The one thing I'm concerned about -- at least, to the point of picking tiny bones out of the grandiose salmon that is this delightful tome -- is the development of the Anne-Gilbert friendship. There were a lot of references to it, to be sure (hahaha, oh Improvement Society), but the placement of Anne's older relationships took the back seat to the new ones: her favored pupil Paul Irving, the twins (and Davy in particular), and Miss Lavendar. Granted, this makes sense in terms of moving plot/making a mark on a singular epoch in Anne's life, but when there is subtle implications across this book and the book prior that Anne and Gilbert are going to be doing the engagement jam ASAP, you'd think that there'd be more focus. But maybe this is my big old shipper heart speaking; after all, how interesting is it to listen to Anne and Gilbert study Virgil or discuss planting trees and shit? I DON'T KNOW. It just feels... empty, somehow.
Mind you, I say this like I didn't super-love the book and have it resonate in a particularly tumultuous time in my wee little heart. College graduate, meet formerly employed schoolmarm eerily nervous about the fact that Avonlea is turning itself upside down whilst she goes off to college on the Mainland. GIRL, DON'T I KNOW IT....more
Okay, first admission: I'm re-reading this at twenty-five years old. As the kids say: YOLO. Ergo, my diving into this easy, breezy, ever-delightful reOkay, first admission: I'm re-reading this at twenty-five years old. As the kids say: YOLO. Ergo, my diving into this easy, breezy, ever-delightful read.
Anne Shirley, for the rare and uneducated soul, is one of our Patron Saints of Gingers. (Second admission: self-professed ginger; the proffered photograph lacks any doctoring in Photoshop beyond that of kind cropping.) She (along with Pippi Longstocking, the Weasleys, and any soul that Molly Ringwald gave to life in her acting) gave the awkward, red-headed stepchildren of the world such as myself hope. Mayhaps -- could my flights of ridiculous, dream-eyed fancy turn me into someone as gracious and accomplished as the Miss Shirley that blossoms at the end of this tale? How I hoped -- although, mind you, some of her infamous scrapes seemed so fanciful as to be irritating as of my first age of reading this (coincidentally, also at roughly age eleven).
I won't go through the plot, because Lord knows how well-published and versed the tale of Anne Shirley, the Cuthberts, and all of Avonlea are to most in the Western hemisphere, but I do wish to remark that Montgomery's writing ages terrifically well. It doesn't surprise me to find out that Montgomery had meant to write for a broader audience than the youth demographic; similarly, her vocabulary is breezy enough to be enjoyed by youth but challenging enough to not feel as if it's a idiot's read for the mild to moderately nostalgic individual aching to revisit his or her childhood. Moreover, Montgomery's characterization of souls really shines with the benefit of experience; whereas I was once wholly biased against Marilla in my youth, for example, I now see the beauty of the craft of her character by Montgomery's hands. And the interpersonal relationships -- well, if there was ever a justification for a brief touch of soliloquy, Montgomery's stylistic tendencies are it.
Mind you, Anne of Green Gables (and her sequels, I'm sure, but we'll see) is emblematic of late Victorian to early Edwardian literature of the time. There are Morals and a heavy presence of Christianity, but if you're really that jaded about such a presence in storytelling from that time period, you probably shouldn't be looking into this series. Similarly, if you're into heavy lifting with your books, don't come knocking -- Montgomery is a champion of small revelations in the character of Man, not Big Truths. Think of it this way: reading Anne of Green Gables is sweet, nourishing, refreshing: a smoothie in terms of reading, I'd think. It's lovely, easy to consume, terribly nutritious in certain ways, and good for the soul. But it's not a good vegan meal in terms of reading, that's for sure....more
I feel as if Nine Stories fills in a lot of the blanks that most of Salinger's main oeuvre (read: Franny and Zooey) leaves behind. Chief of which is "I feel as if Nine Stories fills in a lot of the blanks that most of Salinger's main oeuvre (read: Franny and Zooey) leaves behind. Chief of which is "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," the first of Nine Stories, well, nine stories, wherein Salinger gives one a glimpse into the storied world of one Seymour Glass -- who, for those who are madly nerdy for Salinger's Glass clan, is well-known (and loved) for being the family's white elephant.
That said, I have a particular fondness for the last story. There's something about "Teddy" that seems so quintessentially Salinger: precocious children, Eastern spirituality, oblivious parents, and nosy thirty-something men that act as proxies to A Search for Profound Life Lessons as they wheedle the answers to life's questions from Salinger's perfect children.
There's not much else to say that a Salinger nerd doesn't know, so I'll just sum it up neatly: read this and soon, as it's quite short. My only excuse for taking so long is that I had to place the book on the back-burner for a few months....more
Fact: I've half-read this and only half-read it for reasons unbeknownst to me given that I love what I've read a lot. I think summer came to an end anFact: I've half-read this and only half-read it for reasons unbeknownst to me given that I love what I've read a lot. I think summer came to an end and I had to stop? Regardless: this summer, I conquer....more
I say "read," but I've never made it through Emma and I don't intend on doing as such. It's the most tedious of Austen's work, especially given that II say "read," but I've never made it through Emma and I don't intend on doing as such. It's the most tedious of Austen's work, especially given that I haven't much patience for spoiled brats as heroines....more
There aren't enough words in the world to describe how formative this book is to who I am now and what that means by way of the things I write and paiThere aren't enough words in the world to describe how formative this book is to who I am now and what that means by way of the things I write and paint. ...more
I think this was the first book in school that made me realize that history was just as dirty, nasty, crass, and spectacular as the present day. And bI think this was the first book in school that made me realize that history was just as dirty, nasty, crass, and spectacular as the present day. And besides: who can resist a good fart joke in Ye Olde Englishe?...more
Perhaps if I had read A Midsummer Night's Dream in high school, I would have liked Billy Shakes. As it is, I didn't and I don't. Sorry, literature worPerhaps if I had read A Midsummer Night's Dream in high school, I would have liked Billy Shakes. As it is, I didn't and I don't. Sorry, literature world: deal with it....more
From what I remember, it was a good enough book for me to read on a rainy night in Paris after I went to eat sushi so it must be okay. At the least, IFrom what I remember, it was a good enough book for me to read on a rainy night in Paris after I went to eat sushi so it must be okay. At the least, I liked it better than its sister, Pride and Prejudice....more
I have a feeling I may be on philosophical existential pondering overload, so this review will be disjointed at best. At that, the book in question isI have a feeling I may be on philosophical existential pondering overload, so this review will be disjointed at best. At that, the book in question is a marvelously cynical bit of philosophical existential pondering -- and I say that in fondness, for I loved this book dearly. But I think when you love things like Letters from the Earth, you're honest with the tone. This is the book that most likely helped Twain gain his posthumous reputation as a depressive in white into his later-most years; after all, it has your classic idol-bashing, despaired railings against the human race, and existential musings that seem in keeping with many dreary philosophers of the early twentieth century.
But I think what I find fascinating about this book is that, along with the Kafka I've recently read and what little I know about one Herr F. Nietzsche, Letters from the Earth could be seen and interpreted as yet another step into the beginnings of a thought process and attitude that I (perhaps naively and foolishly) perceive as contemporary. What I enjoyed about Twain prior to this point was that he wrote in such a way as to illuminate the past in such a way that I was able to contextualize historical events in a humorous -- and human -- manner. With Letters of the Earth, however, and (ugh, forgive the echoing of a previous review) Twain reads as if he'd stepped out of last week to tell me things that I was worried about or otherwise already thought. It's unfortunate that I've the tendency to attempt to describe this Twain with all those disgustingly trite soundbites about relevancy and edginess, least of which being that skepticism -- and not necessarily about the God-skepticism, but the human condition skepticism -- is our cultural climate's bread and butter for at least 50% of the United States at any given time. This is a man who's pushing the progressive nature that's peeking through Following the Equator into a place so wild that his surviving daughter didn't allow Letters of the Earth published until 1960. You know, in case you got the wrong idea about her daddy and stuff.
Although I would say the majority of this book is written with skeptics in mind, there's also a super-crazy (and super-awesome!) short story that concludes the book that very much has a fantasy dreamworld slant that Jules Verne and steampunks alike would envy. Come to think of it, the book is somewhat divided in two: one, the religious dissent; two, the bits and bobs of Twain's later works that never really made it to print beyond that of Letters. I'm not entirely sure where I'm going here with this paragraph on the subject so much as voila, this is the truth.
(And on this terrible, terrible note, I leave you to the end of this terrible, terrible review. TL;DR: READS GOOD, MAN.)...more