Living is the first Ehrenreich book I've read, even though I've been aware of her other books like Nickled and Dimed for some time. I will say I strug...moreLiving is the first Ehrenreich book I've read, even though I've been aware of her other books like Nickled and Dimed for some time. I will say I struggled with the first few chapters, mainly because of the author's distant tone. She outlines many reasons why she struggles to speak about the events she experienced: aloofness as a defense mechanism against her chaotic upbringing, her idea that one cannot speak about something until you have the proper language for it, her scientific drive to leave no ambiguity untested. But, I stuck with Ehrenreich through her story, mostly because I recognized her habit of using her reading life as a basis for questions to research. By the end of the book, I found myself rewarded with a passionate and inspiring closing argument about the metaphysical.(less)
Sandman Overture #2 start bringing together the pieces of the story laid out in issue #1. The time jumps in the story now extend forward to include Da...moreSandman Overture #2 start bringing together the pieces of the story laid out in issue #1. The time jumps in the story now extend forward to include Daniel Hall as the current incarnation of Dream & reveal small consequences that hint at what happened. The most enjoyable thing of Overture so far is Gaiman's use of the prequel to deepen the readers' understanding of Dream's world. The "concatenation of Dreams" not only grants insight into Dream's incarnations but also hints to Despair's own backstory & Dream's dealings with Lyta Hall. I felt a sense of completeness reading this issue--the convergence of Dreams is also a celebration of Gaiman's character. Dream argues with himself repeatedly before addressing himself, "Am I always like this? "Self-satisfied. Irritating. Self-possessed, and unwilling to concede center stage to anyone but myself?" When one of his selves answers yes, he responds, "Ah. Fascinating." Classic.
With this being my first time reading Sandman as a comic (instead of a graphic novel), I also enjoyed holding the issues side-by-side & comparing the design elements of each page. A distinct series of shapes open & close each series. Story elements line up too: two pages of panels that take place against the Corinthian's teeth from issue #1 match another two pages in issue #2 that arrange panels around viscera braided with disembodied mouths. Dream's discussion of the rules made by "the First Circle" is Overture #1 sync up with the same section in issue #2 where Dream brings up invoking the First Circle when his selves are in conflict. One illustrative choice I keep coming back to is the representation of Shekinah (the Glory of God) as male. Shekinah, in Jewish tradition, is female. On the other hand, this symbol of Glory stays stable while Dream's personas dance erratically around it, giving a reader plenty to ponder over.
Mysterious, compelling, & lovely, i can't wait for the next issue to come out!(less)
A quick, enjoyable tale. Tanaquil is the sensible, insightful yet completely non-magical daughter of the sorceress Jaive. Ignored & lonely for com...moreA quick, enjoyable tale. Tanaquil is the sensible, insightful yet completely non-magical daughter of the sorceress Jaive. Ignored & lonely for company or purpose, mechanical-minded Tanaquil finds a skeleton in the desert surrounding her mother's fortress and reassembles it. By doing so, she inadvertently resurrects a bold, untameable unicorn. Tied to the beast's fate, Tanaquil follows it to an exotic city that holds the key to secrets in her own past.
Published in the early 90s, this story is worth rediscovering by readers. Tanaquil's relationship with her mother and sister are given particular focus. This story would fare well if it were adapted for film, especially given the success of movies like Brave & Frozen.(less)
With this entry in the series, I feel like I finally get something about the series. With Adams playing with a conventional, happily-ever-after ending...moreWith this entry in the series, I feel like I finally get something about the series. With Adams playing with a conventional, happily-ever-after ending, he lifts the veil on what he was trying to do with the story. Arthur Dent returns home to Earth (which had been blown up), finds love, and realizes that his adventures aren't over. And Ford Prefect travels through the chaos of the Universe just so he can pester his friend Arthur, who hasn't picked up the phone for his intergalactic call. While Adams acknowledges many questions readers might have (literally outlining a few of them in later chapters), the author is determined to tell the stories he's interested in telling. I'm struck by the last passage of the book that talks about how a dreamer inadvertently stops a war with his whimsical creations. The last sentence states (roughly) that there was a point to telling the story but the narrator has forgotten what it was. Relating the absurdity and wonder of the anecdote was enough.
In my reader's experience, So Long feels somewhat similar to A.S. Byatt's Whistling Woman. The author is very firmly establishing the fact that there are many other stories to be told with these characters but is insistent that they've accomplished what they've set out to do & this is where they're stopping, thank you very much. Books like these not only make me curious about the continued lives of the characters, but also make me wonder about the circumstances that caused the author to take such a firm stance within their own work. Perhaps, in the light of the different approach of So Long, Adams was struggling with keeping his story from running away from him.(less)
Maybe I've been watching too many Let's Plays on YouTube lately, but as I read Camp Concentration, I kept thinking what an interesting horror video ga...moreMaybe I've been watching too many Let's Plays on YouTube lately, but as I read Camp Concentration, I kept thinking what an interesting horror video game it would have made, say in the vein of the recent Outlast which was also about human experimentation to augment mental capacities. My friend C, who gave the book to me, described it as "[i]f a surrealist with paranoia decided to re-write Flowers for Algernon" and I think the description is apt. I love Disch's decadent jail where (most) everything is unlocked but under surveillance and the inmates are fed the finest French food while they waste away & die. My one continuing curiosity are the events that happen outside Sacchetti's journal, which makes up the book. The journal succeeds in its verisimilitude because it is self-centered, like many regular journals would be, opposed to a finely detailed narrative posing as a personal record. However, I reached the last pages & I just wanted to know what happened next in the decaying, maddening world Sacchetti portrays. Was a cure found? Did consciousness-jumping save some of the infected? Since there are editors' notes sprinkled through the text, clearly someone was around to present the journal, at least for awhile. Instead of detracting from the book, this suspense actually made it a lot more fun to tease out more clues and reread parts. A fun book if you're in the mood to play.(less)
My friend Justin recommended Snow Crash to me after a conversation about Infinite Jest. There are similarities, most notably the idea of an informatio...moreMy friend Justin recommended Snow Crash to me after a conversation about Infinite Jest. There are similarities, most notably the idea of an informational stimulant, delivered by a woman, that resets your brain. I was very excited about Snow Crash when I started reading it--there was a bit of Saunders-like corporate grotesque, the Metaverse was a cousin to Tad Williams' Otherland series, and the idea of intel-as-commodity promised to go interesting places. The fact that the book was written in 1992 can be overlooked with the introduction of an alternate history. But as the book got further on, the plot turned into a straight-up adventure tale and Stephenson's style of expositional word dump became more dense & tiring.
There's a lot of ideas from the novel like "informational hygiene," "rational religion" and "language as a virus" that I want to think on more, for sure. But I flat-out didn't like how concepts of rationality & irrationality broke down (stereotypically) along gender lines (irrational = female, rational = male) or cultural ones (rationality = Abrahamic religions, irrationality = pagan religions). With that said, though, Stephenson keeps his characters from falling along those same cliche lines. Hiro Protagonist is biracial & while he is the main protagonist of the story, the novel ends on his equally interesting partner Y.T. There are a lot more interesting stories contained in Snow Crash that didn't get told & it would have been interesting to see what would have happened over the course of a multi-book series. But, Snow Crash is what we have & is well worth checking out despite its flaws.(less)