This book is technically science fiction. Sort of. Not really what I would call sci-fi, but I suppose the genre has to stick because there are, in facThis book is technically science fiction. Sort of. Not really what I would call sci-fi, but I suppose the genre has to stick because there are, in fact, alien worlds and a space war and humans abducted from Earth that that sort of thing. And it is technically set in the future and features a character who is out of phase in time via scientific/technological misadventure.
But even with all that, this book is more a philosophical essay. Or maybe an anthropological supposition. Whatever it is, it's thoroughly Vonnegut, God rest him.
It's about a selfish con-man and about the pinnacle of evolution and about second chances and about (still) why war is nothing but murdering people who have never done anything to you personally because someone you neither like nor respect told you to do so.
This is the first Vonnegut book I ever picked up without prompting. this is not to say that I didn’t like Vonnegut before. Quite the opposite. He's onThis is the first Vonnegut book I ever picked up without prompting. this is not to say that I didn’t like Vonnegut before. Quite the opposite. He's one of my favorite authors. I mean I first read most of his books for the first time because they were either assigned to me for a class or recommended by a friend. This book, however, I saw in the second-hand book store and I bought it because I had never heard of it, and I felt foolish about that because A)I love Kurt Vonnegut and B) because I spend most of my time reading.... I thought I would have read it by then.
But, no. So I got it and did.
It's my favorite book of the ones he has written.
I KNOW, right? Better than Slaughterhouse Five, even. And I love that book. But I can quote you parts of this novel on cue. I get choked up when I think about Eugene shouting back to his crazy-ass wife across the lake that he loves her. I love the satire in the writing and the sharp warning of the story.
It is, essentially, very similar to a few other of Mr. Vonnegut's books. An intellectual war veteran has social problems (ha) and has to overcome an enormous roadblock in order to get right in his own head and in his life overall. In this particular case he's a college professor who accidentally gets a job at a maximum security prison and is mistaken for an instigator when there is a prison break.
There's a lot more to it than that. I'm just being general.
But, oh, what a "lot more" it is! funny and sad and genuinely horrifying in that way that only people can be to each other. Beautifully and satisfyingly written.
I have this entire series sitting on my "literature" shelf for a reason. These books are art in the best sense and some of the finest storytelling inI have this entire series sitting on my "literature" shelf for a reason. These books are art in the best sense and some of the finest storytelling in the last fifty years. No kidding.
In this second collection of the Sandman comic books, The Sandman has just gotten home from his imprisonment and discovers that The Dreaming has gone all to hell. Some of the nightmares have escaped and a small girl is accidentally tearing the world apart. Can Dream pull himself and his realm back together? Of course he can. There are several more books in the series.
Tense, wonderful, and actually pretty scary... this is an excellent book. I recommend it to both lovers of comic books and of pitch-perfect storytelling. ...more
My favorite genre of fiction is the short story, and one of my favorite collections of short stories is this one. It's as simple as that.
Most of theseMy favorite genre of fiction is the short story, and one of my favorite collections of short stories is this one. It's as simple as that.
Most of these stories are dark, funny, and innocent. They are well-written and kind to details. I would not be able to categorize them sufficiently for most people, but I suppose they could be called magical-realism. Sort of.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes reading. ...more
This is one of my favorite books because the heroine is relatable. Okay, it's one of myHow many damn times can I READ this book?
A lot. Several. Many.
This is one of my favorite books because the heroine is relatable. Okay, it's one of my favorite books for many reasons including the humor, the style, the glimpse of a very particular place and time, the dialogue, the story, the romance, and the depth and range of characters peopling it.
But Elizabeth Bennet is really relatable. No kidding. She's smart and clever, she is cautious without being unsocial and sarcastic without ever being rude. She is firm in her opinions and information, but comes clean when she realizes that she has made mistakes. Like a real person, Miss Bennet gets embarrassed and irritated and flirty and troubled and joyful and all manner of other emotions that a lot of well-read authors seem to forget that characters ought to have. And I like Elizabeth Bennet, too, because (and don't think I'm being petty when I say this) she is not beautiful.
Oh, she's not an ug-o or whathaveyou; she looks like an average, sometimes plain girl. Brown hair, brown eyes, average figure, not particularly tall and not short. And none of the men who waft in or out of her life in a romantic or potentially-romantic way fall in love with her because she is pretty. That's sort of important to me. Especially in a romance. Or a Romance. I've never found it particularly stimulating to hear a love song or read a book or see a movie where the only thing important about a girl is how she looks. At least initially. Seriously, all the songs are about how beautiful the girl's eyes are or her hair or her skin or her badonk-a-donk. It's really rare to hear one that goes "I think you're smart and you make me laugh..." Maybe it's because that would be hard to rhyme.
And I realize this is a common complaint from unattractive girls. I own it: not a pretty girl, me. But the pretty girls tend to whine about this sort of going-on, too: "Oh! Why can't someone love me for who I am? Arg-arg! Why can't they see I'm more than a perfect body and long hair?! Arg-arg!" They all say. Or something like it. So maybe there's something to it.
Whatever. I love this book. I'm re-reading it again today. I would recommend this book to anyone who is fond of Regency-era novels. And other folks, too. I don't want to get exclusive, or anything. ...more
This is probably my favorite of the works of Jane Austin. It's a love story as well as a comedy of manners (like all her other novels,) but this storyThis is probably my favorite of the works of Jane Austin. It's a love story as well as a comedy of manners (like all her other novels,) but this story is an adult love story, where people have messed-up and chosen poorly and are pretty much resigned to it, though perfectly willing to forgive and hope. Like adults. The protagonist is almost thirty (ancient of days for the time and unheard of for a heroine) and part of a falling aristocracy who was being replaced by the middle-class who were growing richer and officers of the Navy and Army who were growing in prominence thanks to the war. Well generally. Anne's family in specific were falling mostly due to the extravagance, vanity and buffoonery of her father and older sister.
Anyhoo, this is the last book Jane finished before she died, and, in my opinion, is an excellent example of an author's growth throughout their career.
Among Jane Austen's other heroines, Fanny Price is unique. While several of Ms. Austen’s leading ladies have been praised for their obvious spunk (relAmong Jane Austen's other heroines, Fanny Price is unique. While several of Ms. Austen’s leading ladies have been praised for their obvious spunk (relative to the time in which the books were written), sometimes Fanny sort of... pales. She is the classic "poor cousin" raised by exceptionally wealthy relatives. She grows up very good but very quiet, and with a morality and sense of right that is rigid as iron. She is kind and sweet and very helpful, her only wish is to never be ungrateful, and her only secret wish is to be loved and truly important to someone eventually. But, as stated before, she has an unflinching notion of right and wrong.
While I find more entertainment from most of Jane Austen's books, I greatly admire Fanny Price. I've heard (and read) commentary on Mansfield Park where Fanny comes of pretty badly as timid and weak. But, really, I think she's one of the bravest characters in 19th century literature. When she comes up against problems or issues where there is pressure on her from all sides to give in, she doesn't. Even though those pressuring her are her "betters" and people to whom she owes everything and is AWARE of owing everything. She doesn't wish to marry the charming, very rich fop because she thinks he is a jerk. Decorum dictates that she can not share the reason WHY she thinks he is a jerk, so she is attacked from all sides by people who think she is stubborn and ungrateful for not marrying the guy.... and yet she is firm. She is hurt and bleeds and bends but she never breaks. And that is pretty admirable.
Not a bad novel. I love all of Austen's stuff pretty much unconditionally, though, so I could be called biased. I would recommend this book to anyone who has read (and enjoyed) anything else that either Jane Austen or any of the Brontes wrote. ...more
This is one of my favorite books. Usually my favorites fall into the "weird and beautiful" category; this one is just beautiful. So beautiful, in factThis is one of my favorite books. Usually my favorites fall into the "weird and beautiful" category; this one is just beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that it actually makes my heart flutter. Imagine that.
I understand there was some minor backlash from the few modern geishas left in Japan over how Arthur Golden portrayed a few of the traditions of the geisha, but, when I went and did a little research on my own, I saw that the complaints were not about the practices or historical fact but of semantics. So I don't let the small controversy bother me.
This is, for all intents and purposes, simply an historical romance. But it paints such a clear and highly detailed picture of a specific time and place that one can not help but be in awe of it. While the author DID have help from actual former geishas who are now in their eighties, the main character is a total invention; but the book reads as though a real flesh-and-blood woman is dictating it. A lovely and amazing achievement from a first time writer who is neither old nor Japanese nor a woman.
While modern readers might be a little squicked over the main crux of the love story itself, when taken into perspective and the history is taken into account, I never had a single problem with it. In fact, the highly perfect painting of the place and time sucked me in so thoroughly while I was reading, it didn't even occur to me to be even a little bothered by the relationship until well after the first time I read the book.
As with most other books that were made into movies, I didn't see this one. I watched the first half-hour and gave up. So much is left out and miss-represented and changed. I am not at all surprised the move crashed and burned at the box office. I mean, it would really only appeal to people who had read the book, and the movie was so altered from the book that it alienated the very people it was intended for. Irritating.
The book is good, though. Stick to the book. ...more
Yet another one of Margaret Atwood's well-written, terrifying, near-future "sci-fi" tales that serve, at least for me, as less of a novel and more ofYet another one of Margaret Atwood's well-written, terrifying, near-future "sci-fi" tales that serve, at least for me, as less of a novel and more of a terrible warning of where humanity could be taking itself very soon if we don't all wake the hell up. When read at the same time as Oryx and Crake, The Handmaid's Tale is a chilling glimpse of what happens when selfishness and short-sightedness meet in the human condition.
And this book has everything a Terrible Warning about out future ought to have: a harsh class system, religion gone amuck and science just gone, dwindling resources, a hopeless rebellion.... Skip the movie until after you read the book, because it's not quite right, as many movies derived from books tend to be. ...more
Margaret Atwood has, over the course of her novels, redefined imaginative (or, rather, speculative) science-fiction. It's a realistic and terrifying fMargaret Atwood has, over the course of her novels, redefined imaginative (or, rather, speculative) science-fiction. It's a realistic and terrifying future where humanity gets its comeuppance for the arrogance and bad choices that sometimes define us as a race; where The Handmaidens Tale was about the consequences of what we do to one another, Oryx and Crake is about what we do to the whole planet.
And, I guess, each other.
It's very dark and subtle, and the story jumps through time and memory in a surprisingly simple way, telling the story of people and places that are (at this time and in this place) a little too close to home. I could see what was coming before it happened, and actually felt awful that there was nothing I could do to stop it, or warn the characters in the book. I guess it was the literary equivalent of shouting at the screen in a movie theatre.
Not all despair, though. As with real life, this book ends ambiguously and with hope.
Several of my favorite novels, I have discovered, were written by people who had no business writing a novel like that. This is one of them.
Allan GurgSeveral of my favorite novels, I have discovered, were written by people who had no business writing a novel like that. This is one of them.
Allan Gurganus managed to write a novel about the past hundred and fifty years in the deep south, in the voice of a woman, while keeping it sincere, engaging, realistic, and entertaining. The characters feel real. Even the people who only inhabit the book for a page. This book takes an historical time and makes it a breathing place; if that distinction makes any sense.
It's sad and funny and a little weird. It's so sincere and unflinching that sometimes it is hard to look at, but you have to. You have to know what happens next. At least, I did.
I'm re-reading this book for the eleventy-billionth time. I love this book. I hate this book. It's so very sad and funny. If I'm not openly weeping byI'm re-reading this book for the eleventy-billionth time. I love this book. I hate this book. It's so very sad and funny. If I'm not openly weeping by the time I get to where Yankle has written on his ceiling over his bed that he loves Brod (so he can remember because, at that point, he is so very old), then... well I have no analogy because it has never happened. It's not just the story-in-the-story that gets me, it's all of the layers; Alex's letters to Jonathan, the search for Trachimbrod, all of it. Well written and engaging. Hilarious and shocking. It's a good story along with being technically magnificent.
And I hate this book. Because the author was, like, twelve when he wrote it. No, I tell a lie. He was in his twenties. But it was his EARLY twenties. Where most people are inspired by prodigies, I tend to be disheartened by them. Like the unnatural success of people so much younger than me means I will never accomplish anything. By the time Mozart was my age he was dead. He'd written operas and sonatas and every other sort of magnificence since he was four years old. I can't even manage to make it down to the gym on a regular basis. So when I read THIS book, Everything Is Illuminated, and laughed and cried and all that sort of thing I had to look up the author. Huge mistake. His youthful genius is, of course, proof that I am not a genius.
I never said it had to make sense.
Anyway: reading this one again. I would recommend it to almost anyone. ...more