I'm impressed that this was the author's first novel - well written, interesting story, and a good balance between adult/current time and flashbacks tI'm impressed that this was the author's first novel - well written, interesting story, and a good balance between adult/current time and flashbacks to a younger self in the late 1960s. It explored the disillusionment of being young and feeling lonely, that attraction to a life outside oneself and to people who seem interested in you. The only part I didn't love was that the story circles around the Manson murders. I think the story and the feel would have been as valid and as good with that focus removed, actually. But still a good and interesting read....more
Holy cow, this book is awesome so far! The main character, Amy Gallup, is a lady after my own heart -- I swear we're like soul twins or something. SheHoly cow, this book is awesome so far! The main character, Amy Gallup, is a lady after my own heart -- I swear we're like soul twins or something. She's sarcastic and snotty, reclusive, allergic to feelingy-feelings and emotive people, non-plussed by children and the idea of having them, and the quintessential self-deprecator.
Here are some excellent lines from what I've read so far:
"Amy had seen firsthand how people with children aged differently than people without, as they pushed their expanding babies uphill like great lumpy boulders. Of course they dreaded death, everyone does, but their dread was mixed with acceptance and calculation. In their new minds there was an age earlier than which they must not die and after which they could. As soon as Jason finishes college, whenever Kate stops screwing around and figures out what she wants to do, the minute Sandy's kids get into rehab, then I can check out."
"By the time Amy got back home it was twilight, and Alphonse, galvanized by the sound of her Crown Vic, roared at her from the backyard, where she'd abandoned him almost eighteen hours ago. He'd drunk or spilled half his water and strewn a bowlful of chow all over the patio. Alphonse loathed dry dog food. When forced to ingest it, as he surely had been today, his resentment was epic, filed away forever in his box of basset grudges."
"There were twenty-two calls, only a couple of which were from Carla. Four of them were from some dame named Maxine Horner, who sounded just like A Horner, her voice so strident that it stressed out the cheap speaker. 'Amy Gallup, long time no see!' She must be at least Amy's age -- nobody said 'long time no see' anymore -- and she also sounded put out, in the third message, about not having been called back. 'We gotta touch base, babe,' she said, before Amy cut her off.
For an uncomfortable minute, Amy worried anew about her brain (which, according to Kurt Robetussien and her gorgeous MRI, was free of death-dealing shadows). Evidently she was supposed to know Maxine Horner. Worse still, there was someone in the world who felt free to call her 'babe.'"
"Max had taught her how to do this, to deal with threatening social situations by transforming people into fictional characters with no inner lives. 'Pretend they're foils,' Max told her. 'Characters in a farce, and you're the one writing it.' From the start of their friendship, Max had devoted himself to coaxing Amy out of her cave, partly, she thought, for his own, amusement, and partly because he genuinely cared about her. 'But they're not foils,' she would object, 'they have feelings. I don't want to deal with those.'"
"Maxine had infected her with hope."
"Managing lowered expectations is easy. You can move seamlessly from a happy life to a less happy one to one that is plainly unhappy: your colors, never exactly vibrant, can fade to shades of gray, your horizons contract until all that remain are enclosing walls, and it's all good."...more
This book was AMAZING. Alternating between Nao, Japanese 15-year-old girl preparing to kill herself, speaking about time and what is Time? and space aThis book was AMAZING. Alternating between Nao, Japanese 15-year-old girl preparing to kill herself, speaking about time and what is Time? and space and particle physics and bullying and the economy and suicide and and and ... and Ruth, who lives in Canada with her husband, who she doesn't really understand, but who is beautiful in his own way, who found Nao's diary on the beach amidst seaweed and is reading it with a strange sense of displaced and fractured realities, as if Ruth is writing another fiction novel and getting so involved she misplaces time and events surrounding her ... this description really doesn't do this book justice. It's like an ugly baby plant, just getting its footing, which looks just like a weed you see all over, but instead of pulling it out right away, which is your instinct, you wait to see where it crawls, then wait and see what it has to offer the garden, neighboring flowers and plants, and you, and you discover it's more amazing than you thought a plant could be ... Enough of the aimless ramblings, here are some passages I was drawn to:
p. 124: "Tokyo is sixteen hours ahead, which means that it's daytime in Sunnyvale when it's nightmare here, and since I was living in a two-room apartment the size of Kayla's walk-in closet, it wasn't like I could get up in the middle of the night and turn on the computer and start chatting, so mostly me and Kayla were using email, which was a drag. I hate email. It's so slow. On email it's never now. It's always then, which is why it's so easy to get lazy and let your inbox fill up. Not that mine did anymore, but it used to. Right after we left Sunnyvale, everyone was emailing me like crazy and asking me all about Japan, but it took Dad a couple of weeks to get an Internet connection set up, and by then all my friends were involved with their summer vacations, and then school started, and they all kind of dropped me."
p. 125: "I tried to have a blog for a while. ... My dad helped me set it up before we moved, and I named it 'The Future is Nao!' because I thought that my future in Japan was going to be one big American-style adventure. How dumb was that? ... I kept it up for a while, making these cheerful, chirpy postings to 'The Future is Nao!' but I felt like a total fraud. And then one day, a couple of months after I got back, I happened to check my statistics, and realized that the whole time since I started my blog, only twelve people had ever visited it, for about a minute each, and I hadn't had a single hit in weeks, so that's when I stopped. There's nothing sadder than cyberspace when you're floating around out there, all alone, talking to yourself."
p. 167: "I mean, it's the kind of thing that's okay to do if you're in a temple on the side of a mountain, but you'd better not try it in your junior high school washroom, because if your classmates catch you bowing and thanking the toilet they'll try to drown you in it. I explained this to Jiko, and she agreed it wasn't such a good idea, but that it's okay to feel grateful sometimes, even if you don't say anything. Feeling is the important part. You don't have to make a bit deal about it."
p. 413: "The point is to illustrate the perplexing paradox of the so-called measurement problem in quantum mechanics: what happens to entangled particles in a quantum system when they are observed and measured. The cat and the atom represent two entangled particles [Footnote: Erwin Schrodinger came up with the term 'entanglement' in the course of devising his thought experiment. Einstein later called entanglement 'spooky action at a distance.']"...more
Russian history, industrialization, Russia+China, English=traitors, and one "unruly" recently debuted girl attending university for the first time thaRussian history, industrialization, Russia+China, English=traitors, and one "unruly" recently debuted girl attending university for the first time that women are allowed to attend, in St. Petersburg, due to her unconventional, strong-willed "spinster" aunt 'bullying' Emperor Constantine in front of his countrymen. Add to this a handful of 'Chinamen' also attending the university, who begin to go missing, while sneaky plainclothes Russian secret police hang out near their quarters. Also, Sasha (girl previously mentioned) befriends the 'Chinamen' and learns all about their country's conflicts, between Manchus and Taipings, and hates the unfairness of the haughty male professors insisting all races not caucasian and also all women have brains and intelligence far below their fellow white male.
One night Sasha gets nabbed along with her Chinese friends by the secret police, and an Englishman inexplicably falls from the sky and manages to get her free. Thus begins Sasha's mission to make sure her Chinese friends are safe, uncover secret spies and untrue alliances between countries, and convince the Chinese emperor to align with the Russian Emperor (and vice versa) in a coming war with the English and Turkish. She rides a train all the way to Beijing, through Siberia, dressed as a Russian male "hussar" in the military, complete with mustache, to do what she must, along with her sympathetic, traitor-to-his-country Englishman with crazy jumping powers, making friends along the way with Chinese fur traders and a group of Russian military guys.
All that being said, this book was pretty cool, and like all Ekaterina Sedia novels, so well described and painted with words. ...more
I love these Thursday Next books, for reasons previously gushed about in other reviews of the previous books, I'm sure. This one hit at an eerily perfI love these Thursday Next books, for reasons previously gushed about in other reviews of the previous books, I'm sure. This one hit at an eerily perfect time -- me about to graduate with an MLS, and Thursday Next placed in the role of Chief Librarian at the Swindon Library Service! Ha! What follows are some selected librarian-related quotes from this book:
p. 90 "The SLS was the Special Library Service, the elite forces charged to protect the nation's literary heritage, either in libraries or in transit. It had taken over many of SO-27's [Special Ops - Jurisfiction Division] duties when the latter was disbanded, and its commitment was never in question. All members had sworn to 'take a bullet' in order to protect their charges, and an average of three a year did. The SLS was the most respected law-enforcement group in the nation, often featured in movies and on its own TV series. Recruitment was never an issue. -- Mobie Drake, Librarians: Heroes of the New Generation"
p. 95 "'I understand you know Colonel Wexler, who heads up the SLS?' A lean woman with a face pinched by hard workout walked forward to greet me. She was in her mid-fifties, did not look well disposed to joy in any form and was wearing the standard SLS combat fatigues, replete with the distinctive camouflage pattern of book spines for blending into library spaces."
p.102 "'How does the heavy schedule differ from this one?' 'The same -- only it's on blue paper and instead of lunch you get two more meetings: The first is a pep talk to the many frustrated citizens who weren't selected last year to train as librarians and will have to console themselves with mundane careers as doctors, lawyers and lion tamers.'"
p. 157 "'Trouble really does follow you around, doesn't it? Even when you're just a librarian.' 'There's nothing "just" about being a librarian,' I corrected him."
p. 279 "After that there was a stand where a tech firm had designed a joke-compression standard that would allow gags to be encoded digitally, stored and then played back with no loss of nuance, subtlety or humor -- even after thousands of years. 'Once we can successfully synthesize gags,' said one of their reps once I had paused to see, 'we'll have found another industry that the digital revolution can destroy for no reason other than that it can. We're calling the compression standard JAPEG.'"...more
This book was SO GOOD! As a friend and reviewer of this book also said, I was leery of it, having had bad luck with sequels in the past, but this bookThis book was SO GOOD! As a friend and reviewer of this book also said, I was leery of it, having had bad luck with sequels in the past, but this book blew my mind. I found myself reading the acknowledgements searching for the next page of the book, until I realized it was over -- what a great place to end, also! Whew! I feel like a burst of energy just shot through me and I'm all, omigod, so good, and things. Okay, calming down. But seriously, you want an awesome series to read? READ THIS SERIES!...more