I really, really enjoyed this book. At first I thought it would be a sweeping historical novel that was more about its setting in time and place than...moreI really, really enjoyed this book. At first I thought it would be a sweeping historical novel that was more about its setting in time and place than its characters, but it turned out to be much more plot and character-driven than that. No way just a concepty experiment in interweaving real lives and fictional ones. I really liked Doctorow's dispassionate, neutral voice too - I will chase up some more of his work now. (less)
I love this book. His drawing style is so clear and simple and sparse. I know nothing about Canadian history, but this story rings true with all colon...moreI love this book. His drawing style is so clear and simple and sparse. I know nothing about Canadian history, but this story rings true with all colonial histories that I know of. The characters as drawn (created) by Brown feel very real, and I was completely drawn into (there's that word again) the struggle for land, and the feeling of impending doom and political inevitability. It also didn't feel in any way anachronistic, which is crucial to creating a sense of the historical tangibility/reality of the story. Just beautiful.(less)
It's hard to like this book as it's so so bleak. I haven't read it since high school. It's also hard to deny its influence. I don't think I'd choose t...moreIt's hard to like this book as it's so so bleak. I haven't read it since high school. It's also hard to deny its influence. I don't think I'd choose to read it again. It's awful, heartbreaking.(less)
It's hard to describe what I think of Moomin. Moomin and his family live in a kind of fantasy creature alterworld, where they are most of the time at...moreIt's hard to describe what I think of Moomin. Moomin and his family live in a kind of fantasy creature alterworld, where they are most of the time at peace with nature and without need. Their small dramas are generally caused by their falling into absurd misunderstandings of the world, and their relationships are innocent and loving. But there is also a very crazy anarchistic streak to characters like Little My who enter that world and cause chaos that the other characters try to cope with in a sort of bumbling, childlike way. The Moomins also live like unreconstructed hippies, doing whatever they please in the world and interacting with it spontaneously. There's an emphasis on nature and the seasons and food and relationships and all the fundamentals, and Moominland delivers a very appealing worldview, philosophically. It's sort of nuts and 'out there', but also very pure. But I think also I just really love her drawings. Each new character is drawn as something formed completely differently from all the others, a shape and a face you wouldn't expect. She has lots of super simple, clear and direct lines, very expressive and sort of warm, somehow. Her drawing style is recognisably of its time and place (Scandinavian) and maybe this adds to its charm for me as well. Those little crinkled foreheads do a lot of work in the faces. Even the way she draws objects and houses and things is super super sweet. But I'm making it sound too nice: it's a really wild world, this one, actually.(less)
It has been a tour de force getting through this book, but so wonderful and rewarding. Figes covers everything and everyone; at times my lack of real...moreIt has been a tour de force getting through this book, but so wonderful and rewarding. Figes covers everything and everyone; at times my lack of real knowledge of Russian history let me down, but as Natasha's Dance renders clearly, Russian culture is so rich and fascinating that there really was no time to get into the whys and wherefores of the Russian revolution and whatnot. (I think I picked up a fair bit of history peripherally from this book anyway). The book is chronological, starting from Peter the Great's demand for a more 'European' Russia and his construction of St Petersburg, and finishing up with Stravinsky's cathartic return to Russia in 1962. The book gave me so much context for understanding the works I've read already by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and a real taste of those I hadn't, like Gogol, Pasternak and Akhmatova, and made me want to see Petersburg and Moscow, like, rather badly, and read everything Dostoevsky and Nabokov have written. Figes makes this a page-turner; it took me such a long time to read because it was so dense (there's a lot to fit in) and it's pretty freaking long ... but he has a knack for finding the story in everything. I really enjoyed reading about the unique role of the serfs, the influence of Volkonsky and the Decembrists, poor sad old Anna Akhmatova, the humanism of Chekov, and about the post-revolutionary avant-garde - I had never really understood the difference before between that period of innovation and the later repressive control of artists under Stalin before. Anyway, this book will stay with me for a long time. (less)
One of Atwood's best, I think. I liked it a lot. I found it hard to warm to Jimmy, but easier as he matured. It was all over pretty quickly ... is the...moreOne of Atwood's best, I think. I liked it a lot. I found it hard to warm to Jimmy, but easier as he matured. It was all over pretty quickly ... is there a sequel? The ending was ambiguous, no worries, but I feel like there could be a lot more to this story. It's very dark, but not nearly as dark later as it felt early on.(less)
This book is a ripping historical yarn. The detail gives the book a richness and colour (of India, somewhere, the sea to Mauritius, in advance of the...moreThis book is a ripping historical yarn. The detail gives the book a richness and colour (of India, somewhere, the sea to Mauritius, in advance of the Opium Wars), and the patina of an absolutely exotic past. The characters' lives are stratified along lines of colonial status, caste, or race; chance events (the sometimes slightly visible hand of a god-like author, I guess) throw all those relations up in the air, creating a thrilling (and adequately plausible) social fluidity engendered by the process of migration. Ghosh it seems is interested in the transgressive potential of movement, and the possibility of self-reinvention. All the characters end up with different roles or names or status than they started with. Their lives are always hanging on a thread, and becoming further intertwined with each other's as the story progresses.
Much of the dialogue is authentic (turn of the nineteenth-century maybe?) and it took a lot of getting used to all the sefaring/pidgin/colonial jargon; you get the sense that the story could only exist within these precisely researched layers of social and cultural history. This bogged me down a bit at the start, but I soon learned to just read over words I didn't understand and go with the sense and feel. He makes a lot of effort to be consistent with the speech patterns of each character; their vocabulary becomes an important part of their character.
Ghosh's book is very visual. There's no trying to imagine the rocking of the Ibis over the waves; you are kind of there, in your mind. But it doesn't feel full of 'poetic' descriptions of things. I tend to gloss over that stuff anyway - I didn't notice much here.
He's also kinder to some characters than I thought he was going to be; it's more focused on narrative than literary values, but no less well-written or intelligently observed (devised?) for that. I will definitely seek out the second part of the trilogy ...(less)
Oh my goodness, this book is written so badly (or is it the translation?).
It had the word 'anon' in there twice! I felt like marking all the bad passa...moreOh my goodness, this book is written so badly (or is it the translation?).
It had the word 'anon' in there twice! I felt like marking all the bad passages so I could list them here ... but in the end, who can be bothered? This was really like SVU, it's sort of exploitative, but that's what crime fiction is like, I guess. I guess it wasn't bad, in a page-turny kind of way ... but I mentally edited it all the way through. Salander left me very cold, but i liked Blomqvist and it didn't bother me that all the ladies wanted to fuck him. But every single other character was a big cardboard cut out. Partly because the dialogue was so clunky.
It was just so totally ESL. I guess they really rushed it out. Oh well, I've read it now. Cultural phenomenon covered, all right?(less)
Took me a while to get into; his style is a bit prickly, the syntax is a bit odd ... but I was very taken by the idea of the seeing and unseeing of th...moreTook me a while to get into; his style is a bit prickly, the syntax is a bit odd ... but I was very taken by the idea of the seeing and unseeing of the other city, and this idea of the borders not being allowed to be transgressed but always, in small ways, being transgressed. I would give it three and a half, and I would also give his next book a go ... I don't read a lot of 'fantasy', if this is that. The characters were all a bit flat, and some of the dialogue a bit clunky, but the ideas are so strong ... all the stars are for that, and for his attention to plot and the noiry touches.(less)
Kind of pulpier than I would have liked. It doesn't exactly explore how differently women might behave in such a situation to how men might if it were...moreKind of pulpier than I would have liked. It doesn't exactly explore how differently women might behave in such a situation to how men might if it were reversed. It kind of just has ... hmmm, what do I mean? I mean, it's a kind of post-apocalyptic escape adventure sci-fi thriller, and the fact that all the characters except one are women doesn't really differentiate the dynamics between the characters from other examples of that genre. Which you kind of could go 'fair enough, people are people' at, but it *does* kind of counteract the premise and erase its difference from other post-apocalyptic scenarios.
I mean, it's a comic book, right? I mean that in the sense of, it's not graphic literature, it's graphic genre fiction. So it's not particularly character-driven. And it's more plot/action-driven than sci-fi. But for that, it's pacy and well plotted and warm-hearted and young, and I will keep reading. The main character is not an asshole, which I appreciate.
What else: 1. What was driving the Amazons before they knew there was a last man? Is it not a bit silly that, considering who they are named for, their reason for existence seems to focus around him? What were they doing for the first few months after the event? Sitting around wishing there were men to be angry at? Surely not. I would have liked to understand how this group was formed/where they were coming from before they found Yorick. I'm actually not even sure that this book passes the Bechdel test. Everybody's conversation is about a man! :) I do think that the best way to pass the spirit of the test is for your protagonist to be female. In a way this reads as sensitive enlightened man's fantasy ... 'what would it be like for me if it was only women on the earth ... plus me'. But it's a real pleasure to have so many female characters, I'm not complaining about that.
2. Early on in the book I thought - how are they going to have the protagonist ever *do* stuff if he's covered up and hiding all the time? The creators must have felt the same, because they pretty much abandoned that quickly. For someone so very vulnerable and depending on secrecy, he's pretty visible out there in the world.
3. I'd like to see how X: The Last Woman would go.
4. Yorick is a bit annoying. 'I am the last man on earth and I refuse to sleep with anyone but my girlfriend, who I don't know if is alive as she's on another continent and I haven't seen her for four months'. I predict some pregnancy with a non-Beth character coming up. I hope so. It's not all that plausible otherwise. Surely the rules of sexual monogamy change when you are the only man there is? That wouldn't change his love for Beth, or potentially his monogamy with her if she were found. Does he really believe he can repopulate the human race with Beth only? A woman can only reproduce so often. I'm not sure why no-one has tried to get him to be a sperm donor yet. (You can think of that euphemistically or literally.)
5. I loved the Republicans' wives and the political implications. Let's see more of that in future issues. I want to see more exploration of the structural issues.
6. Sonia says 'it would take a lot more than all the men dying to make me eat pussy'. That's fair enough, but as a response to a question about women partnering up it's a little over the top. I mean, plenty of women *would* partner up, whether they engaged in oral or not. People need intimacy. Look at what happens in male prisons when there are no women, plenty of guys who would be homophobes on the outside get into sexual partnerships of some kind. It seems like Sonia is expressing some very hetero-normative opinions here on behalf of the authors. Surely the fun of this book should be that all those norms can go out of the window? She's letting the readers know that they can expect a conventional romance between Yorick and Sonia (if a truncated one, as it turns out). Considering the concept of the book, this angle is a bit conservative.
7. p168: "Yorick, this is a town of sixty-seven gossiping women..." CLUNK! slash eye-roll.
I would just like it to go FURTHER with the premise ... but it's a comic book. So no worries! I'm enjoying it. And there are four more collections to go, so maybe more ops to go deeper.(less)
I think I need to inform myself more about Iranian history to supplement this. He's a great writer, seemingly unique in his approach. Parts were amazi...moreI think I need to inform myself more about Iranian history to supplement this. He's a great writer, seemingly unique in his approach. Parts were amazing.(less)
Not as good as the first, of course, but I still went and bought the next one about two hours ago. I want volume three to be a rousing revolutionary t...moreNot as good as the first, of course, but I still went and bought the next one about two hours ago. I want volume three to be a rousing revolutionary tale.(less)