objects have a life of their own, both in the world and in our imaginations, and this book accounts for how we arrange ourselves and our objects intoobjects have a life of their own, both in the world and in our imaginations, and this book accounts for how we arrange ourselves and our objects into collections, how we fantasize about who we are in the world in relation to objects that are giant or miniature, and for how we try to reimagine ourselves by rearranging the objects around us.
this book also contains one of the most piercing thoughts on writing and death i've ever read:
". . . while speech gains authenticity, writing promises immortality, or at least the immortality of the material world in contrast to the mortality of the body. our terror of the unmarked grave is a terror of the insignificance of a world without writing." (on longing, p. 31)...more
not everybody likes fred vargas. but i think she's wonderful! she reminds me in some ways of those scandinavian police procedural writers, most notablnot everybody likes fred vargas. but i think she's wonderful! she reminds me in some ways of those scandinavian police procedural writers, most notably henning mankell. but, then, she's totally different too. her books seem to me to have a kind of folkloric aspect to them, with werewolves for example. or, in this book, with a kind of rewriting of paris as a medieval town in some ways. not surprisingly, then, vargas delves into questions of human brutality and, like many other very good mystery/police procedural writers, she asks questions about what it means to be human (as opposed to werewolf, for example).
vargas is in fact writing in french, and her stories take place in france. there is a little bit of inspector maigret here, too, in the pace. european mysteries are always very different from american mysteries on that score---a much slower pace, with great attention to detail, and with a different kind of denouement.
the details of the mystery are, in my opinion, exquisitely conceived. there are no cheap tricks here....more
the rabbit books are about the evolution of a family over the course of the latter half of the twentieth century. they are also about, hold onto yourthe rabbit books are about the evolution of a family over the course of the latter half of the twentieth century. they are also about, hold onto your hat, the nature of social identity and how it's evolved through periods of striving and idealism, wealth and cynicism, and how these characteristics are so strongly built into how we americans think of ourselves and our culture.
it's a story about everyday life and it builds each story of each character slowly and methodically and always through the development of events and problems based in mundane life. this is not a story about big morality, big love, big desire, big idealism, or big anything. humanity does not come out shining with heroism and zeal. it is mostly about getting on with things and finding the less heroic but more realistically human way of dealing with love and the loss of love, desire and its demands for satisfaction, the trenchant low-level greed of american habits of consuming everything from stuff to other people, and all the other basic building blocks of modern/postmodern american life....more
i have read this book several times. this is the best book of all time. remember: life is a series of discrete moments that may pass imperceptibly byi have read this book several times. this is the best book of all time. remember: life is a series of discrete moments that may pass imperceptibly by if you don't watch closely. this novel is like a labyrinth of mysteries so secret that what is manifest on the page is not one-tenth of what there is to discover. woolf, who i think believed in the fullness of experience without imagining that she could capture it all in mere words, writes my selecting discrete nuggets of time and experience and then laying them side by side. as a modernist, she doesn't try to weave it all together as even the most progressive (in my view) victorians like george eliot did. woolf almost seems sometimes to be doing nothing more than taking note of what is taking place in time while resisting any temptation to interpret or analyse. this is one of my favorite characteristics in all styles of writing....more