Because, what's the point to these anecdotes? Are you trying to tell me something Mr. Sedaris? I think not. You think you're fun...more
That about sums it up.
Because, what's the point to these anecdotes? Are you trying to tell me something Mr. Sedaris? I think not. You think you're funny? Meh, not that funny. Special? You're not that special either. You're a writer, just another writer. What's the big deal?
As I said, I don't care much for your little stories. Seriously, my dear, I don't give a damn. (less)
Sick, disgusting and kinky but never boring. It certainly makes an impression. But if it were to be any longer I would start chucking off the stars. L...moreSick, disgusting and kinky but never boring. It certainly makes an impression. But if it were to be any longer I would start chucking off the stars. Lucky for Mr. Bataille that he kept the story short and writing up to standards. I'm sure if you try hard you could find some social commentary in there and a few metaphors, but it takes an effort to look beyond all the fetish and gore. Besides lewdness itself makes a point here.(less)
My Japanese friend, 30-ish, former competitive cross-country skier*, now a sushi-man working in Poland, moved all the way from the other side of the w...moreMy Japanese friend, 30-ish, former competitive cross-country skier*, now a sushi-man working in Poland, moved all the way from the other side of the world to Warsaw, just to make sushi for local yuppies. Can you imagine? In order to escape Tokio's corporate nightmare, he swapped continents, traded cultures, left his family behind and moved to this obscure little country called Poland. I mean I like it here, but it's not the most foreigner friendly place. Especially not if you are a slender Japanese dude with long silky hair and a cute pudgely face.
Just to give you an example, this friend of mine gets giggled at by teenage girls just because of his androgynous fashion choices and petite builds, I'm guessing he confuses the shit out of them, but come on, grow the hell up girls. Then he gets mean stares from clerks because his Polish doesn't live up to their snooty standards. Oh and he gets hit on while in clubs by hoards of horny women who want to satisfy the itch for something exotic. Just to be even, he gets hit on in clubs by horny men too**, again I think it's all about the curiosity and the exotics. All that is minor annoyances, the most worrisome is that my friend gets looked down by his coworkers. Even though he's the most involved of all the business partners, had invested the most $$ and is the only one among the bunch with the intricate knowledge of sushi making, he is treated as someone less worthy. Nothing better than racist colleagues, is there? People sometimes suck.
And if you put all that crap he's dealing with on top of the regular ex-pat maladies (homesickness, scarcity of home food, cultural misunderstandings, etc), it can really get nasty. So it made me wonder***, for him to put up with this crap every single day, how bad the typical Japanese workplace can be? How awful Tokyo's corporate overlords? To my understanding my friend was just a regular guy, living normal life - no Yakuza, no kink.
Amélie Nothomb gives some answers to that, she did the opposite of my Japanese friend has done. She left her native Belgium to live and work in one of Tokyo's major corporations. From her book you get a taste of what work in such an environment is like, what's expected from a newbie and why some might find daunting. The book's funny (I got quite a few laughs), lyrical at times (much appreciated melancholic descriptions from time to time, and well crafted description at that) and a little... fake.
Nothomb lies her ass of. That's her writing style. Most of it is exaggeration and fact twisting, I'm sure it's done for comical relief and to prove a point, but still, to me that to a degree undermines the credibility of her story. In short, if you can live with shameless exaggeration, you'll enjoy the book. Otherwise - prepare yourself for a whole lot of teeth grinding.
___________________ * He was serious about it: medals, international competitions, crazy training sessions... ** Some of it is due to confusion with his sex (he blames his haircut), some of it isn't. *** We're finally getting into the proper review part of this review(less)
Art, love and a terrorist attack. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? I, certainly, approve of the juxtaposition - politicians and opera divas entrapped by...moreArt, love and a terrorist attack. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? I, certainly, approve of the juxtaposition - politicians and opera divas entrapped by guerrilla fighters in a villa, in some undefined South American country, getting affected by the Stockholm syndrome by minute. Sadly it wasn't what I expected.
The opening sequence is captivating, but from then on, the plot becomes scarce and progresses forward at a speed of a glacier. The usual character build-up gets nowhere. As a result, characters' motives and behaviors remain largely unexplained throughout the novel, making it hard if not impossible to identify with any. And all further attempts at revealing what makes these individuals tick only skim the surface of their emotional life, leaving them seem cartoonish and flat. Consequently when both captors and prisoners have sudden revelations (Prompted by what exactly? Boredom? It's never fully explained...), we're told to trust their words and random declarations of love. Not all that satisfying, to tell you the truth. Shouldn't the author make me care for and believe the characters? Why am I asked to take that leap of faith. It's a lot to ask, if one's not a romantic at heart. But I'm ranting.
Back to Bel Canto. Towards the end the action picks up a little, FINALLY creating a moment of suspense. But even that fails miserably, as the outcome is predictable and delivered too abrupt. To top it all (Oh, why, Ann Tyler, why?!!) you're given a sappy and uninspiring epilogue. Why was this awarded an Orange Prize? I clearly must be missing something...
Looking back, I'm surprised I stuck with this book till the very end. Usually I have no qualms whatsoever about aborting a book. With Bel Canto, I was determined to persevere, to be able to count it towards one of the reading challenges. Bad judgement on my account, could have gone with some other book. (less)
"Bonjou, Tristesse" or "Hello, Sadness",is not as sad or depressing as the title suggests.There's no debate whether you should I slash your wrists or...more"Bonjou, Tristesse" or "Hello, Sadness", is not as sad or depressing as the title suggests. There's no debate whether you should I slash your wrists or put a bullet in your cranium. Nothing like that. It's French riviera, adultery, streaming sun and first kisses. All followed by a cynical, but necessary in my opinion, ending.
The book is mighty short mind you, and the writing surprisingly mature. Sagan was 18 this was published, did you know? I didn't (not until I was done with the book).
In all my ignorance, I was under the impression that this was written by an old Nabokov like creep. The lovely detailed descriptions of Côte d'Azur (I almost felt sand in my hair and sun on my face as I read it, and it's snowing over here now), the acute portrayal of a 17yo spoiled girl (in this aspect, I believe Sagan's age was mightily helpful), the in depth analysis of peoples motives and behaviors - that's what must have led me astray. The tantrums, the hatred, the constant scheming, the egoism, the lies, the father worship, the adultery, the avoidance - it was all pointing out to a well aged male writer, not to a young debutante. And the writing was superb, did I mention it yet? Well, ok, dialogs excluded, those felt tad unnatural and lengthy, in my experience simple constructs and short sentences work best in speech, but I'm prepared to blame the nameless translator for that. When in doubt always blame the translator. That's my rule.
Apart from the exquisite imagery, the main strength of Bonjou, Tristesse is the seventeen-year-old Cécile. She considers herself superior, sophisticated and oh so mature. Which, of course, entitles her to meddling in other people's affairs, taking lovers (twice her age would be most appropriate) if only she wishes, and disregarding any advise. Cécile is snooty, temperamental and a typical teenager. But most importantly so much more real that the idolized Bella (for those of you who are keeping up with the Twilight extravaganza).
So why the so-so rating, would you ask. Well, first of all, it's not my favorite book. Tad snooty and never too cheerful with that inherently French ideas of love and adultery, it was hard for me to like. Besiedes, I appreciated what it stood for, I appreciated the talent behind it, but I enjoyed only parts of it. Yet, even though I did not quite love it, I would still recommend it to those with a preference for literary fiction - it's a nice French gem (an overnight sensation back when it was first published) that should not be forgotten. (less)
My firstSolzhenitsyn,and a pleasant surprise.I was preparedfor a heavy incomprehensive literary thesis, something convoluted and philosophical concern...moreMy first Solzhenitsyn, and a pleasant surprise. I was prepared for a heavy incomprehensive literary thesis, something convoluted and philosophical concerning communist ideas or luck of thereof, but what I got was short, accessible, to the point and kept me engaged, in suspense even till the very end. It's a story about enthusiastic youth in Russian Siberia deciding to contribute, in the spirit of solidarity, to the good of the cause. Unfortunately rampant corruption and abusive bureaucracy gets in the way. The conflict between the ideals and the reality makes for an engaging read, even now years after the Soviet Union broke up, as I think the dissonance between hopes and dreams of a fair, protective government and the politicians' egos and their personal benefit will remain, no matter what the system, to a bigger or lesser degree. (less)
page 80: So far I'm loving it. Makes me laugh even when I'm reading it in public places ;) But beware my PNR & UF buffs, it's nothing like your fav...morepage 80: So far I'm loving it. Makes me laugh even when I'm reading it in public places ;) But beware my PNR & UF buffs, it's nothing like your favorite genre, and the pace is slower (not that I mind it in this case).
page 370: Ok, I'm half way through, but I take it back. I do mind the slower pace. All those side stories throw me off track, and it's easy to put down the book then. It lacks this anticipation: what's gonna happen next. So I'm not all that compelled to go back to reading. Still, Hester the Molester keeps me hanging.
finished: eehh... I think I'm getting old, I don't have stamina any more. Didn't use to have this problem with Irving :((less)
Starts as a mystery with a deeply religious protagonist. Weird, but ok, if it's a solid mystery, I can take it, I can show a little tolerance for a ch...moreStarts as a mystery with a deeply religious protagonist. Weird, but ok, if it's a solid mystery, I can take it, I can show a little tolerance for a change. Hell, maybe I could even learn something from this (so I thought). But then, all of the sudden, a few chapters in, the mystery angle runs out. Just like that. Finito. Au revoir. Sayonara. No more plot, no more character development, what remains? Just a few puppet figures left there to propel a pretend dialog with God that fills the remaining 200 pages. It's repetitive, circular, forced, awkward and nowhere near complete. And BORING. Must not forget boring. It's a shame because Young seems like a forgiving, open minded type of guy, who has something interesting to say on God and spirituality. It's just that he has no clue how to go about it.(less)
Szczerze? Ciężko mi się to czytało, musiałam odkładać przeklętą książkę od czasu do czasu aby napchać sobie twarz słodyczami. Pozstaną mi po tym blizn...moreSzczerze? Ciężko mi się to czytało, musiałam odkładać przeklętą książkę od czasu do czasu aby napchać sobie twarz słodyczami. Pozstaną mi po tym blizny emocjonalne na całe życie. Pan Saramago powinien mi za to poświęcenie fundnąć jakąś solidną terapię albo co.
To powiedziawszy, bardzo mi się podoba jego styl pisania, to już druga książka jego autorstwa która powaliła mnie na nogi. Na prawdę facet zasłużył na tego Nobla.
Podsumowując, to już oficjalne: nienawidzę literaturę dystopijną, mimo że mnie przyciąga, za to kocham wszytko spod pióra Saramago.(less)