I have to admit: I'm reading this because of Clueless. It's on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, but not being a fan of Austen and herI have to admit: I'm reading this because of Clueless. It's on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, but not being a fan of Austen and her kind (and yet, when I read her books, I enjoy them...), I didn't add Emma to my to-read list. A Victorian girl who always wants to play matchmaker, but finds out she doesn't know as much as she thinks she does? Please, that sounds so stereotypical and blasé. I decided to pass.
But having read As If!: The Oral History of Clueless, my passing curiosity of how the two are related became a need to know. So now I'm reading Austen, thanks to Beverly Hills Cher. And as I read, I keep trying to find connections: "Oh, Emma's giving advice to Harriet like Cher gives to Tai, thinking she knows what's best. I wonder if "Mr. Elton" is Elton" (or as Tai calls him, "El'on"). I can't just sit and enjoy the book on its own!
So now I've finished it, and I enjoyed it. It wasn't as good as some other Austen I've read, but it was a good story. The whole naive-matchmaker aspect wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and the various pairings and mis-pairings kept me guessing to some extent.
That said, here's where I found parallels between Cher's world and Emma's world (Feel free to chime in with ones I missed, or tell me if you think my assessment is wrong): (view spoiler)[ 1. Cher = Emma; Tai = Harriet (the plain new girl whom Cher/Emma takes under her wing, especially in finding love); Josh = Mr. (George) Knightley (the "brother" who's not actually a brother, who teases his not-sister while also trying to make her a better person, and who becomes a love interest for the not-sister); Elton = Mr. Elton (one, the name. But also because Tai/Harriet falls in love with him and keeps mementos in a box, one of which is related to an injury [Tai keeps the towel Elton put ice in when she's knocked out at the Val party, and Harriet keeps the court plaster Mr. Elton uses when he injures himself with scissors].) Christian = Frank Churchill (one, again, the name, but less so this time: now we have "Christian" paralleling the "Church" in "Churchill". Also, Christian and Frank Churchill are the dapper new young men who come in to town after the action of the story gets going. But Frank's not gay, so he's not *completely* the same as Christian, although his secret engagement *is* a bombshell, like when we/Cher find out Christian is gay.) 2. Tai/Harriet comes over to Cher's/Emma's house to destroy the box of mementos [in a fire for both of them, I think] once Elton/Mr. Elton has done her wrong. 3. Tai/Harriet falls for Josh/Mr. Knightley after he "rescues" her by dancing with her when no one else will. 4. Then the startling revelation that "I love Josh"/Mr. Knightley (*cue fountain in background*) (hide spoiler)]...more
Okay, to start with, this book did not change my life, even though some readers/reviewers say "Oh my God! This book will change your life!! You *have*Okay, to start with, this book did not change my life, even though some readers/reviewers say "Oh my God! This book will change your life!! You *have* to read it!" It did not change my life. My life is still the same as it was before I started the book. That said, it was a pretty intense, crazy, convoluted, confusing ride, but a story that was worth reading.
Jose Arcadio Buendia helped found the town of Macondo oh, so long ago. Back then, it was almost an Eden, where no one died (or at least no one had died *yet*), everyone got along, and the government left them to their own lives. Over time, the town is invaded by "progress" and outsiders, and their idyllic village becomes tormented by greed, war, lies, and death.
Oh, and there's also the incest in the Buendia family. They don't *mean* to be incestuous, but somehow, despite the matriarch's warnings, they just keep hooking up with each other, partly because some of their identities are not fully acknowledged, so one offspring may not know that s/he is a Buendia, and then sleeps with a Buendia... hence the quote "time was not passing … it was turning in a circle” -- those Buendias just keep circling back to each other.
There's an element of magical realism and mysticism that runs throughout the story, too -- people living well into their 100s, alchemy, contagious insomnia, premonitions, spirits of dead people walking around the house, no one remembering a massacre, ... It makes for a fantastic (in that it's wonderful, and also a fantasy) story.
So no, this book did not change my life. And honestly, there's a good chance I'll never read it again. Nevertheless, it was worth reading the one time (or maybe even a second time if I'm ever at a point in my life when I have time to re-read books). Even with all those Buendias and the confusion their similar names (5 with the name Jose, 5 with the name Arcadio, 22 with the name Aureliano, 2 Ursulas, 2 with the name Remedios, and 2 Amarantas) caused in my poor little head, it was a wonderful story, with intrigue, gasp-worthy moments, magic, fantasy, and pity. ...more
It's not often that I give fiction books a wholehearted 5 stars, but this book had it all: well-written characters; characters I loved and charactersIt's not often that I give fiction books a wholehearted 5 stars, but this book had it all: well-written characters; characters I loved and characters I hated and characters I pitied; intrigue; a novel-within-a-novel; history; a family's history; heartbreak; scandal; first-person narration; and some big old plot twists that made me put the book down while I gathered my wits ("Wait, *who* wrote it?!? Are you kidding me?!?!" "Wait...he... with *her*?!? Bastard!" "Aww...she died." "Aw, he died." "Wait, he...? Oh my.").
I loved Iris, and I loved Atwood's approach of Iris explaining her family's life, her current life, her sister Laura (the sometimes flighty, sometimes sinister, sometimes piercing, sometimes intelligent Laura), and telling the story to someone (to me? to Myra? But we find out for sure at the end.).
Atwood also has an amazing sense of language: Iris writes with a beautiful flow, uses some astounding metaphors and similes, and Atwood's style overall is wonderful.
If I had time to re-read books, this is definitely a book I'd consider reading again. I loved the story of the Chase family, and the mystery of "The Blind Assassin" (the novel-within-a-novel)....more
Reading this book is a MASSIVE undertaking, but worth it. It didn't change my life or anything, but it was a trippy (and really, "trippy" is probablyReading this book is a MASSIVE undertaking, but worth it. It didn't change my life or anything, but it was a trippy (and really, "trippy" is probably the best way to describe it. Maybe "surreal," but I don't think that fully illustrates how... crazy, wild, unimaginable, and ... trippy the book is) fantasy that was worth my time. The prose (whether this is more about Murakami or the translator, I don't know) is often beautiful and poetic, and the imagery and similes are astounding.
The story--In short, a crazy, twisted fairy tale about a guy, a gal, secret religions, an older woman who's a do-gooder, a teenage girl, a mysterious novella, assassinations, and how all of these things/people end up being connected--is told from the viewpoints of a few different characters, one main character per chapter. At times (I noticed it more toward the end of the book), this made it confusing because we'd be with one person Saturday through Monday, for example, and then the next chapter would be someone else, but on Sunday. It was hard sometimes to keep the timeline straight since there was a fair amount of bouncing back and forth, but nothing that wasn't solvable.
Part of me wants this to be made into a movie. It might be 15 hours long (or the text would need some major cuts), but ... intrigue! murder! mystery! a chase! writers' lives! another world! unusual creatures! a math teacher! extra celestial bodies! This would be a GREAT movie! :)...more
In high school, some of my particularly intelligent friends (No... all of my friends were intelligent. Some of my particularly ... nerdy frieWell....
In high school, some of my particularly intelligent friends (No... all of my friends were intelligent. Some of my particularly ... nerdy friends? No, they were pretty cool, and not what you'd think of as nerds. Some of my particularly ... No, I'm still going to call them nerdy, but they were cool, despite being kind of nerdy at times) nerdy friends started quoting The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I have no idea why. Just all of a sudden, they were. It then became a book that I decided I should look into at some point in my life, just so I knew what they were all raving about.
Fast forward many years to 2005 when the movie came out. I saw it with a friend, and didn't get what the fuss was about. Aside from the fact that it was sci-fi and I'm not really a sci-fi person, I still didn't see any ... excitement about it. Generally I can appreciate how people would like a book or movie even if it's not a genre I like, but this one ... I was just bored.
Still, though, it stayed on my mental to-read list, and even got added to the real to-read list once I saw it was on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. So I read it and ... yeah, I still don't see what the fuss is about (Sorry to all those people who love this book.).
There are definitely some funny parts: Marvin the depressed robot/Paranoid Android (just the idea of a depressed robot is funny. Also, in chapter 22, Marvin's presence is requested, so he makes a big show of coming forward as if it were a physical difficulty for him, and then once he isn't wanted after all, "made an equally big show of turning round laboriously and trudging off down into the crater again muttering sour nothings to himself." And towards the end, when a spacecraft kills itself just so it doesn't have to listen to Marvin talk anymore?? Poor Marvin!); the semi-snarky, semi-know-it-all computer on the Heart of Gold; Adams' rye, dry, witty sort of humor (again, like the depressed robot, etc.); Adams' funny play with words and ideas (such as "Arthur slapped his arms about himself to try and get his circulation a little more enthusiastic about its job." Come on, blood! Rah! Pump, pump, pump! You can do it!); the dolphins' warnings about Earth being blown up misinterpreted as Sea World-type tricks. Still, though, these weren't laugh-out-loud moments for me; just chuckle-slightly-to-yourself-on-the-inside moments.
Some of the technology bits were intriguing. I mean, this book, written in 1979, talks about technology we have now, like electronic books and touch-and-swipe screens.
So, aside from some brief flashes of humor, technology before it existed, and a Radiohead song, this book just didn't do anything for me. It wasn't the worst read in the world, but I was glad it was short and wouldn't take me long to finish. I've also been told "you really have to read the entire series to get everything", but for me, that's an unfortunate circle: we might not like this book much until we read the next books, but would we want to read the next books if we don't like this book much? For me, no, I won't be venturing on in the series. Oh, well. To each his own....more
I finally finished! Yay! As I said with volume 2, it was okay, but getting repetitive. Entire motifs, dialogues, etc. were repeated, and if it weren'tI finally finished! Yay! As I said with volume 2, it was okay, but getting repetitive. Entire motifs, dialogues, etc. were repeated, and if it weren't for the names, I'd think I'd read that story before. On the one hand, I can now say that I've read The Arabian Nights; on the other hand, since there are so many versions and translations available, I could have read a much shorter version and still been able to say I'd read it (even though it seems like maybe the version I read was a little more ... extensive or accurate to the original. "Original," whatever that particular historian/translator is considering the original work.).
Like the other two volumes, this set of stories had lots of scheming, mischief, weeping, fainting, slapping of one's head, betrayal, jinns, etc., many wrapped up as parables.
(view spoiler)[Wait, Shahrazad had been pregnant during these 1001 nights? Three times?!? She told these stories without any break while she was having kids and all that? What?!? Man, those women back then were incredible. Not only did they have "easy births," or however the text would describe it, but they could continue to tell stories during that time, with no interruption. Damn, they're good, or Shahrazad's especially good. (hide spoiler)]
More sex, beheading, stabbings, fake identities, royalty, and trickery. Plus, propaganda -- If you are a Muslim and praise God, He will save you fromMore sex, beheading, stabbings, fake identities, royalty, and trickery. Plus, propaganda -- If you are a Muslim and praise God, He will save you from ANY situation, no matter HOW crazy and outlandish it is. I can definitely imagine these stories being told as warnings/words of wisdom.
Okay, but getting kind of repetitive after 1800-ish pages.
On the one hand, Brave New World is a really great story, a little bit shocking, and a whole lot of "Could that really happen?" (bothWowser. Wow. zer.
On the one hand, Brave New World is a really great story, a little bit shocking, and a whole lot of "Could that really happen?" (both in a scared tone and a hopeful tone). On the other hand, it's amazing to see how close the early 21st century is to Huxley's vision. I won't say that he got it totally right, or that he was prophetic, but there are definitely parallels. I think if I'd read this when I was younger (like most people did in high school), and while trying to answer the questions on the teacher's assignment, rather than paying attention to the story and its details, I would have missed the greatness of the story and the writing.
Brave New World Revisited is made up of essays Huxley wrote while "revisiting" various topics in Brave New World, like hypnopaedia, propaganda, brainwashing, over-population/population control, and mind-altering drugs like soma. The essays at times seem a bit alarmist, but are overall really interesting in pointing out where Brave New World's fictional world comes amazingly close to paralleling our (well, late-1950s; the essays were written in 1958) world, or where our world is scarily (like in the case of propaganda by dictators) getting closer to Brave New World.
Brave New World is a REALLY GREAT story, but Christopher Hitchens' introduction and Huxley's Brave New World Revisited essays make this compilation an absolutely fabulous edition....more
As Wikipedia puts it, Cloud Atlas "consists of six nested stories, whereof each is read (or observed) by a main character of the next. The first fiveAs Wikipedia puts it, Cloud Atlas "consists of six nested stories, whereof each is read (or observed) by a main character of the next. The first five stories are each interrupted at a pivotal moment. After the sixth story, the other five stories are closed, in reverse chronological order, and each ends with the main character reading or observing the chronologically previous work in the chain." (This reminded me of If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, so I was particularly looking forward to it.) I kept thinking how talented Mitchell is (or at least seems to me) to be able to change the tone so many times within one book.
With that comes comparisons to other works (whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know): Ewing's journal-on-a-ship story (the first and eleventh chapters) reminded me of Melville's Typee (which is even referred to towards the end of the second part of this narrative), and the dystopian world of "An Orison of Sonmi~451" (chapters five and seven) reminded me of The Giver.
I loved Robert Frobisher's letters in the second/tenth story. I loved the epistolary style for the narrative, as well as Frobisher's style of writing, using musical language to describe the world around him. Towards the end (or maybe middle) of the first go-round with this particular story, I started to dislike Frobisher a bit: he is a scoundrel! He's dishonest and sleeps around, and yet I still overall liked the character, scoundrelines and all. I did wonder, though, how we were able to read the letters *he* wrote to Sixsmith, but never the letters Sixsmith wrote back to him. In the next story, of course, we find out it's because (view spoiler)[we meet Sixsmith later in his life, and he has all of the letters Frobisher wrote to him, much like the way we know about Ewing's journal is because Frobisher read it at Zedelghem. I said to myself, "Ah, now I see the nesting of the stories!" (hide spoiler)].
I also enjoyed the Luisa Rey story. I liked the intrigue of (view spoiler)[the whistle-blower trying to get his information to the reporter, and whether the reporter would be able to tell the story (hide spoiler)]. That one definitely kept me turning the pages, and even gasping out loud a few times!
The Timothy Cavendish chapters (4 & 8) weren't bad, but they weren't great. The second time we visit him was better for me than the first time. I liked when we first meet him and find out his background, but once he's (view spoiler)[in the nursing home (hide spoiler)], I stopped caring as much. But when we return to the story after going through the other stories, the plot picks up again and, like the Luisa Rey story, even had me gasping out loud or giggling.
The middle story, "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After," was hit-and-miss for me. I didn't like the first part, with the exception of finding out how this story related to the story before it ("An Orison of Sonmi~451"), but the second part picked up.
Overall, it was a good book. It wasn't as deep and profound and difficult as I thought it would be, but I mostly enjoyed the six different stories. I also liked trying to figure out how the stories related to each other, and the commonalities, such as the ship Prophetess, which Adam Ewing travels on in the first/eleventh chapters, and Luisa Rey sees in the marina as an example of a well-restored ship in the ninth chapter....more
So... premise of the story: Guy watches a five-year-old movie, sees bit actor who looks exactly like he did five years ago; guy becomes obsessed withSo... premise of the story: Guy watches a five-year-old movie, sees bit actor who looks exactly like he did five years ago; guy becomes obsessed with actor and finding out more about him, mostly who he is and whether he looks like guy looks now; guy becomes *really* obsessed with actor. Honestly, as the plot was picking up (mostly still in the "Hey, that guy in that movie looks like me!" phase of the story), I kept thinking of the episode of Scrubs that talks about The Janitor being in The Fugitive. hehe.
I really liked this book. It was hard to get into at first--no quotation marks makes it difficult to tell who's speaking, and most of the punctuation used was commas. Commas to separate speakers, commas to separate quotes from narration, commas to separate sentences and thoughts--but once I got used to the style and was able to find my way through it, I was off and running. At times, the style of the narration reminded me of If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, with the narrator speaking directly to the reader.
The story is great, and the twists of the last few chapters were completely unexpected. The struggle with the style in the beginning was well worth it.
"Reading is probably another way of being in a place" (76)
"the right we all have to say over and over where the pain is" (96)
"we pile up words, words, and more words, the very words we talked about elsewhere, a personal pronoun, an adverb, a verb, an adjective, and, however we try, however hard we struggle, we always find ourselves outside the feelings we so ingenuously hoped to describe" (97)
"Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered" (98)
"looking back brings with it terrible risks" (100)
"once a person starts falsifying things there's no telling where it will end" (122)
"we are all more or less public figures, it's only the number of spectators that varies" (177)
"Despite no longer being driven by irresistible hereditary instincts, the actions of human beings are repeated with such startling regularity that we believe it would be permissible, without stretching a point, to hypothesize the slow but steady formation of a new kind of instinct, perhaps 'sociocultural' would be the right word, which, based on variants of repeated tropisms and in response, of course, to identical stimuli, would mean that any idea that had occurred to one person would, necessarily, occur to someone else." (189-190)
"what will be has been" (193)
"enemies are born not out of our will to have them but out of their irresistible desire to have us" (229)
"these four-legged creatures who run, sniff, and scratch their fleas and who, as is only natural in a friend, occasionally bite. Tomarctus [Tertuliano's dog:] has not come to stay for very long, he will sleep for a few minutes curled at the foot of the bed, then he will get up and take a turn about the house to see if everything is in order, and then, for the rest of the night, will be the watchful companion of his constant mistress, apart from the odd sortie into the yard to bark and, while he's there, drink some water from his bowl and lift his leg against the bed of geraniums or the rosemary bush. He will return to Tertuliano Maximo Afonso's bedroom at first light to check that nothing has moved on this side of the earth either, for what dogs most want in life is for no one to go away." (233-234)
"the possibility of a petition going around, inside and outside the company, throughout the country, demanding equality and justice for supporting actors, there would be a revolution in the industry, and imagine what would happen if the demand was taken up by the lower orders, by the supporting players in society as a whole" (242)
"The proof that the universe was not as well-thought-out as it should have been lies in the fact that the Creator ordered the star that illumines us to be called the sun. Had the king of the stars borne the name Common Sense, imagine how enlightened the human spirit would be now, both by day and night, because, as everyone knows, the light we call moonlight comes not from the moon but always and solely from the sun." (253)...more
After Reta's daughter, Norah, is seen on the street wearing a sign that says "GOODNESS," Reta begins to question what "goodness" means. She4.5 stars.
After Reta's daughter, Norah, is seen on the street wearing a sign that says "GOODNESS," Reta begins to question what "goodness" means. She becomes even more aware of and frustrated by the way women are represented (or more correctly, *aren't* represented) in culture, from being seen as the more fragile sex to being left off of lists of influential authors, and she worries that that depiction of women's lack of a place in the world is what drove her daughter to despair.
Unlike some of the other reviewers, I really liked this book. But I think that while most of the reviewers disliked the book because of Reta's views (possibly seen as diatribes) about feminism and the unfair representation of women versus the positive representation of men, I liked the book because of the writing. I liked Shields' style (this is the first of her books that I've read), and the flow and movement of the words. The story was fine and lovely, and I could see how the character of Reta might worry that the portrayal of women is what threw her daughter over an edge (even though that felt like an overly-forced aspect of the story to me), but what I really liked was the style of the writing. I was immediately sucked in to the story, and even though I didn't wholly believe Reta's connection between the portrayals of women and Norah's quest of goodness, the writing kept me hooked....more