So, I am just reading this. Is that legal? It kind of doesn't seem legal. Like I need to submit my resume first. But I'm just going to read it and tha...moreSo, I am just reading this. Is that legal? It kind of doesn't seem legal. Like I need to submit my resume first. But I'm just going to read it and that's what I'm doing.
Also, 320 editions on GoodReads and not the one I'm reading? Unfair. JUSTICE! It's a theme. I think.
Oh my god book! You're over! I thought we might die together.
You earned a 3.5 really, book, because this was a good thing to read. I learned to put aside the prejudices that kept me from reading it for 12 years. For example, it is actually quite easy to read, with almost no crazy prosaic dreamscapes where the symbolism claws your eyes out. (I like my symbolism a little gentler.) Several of the philosophical conclusions and personal attitudes hit home. I liked that there are a couple of important women in it, because I thought that it would pretty much be a man book. His sister Dounia is the smartest character, though, and Sonia has some of the best scenes although she is also more the type of idolized woman who does show up in man books.
It is a city book, which makes you imagine visiting its city (St. Petersburg), but through a time machine. It is the best history lesson I've had on 19th-century Russia (meaning, I've had none), and it interested me to learn a bit on the side. Particularly about the 1861 emancipation of the serfs, which I'd never heard of in my life but is an enormous fact. It is only mentioned two or three times in the book, but I think there are clues that this and related social changes -- specific immigrant groups, and economic shifts -- were a critical piece of Dostoevsky's writing in 1866. He saw his country as a real place, where real consequences included real Siberia, and real people could wind up unfathomably rudderless, and he meant it all for a novel.
I am rounding the stars down, though, because sometimes there was too much muddle. The clarification of Rodion's motives weaved in and out, and sometimes I just forgot, or I wondered if the book forgot that it was about this guy and his crime, remember, from the title? And though often the symptoms of his bleak rock-bottom are extremely relatable, other times I could not help but think, Cheer up, emo Raskolnikov! I also really did think I would be reading it forever. I was pretty ready for it to be finished well before it was, and the last 50 pages were Sisyphean. I am going to read about 10 really really short books after this so I feel productive again.
Let's have a sidebar on this Bantam Classic edition that I got at the first regional Barnes & Noble near Milwaukee in high school. I'll start with the cover, which I have looked at for the last decade and concluded that this serious book with its severe title was about an old man with a receding hairline and weathered face. Fact: Raskolnikov is 23, and he hasn't even managed to finish a college degree yet. That is a world of difference, in outlook. Also, the back copy promises "a terrifying murder mystery" and "a fascinating detective thriller". And I understand where you are coming from, Bantam Classic, that you shouldn't say, for example, "ponderous novel with a murder, and a detective," but maybe do. The binding broke while I read the first half, and actually I always kind of like it when a book falls apart as I finish it. It usually only happens to the books that earn it, and it did open itself onto the most memorable scene, so thank you.(less)
Read on DailyLit in 5 parts. I downloaded this around the same time that I read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Extras, because I learned that...moreRead on DailyLit in 5 parts. I downloaded this around the same time that I read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Extras, because I learned that the themes are similar. It's an interesting short story in the same way those stories are: science has advanced the body's potential, so that almost nothing natural happens any more. Ageless bodies, with (almost) all of time to live.
This story focuses on the grisly math of the concept, and what that means about population, birth, and death. (More or less, the story takes place in a maternity ward.) Actually, I especially wondered about this concept in the Uglies series -- if memory serves, "where babies come from" is never really addressed. This story also shares that series's sort of odd conservationist idealism that seems somehow suspicious.
"Your city thanks you; your country thanks you; your planet thanks you. But the deepest thanks of all is from future generations."(less)
**spoiler alert** I've been excited to read this one for a long time. I like Larbalestier a lot, and everything about the book sounded good to me. The...more**spoiler alert** I've been excited to read this one for a long time. I like Larbalestier a lot, and everything about the book sounded good to me. Then my friends started to read it and wow, divisive! So let's roll up our sleeves here.
I want to talk with the spoiler filter on, because my feelings for the book feel like they're restricted by section. I'd even rate it that way if I could. Part one: 5 stars, Part two: 4 stars, Part three: 2 stars. Overall, I'll round up because I enjoyed the first half so much.
The first section, the spoiler-free section about a murder and the truth and weirdness -- I loved this. Micah is a dark, dark protagonist here. Something isn't right with her. She's an unhappy person and very disturbing, and yet, so good. And her story here has some of my favorite ingredients: teenage mystery, realistic and yet lush New York City life.
In this section, Micah's explanation of her truthlessness is perfect because her lies are all about things that are hard for all young adults to sort out: her relationship, her femininity, her genes and body. Serious thoughts. And the narrative style works hard to draw out the constant little lies of life, because everyone is lying, a lot. It works. And I want to know what is going on, really badly. Hooked.
So then the second section was so weird. Because it did a couple things to scramble my enthusiasm. For one thing, I liked the realism of the book. I didn't want to be told to let that go. Another thing, the second section is all backstory, when I wanted to keep hearing about what was going on with Zach's murder and the troubling investigation and sad aftermath. I liked the NYC teen mystery book. I wanted to read that book from day one.
Cuz, um, another thing? I really, really, really. Do not care about werewolves at all. Not even a little bit. I am not interested in them as myth or metaphor. Shrug. I like fantasy plenty, but it's not my cup.
Now. Actually? I think it's well done. I think this is a good werewolf book. Even if, as Larbalestier claims, there are multiple readings of the book and you do not take the werewolf thing as real. And, while you think it over -- because the whole time you're wondering, is this for real, book about liar? -- the possibility that it is a lie casts your mind straight back to part one, the part that sounds mostly really true, and starts to make you feel differently about it, which is how a book about a liar mounts its excitement. So it works! There's layers built up. By the time we get our first clue that something could be going on with delusion and prisons, we have already had a harrowing scene with a girl in a cage in her bedroom. Well. Done.
The last section, however, slowed me down considerably. The reversals produced more consternation than anything else. And it goes on for quite a while -- I think the book could have been much shorter just by removing maybe 5 descriptions of the wolf/person change. A lot is repeated, and that's not fun to read. Part three does do one hugely important thing, though, which is that the way she feels when her parents leave her is actually the first time I felt very touched by Micah, and felt that the events of the book were changing who she was in an important way. That bond took a bit too long to form, though. I think I should have felt that it was Zach's death that changed her life for good, because that's really what the book is about.
I don't feel particularly eager to unravel "what is real", since until the muddy end the reading experience is really pretty straightforward. Some internet theories, such as Justine Larbalestier's comment and a reader's comment about Jordan, turned my wheels a little bit. I guess the dark and twisty reality-bomb version of the story works too, but I think that interpretation is innately unsatisfying. By definition, that book is less layered and careful. You've taken too much away to get to it for it to be that good.(less)
On inter-coworker library loan after drinky Cinco de Mayo chat. That's normal right.
This is a a strange starter book. Until the end of the last fight...moreOn inter-coworker library loan after drinky Cinco de Mayo chat. That's normal right.
This is a a strange starter book. Until the end of the last fight, I wasn't actually even sure if Sandman was supposed to be a good guy or a bad guy. (To be honest I am now only like 80% sure?)
I'll be honest: I thought I was enjoying the creepiness, but the chapter in Hell in the middle almost finished me. I mean it just is gross. Which, ok. It is Hell after all. But that is not my taste. I can get behind grisly details, darkness, I really can, including in comics where you actually have to look at it. But there is something in Gaiman's style, in general in everything he writes, that revels in it a bit, and that never works for me. (But I understand it is enjoyed by many.) Dee, also, is gross, and since the Hell chapter is immediately followed by his story, eesh. I thought we were in some trouble.
(But there is that part where they play a a game of Destructo in Hell. That's not what they call it, it is more like "a battle for your eternal servitude" according to them, but I can call a pitchfork a pitchfork.
Oh and by the way what is that helmet of his supposed to be? The... enchanted gas mask for snorkelers? Or... I swear I don't get it. WTF does he have it for and why does it look like whatever that is?)
THEN, though, I liked it again, just in time. The last chapter is nicely stylized and simple. Hopefully there is more hanging out with sexy Death in punk rock Washington Square, and less naked corpses gallavanting with rubies? I'm hoping, since Gaiman's "Afterword" says he feels much the same way about the stories in the first volume, and that the last story found his voice, and that is good. Also he makes fun of a really bad French restaurant he went to and that's pretty funny.
Sidebar: The mentions of AIDS in this book are really really really weird. Like the part where the woman asks Dee if he is sick, and he doesn't know what she's implying, and she says, "Where have you been the last five years?" 1988, huh.
There are 10 more of these, so, I'm optimistic that part of it is going to fit me well, and then that will be a really valuable thing to have.
ETA: I'm downgrading the stars, 5 months later. Now that I've read more of them, it was more wishful thinking and this is my least favorite.(less)
Though I have not read it before, I have had this book a long time. You may have noticed, it is called, Magic Elizabeth, so, that is really enough rea...moreThough I have not read it before, I have had this book a long time. You may have noticed, it is called, Magic Elizabeth, so, that is really enough reason to have a copy right there, say I. (I first saw a copy at the Niantic Book Barn in 2005, and bought it on Half.com later.)
Anyway, cute book! It is nice, a story about connecting to the past, which actually is a little hard to connect to because it's almost a 50-year-old story. And it does a lot of the usual story things: a beautiful old house that isn't scary after all, a very old relative who isn't scary after all, a prized possession that you totally believe is magic. Super sweet.
And the plot revolves around a whole bunch of kitties! That's great! Unfortunately the plot also revolves around an anthropomorphized doll, which is my greatest fear. (Not a lot, just that she is slightly "magic" and sort of has some sort of intent or something maybe.) But! The doll and one of the kittens are friends! I guess it is ok. I guess.
The story's sweetness actually made me feel warped, because I think I have spent too much time with sci-fi in the last several years and I kept making things more oogey than they were. What is Aunt Sarah hiding? What power is keeping her alive so long? Why does Emily (!) seem to know so much about Elizabeth? Is she the doll come to life? Does she even exist? When Sally time-travels through her dreams, can she get back?
**spoiler alert** Much, much more likable than the first book. Keeping the main part of the story anchored in the normal human world helps a lot, I th...more**spoiler alert** Much, much more likable than the first book. Keeping the main part of the story anchored in the normal human world helps a lot, I think. This one manages to be both good-creepy and beautiful. A lot of these panels are spectacular.
Something about this book felt like a really intense television episode. Everything at the scary "convention" in the motel, rescuing her brother, it felt like good stories on Buffy or Doctor Who feel. I think it's very plausible that Sandman influenced creators of those shows.
I mean: yay for young heroines named Rose who are the Bad Wolf. In a nutshell. The issue after all the action where everyone is dreaming, and Rose does what she does, and everything after that, wow wow wow wow wow.(less)
Rebecca is a wonderful character, and it was lovely rooting for her and watching her succeed. The book...moreRead via DailyLit in 89 parts over three months.
Rebecca is a wonderful character, and it was lovely rooting for her and watching her succeed. The book's voice is so sweet, and I liked that it was funny too. I liked to imagine the author who could write a description like "eyes as big as cartwheels."
I appreciated, of course, how very heavily Wiggin seems to have been influenced by The Mill on the Floss. That was a really nice surprise, and lucky for me to read them in this order. There are multiple allusions to that book here, such as:
"It is coming, Emmie," she said presently; "do you remember in The Mill on the Floss, when Maggie Tulliver closed the golden gates of childhood behind her?"
In a lot of ways, Rebecca is Maggie, given another chance. She is far less heartbreaking, though, which is a good thing because I think a heart can only handle one Maggie Tulliver.
I was so impressed by the adults in the book. Rebecca's story is so bright, but the adults influencing her surroundings are given skillful little shades of back-story, a paragraph or so to describe what has shaped them, and it's often very sad. It makes Rebecca's setting very realistic. Her aunt Jane's wisps of backstory on the battlefield are absolutely breathtaking. And I love the introduction of the missionaries in the middle, and her mentorship with her English teacher, whose outlook is shockingly no-nonsense. Sometimes it's easy to assume old books like this cast nothing but gauzy parochial characters, particularly for children, but this book absolutely doesn't.
I was really pleased that Rebecca didn't get married at the end. She didn't not get married, and we pretty much know who is going to marry her, but it was nice to have the ending be all about her. I expected a promise of marriage to be the making of Rebecca's perfect adult happiness, but instead that happiness comes from her family and her own realizations, and that is very gratifying. I think Wiggin really knew what she was doing there.
Before I began the book, I read that Jack London, of all people, had written a fan letter to Wiggin to say, "May I thank you for Rebecca?", as a war correspondent in Manchuria 1904. I never quite forgot it as I read the book -- the idea of a children's book reaching that improbably far, and then also to us, is extraordinary.(less)
The edition from my childhood is this one, with scary Turtle on the cover. But we watched "Silence of the Lamb" the other day, and Chris got it out of...moreThe edition from my childhood is this one, with scary Turtle on the cover. But we watched "Silence of the Lamb" the other day, and Chris got it out of the library.
A perfect read for a weekend! It was fun -- going in, I remembered exactly two things about it from reading it as a kid. 1) The exploding wedding present, and 2) Sydelle Pulaski's Polish shorthand. And when I started rereading, I thought, that is a pretty cool pair of things to remember about a book, even if I don't remember the plot twists. As I reread, I found that much of the rest of the detail came out of my memory, too; oh right, the braid and the shin-kicks.
It's interesting that this is a kids' book. I mean, there's really only one kid in it. A couple older teenagers, but they're peripheral players. Mostly the people who matter most in this book is one kid, and a bunch of weird adults. I think that's kind of great -- kids read this book and are like, grown-ups are weird. The introduction to this edition describes the writing as "for the adult in children," which is a good thing to think about.
It makes me a little sad I did not remember that this takes place in Milwaukee.(less)
**spoiler alert** I remember buying this at Shakespeare & Co. something like 8 years ago, and there was a kitty cat lying under the ladder downsta...more**spoiler alert** I remember buying this at Shakespeare & Co. something like 8 years ago, and there was a kitty cat lying under the ladder downstairs with me in the drama section.
I can't remember how I heard of the play, but I understand why I was drawn to it. I used to think the best were "issue" dramas, "concept" plays, and this is one for sure: a woman is kidnapped by "Operation Retrieval" from a clinic before her abortion procedure, and confined for months to prevent her from going back.
I think I waited so long to read it, though, because some ideas lose everything the minute you put a lot of words to them. How could this idea be sustained for a play? How could it possibly end? But it gained some traction and the longer scenes occasionally blossomed. The scene on Keely's birthday was very kind. In the end, it did manage to surprise me.
3.5 stars for this, what is essentially a short story collection. Extra half star for the general darkitude, which mostly worked well, and general sol...more3.5 stars for this, what is essentially a short story collection. Extra half star for the general darkitude, which mostly worked well, and general solidness. The "Midsummer Night's Dream" story is apparently one of the famous well-regarded Sandman stories, but it actually was my least favorite. First prize goes to the kitty cats. Maybe that's lame, but they were beautiful, and, KITTY CATS.
This edition includes a script, for "Calliope," so I read the script too because I like scripts. I've always particularly been intrigued by comic scripts, somewhat because it's the least familiar form, but I think I put my finger on it while reading this one. Occasionally, my favorite part of a play is its stage directions. And in a way, a comic script is 75% "stage" directions. And Gaiman's are helpful, suggestive stage directions. I like reading these, I think, because the directions are a method for sharing the story on a different plane than what is evoked by the final work. I will always like that.(less)
In 2003 my best playwriting teacher recommended I read this, to help inspire the play I was working on, in a similar vein. She was a really smart teac...moreIn 2003 my best playwriting teacher recommended I read this, to help inspire the play I was working on, in a similar vein. She was a really smart teacher, so I can see why she did. (But I was too caught up to read it, at the time.)
I really liked it: the family is really good, the situation behind the family is really good, it feels like it could go longer because there's even more threads to pull.
That was almost the same as the only thing that held it back from being great for me: consistently, some of the writing is on the nose. I like that they're saying what they're saying, but good playwriting is written around those things, not all over them. Give it time.(less)
Cool. I liked the angels a lot. Though, I like it best when they manage to keep character design consistent throughout a comics series; it annoyed me...moreCool. I liked the angels a lot. Though, I like it best when they manage to keep character design consistent throughout a comics series; it annoyed me that Lucifer is scarier looking than he is the first time we saw him -- or is it less scary looking, I don't know -- anyway I liked the Goldilocks version from book 1 best. Makes an impression.
The story with the banquet and the offers and the just decisionmaking was a pretty typical type story. It was fine.
The standalone issue with the ghost boys is really good.
(And the old-timey artist bios are sort of funny.)(less)
I bought this at the first BC/EFA Broadway Flea Market I went to, in 2000. The play was new then, so I bought it with a bunch of other books for a dol...moreI bought this at the first BC/EFA Broadway Flea Market I went to, in 2000. The play was new then, so I bought it with a bunch of other books for a dollar, but never read it. Or any LaBute, for that matter. Probably because I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it. Perhaps because I was worried I would?
Well, no worries, nothing exciting here. The first scene was ok, though kind of elementary. I could deal with the Iphigenia metaphor. The second scene totally lost me. It was like being stuck making excruciating small talk with totally horrible rich people for half an hour. And are they talking together or separately? It goes back and forth. Does she really need to be there? Any chance they'll kick themselves in the face? Oh sorry, SPOILERS. The third is all oblique rambling. And that is about it.
I don't get why all the "characters" are LDS, for no apparent reason or connection. To say what exactly? Only one of these stories is about institutionally-condoned bigotry, so as a whole it's not really about a church's warped value system. And the other two are more about their Greek allegories. So who knows. LaBute clearly thinks he is writing the edgiest junk in the world, and he wants to make you feel like you are super cool for participating. I don't find those kinds of authorial favors very interesting.(less)
I got this at the same time as The Penelopiad, and started to read it then, but put it down halfway. (I almost never do that!)
This time around I like...moreI got this at the same time as The Penelopiad, and started to read it then, but put it down halfway. (I almost never do that!)
This time around I liked it perfectly ok. It is kind of rambly, but often pretty. Eventually I took away one whole star for all the times I had to read about Heracles's erections. No thank you. Then, I got to the chapter "Leaning on the Limits of Myself," a tiny 4-page section in the middle, and I put the star back. That chapter is extraordinary. I didn't expect the framing story to be a contemporary narration, and a vastly emotional one. I read it several times. The rest of the book does not compare.
(Then I took the star back again because, you know, even more of Heracles's erections. But still.)
I didn't really understand her idea of Atlas leaving at the end, but of course, I liked the dog.(less)
Wow. I loved this. Absolutely the best book so far. There isn't really anything I didn't like, and it kept doing more and more things I like on top of...moreWow. I loved this. Absolutely the best book so far. There isn't really anything I didn't like, and it kept doing more and more things I like on top of the things I already liked. Well except, I think it is responsible for an extremely grisly nightmare I had, but that is what I get for bedtime reading.
I love the atmosphere of the parts of the series set in sketchy '80s NYC. I love all the stories with a woman dealing with intrusions of the supernatural in her normal life, and having to go be brave and face it down. Gaiman deserves a lot of thanks for exercising that precedent so well, having laid the influential groundwork for tons of other things I love. Rose's story in book 2 felt that way, and Barbie's story here does too.
I love creepy awesome Thessaly and everything she does. I love the creepy nightmare birds. I love everyone in the apartment building and everything about the horrible night they spend together. God I mean it is gruesome, but, really great. Maybe my entirely favorite moment was when Barbie is first dozing off in front of the TV and the fairy pops in to give her a warning, and she snaps herself awake and ruins it.
It's possible it isn't a great sign that my favorite book so far is the one where the Dream King is only in it for about 5 pages. But I'm not too concerned.(less)
The freaky folk tales were pretty good. The Roman marketplace should have been a lot better. I like baby Daniel in the Dreaming. The Baghdad story cou...moreThe freaky folk tales were pretty good. The Roman marketplace should have been a lot better. I like baby Daniel in the Dreaming. The Baghdad story could have been way less cheesy.
A few of these issues seem out of sequence with other things that already happened in earlier collections, but mostly these are either one-off stories or touching on Gaiman's treatment of the Orpheus myth. I did like that a lot of things came in between the first time we see him -- while he is an unsettling party to a completely different story and almost an afterthought -- and the issues with his story. That felt a little more novelesque, which made the collection a better read. (less)
I'm a crabby old woman, and the reason I know that is because I really just hate a show-off. I want to tell them to go sit down and be polite, for goo...moreI'm a crabby old woman, and the reason I know that is because I really just hate a show-off. I want to tell them to go sit down and be polite, for goodness sake. Other writers restrain themselves!
Now, I love big writing, I love new writing. I love language that goes somewhere, that tries to say things in ways that aren't normal and don't make sense. Whatever this is, though, I don't love this. It makes me need deep breaths of patience. I don't like the words precious or cloying to describe it, but until there are some others, that's what I have to call the thing I don't like about it.
Some of the novel's unusual elements interested me. The level of meta to the writing and characters is certainly odd. This is one of those books that is also a "fictional novel," where its own character is writing it in the story. Here, we are theoretically reading the result of a co-authorship between the characters Jonathan and Alex. In addition to reading what they've written for the book, we read Alex's letters to Jonathan about the writing process. It's immensely strange the way Jonathan is a meta-character in the novel. We never hear him speak as this character, we only see Alex's rendition (both in his chapters and his letters). In his letters, Alex is allowed to anticipate readers' questions by asking about the moral ambiguity of fictionalizing real events, and also to complain about the weirder parts of Jonathan's book, and ask why they are so weird. Neither Jonathan, Alex's nor ours, ever answers.
It's partly for this reason (him being the truer and more down-to-earth fictional storyteller) that I love Alex's chapters and don't love Jonathan's chapters. Partly this is the nature of the story he gets to tell — the improbable trip through the Ukranian countryside with its questionable outcome. But this is also due to the "real" Jonathan's work, the author's: Alex's voice is an incredible prize, and makes the book worth reading no matter what. His broken-English vocabulary is just adorable and so fun to read. He's kind and beautiful and fucking hilarious, all even when he is ignorant or selfish. He grows and learns things and considers people more than anyone else in the book. As a reader you feel he is on your side, whereas you feel Jonathan is trying to teach you something. Or preach you something.
I feel that in another author's hands, I really should have liked Jonathan's historical chapters very well. They are based on what was real and written as folklore, magical realism. That's a beautiful experiment. But this is unfortunately the part of the book where you'll learn whether or not you like Foer as an author, and I didn't love him. He's twee and messy. He wants to put indelicate moments in your face with the austerity of religion. A virgin was raped at the moment her father died; she loved her husband so much she turned herself toward his beatings; someone ejaculated at this moment that caused the end of the world; 132 women jerked off with the dead hand of his grandfather. Maybe, in someone else's book, but maybe not, here.
And don't yell at me? But I had hoped for answers to the story. It's a story about looking for answers from the past, and in the characters' experience they are unable to find them, a reluctantly realistic outcome. (view spoiler)[But I had expected that the point of Jonathan writing his history, up to the life of his grandfather whom he went to such lengths to seek answers about, was that it would include the answer. That we'd learn the past offered its answers only to the reader, perhaps, or something more ambiguous like the truth was what Jonathan decided the truth was, and he had decided something. But we never do learn how his grandfather escaped the Nazis and made it to America. We go up to the very day, and we still don't know how. (hide spoiler)] I understand there's meaning in this promise going unfulfilled, but I missed it anyway. We are sidetracked into the discovery that Alex's and Jonathan's grandfathers were from the same place, which is quite meaningful, but not the same.
Strangely, I guess, I want to talk about the movie at this point? Which is a movie I really like, by the way. It portrays only Alex's part of the novel, and really well. Like lots of books-to-films, though, it makes some interesting elisions in order to tell a less ambiguous story. And I felt I had to draw my own conclusions about a few things in the backstory that are presented really differently in the movie, and I wanted to think about that out loud.
(view spoiler)[In the movie, the woman they meet identifies herself clearly as Augustine's sister, and Augustine as having been Jonathan's grandfather's first wife who was killed in the attack. She recognizes Alex's grandfather as a character mentioned in the book, but not the same person he is in the book, and he is also definitely "exposed" as having been a Jew. (Therefore, because it's entirely made up, the story of his survival that is shown for him in the movie also makes almost no sense.) She tells her terrible story in the field, and that her sister's unborn baby was shot, and she died.
In the book, we know more: The woman they meet is Lista, whom Jonathan's grandfather was (of course) lovers with. She knows Alex's grandfather's story of his betraying his friend. We know that Jonathan's grandfather married someone who was not Augustine. (Who actually was Augustine?) When Lista tells her terrible story in the field, she tells a longer version in which her "sister," after her unborn baby is shot (in a far more gruesome way), survived, and collected all the belongings in the village, which are the things in the boxes that Lista lives with. She refuses to say what happened to her sister afterward, or what happened to her so that she survived that attack. Later, we're told she is keeping a dead baby. She is altogether less sweet and sane. I concluded that her story about her sister was about herself. (hide spoiler)]
By the way, I love Eugene Hutz in that movie, so much, so much. Alex is no one else. I would give him 68 Oscars. (What am I saying, 69.) 11 Oscars for the dog, also.
What this book raises, though, is of such great value that it isn't important whether its style delivers your favorite book ever or not. I gave this copy of the book to my sister some years ago after she'd read it from the library and said that she had so many things to decide about it, she had to read it again. I'm glad I finally did too, because I want to keep answering the questions — Alex's, as much as Jonathan's.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
To be fair, I've only read issues 2 and 3 of this book, so I suppose I'm not sure. I was pleased with it in the beginning, thinking that it was nice t...moreTo be fair, I've only read issues 2 and 3 of this book, so I suppose I'm not sure. I was pleased with it in the beginning, thinking that it was nice to get some flesh to the scenes starting off the war, and I'm particularly familiar with Agamemnon's involvement so I liked to see that dramatized. But then, suddenly, nine years of the war went by. Oh! Well that was easy! Goodbye, war! I did not realize that you were all going to fit inside this 5-issue series! And mainly into two issues of it!
The pace was pretty bad in itself, but I also lost patience with the writing style -- overly indulgent in the old-timey language, I think. I, son of blah, will join with blahh, for mine is a blah blahh. It makes all the exposition sound almost parodic. But I think if the plotting was more sensible, that would be ok. Style can be tempered.
However, the panel where Artemis carries up the spirit of Iphigenia was AWESOME and I said "ooooooooh COOL" out loud, so that gets a star. And almost any retelling, to me, is a good thing. It gives us the chance to practice the story in pieces, until it's perfect. I might look into Thomas's Iliad.(less)
Meg gave me this as a DailyLit gift a couple weeks ago when I needed it, and she recommended "take one before bedtime" and I did. Well I tried. Practi...moreMeg gave me this as a DailyLit gift a couple weeks ago when I needed it, and she recommended "take one before bedtime" and I did. Well I tried. Practice is hard.
Poetry, I don't know you very well, but it's pretty awesome when you work out. This collection starts with a couple of longer pieces, which I liked a lot, particularly "Interim".
Here 'twas as if a weed-choked gate Had opened at my touch, and I had stepped Into some long-forgot, enchanted, strange, Sweet garden of a thousand years ago And suddenly thought, "I have been here before!"(less)
I made a mistake with this book. I read the author bio before I read the book, and I decided that I don't agree with...moreOh hey I won a First Reads thingy.
I made a mistake with this book. I read the author bio before I read the book, and I decided that I don't agree with the author about some things, so I was going to be disappointed in the book. I shouldn't have done that, because I liked the book a lot. Remember to make decisions in the proper order.
The book has a rustic feeling similar to the feeling in Bridge to Terabithia, which has less of a connection to the current events of its period. I think this book has a great concept and way of connecting to the history in it. Bertie's worries, environment, and family are realistic and good. Her intimidating father and grandfather are true. The threat of "the woodshed" is duly terrifying, and its outcome is genuinely surprising. Her brave big sister Tami who moves into the camper out back so she can write a play over summer vacation is awesome.
And Bertie, poor Bertie. She is a really good kid, though she has lessons to learn about courage. The main letdown of the story, I think, may largely be the fault of the flap copy: the promise of Bertie confronting "an ugly truth about herself" isn't quite met by the end. Still, her serious anxiety and massive sensitivity are extraordinarily relatable and useful for the story, and my heart went out to her. I hoped she'd have a great sympathy for herself when she is older.(less)
I was intimidated by beginning this book for a long time, but once I did I was really pleased with it. It was much more reachable than I'd feared, and...moreI was intimidated by beginning this book for a long time, but once I did I was really pleased with it. It was much more reachable than I'd feared, and I enjoyed it a lot. It managed to surprise me, too, because it changes so suddenly in the middle, but I think the first half was what I liked best. The drifting thoughts among this group of people are so, so good.
Then the middle section about the house that really is about nothing -- nothing at all is going on and pretty much no one is there -- is weird, but wow some of those sentences, the writing was beautiful. The drifting form returns at the end, and there are some really amazing insights, but it didn't feel as magical as the beginning and I lost a little patience. The depiction of the moody, harsh parent and the siblings united, though, was something.
One of the stars in this rating belongs entirely to the line,
"Nature has but little clay like that of which she moulded you."
which may be my favorite sentence I've read. My other favorite passage was near the end, when Cam describes visiting the men in the study when she is "all in a muddle". I also liked the girls' names a lot: Prue, Minta. And I wished we'd seen more than a paragraph of Nancy, because Nancy was sort of hilarious.
My ISBN apparently matches this edition, but what I actually read looks like this. Chris's mom bought it for me at the Niantic Book Barn in 2005, possibly because I may have read somewhere it is Rennie Sparks's favorite book. Well, that's me for you.(less)
2.5 stars, but I'll round up because I think I am being cranky. I lost some patience with this after a point. I didn't enjoy Delirium very much, and t...more2.5 stars, but I'll round up because I think I am being cranky. I lost some patience with this after a point. I didn't enjoy Delirium very much, and their journey looked somewhat pointless after a while. I just didn't really get an impact out of the story -- it felt as if I'd skipped an entire volume, which would have explained Dream's broken heart and why he felt the other things he expressed, about Orpheus, and the "need" to find his brother. There was a lot of portent without a lot of connection to me. A little humdrum, compared to the crazed detail of other Sandman stories.(less)
Another 2.5 stars, but I'm kind of getting tired of rounding these up. This book is rather close to the end of the series -- why doesn't it mean anyth...moreAnother 2.5 stars, but I'm kind of getting tired of rounding these up. This book is rather close to the end of the series -- why doesn't it mean anything? There have been so many short stories in this series already.
As a framework for the stories it worked ok all together. And Brant's epiphany at the end was really nice, and Charlene's outburst. I even liked the spooky end of the Necropolis story even though the rest of it is all sorts of things I don't like. I actually missed the Dream King.(less)
Pretty sure I borrowed this from Meg over two years ago. Sorry Meg! Thanks Meg!
On the title page is what seems to be a stamp mark from a used book sto...morePretty sure I borrowed this from Meg over two years ago. Sorry Meg! Thanks Meg!
On the title page is what seems to be a stamp mark from a used book store in Kho Tao, Thailand. There is probably a good story there for Meg to tell in comments.
I'm not the most practiced short story reader, with only medium Lorrie Moore exposure. In high school I got a copy of Birds of America at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Chicago, because I liked the stickers on the cover and because that store always made me feel more literary than I was really going to be. I didn't finish the book. I did really like a New Yorker story a few years later, though.
I was a little disappointed with these, but it was good to try again. 4 stars for the one about the playwright and for the one about the history professor, 2.5 stars for everything else. Both of those great ones take place (at least partly) in NYC, which I didn't expect, and they do strike a chord. Strange to read stories set in Wisconsin malls/Times Square streets I am equally familiar with.
I was totally surprised by the semi sci-fi element of the title story. I can't say I truly liked it, though. It reminded me of what worked so well in the Meg Rosoff book How I Live Now, its showing and not telling the impact of an alternate-history war the reader won't understand. This one didn't feel so elegant or even necessary, and it sticks out kind of weirdly from the totally normal naturalism of every other story I'm aware that she writes.(less)
Read via DailyLit in 145 parts over about 5 months. Took a break for a while, but read the last 30 or so at once over the weekend. I love clickin' tha...moreRead via DailyLit in 145 parts over about 5 months. Took a break for a while, but read the last 30 or so at once over the weekend. I love clickin' that "send next installment" link, oh I do.
Now that I'm done giggling over the subtitle on a German edition I just saw: Sitten in der Provinz, let's be serious.
I didn't grow too attached to this book, but I still really liked reading it. The public domain version (I can't find the translation info) is extremely readable, and Flaubert's style is so clear and attentive. So much of the description in the narrative is wonderful, the settings all extremely knowable. In general the author's view became the most compelling aspect: this book basically seems to be about people being tragically stupid. No one here is very nice, nor worthy of niceness, and though that's a little depressing, it's not without truth. Flaubert's eye is merciless, and still he seems to pity the fools.
Even though she's for the most part greatly unsympathetic, Emma never stops being interesting to read about. Her first intoxications with luxury and sensual living make a lot of sense, as does her boredom with her marriage, and her relationship with Leon (both times) is actually rather likable. Her relationship with Rodolphe, in between, wasn't as good -- he's plain smarmy, but it started to be sort of exciting, and then it was over. As her problems piled up with the debts and the secondary characters, I didn't feel so interested, but I guess this book isn't really about the plot.
Like ok, how about we talk about Charles. Oh Charles. Mr. Bovary. I think you were my favorite character. Because Charles: you suck so much, you are actually kind of cute. It's just pathetic. You're the FAIL cat. On and on you go, being so very dumb, so very oblivious, and so very bad at parenting, money, and your job. Oh my gosh you're the worst doctor. The horrible episode with the stable boy and his amputation. So disastrously embarrassing, it was almost funny. But not exactly.
(Sidebar: the old-fashioned medical terms actually add a lot throughout the book; it was worth looking them up to see exactly how wrong or just plain grim they all are.)
By the end, I didn't think that I'd cared very much for the book, because I wasn't quite sure what its purpose really was. But it managed to make that very clear in the last few sections, and I was pleasantly surprised. Even though it is awfully depressing, the long horrible death scene (SO LONG), and the pitiful responses of everyone. The message is pretty clear. Folks are a letdown. And luxury is sort of a joke.
I stopped reading this in the winter of 2004, my bookmark on page 90 told me. Not worth waiting for, unfortunately. 1.5 stars, rounding up because I d...moreI stopped reading this in the winter of 2004, my bookmark on page 90 told me. Not worth waiting for, unfortunately. 1.5 stars, rounding up because I don't want to have guilt about this one.
Partially, I was let down by the reason I picked up the book again: I wanted to read the story of a family's move from the D.R. to NYC. That story right there. You know, "how they lost their accents". Like in the title. I kind of thought we might hear about that. From the title. But not really. Maybe I am having that problem where I just want the book to be a different book, which isn't really an honest criticism. But I would find that imaginary book far more interesting than the rather familiar retread of hangups and boyfriends and childhood we do get. As a cultural study, it felt bloodless, though technically correct.
There are way too many things going on, and that makes it super boring. And there's some really poor writing, in character and tone and voice and plot. Really clunky sentences, like "Many workers take that shortcut to work." Oh. So that's where they're going? The workers... Slow down, I'M CONFUSED. And the willy-nilly change of voice feels weird and unearned -- why is this chapter in the first when other chapters are in the limited third? And whence this omniscient first-person narrator who is "everyone" or something? I felt like I needed a red pen.
I wouldn't have minded as much, but too many things didn't stack up -- it was confusing and unclear what the father's profession even was until about 60% of the way in, and 100% of the way in you still have no idea what his actual involvement was in political crimes at home. And there's guava orchards in places there weren't supposed to be guava orchards. And why don't we know if Yolanda stays. And so much stilted, useless information that when I finally read something interesting, it was way too late.
And can I even start with the naked artist guy imprisoned on a chain in a shed? Was it supposed to be "outrageous"? Why is the scene one page long? WTF was that?? I thought I must be reading wrong. That's not exactly hilarious. If the genders were reversed, imagine.
I liked the girls ok when they were children. And I like my cover better than the current ISBN's.
Well I just started reading this. Here is something about that. I won't even save it til I write the proper review, because, god.
F to this volume's in...moreWell I just started reading this. Here is something about that. I won't even save it til I write the proper review, because, god.
F to this volume's introduction. F F F F F F it. There is the most giant spoiler in this introduction, and I didn't even read it. I'm so annoyed. It's just sitting there in a conspicuous spot on the page, and I think that's on purpose. I saw it as I flipped past and my jaw dropped, so then I stared at it, and ugh. This guy. It is just the most flippant and obnoxious way to drop a spoiler. So there! NOW YOU KNOW. Isn't it just like Hamlet!?
It made turning the page to start the actual book into the saddest, crappiest feeling. SERIOUSLY. I preferred to PUT THE BOOK DOWN and come out here and RANT ON THE INTERNET, it made the start so sour. BAD JOB, dude.
I don't know. I'm not trying to be a whiner and claim the experience is really "spoiled", but I am just not in the mood for it. It's the wrong type of story for this. Why not have the jaw drop at its appropriate time? Why not grapple with the idea when I know what it is for? You're forcing me to read it your way, and that sucks.
If you want to compare it to Hamlet that is great. If you think it is awesome that the book ends the way it ends, THAT'S FANTASTIC. Then why don't you introduce Book 10! Or, I mean Book 7 didn't even have anything special happen and they moved the introduction to the end to preserve the story. I don't get it. A dick move.
Anyway. Interested how this will shake out, but I wish it could just feel like a normal story I will probably like. Now it's all ANGSTY.
Ha ha get it.
Well. My issues with the spoiler aside, this was a pretty good read. I think I'm going to let my thoughts on the ending simmer until I read the next book, so no spoilers, this time, from me.
I'm having a small crisis because I really want to round this up to 4 stars, but I can't justify it. It's a really important part of the series, and it's long and a lot of interesting things are going on -- but also, a lot of it doesn't make sense. I don't exactly know what everyone was doing there, or even what actually happened or why. It might be enigma to unfold in the last volumes? But I feel like it's not.
There was a nice best-of quality to the story. It was really, really nice to see Rose Walker again, who made Book 2 awesome awesome. (But I'm so annoyed with the issues drawn by the guy who makes her look like a softcore schoolgirl. What is up with them?) Also great to see Thessaly again, from Book 5 which I loved, matter-of-fact and fixing things up, but being really creepy about it. Not that I understood what she was doing? But hey.
The main story with Hippolyta seeking her baby was ok, though in a familiar mold. The clue that something weird is going on, her occasional super-strength, isn't quite present enough to make me very interested, and I still don't quite understand it. The part with the Gorgons is neat. The Furies/Fates are ok. I guess it's all right to moosh them together into the same entities? I think that's what was up? Man this book was unclear.
My second date with my new best friend George Eliot. I didn't love it like I loved The Mill on the Floss, which is fine. I'm not sure that I want to...moreMy second date with my new best friend George Eliot. I didn't love it like I loved The Mill on the Floss, which is fine. I'm not sure that I want to love all things that way.
I'm rounding up the rating here because though it was a much more difficult read, I have near as much awe for what she is capable of. The thing that I find in George Eliot, and in almost nothing else, is a telling of the truth that sounds like a magic, definitive lesson. Her statements are just and perfect. And in both books, the conflicts have somehow made me feel the story touches my life deeply. As an adult, I find very few stories strong enough to reach there.
Here, she brings across important thinking about duty and debt and trust, belonging and home, self-interest on a macro level. The truth of some conclusions on those subjects were painful to read. I will need to revisit these thoughts. And parentage seems to be important here -- I noticed there are four father figures in the book: Romola's, her husband's, her godfather, and her converter and "father" Savonarola. The comparison between them is not explicitly drawn, but I paid it attention anyway. In the end, Romola herself seems to belong on that list symbolically as well. It's a good ending.
But. Very long stretches of this book are very hard to read. I felt exasperated by the entire first half. 50% of a pretty long book is a lot of distaste, so some more balanced presentation of character insight would have been good for me. I felt like I waited forever to see what Romola was like, and why the book is named after her. And something about the style in which Eliot delivers the bulk of the setting -- the history lessons, the political goings-on, the inhabitants and aspect of Florence at the turn of the 16th century -- just did not go, for me. I did not befriend it. It was far, far too dry and exact to enjoy.
Which is ok, actually; that is just my reading. But it was strange feeling the parts of the book I really valued were often being eclipsed by her accuracy. And yet, it is perfectly right for her to have worked so hard to achieve it, and that's the way it should be.
**spoiler alert** Ok so. This thing about how Dream has died. Somehow. Though he's not really a living thing, but all right. In the last book, where t...more**spoiler alert** Ok so. This thing about how Dream has died. Somehow. Though he's not really a living thing, but all right. In the last book, where that happened, I was disappointed. Since I found out about it at the beginning, I was waiting for something big to cause it -- a severe sacrifice, or a severe miscalculation, something severe enough to justify such a big leap. But I'm disappointed in the reasoning. I don't think readers really understand the Orpheus thing, because while it looked like a big deal, no one said very much about it. So why did this really have to happen?
And, this is important, but controversial: I don't think Dream is strong enough of a character to pull us into a tragedy with him. I think that actually this is one of those series where the title character is one of the least compelling pieces. He is cool, but I think that he rarely appears to be anything. His most vibrant moments are mostly when his sister Death is talking with him, because she is awesome. 5 stars for Death. So much so that I wondered, was this idea just an excuse to get her in the picture to say some really good stuff to him? But that's not it.
And I don't buy him as reluctant sullen romantic anti-hero -- the whole thing with Nuala's being in love with him after being his servant for so long and inadvertently dooming him by calling him to her, just, no. Thessaly's story about their relationship is at least somewhat intriguing, though not really in line with the Dream King we've seen.
There's some nice endings in this book, but not a lot of answers, which is what I hoped for. I still don't really get why this happened to Dream, and why baby Daniel took his place. Among other things. I felt frustrated that the funeral was followed by a bunch of short stories, because I needed more of the real story. The art in this volume is the most wonderful in the whole series, though, a huge improvement over the solidly icky looking Book 9. And Matthew the raven's angst was really good.
I wonder what the heck is going to be in Book 11.(less)
This is a really good idea for a story collection, so I'm really glad this exists as an addendum, or whatever it is. It would have been good to have h...moreThis is a really good idea for a story collection, so I'm really glad this exists as an addendum, or whatever it is. It would have been good to have had more of this through the rest of the series, actually. The rest of the Endless are at least as interesting as Dream, and often moreso.
Unfortunately the stories didn't really help with the feeling that some of them are underdeveloped, more concepts than characters. Destiny's chapter, for example -- what's the point? It's not particularly poetic. I still don't know what he does except carry this book. While lacking story and new information on the character, the poetic chapter for Despair is still really really good. Destruction's was my second favorite, because it managed something of a story too. Most of the rest of them are also well worth reading.
But it's a little annoying to have a 100% completion on this series now and still have a lot of canonical questions. What happened to "the first Despair", and to Delight? Those are probably really good ideas of Gaiman's, so they should probably have been stories, and this was the opportunity. It's good to keep me thinking about it, but I'd probably be thinking about it even more if I knew the answers.(less)