I feel a little badly giving this book only two stars because it accomplished what it sought out to do, but I also feel there were several glaring omiI feel a little badly giving this book only two stars because it accomplished what it sought out to do, but I also feel there were several glaring omissions in content that I can't seem to ignore. The author is clear in the beginning that she is seeking to provide a complete social history of lesbianism, beginning with ancient society and ending in the present day, but I was expecting at least some insight regarding the genetic research of same-sex predisposition. The author comes close to discussing this when revealing the study of hermaphrodites as it related to women loving women, but anything beyond that is ignored.
Sapphistries does a wonderful job in relaying the history of female masculinity and that of conventional butch-femme relationships in different cultures, but I can't help thinking the book ignores the depiction of lesbian relationships that don't necessarily fall into these categories. This may not be the author's fault as she is working with very limited material, especially when touching on eras in which women were scarcely able to provide written accounts of their personal lives. I may also be a little biased as someone who is considered a "lipstick lesbian" within the gay community. Still, it seemed the author is seduced by labels created by the very society that repressed (and still continues to repress) homosexuals.
What exactly is a "lesbian"? Is a sexual relationship with a woman essential in defining oneself as such, or can one remain celibate while still considering herself homosexual? Also, what defines "sex" between two women? The author attempts to answer these questions in the beginning, stating that for the purpose of the text she will only be examining those who have acted upon their sexual desires for women. While this is fine for what is basically a regurgitation of female same-sex evidence throughout history, I would have liked to have gained some insight on the complexities of human sexuality on an instinctual level. Perhaps the author could have explored how a more open-minded society became more and more amenable to the study of lesbianism not as a mental affliction but as a genetic predisposition having nothing to do with psychological illness. Not that I believe lesbianism is 100% biological. But that's the thing--this book could have helped add to my knowledge of the nature vs. nurture debate as it relates to homosexuality, and it just didn't.
I would still recommend this book for any lesbian looking to learn about Sapphic history, but I would also warn them not to expect much in terms of knowing what makes us tick on the inside. And expect to do a lot of re-reading--this book is chock-full of run-on sentences that tend to make things that much more convoluted....more
A fun read. A bit impractical, but fun just the same. It was amusing to read about some of the more erotic scenes in classic literature, and to see hoA fun read. A bit impractical, but fun just the same. It was amusing to read about some of the more erotic scenes in classic literature, and to see how the author translated these into suggestions on how to spice things up in the bedroom. My only real complaint is that, while the overall design of the book is actually quite beautiful, the text seemed disorganized and poorly edited. The many sections and tools in the book were not logically presented, in my opinion, and it sometimes got in the way of enjoying the airy quality of the writing....more
At the end of his book, Goolrick writes: "The blaze in my heart and brain was caused by the first reading of Micheal Lesy's brilliant book Wisconsin DAt the end of his book, Goolrick writes: "The blaze in my heart and brain was caused by the first reading of Micheal Lesy's brilliant book Wisconsin Death Trip."
Really? Because I thought the plot greatly resembled that horrible Antonio Banderas/Angelina Jolie movie Original Sin.
This book didn't impress me. I couldn't find one original turn of phrase throughout the entire novel, and I quickly grew tired of reading the same overwritten, borrowed words. The writing lacked art. I wasn't allowed to discover anything about the characters that wasn't blatantly obvious, as every event was painfully described to the most redundant degree. The story could have been told using half the words, and it probably would have been better for it. Yes, I understand that Truitt is a sad man who carries a lot of guilt. I also understand that all Catherine wants to do is survive, considering the hand she was dealt. I was beaten over the head with these details, told by way of too much backstory and repetition. At the same time, however, the characters fell flat, which is unfortunate when so many words have been expended to describe them. Odd how that happens...
Goolrick also needs to learn how to write a sex scene. I read a few other reviews that expressed distaste for the amount of sex in the book, but that's not what I've taken issue with. What disturbed me was the quality, not the quantity, of the sex scenes, and the words used to describe certain sexual acts. I was beyond annoyed at the amount of times the word "sex" was actually used to describe genitalia -- "her sex," "his sex," "she grabbed his sex." Seriously? He should be able to do better than that.
There is one reason, and one reason only, that I chose to grant this book two stars instead of one: pacing. I did enjoy watching layers of the story slowly being peeled back, and I felt the timing for this was well executed. The last 100 pages weren't even that bad, and I even enjoyed some parts of the story that were interesting enough to distract me from the sub-par quality of the writing itself. But they didn't last long, and in the end I simply found myself wanting to finish it so I could pick up something else. ...more
Loved most things about this book, but one massive thing kept nagging at me through its entirety--hence the three stars.
I loved the book's characters:Loved most things about this book, but one massive thing kept nagging at me through its entirety--hence the three stars.
I loved the book's characters: voices, quirks, circumstances. Karim was a distinctly unique and entertaining narrator, and I think it's a positive thing that I occasionally wanted to slap him around for being such a prick. I didn't even mind the story's episodic nature, which (to me) can sometimes come across as a way out of having to form any sort of coherent plot. But this wasn't the case for The Buddha of Suburbia, which triumphs in its investment in characters, hence forming an engaging plot around that particular quality.
But what's with the attitude? I always grow a little nervous when I read satire, as it can so easily become contrived, cliché, and pretentious. Unfortunately, at all times, The Buddha of Suburbia exuded one or more of these characteristics. Yeah, I get the message--people always seem to choose unhappiness as long as it's familiar--but it shouldn't be necessary to infuse every aspect of the book with the symbology to reflect this so that I was pummelled with it. I'm sure I'm simplifying the other aspects of Kureishi's commentary, but I just couldn't get past the fact that it's been DONE, the mocking of the suburban lemmings of society. ...more
I need to just accept that I will never prefer what I now call "distance fiction" over to-the-point, astute stories with knock-it-on-the-h2.5, really.
I need to just accept that I will never prefer what I now call "distance fiction" over to-the-point, astute stories with knock-it-on-the-head turns of phrase. Very rarely do I enjoy novels that keep me at arm's length during their entirety, as I grow impatient with digging away at the nuance in order to find some granule of absolute truth, something that will enlighten me or at least cause me to stop and mull things over. This isn't to say that the abstract turns me off--I've actually read several "experimental" and "abstract" novels that have marvelled and enthralled--but there needs to be some concrete within the chaos to win me over.
Not that A Mercy is totally at a distance; the story is clear enough, especially as it unfolds several times over from the perspective of several characters. While the majority of the novel is written in a sort of disjointed, stained-glass-window way, some of the more plot-driven parts are quite riveting. Sadly, for me the novel seemed bogged down by a frustrating game of Peekaboo during which my opponent didn't cooperate. She just didn't show me enough....more
In a manner more eloquent than I could ever manage, this book expresses everything I feel about modern feminism and why it's still very much a necessiIn a manner more eloquent than I could ever manage, this book expresses everything I feel about modern feminism and why it's still very much a necessity.
Heartbreaking. Beautiful. Consuming. These are only a small portion of words that can begin to describe Unless by Carol Shields. Reta Winters' daughter is so overwhelmed by her desire to experience every success and beauty the world has to offer, but her realization that she can never have everything as a woman is too much to bear. As a result, she shuts down: she lives her life on a street corner in Toronto, begging for money and wearing a sign that simply says "Goodness."
"Goodness not greatness." Yes, women can choose whether or not to stay home with their children or have careers. Yes, they have the potential and opportunities to become world leaders, business moguls, successful human beings. But are we completely, truly, utterly equal in that we have every opportunity for actual greatness, not just goodness, that a man does? Unless explores this question in a way that is genuine and sincere, acknowledging our feminine past as well as what still needs to be done for our future.
I cried while I read this book, and when I mulled it over afterward. I feel like it extracted my core and shook it up a bit....more
Inés of my Soul is a fictional account of the true life of Inés Suarez, conquistadora of Chile during the sixteenth century. Allende is "making up" foInés of my Soul is a fictional account of the true life of Inés Suarez, conquistadora of Chile during the sixteenth century. Allende is "making up" for the fact that no true historical account of Suarez's experiences in establishing Chile currently exists.
I loved many things about this book. I very much enjoyed learning about the history of Chile and South America in general, things I knew nothing about before reading this book. It inspired me to research the Spanish occupation of South America and their relations with the aboriginal tribes in the area. Now I also find myself wanting to read those few historical documents that depict the true Inés Suarez, an icon that history hasn't seemed to do justice. I can see why Allende would be attracted to writing about such a powerful woman, seeing as how she played a major role in establishing the first Chilean colony while also ensuring the safety of its people during countless wars. In my opinion (albeit currently somewhat ignorant), Allende did a wonderful job of shaping the voice of Inés Suarez; she transformed Suarez from the almost anonymous historical figure she is into a passionate, admirable woman whose words and actions matter in the grand scheme of things.
The reason I give this book three stars instead of four is that I felt the book could have ended about fifty pages before it did; it seemed Allende grew tired of her own subject but felt the need to explain a few more events in order to achieve a tidy ending. The result, however, is an ending that lacks lustre and poetry, and simply leaves the reader feeling a bit beaten over the head. I'd still recommend the book because of its great balance between education and entertainment, but be warned that the last part of the book is tedious....more
Love, love, love this book. The author, Heather O'Neill, said something in a section at the back of the book that captures its essence perfectly -- shLove, love, love this book. The author, Heather O'Neill, said something in a section at the back of the book that captures its essence perfectly -- she said something about people never writing about the in-between age, that age when you're no longer a child but you're also not even an adolescent. It was interesting to explore a world that addresses homelessness and despair in little people that age....more
For something that has been coined as a "memoir", it didn't allow me to know the author very well. The whole time I was reading the book, I couldn't pFor something that has been coined as a "memoir", it didn't allow me to know the author very well. The whole time I was reading the book, I couldn't pin down her motivations for certain things because I felt she simply didn't make a case for them. I'm not saying she should have immediately come in on the defense for being a stripper (I didn't judge her for it), but considering she was writing a memoir you would think she would talk a little bit more about why she did things or how she felt when she did them. Even when she did glide over her thoughts/feelings, I didn't feel convinced. It's like even she knew that she's great at writing a good story but weak at delving into herself in relation to that story.
That aside, however, I liked the book for what it was: good, clean entertainment. OK, so maybe it wasn't "clean", but I was thoroughly entertained by the author's perspective on the sex trade industry, and it was rather refreshing to find out that not all strippers are socially maladjusted drug addicts. (I didn't think this before, but it was nice to read the words from someone who worked in the industry.)...more
Not as good as Salt, but still pretty great. Mark Kurlansky is quickly becoming my favourite history author. His writing expertly mixes the factual wiNot as good as Salt, but still pretty great. Mark Kurlansky is quickly becoming my favourite history author. His writing expertly mixes the factual with the anecdotal, which makes it a lot easier to retain information. I'm eventually going to read all his books, and I'm especially interested in his book on the Basques....more
I'd been meaning to pick up this book for almost three years, having once seen it on a GoodReads list called "History of Random Things." I thought theI'd been meaning to pick up this book for almost three years, having once seen it on a GoodReads list called "History of Random Things." I thought the list in itself featured a great idea: base a history book on a common item and see how many angles one could uncover. For those who enjoy random trivia, it would be an intriguing way to gain an overview on world history while learning about something you'd never expected to study. I knew Salt would contain some wonderfully random information, but I didn't know just how far the book would reach into the narrative of world events.
Salt is basically a mineral that is formed when an acid and an alkaline collide. There are many different kinds of salt, and our body needs salt to survive even though we do not produce it naturally. This fact alone has forced us to be creative in the ways we obtain salt, either from the earth or the sea. Salt is found in most areas of the world; it's rare that a country does not have salt as a resource. But as with all things that are necessary for human survival, the need for this resource has been exploited by governments and the elite since 2000 BC when the world's first monopoly was established in China on salt. Ever since, countries across time and space have controlled the production of salt, taxed the poor for salt, fought wars over regions that contain salt, and placed tariffs on the transportation of salt. Kurlansky's book provides a complete telling of these events throughout history, beginning with percussion drilling in the Sichuan region of China, to sea salt extraction in the Mediterranean, to the development of the salt mining industry in North America. I thought it astonishing the influence salt had on politics and international relations, even thought it makes perfect sense that the resource would determine the status of a country given its importance to a population's well-being.
I didn't know so many foods originated from salt preservation, or pickling. For the longest time, the cod industry was largely dependent on the salt industry, as salt was needed to preserve the fish long enough to transport it to the masses. Salt prevented famine throughout the world, and I'm sure the earth's population would be a lot lower than it is now had it not been for salt preservation. Kurlansky does an excellent job of expanding the content to include other industries and inventions that developed as a result of salt without losing focus of the main topic. He carries the reader through such interesting stories as the Chinese invention of indoor plumbing as a result of extracting salt from the earth with bamboo, or famed chemist Humphrey Davy's discovery of magnesium, which prevents the corrosion of steel and other light metal alloys. It is in this way that the book exceeds a reader's expectations, as I learned so much more than I thought I would about the world.
Salt is almost never a tedious read despite being dense with information. Kurlansky's writing employs a perfect balance of engagement and precision, even taking the liberty at times to be sarcastic and humorous. It's rare that I anticipate a book this much and that my expectations are exceeded. I'll definitely be reading his book called Cod -- and more history on random things, for that matter....more
The Witches was the first "real" book I ever read, when I was eight. It scared me so much I had nightmares about it, but it inspired within me an obseThe Witches was the first "real" book I ever read, when I was eight. It scared me so much I had nightmares about it, but it inspired within me an obsession with reading and books that I'll carry with me until the day I die.
While the book itself may or may not be worthy of five stars, I gave it five stars simply because of the amazing influence it has had over my life. ...more
**spoiler alert** The last 120 pages of this book captivated me, but everything before this fell flat. Besides a select few mesmerizing scenes (Eamon'**spoiler alert** The last 120 pages of this book captivated me, but everything before this fell flat. Besides a select few mesmerizing scenes (Eamon's declaration of love, Tilman's witnessing true affection), I found the writing a little too verbose for my liking. I wish Klara and Tilman's trip to France had come sooner, as I was totally enthralled from then on. (Although I did deem it a little predictable that Klara got to carve Eamon's name on the monument; however, I still found the ending satisfying largely due to this very thing.)
I might get reamed for this, but why oh why is Canadian literature constantly bogged down by wordy, boring descriptions of landscape? Yes, Canadian landscape is breathtaking and should be represented as such in our literature -- but I've read some wonderful, picturesque descriptions of landscape that don't take up ten pages at a time! These long-winded descriptions, and other beat-you-over-the-head paragraphs, are mainly what kept me from enjoying this book in full....more