How did a 181 page book take me THAT long to read? It was the very best snooze fest. I'm still perplexed and can barely formulate a sincere response.How did a 181 page book take me THAT long to read? It was the very best snooze fest. I'm still perplexed and can barely formulate a sincere response. This will take some thinkin on.... Almost leaning to 3*** but so much of it was so striking and inspiring. Dilemmas....more
Started out quickly and enjoyable, but so difficult to be moved by this in contrast to the stunning performance by Julianne Moore. Her character unequStarted out quickly and enjoyable, but so difficult to be moved by this in contrast to the stunning performance by Julianne Moore. Her character unequivocally trumps *this* Alice Howland, in my opinion. The other characters in the family weren't as well developed or well-defined in this as in the movie either. With a third-person narrative that should never ever ever be the case. And, completely unforgivable, the last passage read by Lydia to her mother that made me BAWL-out-loud during the movie was not even set forth in the book!? The reader has no idea what she even said that clicked with her mother on one final occasion. Made a closing scene that should inherently be profound totally lackluster.
A great premise for a novel, but in practice it would benefit immensely from a first-person narrative. Instead of an omniscient narrator referring to now-eluded ideas and objects as "thingies" as Alice's mind slowly deteriorates, SHOW us that through Alice's FIRST PERSON EXPERIENCE. It's the all too common show-us-not-tell us failure. Le sigh.
And finally, too many "he said-she saids" - grant your audience a little credit to be able to follow a simple dialogue.
It was also a beacon for Harvard. To be expected given the smug author photo and her background. Harvard doesn't always need to be referred to as "Haaaaahrvaahrd University." Harvard suffices even for us "commoners" - kinda pretentious you seem, Ms. Genova....more
Bechdel displays an impressive command of language in a medium with an impact intended in its drawings. Her life, served up and exposing all vulnerabiBechdel displays an impressive command of language in a medium with an impact intended in its drawings. Her life, served up and exposing all vulnerabilities: wonderful and tragically humorous. The references to literature really drew me in; Bechdel has a keen sense for finagling impressively profound parallels between the authors themselves, their works, and the circumstances of a person's life (particularly her father's). ...more
Baffling. This is incredibly difficult to rate. So why 5 stars? Foremost, it's utterly superlative as a work of art, almost moving to the point of teaBaffling. This is incredibly difficult to rate. So why 5 stars? Foremost, it's utterly superlative as a work of art, almost moving to the point of tears at times. On the other hand, once in a while Elizabeth Smart ****(not to be confused with the abducted Mormon memoirist by the same name, as Goodreads does! see "Books by [this author]" on page)**** drops a bomb that you cannot help but laugh out loud at. And the befuddling part is I'm still not clear whether these lines are introduced for the sake of their own ridiculousness and whether the response Smart begets (from this reader, at least) is intended.
See ALL THIS (not necessarily appearing chronologically):
Yes, but I get confused. One day she saw a golden oriel in the orchard. One day she said, Then have your orgy with Blondie, work out your passion on her.
[WHO IS BLONDIE? The effing golden BIRD?]
...and in the paragraph directly following:
I see it all, the poop of burnished gold. If I got angry and made a scene?
Yep, orgies and poop.
Poop. Though it's quite possible she intends the deck of a ship. But come on!
Were you intending to commit fornication in Arizona? [Gotta admit this is at least slightly comical, universally, yes?]
The anaesthetist was an artist, he had armpits just like chalices, just to see a top hat gave him an erection, he'd have no trouble getting into the army. [Non sequitur, much?]
my shame copulates with every September housefly
On the fence re how I feel about this line: My love, why did you leave me on Lexington Avenue in the Ford that had no brakes?
However, open up the book to any page and plop your finger down on an arbitrary sentence and you will experience a thing of pure beauty in isolation. But there are a good number of absurdities littered throughout, even more than those I've cited. But the mesmerizing vastly outweighs the absurd, in both potency and frequency. Many excerpts copied below.
I would be remiss to neglect the fact that the text is extremely difficult to process and interpret. Feels very academic but also indulgent. By my estimation, there's no real plot, per se. Its aim seems more to communicate the depth of feeling, with action and event only serving as a cleverly alluded to instrument to do so. I highly recommend it as it will probably not torture you (!) but, at the same time, it may also fail to delight you. Which may suggest 3-stars, but this was anything but average. In a way, my laughing outbursts, perhaps an unintended consequence amid all the goosebumps I was hit with, served only to enhance my experience reading this. This work will certainly stick with me and, after writing the review, I can now reconcile my tendency to a 5-star rating.
Also to love: something about it is reminiscent (for me) of Edgar Allan Poe.
Lastly, let's pit the above har-har quotes up against this splendiferously poetic indulgent goodness:
the pity after all, not the love, fills all his twenty-four hours
On the grass, under the pines, I sit up starkly, for even to recline reminds me of the stances of love, and I am unable to bear the pain of so much remembering. Then I wander uphill, contemplating my feet with a desperate fierce lack of all feeling, and I say, O is she too pressing her feet into the service of sedative monotony?
But quia amore langueo. I am dying for love. This is the language of love.
Pull down the blinds, my embryo, over my eyes.
Across the room she lies livid with grief and love, legendary and stony as a Catholic Cathedral.
Their disciplined tears will grow grass so green it touches untouched hearts.
Every brick was blood. The spire gored her for christening, even while her upturned face expected the kiss of Christ. The stones are smooth because her agony rolled them out... Three times she was martyred, but the third time she truly died.
My room echoes with the screams she never uttered, and under my floor the vines of remorse get ready to push up through the damp... I mislay any items of cruelty's fiendish inventory.
I am blind, but blood, not love, blinded my eye. Love lifted the weapon and guided my crime, locked my limbs when, like a drowning man with the last lifeboat in sight, her anguish rose out of the sea to cry Help, and now over that piercing face superimposes the cloudy mask of my desire.
Will there be a birth from all this blood, or is death only exacting his greedy price?
I wonder why no one has noticed I am dead and taken the trouble to bury me" [...] "I lounge with glazed eyes, or weep tears of sheer weakness.
I writhe in desperation, screaming his name, as my germ dwindles, as the whole universe withers, like a corolla no bee ever found.
It says, I remain, I AM, I shall never cease to be: your memory will grow a deathly glaze: you will forget, you will fade out, but I cannot be undone.
For who plans suicide sitting in the sun? It is the pile of dust under the bed, the dirty sheets that were never washed, that precipitate fatal action.
The dogwood is dropping its ears. It is overpowered by summer. So is coquetry overpowered by procreancy. I grow too unwieldy to dance the minuet.
The sight of that mad face in the half-lit room drove me to prayers and loud noise. Your own shadow meeting you announces the end. A too likely and too imminent feature gnawed that face to death. But then the electric light burned out, and the bleak dawn showed only enlarged pores and the remnants of yesterday's cosmetics.
I dare not grasp either life or death from the ghoulish palm that offers them.
No, no one will pity you here where failure is the same as shame, and tears anachronisms, out of place even in cinemas.
So there will be no obsequies. There is to be no mention of that which was to have conquered the world, and after the world, death. Not one of all those martyrs nailed to every tree in the western hemisphere will find favour in the editor's measuring eye. On the amusement page, to fill up space, one inch and a half, perhaps, of those who were forced to die. Butter is up ten cents. The human being is down.
The pain was unbearable, but I did not want it to end: it had operatic grandeur. [Incidentally, my sentiments upon finishing this story somewhat echo that.]
And, of course, that impeccable title line. ...more
Solidly 4.5 and rounded up. Reflections on the past through three different perspectives - two students and a literature teacher at an international hSolidly 4.5 and rounded up. Reflections on the past through three different perspectives - two students and a literature teacher at an international high school in Paris. I gather that it's about five years after the fact. I'm amazed that I was kept up until about 3am the three nights I spent reading it considering that it nearly always reiterates the plot points through at least two of these three different characters. Obviously there is immense power in perspective, especially when characters are crafted so finely and have been honed by their experiences to see diversely different truths.
It is impossible to understand reality divorced of who we are as we face it. Perception contains inherent bias. This is actually a theme explored in the high school classroom with students interpreting the texts of both Faulkner and Camus, and it is eminently true for those students when confronting the world and their place in it.
Yes, there's scandal, but the scandal seems to be a vehicle to deliver profound ideas. Realizing in a moment the fallibility of an idol and the naivety in idol worship. Doubting self, doubting others, doubting your surroundings.
While the praise on the cover is substantial and by and large from legitimate lit review publications, I'm surprised there isn't more buzz among readers. I feel I'd never have heard of it if I hadn't traveled to the end of the webbernets ....so now that you know about it, you should read it ;-]...more
Even if you are familiar with the life of Frida Kahlo (i.e., her bio), you still are quite likely out of touch with her inner life as researched and pEven if you are familiar with the life of Frida Kahlo (i.e., her bio), you still are quite likely out of touch with her inner life as researched and profoundly painted for us by Drakulić.
She forays into the mind of Frida and the depth of physical and emotional pain that simply cannot be divorced from who she is or from the observer's ability to fully appreciate the art she prolifically created, often from a near-paralyzed, horizontal and bed-bound physical state. She explores the subject both as third-person descriptions and alternates that with Frida's impeccably crafted first-person perspective.
She begins with the poignant quote by Kahlo, Mi pintura lleva el mensaje del dolor (TR: "My painting carries the message of pain"), which is a catalyst for the entire experience. And it is an experience. As a reader, you will truly identify with the intensity of the suffering Frida battled in all her short-lived years. With Drakulić's assistance, all of this is now able to be keenly felt.
Drakulić has an immense talent for metaphor. She conveys so much symbolically. On the other hand, when offering a literal explanation of the feelings of pain I very often longed for a synonym (or twenty) as this term was hella overused. Still reconcilable, all things considered.
My only consolation, if consolation it is, is that I made as much out of my life as I could.
The loneliness was always worse than the pain; pain had condemned her to a lifetime of loneliness.
One thing to note, there are no chapters in the book, so it's hard to stop and start, but it is a pretty quick (though intense) read, and albeit, it does require a lot of undivided attention. I think that forgoing chapters can work in many cases, but for the purposes of expressing Frida's life, it's a detractor, because in her eventful life, despite her limitations, there were many punctuations, set-backs, 180-degree reversals. Chapters could be a useful device to convey this effect beyond what she accomplishes in words.
One way she does punctuate is through the use of remarkably vivid descriptions of her paintings. I'm not sure if these impressions are the author's own, or if they are actual reviews at the time of Frida's acclaim.
She did not believe that she was famous even when the Louvre bought one of her self-portraits.
My paintings were a guide into the world of show and duplicity. Painting was the only safe place for me, a place of truth, a refuge. The only place where I could really be myself.
Frida is weeping because there is absolutely nothing that can be done, because this is her fate.
I want to forage into more of Drakulić's work as this is a paragon of the myriad ways she stands apart from conventional authors.
Choice excerpts (to remind myself at some later date just how much this is worth another read):
I feel as if I learned everything all at once, in an instant. My friends are gradually becoming women, but I aged instantaneously.
I know that everything after the the accident was merely a tactic to indulge in escapism and self-delusion.
Frida was already becoming aware of what would become the hallmark of her paintings: their power of speech.
you experience your own end; there is no recovery, only temporary respite
You said that it was just a superficial, physical relationship. *Physical* you said, that is the word you used. How could you have been so thoughtless to say that to me--me, whose body has terrorized my entire life? But I was so taken aback I said nothing.
Not for the faint of heart:
He scrapes the dead tissue from her womb; no point in calling this clump of blood a child. This is her first miscarriage. Soon she will wake up in a cold sweat, feeling nauseous. She will vomit. Her gouged-out womb will continue to bleed for a while. She will feel as if it has been turned inside out.
She knew what she would see when she opened her eyes. To the left of her bed was the night table and on it a tray with a little bottle of Demerol, a syringe, some cotton and alcohol.
She cared more about justifying the Maestro [Diego Rivera] than about Kity [her own sister]
Frida behaved as if Kity did not exist. It was during this period that she had another miscarriage and her toes amputated: an empty womb, wounds, back pain and the feeling of having been completely abandoned.
In reality, her reality, the heart was a crushed, bloody, painful lump that trembled at the sound of its own voice, or at the absence of it.
On her most famed portrait by photographer Nick Murray:
The shawl slid down her smooth skin, baring her neck and shoulders. Its cyclamen color gave her face a brightness that seemed to dispel the dark hardness of her eyes.
my leg brace, aesthetics, and especially the exotic, served me well. I was a good actress. Except everything visible in my life was false. My spouse was not really my husband but my child, and our grand love was just a myth. I needed strength to paint all that.
Suddenly her own lies and self-delusion made her sick. Before, she would have been humiliated by the mere thought that the Maestro felt pity for her, she would have dismissed such feelings as unworthy, as beneath her. But they were still feelings...and she could never get enough of that. At the same time, she convinced herself that she was the giver. What a delusion for someone whose very clothes, paintings, face were positively screaming for people to pay attention to her, her, her...
Instead of a lovely girl [Dorothy Hale], Frida had painted her suicide.
The doctors, of course, would find some probable cause of death and that would be the official version. The image of Frida and her invincible spirit would be preserved for posterity. [...] Only her diary, paintings and drawings of those last few months testified to her disintegration and to her awareness of it. ...more
Abruptly ended with a gaping hole. I enjoyed the story but could reconcile neither that nor the vast difference from the Hitchcock movie I know and soAbruptly ended with a gaping hole. I enjoyed the story but could reconcile neither that nor the vast difference from the Hitchcock movie I know and so adore. No Melanie Daniels to speak of and if you're looking for lovebirds-as-McGuffin, it's not here. Attack by birds is truly the only commonality between her story and the film. I have very much enjoyed other titles by du Maurier and I don't fault her or her writing for my visceral abhorrence. It's clearly just my Alfred Hitchcock/ Tippi Hedren bias at work.
Incidentally, du Maurier's writings were the inspiration for a lot of Hitchcock adaptations. Though I've read that she wasn't impressed with most of them. Perhaps because they tend to deviate so much from her originals. In this case, Hitchcock borrowed a skeleton of a story and let his imagination run wild. The result is leagues apart from this short story.
Gives a much deserved voice to Agnes Magnusdottir, a woman who was quite likely wrongly convicted of a brutal murder in Iceland in 1829 and never giveGives a much deserved voice to Agnes Magnusdottir, a woman who was quite likely wrongly convicted of a brutal murder in Iceland in 1829 and never given an opportunity to be heard. Very well researched with evocative and often disturbing detail. Emotional and moving as Agnes led a remarkably inured life. The story uniquely alternates between the internal thoughts of Agnes and third person perspectives of those with whom she spent her final days before her execution. Delves into the effects on the psyche of knowing you are to be executed but having no inkling as to which day will be your last. Highly recommended, though not for the faint of heart....more
Loved reading the thoughts of the main character mid-conversation and the stark contrast between what he's thinking and what he actually says. The stoLoved reading the thoughts of the main character mid-conversation and the stark contrast between what he's thinking and what he actually says. The story probably won't stick, but that aspect was notable. Lots of familial deception and dysfunction (though, paradoxically, often a snooze fest - ?).
The main character finds himself being schemed by his wife's considerably younger, wayward, extremely privileged and drug-addled brother, whom the couple have welcomed into their home. There was a lot of build up to that duplicity, but the effects on his character were somewhat neglected, contrary to what the official synopsis may suggest. The story kind of just ends-- disappointingly so. ...more
What a compact little work of art on strife, growth and perspective. Here we have a tell-all confessional with what seem to be deliberately incompleteWhat a compact little work of art on strife, growth and perspective. Here we have a tell-all confessional with what seem to be deliberately incomplete details conveyed through Gibbons' slightly unreliable but ever-endearing narrator, Ellen Foster. It's told stream-of-thought (but with distinct awareness of the reader) over the course of a couple of eventful and tortured years in this little girl's world.
I laughed and cried and all the while marveled at how deftly Gibbons handles the nuanced effects of familial abuse, death, loneliness, friendship and racism. Somewhat reminiscent of Carson McCullers in style and setting and also with regard to the social issues that carry the story....more