Oh, Holmes. I know you can be a miserable bastard but I love you so. Even though the actual crimes and solutions are not overly interesting, your noncOh, Holmes. I know you can be a miserable bastard but I love you so. Even though the actual crimes and solutions are not overly interesting, your nonchalant badassness and cutting wit when solving crimes keeps me coming back. Also, you're best in short stories. Novels allow Doyle too much time to write long, boring descriptions. I love you the most when you're short and snappy. And you're so much better than all the derivative brilliant but flawed (and often misanthropic) investigators on TV nowadays.
Also, you are played by Hugh Laurie in my head, as is only right....more
Ishiguro excels at unreliable, stoic narrators with dark pasts that they refuse to acknowledge. Stevens is the consummate English butler – he is discrIshiguro excels at unreliable, stoic narrators with dark pasts that they refuse to acknowledge. Stevens is the consummate English butler – he is discrete, dignified, and will do anything in the service of his employer. Unfortunately, Stevens is so busy being emotionally closed-off and inhabiting the role of butler that he fails to actually live his own life.
Another Ishiguro specialty is creating mysteries in non-mystery stories because of the complete unreliability of his narrators. The question of what really happened? looms large. It pulls the story along, even as Stevens meanders through the English countryside. Some questions are never truly answered – you still have to sift through Stevens’ broken memories and elusive references to understand an objective truth.
It is clear that Stevens respected his father, but had a troubled relationship with such an emotionally reserved workaholic. He was also in love with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton – who seems to have returned his feelings (why, God only knows). Unfortunately, Stevens is completely incapable of expressing himself, or even really acknowledging any deep emotions. Stevens was also absolutely loyal to Lord Darlington, a good-hearted, naïve, terribly misguided man who (view spoiler)[fell in with fascists and Nazis while trying to create a better world (hide spoiler)]. Even when Lord Darlington took actions that Stevens disagreed with, like dismiss two Jewish maids, Stevens refuses to express any public disapproval. His lord’s opinions are his own opinions. His lord can do no wrong. Hell, if this was Nazi Germany, Stevens would’ve gone along with whatever his Nazi master asked of him. Stevens is honorable for having loyalty, but he is tragic because he doesn't have the discretion to use it wisely. Just as Lord Darlington is honorable for trying to improve the world, but tragic because he believes the wrong people. I think part of the tragedy is that if Stevens had been honest with Lord Darlington, he might have persuaded him to take a better direction. Lord Darlington used Stevens as a sounding board – but never understood that Stevens was simply a yes-man. Stevens might have been able to save Lord Darlington from himself (then again, maybe not).
Stevens, because he could not take pride in his own actions or decisions (as they were not his own, only the shadows cast by Lord Darlington), took great pride in being close to Great Men doing Great Things. He never sees himself as capable of doing anything important – but he is happy to be in the presence of importance. That’s why he preened so much in front of the villagers who mistook him for a gentlemen and bragged about being near Churchill.
It’s also sad that Stevens, as loyal to Lord Darlington as he was in life, tries to disassociate from him in death. Whenever anyone gets close to making the connection between Stevens and Lord Darlington, Stevens disassembles or lies outright. Maybe because Stevens is embarrassed about dedicating his life to a man who became so vilified. Or maybe because Stevens knows he was wrong for supporting Lord Darlington’s misguided beliefs. I don’t know.
I’m a little worried for Stevens – what will become of him when he can no longer work? Will he, like his father, quickly fade away? Stevens is now working for an American gentleman, Mr. Farraday, and is going to work on his “bantering” – because Stevens is so stiff and reserved, he has never learned how to joke. Poor Stevens. He was built for a different age. ...more
This is the tale of a family of children who don’t even have to run away from home to have an adventure. Their family’s vacation home is on a lake with an enticingly empty island in the middle. The children (the “Swallows”) get permission to camp out there (by themselves!!!) for several days. There, they explore, cook for themselves, boat over to a local farmer for their daily milk, and run into the “Amazons,” two sisters who play at being pirates and challenge the Swallows to a contest in which whoever captures the other’s ship wins.
This is very much a British children’s adventure story. Obviously the target audience is kids and it is written for them. I think it got on the BBC list because of readers’ fond memories and deep childhood attachment to the book. But it was also enjoyable for someone quite beyond childhood. It was imaginative and fun and the Swallows and Amazons were decent and brave and wonderful. ...more
I feel like I should like this book, but I don’t. I also don’t like Virginia Woolf, for the same reason (too boring). What kind of feminist am I!?!?!?I feel like I should like this book, but I don’t. I also don’t like Virginia Woolf, for the same reason (too boring). What kind of feminist am I!?!?!?
Essentially, this is the adult female version of The Catcher in the Rye. I loved Catcher in the Rye. I think partly that’s because I love sibling dynamics in fiction, so the whole relationship with dead older brother Allie and younger sister Phoebe struck a chord. And also I was a little younger than Holden when I first read it and in my mind he became a bit of an antihero bad boy love interest and I really wanted him and Sally to get together. So my secret shipping kept me hooked (I was 14, okay?...Not that I can say with full honesty that it wouldn’t happen again if I read it now).
That is a long, rambling way to say that The Bell Jar had neither (1) the sibling drama (2) a secret shipping/romantic subplot I totally just made up in my head, which left it with Catcher's (a) slightly stilted writing (b) a crumbling, slightly rambling narrator.
It’s a good look into how much it sucked to be a woman in the 50s/60s, which really wasn’t long ago. It’s also a good luck at mental illness, what it’s like to have it and, again, how much it sucked to be mentally ill in the 50s/60s.
I think it would be great to take some college class where this is part of the syllabus, especially a history class on that period. There’s plenty to discuss. But as a free-time read, it just couldn’t hold my attention. ...more
Bryson is quickly becoming incredibly aggravating. He’s one of those authors I want to give up on, but I’m holding out hope that he is not always thisBryson is quickly becoming incredibly aggravating. He’s one of those authors I want to give up on, but I’m holding out hope that he is not always this annoying. He is basically a grumpy old man with dad jokes. When he does drop in historical tidbits it’s interesting, but everything else is just blah or bleh. Bryson browbeats a poor fast food employee for asking him if he wants an apple turnover with his meal. He is just so offended that this guy repeats the line that his company probably makes him say – because clearly Bryson does not want an apple turnover. Bryson, just politely decline like a decent human being! Good grief, man! Stop being such a jerk! ...more