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
I haven't seen the movie version, but from what I gather from Wikipedia, there were definite discrepancies.
I liked the first part of this book a lot.I haven't seen the movie version, but from what I gather from Wikipedia, there were definite discrepancies.
I liked the first part of this book a lot. This was Jim as a neglected child of wealthy expats in Shanghai, where it's clear from the outset that he is one of those scrappy, independent boys that are so often the heroes of kid lit. Then the Japanese invasion occurs and Jim is left to run wild as his parents and the other grown-ups he knows are captured. It's like Home Alone, if Macaulay Culkin ended up as a POW instead of outwitting bumbling burglars. This was hands-down my favorite part of the book. It's exciting, because I think it's kind of every kid's dream to run loose throughout the city, do whatever you want (including riding a bike in the house!) and eat whatever you want with no grown-ups telling you what to do. It's terrifying, because Jim is abandoned and alone and any minute some soldier could take him away or shoot him. And it's heartbreaking, because while Jim enjoys his freedom, he feels terribly abandoned and alone.
The middle section was pretty good. This was Jim as a POW. Jim is a ruthless survivor (though with moments of compassion) and it's pretty clear why Jim made it through when so many others didn't. The kid's tough and clever. Children can be good narrators of horrific experiences, because they don't tend to dwell; they view the world with an odd mix of acceptance and curiosity and Jim's no exception.
Then the last section was confusing as frack. This is the end of the war, and I honestly lost the narrative here. It was like the end of Life of Pi. In both cases, I couldn't tell if the confusion was the result of weak writing, or an attempt to show the chaos and disorientation of the end of a long ordeal. ...more
Not one of Murakami’s best, that’s for sure. There’s a lot of the surreal magical elements that Murakami loves, but here it’s more bizarre than usualNot one of Murakami’s best, that’s for sure. There’s a lot of the surreal magical elements that Murakami loves, but here it’s more bizarre than usual and less cohesive. Maybe it’s just that Murakami has only so many characters/story elements in him, so the more I read of him the less I like each new book. ...more
So apparently this little book is a big deal (or at least got on some important literary must-read lists). It was all the rage in French lit during thSo apparently this little book is a big deal (or at least got on some important literary must-read lists). It was all the rage in French lit during the 1950s and scandalized and titillated staid Americans, or some such. And it was written by an 18 year old.
The book is not scandalous by today’s standards (not at all). And it reads like it was written by an 18 year old, with a bit too much pretentiousness and also a really inconsistent main character. Cécile keeps wavering between loving/hating her future stepmother and that is fine, but by the end it’s pretty random which way Cécile is feeling. Sometimes there is no event that causes Cécile’s sudden devotion or sudden vengeance. There was some good stuff here about the flippant bourgeois lifestyle of Cécile and her father colliding with the sophisticated politesse of Anne (her future stepmother). About how Cécile both craves and detests the order that Anne brings. About how beautiful, frivolous, care-free people like Cécile’s father and Elsa (her father's ex-girlfriend) are living on borrowed time, their gaiety masking a future desperation and increasing patheticness. Too bad the writing was stilted (the author or the translation?) and it was a little too ponderous (the author’s age or Frenchness?). ...more
An arctic expedition. A discovery of mysterious creatures buried in the ice. The aftermath of a massacreH.P. Lovecraft is, truly, a master of horror.
An arctic expedition. A discovery of mysterious creatures buried in the ice. The aftermath of a massacre. The ruins of an ancient civilization. And always, always a warning that others should not attempt to follow the narrator’s footsteps, for fear of a greater evil occurring.
And throughout the novel, a sense of lurking dread and eeriness.
This is my first Lovecraft, but it certainly won’t be my last. This is perfect for cold, dark wintery nights. ...more
This book is based on the Chappaquiddick Incident, which I didn't even know had happened before I heard of this book. When he was younger, Senator TedThis book is based on the Chappaquiddick Incident, which I didn't even know had happened before I heard of this book. When he was younger, Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge into the water. He escaped but his young female passenger drowned.
This is a fictionalized version of events, told from the young woman's point of view. The Senator Kennedy figure does not come off well--he's a sexist horndog, who drunkenly drives his car into the water and leaves the girl to her death without a second thought.
The woman in the novel is bright and talented, but places far too much weight on what men think about her and is unwilling to stand up for herself. I think Oates was trying very hard not to create some saint, but instead a normal, maybe not completely likeable girl who you could think of as an innocent victim of a powerful man or a slut who only had herself to blame.
The book was creepy and tragic, but also incredibly repetitive, with a nightmarish/dreamy quality that caused thoughts to loop around and come back over and over.
An interesting exercise, a spotlight on a real-life horrific event and a slight read, but not my favorite book of the year....more
I was avoiding this one for a while, because I thought it would too depressing. Also, I thought it would end with the Reluctant Fundamentalist blowingI was avoiding this one for a while, because I thought it would too depressing. Also, I thought it would end with the Reluctant Fundamentalist blowing something up. He doesn't. He gets radicalized, but he isn't himself a suicide bomber.
It was an interesting character study of a man becoming disillusioned with the world and it has the Unreliable Narrator and Morally Ambiguous (Villainous?) Narrator I love so much.
I did think it was hilarious that the whole “romance” angle was…the exact same thing as in Norwegian Wood! I don’t think it was conscious at all, but it was bizarre. Emotionally fragile love interest? Check. Girl broken up after the love of her life/childhood best friend/other half dies young? Check. Girl can never quite be with the protagonist because she is still too hung up on her dead beloved? Check. Girl is nonetheless perfect, desirable? Check. (view spoiler)[Girl ultimately ends up in a “rehabilitation center” and is visited by the protagonist who makes her feel no better and she kills herself afterwards? Check. (hide spoiler)] Is this a new trend? I think I will deem it Manic-Depressive Pixie Dream Girl.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I liked The Time Machine better, but Wells is never a disappointment. It does get a bit dense but this would be like the PERFECT English class read –I liked The Time Machine better, but Wells is never a disappointment. It does get a bit dense but this would be like the PERFECT English class read – so much to analyze!
I also totally didn’t realize that Doctor Moreau’s animals are actually animals he somehow stretches/stitches into people, instead of people mixed with animals. I think scientifically it makes even less sense, but it’s a cool idea and gives a way different vibe to the story than I thought.
Edward Prendick is a good narrator – a Victorian man facing horror/contemplating human v. beast nature (like the Time Traveler). Doctor Moreau is a deliciously grey villain and Montgomery (Moreau’s assistant) is a nice foil to Moreau’s villainry – Moreau is in it for science! And progress! And underlying that I think feeling like a god! Montgomery is in it out of necessity – he’s an alcoholic who got tossed out of the more respectable circles and this is what he could get. ...more
This story of the unlikely friendship between the precocious, sheltered preteen and the prickly, intellectual concierge is one of the most French bookThis story of the unlikely friendship between the precocious, sheltered preteen and the prickly, intellectual concierge is one of the most French books I have ever read. Only in a French novel would a twelve-year old meticulously plan her suicide out of intense ennui. ...more
thought noir would be fun in a deliciously cheesy way. It may be filled with bad prose and talk of “dames” and “molls” but at least exciting. This, athought noir would be fun in a deliciously cheesy way. It may be filled with bad prose and talk of “dames” and “molls” but at least exciting. This, a classic noir, is boring stuff. And the writing wasn’t even the exaggerated nonsense that mock noir has led me to believe I would get. Instead it’s just flat-out giving-everyone’s-heights-and-build bad. And I wasn’t expecting strong females (this is from long ago) but the sexual harassment and flat-out sleaziness that Sam Spade gets away with is insane. He strip searches a woman as she's begging him that she doesn't want to. It’s creepy. Not that his attitude stops women throwing themselves at him. Along with the rampant sexism, there’s some racism and homophobia thrown in for good measure. Hurray! The mystery itself was muddled and boring. I didn’t know what was going on and frankly didn’t care. The only character I slightly enjoyed was the secretary. When she wasn’t draping herself across Spade she could be pretty sassy. ...more