Surrealist art is a genre that I find very confusing and at times disheartening. What makes it such a unique genre is the series of questions it force...moreSurrealist art is a genre that I find very confusing and at times disheartening. What makes it such a unique genre is the series of questions it forces one to ask, be it the meaning or motivation behind the piece, what the creators intentions may or may not have been and probably the most basic one that we all experience "just what the hell is that exactly". I think this is what makes it such a compelling genre to many of us. Unfortunately there is a downside, if your the kind of person that expects answers or deeper meanings, many times you're left twisting in the wind. I find many "artists" who claim to be surrealists to be nothing more than narcissistic pricks with incredible imaginations. Half complete artists, who posses the means to say something, but have absolutely nothing important to say. And when confronted with this complaint they retreat into the condescending world of simply saying there is no deeper meaning to art, or that it isn't art's mission to answer questions, or very simply "you just dont get it".
The Ticking is very much a work of surrealist fiction, and luckily, it doesn't fall into the trappings of the genre and those who work within it. The sense of wonder is there, as is the constant questioning. Like many works within the genre, the road to overall understanding is very long and very personal. Unlike the many works within the genre though there is something tangible to take away when you reach the end of that road. What I find most incredible is that the story deals with so much pain, and yet it never transfers that pain onto you. Maybe because it's told in such a small, fragmented manner. I would fault the story for this, but in it's defense, the overall message of the triumph of will and the beauty of what the human spirit can achieve gets through more than just fine. In the end I'm actually glad it turned out that way, had it been very heavy handed on the pain I probably would have missed the point entirely.
What I got at the end of the book was this intense "good feeling". Not the kind of feeling that can be summed up with the usual "heart warming" or "touching" or "feel good" or whatever other platitudes that are usually thrown around. No, it's more of a sense of achievement. Seeing Ed grow, and become more and more beautiful, despite his disfigurement, through his desire to find meaning and place left me with a sense of optimism and hope that I have never experienced through any kind of surrealist work (I will admit I'm not a expert on the genre though so maybe there are more experiences like this out there).
I think this is very much a universal work, despite its often times confusing narrative exposition. Don't go in expecting all the answers to emerge automatically or for them to be spelled out for you. This is very much a gentle, almost naturalistic work. If you sit back and let it run it's course, the mountain of mystery will erode. And what you are left with, is the kind of thing that makes you happy to be alive.
It was short, but our time together was just wonderful. I don't think it was as focused and fleshed out like Persepolis, but I don't fault Marjane for...moreIt was short, but our time together was just wonderful. I don't think it was as focused and fleshed out like Persepolis, but I don't fault Marjane for it. Persepolis was a personal story that Marjane LIVED, Chicken with Plums is also a very personal story, but it's about events well before her time. It's incredible she was able to weave such a compelling personal tale, with what was probably second hand information. Scraps here and there from different people, all of a man she never knew; and yet she writes him with an honesty that can only come with actually knowing someone.
I feel her art here is brilliantly utilized more so than in Persepolis......at peak moments(mainly the transitions between the chapters). Overall though there isn't much going on. Again though it's hard to find fault with Marjane, this is a character driven tale and unfortunately the character is confined to his room.
If you've read Persepolis, don't go in expecting it to be Persepolis. Pacing here is very quick and very immediate. It's a story of highs and lows, not in the sense that it's about highs and lows per se but in the sense that the pacing and artwork sort of intertwine and work against each other from page to page creating a chaotic mix of despair and frustration that forces you through each painful page. Boredom is never part of the equation though, as this is a deeply human tale grounded in primal emotions that we all experience.
Persepolis was a tale of overcoming adversity and is a celebration of the tenacity of the human spirit.
Chicken with Plums is an altogether different experience. It's about acceptance and ends and is a meditation on the frailty of the human will to live.
Marjane Marjane the more I read the more I love you!(less)
It was harrowing and tragic. It's amazing the author was able to somehow make an event he was not involved with and that is also something of a myster...moreIt was harrowing and tragic. It's amazing the author was able to somehow make an event he was not involved with and that is also something of a mystery into his own tale. At times though I couldn't tell if whether or not he had violated some sort of journalistic integrity. I applaud him for weaving journalistic fact and speculative narrative together, but I can't help but feel if maybe some kind of unseen line between the search for the truth and distorting the truth has been crossed. I think Krakauer understood that though and saw it as a necessary risk, a punch that would be unavoidable. I guess thats what happens when your strongest asset is also your strongest flaw. Despite that I think this was an enthralling read that I want to do again. (less)
It was a good read, although I didn't care for much of the historical inaccuracy. The actual story of the Buddah has many compelling events, few are a...moreIt was a good read, although I didn't care for much of the historical inaccuracy. The actual story of the Buddah has many compelling events, few are actually brought up in the book. One particular thorn in my side was the passage of time, it's often too brisk or too painfully slow making it hard or just frustrating to gain a footing. On the plus side it's a rather brisk read. One other qualm is characters. The only 2 that seemed worth a damn were Siddhartha himself (although at times he was rather annoying) and the Ferryman. Everyone else felt either empty or uninteresting and tacked on. My biggest gripe was the ending. It was so abrupt and awkward that it was such a letdown that it came right after the best part of the book. Everything was really starting to come together and then BAM BOOK IS OVER AND WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED? The most enjoyable part of the book was his time spent with the Ferryman. Finally we are given another character that is well written and it actually feels like something of importance is happening. And too soon too soon is it over. (less)
**spoiler alert** Ah this one is an old favorite and I totally forgot that I've read it twice. It's a great epic tale about one man and the life he bu...more**spoiler alert** Ah this one is an old favorite and I totally forgot that I've read it twice. It's a great epic tale about one man and the life he built for himself with just his hands and his blade. You can't help but admire Takezo as he grows from simple transient and evolves into the resolute warrior and swordsman Musashi. Every breath, every battle, every lesson learned, you are right there with him. Yoshikawa spins such an epic tale full of characters that are fully fleshed out and loveable. So many characters have quirks that just humanize them and make them all the more memorable. From Akemi's large bow and little bell to his former best friend's (I forget his name) bumbling and dunderheaded nature every character leaps off the page. And the battles, good lord they are conveyed with such intensity and attention to detail that they best a lot of action movies. The fight under the giant pine was just sheer madness and yet its clearly told and it keeps you glued to the page. The only problem I had was the ending felt a bit abrupt and tried to tie things up without really tying things up. (less)
Such a neat book that drowned in weirdness due to it's ending. Still though if you ever wondered what its like to be under the influence of a hallucin...moreSuch a neat book that drowned in weirdness due to it's ending. Still though if you ever wondered what its like to be under the influence of a hallucinogenic substance and don't have the stomach to try for yourself then read this book. Pinchbeck does an amazing job of describing the events. It's also a great insight into the world of shamanism over its many many many years of evolution.(less)
**spoiler alert** Had a great time with this one. Vonnegut is just spot on with his humor. The characters are really well thought out. I especially lo...more**spoiler alert** Had a great time with this one. Vonnegut is just spot on with his humor. The characters are really well thought out. I especially love the narrator and Philip Castle. It's a shame about mona. Oh mona....(less)
Dug it. though it took me a while to hit my stride. it eventually just fell into place. It wasn't as stellar as Cat's Cradle but it was still a solid...moreDug it. though it took me a while to hit my stride. it eventually just fell into place. It wasn't as stellar as Cat's Cradle but it was still a solid read. Billy Pilgrim was just so damn hapless...(less)
I really dug it, entertaing read. The protaganist (I forget his name) was a really neat dude. Dunno why so many folk dog Chuck so much. He aint THAT b...moreI really dug it, entertaing read. The protaganist (I forget his name) was a really neat dude. Dunno why so many folk dog Chuck so much. He aint THAT bad. I think I will re-read this in the future it's been quite some time since I have read it. (less)
By far one the greatest literary works of the 20th century and the single greatest literary work in latin culture. This was the first profoundly beaut...moreBy far one the greatest literary works of the 20th century and the single greatest literary work in latin culture. This was the first profoundly beautiful literary experience of my adult life and it stands as my absolute favorite book. (less)