Ian Malcolm, that quirky mathematician, has probably had the greatest influence on me than any other character in a book or movie. Because of him I ha...moreIan Malcolm, that quirky mathematician, has probably had the greatest influence on me than any other character in a book or movie. Because of him I have officially subscribed to chaos, make snide sarcastic remarks, flirt with paleobotanists, and flash around my leather jacket while fidgeting my spectacles, stuttering to communicate profound observations that fly over the head of my listeners. Ok not really, I’m just a wannabee, but the rockstar-genius is certainly an aspiration of mine.
Jurassic Park, for anyone living on Mars who hasn’t seen or read it, is an action packed thriller that pits human inspectors and specialists against genetically engineered dinosaurs. The park is designed to contain these ghosts of Earthly past, but things get out of hand quickly when a tropical storm puts Malcolm’s chaos into full effect. Crichton’s style is meant to be suspenseful, so don’t expect any groundbreaking literature here, just a whole lot of blood & guts, fun sci-fi, nerds-turned-action-heros, and things with sharp teeth.(less)
Stargirl is one of those characters that transcends literature and makes her presence known in the daily course of life. After reading this I'd wish t...moreStargirl is one of those characters that transcends literature and makes her presence known in the daily course of life. After reading this I'd wish that there was someone like her in my life (there was, but we don't talk anymore), and I'd shamelessly imagine Stargirl with me, dancing around on the desert floor, doing cartwheels, meditating behind a sunset, putting a flower in my hair, whispering silly things in my ear while strumming her ukelele. She is the epitome of a free-spirited, selfless, naive fledgling on the verge of facing how hard it is to fit in at a high school where cliques are so impenetrable that anything out of the ordinary is deemed unacceptable. As a home-schooled newcomer, Stargirl does all kinds of eccentric things because she didn't grow up with the poison of peer pressure and was free to do whatever she wanted. She gets into big trouble when she's so selfless that she starts cheering for the other team during a basketball game. Because of peer pressure the phony narrator, who has a crush on her, faces the daunting task of trying to choose between her and his social dignity. The book is at once a highly powerful social commentary on the nature of adolescent interaction, and an inspiration for an entire strata of outcasts that don't really give a damn what people think and just want to be themselves. Spinelli wrote it for young adults, but I think that anyone who went to a school like Stargirl's and didn't fit in will find it highly amusing and relatable. I know I did.(less)
Sorry but I didn't like this for a number of reasons. Most importantly I just couldn't relate with the main character. She is strong and courageous, b...moreSorry but I didn't like this for a number of reasons. Most importantly I just couldn't relate with the main character. She is strong and courageous, but not enough to outshine her bratty, stubborn and irritable demeanor. Also it's poorly written and the concepts don't really make sense to me. Would they really force children to kill each other because of a revolution by adults? Would children killing children really be glorified as some of these "districts" are described as doing? And would children actually kill each other for 74 years until finally one stands up and selflssly says "I'd rather commit suicide"? It just defies logic to me. Even considering that this was a book for young adults I read this because so many people enjoyed it, even Stephen King, but it's got to be one of the most overrated books in history.(less)
Midnight's Children narrates an endless series of tragedies that befall a boy who was born with magical powers at the stroke of midnight on the day of...moreMidnight's Children narrates an endless series of tragedies that befall a boy who was born with magical powers at the stroke of midnight on the day of India's independence. It was an incredible read, but there were a few things I didn't like about it. It was sad, pessimistic, and very crammed, but the concept was exceptional and so was the witty humor. Even though it seems like all the side stories are trivial, they are just there to add to the cumulative tumult of his life. These short little stories were interesting enough to keep me reading, but several parts really stand out, cementing this novel as one of the best of its time (apparently it won the "Best of the Booker" award, and I can see why). The chapter titled "Tick Tock" is incredibly welll executed, counting down his special birth. That passage should be famous! (maybe it already it is in India). Prior to reading that I was considering abandoning the book, but good thing I didn't because there was another unforgettable chapter called "In The Sandarbans". It's a downright disturbing, yet breathtaking adventure on the fringe of reality. Also his dream of the Widow is just plain mental- because of that I find myself thinking in greens and blacks now and then, haha.
Salman is now one of my favorite authors. Midnight's Children was great, but I've also read The Satanic Verses and The Enchantress Of Florence, and I thought they were both better than this. His books can really make you shake your head at humanity.
Read 50 pages of part 1, abandoned, part 2 a little interesting.. yet abandoned near the end, part 3 abandoned after 10 pages, then I read reviews to...moreRead 50 pages of part 1, abandoned, part 2 a little interesting.. yet abandoned near the end, part 3 abandoned after 10 pages, then I read reviews to see if it got any better; apparently the 300 page part 4 contains nothing but detailed descriptions of the murder-rapes of innocent women. No thanks!(less)
Conceptually it was pretty interesting, but a lot of the passages were deliberately confusing and the dialogue was awful. I thought his descriptions o...moreConceptually it was pretty interesting, but a lot of the passages were deliberately confusing and the dialogue was awful. I thought his descriptions of quirky futuristic modifications were great, but the characters were so soulless that it became difficult to care for them during the weak action scenes. I can see how it was highly influential to concepts like cyberspace and "the matrix" (this came out in 1984).(less)
Once I learned that Salman Rushdie wrote a book for children I had to bite. Being a fan of the author and a sucker for children's stories, it seemed l...moreOnce I learned that Salman Rushdie wrote a book for children I had to bite. Being a fan of the author and a sucker for children's stories, it seemed like a win combination, and I wasn't disappointed at all! There were some truly spectacular visuals here (a valley of golden fields surrounded by mountains of silver, an ocean of stories represented by strings in the water meshing together ((reminds of string theory in physics)), tropical paradise, the gigantic warship of darkness). I also loved the way fantasy and reality came together in the last chapter. That was true to Rushdie's style, but what wasn't true was the exquisite writing normally found in his novels. This being a book for children I don't think anyone's surprised...
Did anyone else notice that a planet cannot be stationary half light and half dark as it orbits the sun even though it doesn't rotate on the axis? Editors must have missed that too.(less)
Possession is a heartfelt mystery containing a beautiful sync of double-plots. Two researchers are getting to the bottom of a secret love affair betwe...morePossession is a heartfelt mystery containing a beautiful sync of double-plots. Two researchers are getting to the bottom of a secret love affair between two Victorian poets. One poet is a spiritual Darwinist (if that's not an oxymoron) and the other is a devout lesbian (if that's not another oxymoron!). Along the way the researchers decipher old letters that poise enigmas behind the secret relationship, while trying to maintain distance from the corrupt establishments that are hot on their trails in the wake of this discovery. As the novel progresses they discover new feelings about their own relationship as well. The two plots mesh fantastically at the end as all the mysteries come to a satisfying conclusion, with several ironies to wit. There is a twist, and it's kind of predictable, but that doesn't detract this from being a phenomenal book. It's one of those books that are absolutely perfect for cuddling up with near the fire on a cold, wet day. The intermittent snippets of poetry & letters fit in perfectly throughout the book (I can see how this might bother those who are only interested in researchers' plot). The poetry is fantastical, epic, and beautiful: the letters, while being highly revelatory, are incredibly diverse in prose as Byatt writes from the perspective of numerous peoples of past and present. There are convincing themes of "biological feminism" that recalls the mythology of Gaia while the fringe science of the Darwinist era still attempted to reason from spiritualism. There is also a strong emotional undertone of familial congruence that blossoms delightfully, like all the vast species of flowers Byatt recalls throughout the book. I highly recommend this to intellectuals, lovers of mythological poetry, romantics, and people who don't mind a massive amount of detail in describing quaint, petite settings. This didn't win the 1990 Booker Prize for nothing, I promise you!(less)
What a sad, sweet, sentimental portrait of the difficulty in pinpointing one's genealogy. After reading the first few chapters I thought I'd need an i...moreWhat a sad, sweet, sentimental portrait of the difficulty in pinpointing one's genealogy. After reading the first few chapters I thought I'd need an inhaler from laughing so much, but the frantic psychobabble slowly gave way to a drifting melancholia that darkly overshadowed any starlets left by the jewish humor. The narrative goes back and forth between Alex's realism of the present- "perfectly" written as disjointed dialogue (not a fan of reality here, and I don't imagine the author is either), and Jonathan's novelistic idealism of the far past. Some of the most memorable passages are during Jonathan's narrative- strange tales like the ones involving Yankel, Brod, the guy that got a blade stuck in his head, and the guy whose dead arm aroused hundreds of women. To me Brod was the heart of the story and her 613 sadnesses all culminated in that unforgettable dream sequence portraying the Nazi invasion of Trachimbrod. On one side it's a very emotional story, but the genealogical paradigm offered some enticing brain candy as well (see below). The book is not all doom and gloom- since it was difficult not to feel any sympathy for these characters, as most of them are intelligent and kind, the more sentimental parts really had a high impact on me. In short, it's a great book with some of the best dialogue I've read. I'd recommend it to people interested in the Holocaust, Jews, or anyone looking for a good drama.
SPOILER ALERT: I'm quite upended by the idea that Alex & Jonathan could be related as distant cousins. Near the end of the book there's a family tree in which names are replaced by symbolic words that might seem random at first. On second look, in the middle of the tree are the words "I will", which happen to be the last two words of the novel (in grandfather's suicide letter). Inferencing from the tree it's clear that grandfather is "i will", but it's difficult to distinguish whether or not the generational "ghost" is Augustine, the dead baby in Jonathan's novel, or something completely unrelated. The author writes several passages pertaining to the importance of memory and the difficulty in structuring associations, which is why I find the supposedly random references in that family tree very interesting.(less)
God almighty. Gravity’s Rainbow is so good that it will blast you into the air and land you on cloud 9. Bought my dilapidated 1974 copy for only a buc...moreGod almighty. Gravity’s Rainbow is so good that it will blast you into the air and land you on cloud 9. Bought my dilapidated 1974 copy for only a buck at the used books store. Got my money’s worth more than any other book I own (since it’s over 800 pages), but payed the price mightily with the absence of footnotes. Like Ulysses, there’s so much going on here that no one could possibly put all the pieces together after the first read. Pynchon wanted this book to be studied, but it’s more than just an obscure puzzle. Unlike Ulysses, Gravity’s Rainbow has an interesting plot. You might not think so judging from the first few hundred disorientating pages because the narrative is parabolic, meaning that the final chapters are just as convoluted as the first. The plot is relatively lucid at the zenith of the parabola, where we get to follow the adventure of a man monitored by an agency that can't figure out why German rockets are landing near places where he's getting erections. Yes, erections. The man, one fugitive Slothrop, is as recklessly courageous as he is comically oblivious, making this novel just as uproariously funny as it is sexually grotesque. It’s set during an alternate history of WW2, mostly on the torn battle-plains of middle Europe. Slothrop’s looking for a specialized rocket that's trying to kill him, and he goes through an awesome series of cartoonish adventures involving all kinds of fucked up people to get there, including two of my favorites; the irate redneck Major Marvy and the sorrowfully beaten Bianca. Pynchon, while highly intelligent, has an uncanny fascination with fecal matter, incest, masochism, paranoia, and kazoos in conjunction with calculus, aerodynamics, metaphysics, chess, tarot, and the kabbalah. What makes it great is that all the quirky eccentricities fit together: imagine the madness of a war set to the antics of an erotic circus and the atmosphere would be this book.
Interpretations (spoilers): The beauty of Gravity’s Rainbow is that both the rationality of the plot and the abstraction of the art give and take from one another, resulting in a massive paradox when taken as a whole. Not only that, but there are an awesome number of metaphors at work here, including the most obvious one- erection and ejaculation with launch and trajectory. During the climax (muffled laughter) Pynchon is making a spectacular metaphor by representing the process of life as the arc of a rocket’s trajectory, while the other half not seen represents the mysterious hauntings of the underworld, life after death, and the plot-holes in the story. But it's a double metaphor: Pynchon wanted Slothrop to represent everyone, including his readers, because everyone has a “Them” that’s out to get you and everyone is going to die because of “Them” (I liked that he lead us to believe that Them was literally General Electric and other industrial tycoons, lol so true). The rocket is coming for Slothrop, who’s sitting inside a movie theater in L.A., but often in the novel Pynchon switches the narrative from Slothrop to YOU, just like he does right at the end, so the rocket’s after YOU too, you who were so confused as to who was after you and failed to make sense of things, just like our paranoid protagonist. Perhaps if this book ever gets turned into a movie you will be sitting there in the theater watching the nose of it coming down to penetrate through the movie screen, and you might even be having sex with someone since you've been sexually conditioned (if anyone was jerking off during the book's climax I really pity you). Aside from that, many other interpretations abound, including an interesting take on its structure that involves a tarot deck, the kabbalah, and the idea that gravity’s rainbow can be a metaphor for the Periodic Table (the rainbow a metaphor in itself; f=ma). It’s really a horny scientist-occultist-paranoiac’s dream book. Clearly original and unlike anything I’ve read before.
I guess I should elaborate on my interpretation of the plot as well. It may be wrong, but this is the only way it makes sense to me. In London Slothrop was attracting the rockets to wherever he was, not the other way around. The Imipolex G in his penis made him a target- all the launches were during his orgasms (good thing he never stayed anywhere too long). His monitors were studying the phenomenon because they didn't understand it... Pointsman and Jamf weren't in on it together. Jamf was working for GE and hence the nazis, while Pointsman was with the allies. Once they discovered that Slothrop's penis had a mysterious power they went through hell to castrate him, but castrated Marvy by mistake (lol). The allies were after the Schwarzommando (aka Enzian) but they should have been after Blicero (aka Weissman), whom they thought was dead. Blicero had the rocket with Imipolex G, not Enzian, and he was the one who fired the 00001 that killed Slothrop in the end, thus proving to all his corporate sponsors that a mind control agenda using manufactured rockets and skin injections was dreadfully possible. The Counterforce was unsuccessful in locating Slothrop, so they snuck into corporate dinner parties and made obnoxious scenes (more lol). The allies didn't necessarily lose, the technology just fell into the wrong hands, the nazi Blicero who sold the world. I have no idea why Goddfried had to be inside the rocket to find Slothrop... probably had to do the with the metaphysical dynamics of Imipolex G. It's all pretty sad, but many of the classic sci-fi novels have similar conclusions to show us how technology can be dangerous.
Most memorable parts: toilet diving scene slothrop chasing the thief SS rocket factory mayhem orgy on the anubis ship when slothrop becomes the hero-pig the story of lyle bland last few pages(less)