Hey, I'm a smug 21st century reader! The bends are bad; Antarctica is a continent; coal doesn't come from volcanoes; submarines are not silent.
The endHey, I'm a smug 21st century reader! The bends are bad; Antarctica is a continent; coal doesn't come from volcanoes; submarines are not silent.
The ending (like a few other episodes) was fabulously entertaining. However, there is repetitious drudgery that the reader has to get through to find those gems. Lists and catalogs of submarine flora, fauna, and minutia. Yes, they lend credibility to the scientist-protagonist's story, but they are just boring.
Also in its favor, Captain Nemo is gloriously complex - crying over dead shipmen, but murdering others in revenge; forbidding the killing of one whale then massacring a whole pod of another type. Fantastic!
My original intention was to review each of the three books in the Ice Trilogy. As you can see below, I only really reviewed the first onUm, what now?
My original intention was to review each of the three books in the Ice Trilogy. As you can see below, I only really reviewed the first one, Bro. It also took me 6 months of faffing about to finish the book. (Yes, I read some amazing books in the meantime.)
The beginning was brilliant. The ending was fun and interesting. But, man, I don't think Sorokin makes a very good case for weird or satirical fiction here. There was almost no humor, or at least sideways references to the real world like in most weird fiction. I can't possibly imagine what kind of allegory he might be getting at. The story almost seems gratuitously odd, without much of a payoff for the reader.
It wasn't for me, but it might be for you?
I know that part of the appeal of Sorokin is how much he has pissed off the Russian government by going overboard. (In one of his previous books, he has clones of Stalin and Khrushchev having sex.) This didn't feel overboard at all. Just overly repetitious.
------------- Christmas present from my husband! ------------- BRO
Make no mistake, this is metaphysical science fiction with an experimental story telling style, yet really well written. The first third feels like a very traditional Russian storyline. Then the middle third, I was all, "um... whaaa?" It was fairly repetitious though the middle. Finally the last third picked up again and it was fun seeing the story follow history.
Sorry for the vagueness, but it's incredibly hard to describe what's going on without giving the whole thing away.
Putting this aside over the holidays to read some easy, breezy, cheesy books....more
I've been having a crappy couple of days, so it was really nice to get to read the best of the Season 8 bunch. I needed some Whedonesque snark. I'm diI've been having a crappy couple of days, so it was really nice to get to read the best of the Season 8 bunch. I needed some Whedonesque snark. I'm disappointed in the lack of actual Robot Monkeys, though....more
Despite the rampant sexism and racism, this was a lot of fun! (I feel more than a little dirty for admitting that, btw.) But why oh why oh why did theDespite the rampant sexism and racism, this was a lot of fun! (I feel more than a little dirty for admitting that, btw.) But why oh why oh why did the publishers agree to include "Allan and the Sundered Veil?" A collection of vomited adjectives, I couldn't bring myself to read more than a couple of pages of that tripe. What a shame that it tarnishes the rest of the book....more
"Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions or will. The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off,"Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions or will. The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it."
"For people could close their eyes to greatness, to horrors, to beauty, and their ears to melodies or deceiving words. But they could not escape scent. For scent was a brother of breath. Together with breath it entered human beings, who could not defend themselves against it, not if they wanted to live. And scent entered into their very core, went directly to their hearts, and decided for good and all between affection and contempt, disgust and lust, love and hate. He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men."
3/4 of the way through Perfume, I was going to tell you all in my review that if you're a fan of Dexter or maybe even True Blood, you might enjoy this book. Then I realized at the end that I was being too simplistic. It's for lovers of words, language, history, descriptions and loving to hate a character.
It's a strange thing writing a whole book about smell. Smell is one of our few senses that doesn't translate to images, words, or descriptions. I always find perfume ads amusing, because they have to evoke an emotion they are hoping consumers will feel when they do finally smell the scent. Young mother hanging the laundry! Sexy woman in a bustier in the basement of a Speakeasy! Man on a horse holding jewels!
Yet scent, at its heard, instantly takes us to our memories. I think I've finally figured out that the distinctive smell that infused my grandparents' house in South Dakota was a mix of talc, pine scented cleaner and fresh baked cookies. I might be wrong, but every once in a while I whiff something close to this and am immediately back in their 50's era kitchen with the big round drawer pulls.
I think Süskind succeeded in drawing the reader a scented picture of mid-eighteenth century France. He then layers that with the development of a poor, weird creature who only has his hyper-olfactory nerves as an asset. The story ends up being bizarre, fascinating, and altogether horrifying, with layers upon layers of scent.
Definitely not a book for everyone.
Oh, and by the way, the lead character's name, Grenouille, means frog in French. Do frogs have a smell?...more
Sojourner Truth had to be one of the most charismatic people ever to walk the Earth.* Charisma is hard to convey in any mode that's not face-to-face.Sojourner Truth had to be one of the most charismatic people ever to walk the Earth.* Charisma is hard to convey in any mode that's not face-to-face. This book might be as close to capturing raw charisma as I have ever seen. She stands out even in an era of incredibly charismatic people.
My edition had both The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, and the Book of Life. The latter was Sojourner's scrapbook and autograph book she carried around as she traveled preaching and telling her story.
My reaction to her Narrative is that it is an absolute 5-star read. Holy guacamole, what this woman endured! Multiple things surprised me. First, it's not told in Sojourner Truth's voice. She remained unable to read or write her whole life, and relied on a friend to retell her story. That woman was Olive Gilbert. Gilbert injects quite a bit of her own commentary on both Truth and the abolitionist movement. This makes it quite difficult to ascertain what were Truth's own words, and what were manipulated by Gilbert. Second, Truth grew up in a Low Dutch farm in New York, and didn't learn to speak English until she was 10. She never had a formal education, and didn't even hear a preacher until she claimed her own emancipation in 1826.^ Despite all this, she wandered the eastern seaboard (and later beyond) preaching about God, Jesus and plight of enslaved peoples by relating her own story. Third, her story doesn't dwell on the physical hardships and punishments she endured while a slave. In fact, she only hints at most of them. Yet the slave part of her story is horrific.
On to the Book of Life - I would give it 3-stars for putting Truth's Narrative into context and continuing her story to the end of her life. This is mostly newspaper clippings telling about how Sojourner Truth came to speak at this church, or that meeting, and how she had everyone in rapture with her stories and songs. Those parts get extremely repetitious, but it's amazing to see how many places she traveled and how she was warmly welcomed. Perhaps even more amazing is the number (not all) that describe her in non-racial tones. They almost all mention her race, but only a few tack on "...for her race" when they mention that she is forceful, commanding, impressive, etc.. Considering the times, she transcended many racial lines. Truth's Book of Life also contains letters and signatures from famous people - including Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S Grant, Frederick Douglass and Susan B Anthony.
Perhaps most fascinating between the two - her Narrative and The Book of Life - is the discrepancies in her personal story. The story of her life partially evolved as she traveled around retelling the narrative. Most likely, though, is that it was variations in the retelling. The big stand-out is Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1863 article in the Atlantic Monthly, titled: "Libyan Sibyl". This article not only propelled Truth into nation-wide fame, but gave her a nickname that she she grew tired of. Stowe takes many liberties in the article, including quoting Truth in a Southern US slave dialect that Truth never had. (She had a slightly Dutch accent, and often described as a "peculiar" way of speech.) What's worse, Stowe claimed Truth was dead, when in fact she went on to live another 20 years. Perhaps all those changes developed the persona of Sojourner Truth and aided in her popularity? According to the editor of my edition, Truth herself might have been guilty of perpetuating un-truths, in order to present a persuasive argument and be the larger-than-life character of Sojourner Truth.
One of the funniest, most witty anecdotes about Truth goes something like this: Truth was speaking in front of a large meeting that contained friends and foes alike. There were grumblings in the audience that she wasn't who she claimed to be -- that in fact, she was a man. Truth was six feet tall, very muscular, wore her short hair under a Quaker cap, and was by all accounts an imposing presence with a booming voice. When she heard the accusations, she said (paraphrasing the paraphrasing): "You think I'm a man? Let me tell you something. I suckled many white babes at my breasts, often to the neglect of my own children. And those white children turned into finer men than you could ever be!" She then proceeded to whip our her bare breast and said: "Suck this!"
Sojourner Truth was awesome.
*(If there are humans hanging out somewhere else in the Universe, they are just boring sacks of carbon. Thanks a lot for not contacting us. Losers.)
^(Seriously, her emancipation is a story you need to read for yourself. It shows the kind of woman she was at heart.)...more