"This is a book intensely hospitable to ideas, and it is thrilling to witness a properly grave and ironi...moreFound at James Wood's piece at The New Yorker:
"This is a book intensely hospitable to ideas, and it is thrilling to witness a properly grave and ironic mind, treating, in a theoretical and philosophical and yet fundamentally unshowy way (a massive difference between Knausgaard and certain show-offy American novelists, who always seem to be squeezing the juices of their obsessive fandom over their cultural subjects), all kinds of elements of life: having children, the working of memory, reading Adorno, playing guitar and drums in crappy rock bands, drinking too much, looking at Constable drawings, sex (good and bad), and death."(less)
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 end...moreHey, 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 on...moreUm, 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.(less)
I'm not sure if I'll be able to handle this one. I might love the intersecting stories, or they might drive me crazy. Hopefully in a few years it will...moreI'm not sure if I'll be able to handle this one. I might love the intersecting stories, or they might drive me crazy. Hopefully in a few years it will all shake out, and I'll know.
"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,...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, 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?(less)
"Get a bigger flute!" "Increase ur Size! 6" "Don’t walk with tail between your legs." "V|agr.a, C|a.li5, and Phen.term.|ne CHeep!!"
Was the Kama Sutra...more"Get a bigger flute!" "Increase ur Size! 6" "Don’t walk with tail between your legs." "V|agr.a, C|a.li5, and Phen.term.|ne CHeep!!"
Was the Kama Sutra the original idea for spam email?
"Take pomegranate and cucumber seeds, extract the juice of elabāluka (eluva, Gisekia pharmaceoides) and bhatakataiyā (Solanum indicum, eggplant). Cook in oil over a low heat. Use it to massage the penis. It will remain swollen for six months." ...It didn't sound so bad until I got to the last line...
"Ram's or he-goat's testicles boiled in sugared milk increase sexual prowess." ...Can I have some more Rocky Mountain Oyster Pudding, grandma?
"If a man anoints his penis with datura, black pepper [maricha], and long pepper [pippalī], crushed and mixed with honey, its use will allow him to bewitch and subjugate his partners." ...Or at least cause them to be doubled over in fiery pain.
Once you're done mucking about with spicy peppers, priapisms, and testes, why not try this ancient recipe:
"By rubbing one's hand with the excrements of a peacock, which has been made to take haritāla [yellow myrobalan] and manashilā [red arsenic], everything one touches becomes invisible." ...Infallable.
Okay, in an attempt to save you, Dear Reader, a ton of time may I present:
All You Will Ever Need To Know About the Kama Sutra* 1) There are no pictures in the original Kama Sutra, much to the chagrin of reviewers on Amazon. 2) For the naughtiest parts, go straight to Chapter Six 3) You aren't going to learn any new tricks unless you're a sweet, innocent teenager. 4) The Kama Sutra is extremely repetitive. (This explains my low-ish rating - I'd probably put it at a 2.5. And those stars are just there for the aforementioned chuckles at the insanity. Ancient people were batshitcrazy. It's a miracle we're still around.) There is a good reason for the repetitiveness - as a teaching text, a student is supposed to read the original with enlightened commentary. Unfortunately this translation includes 2 extra commentaries after every paragraph. The translator even apologizes in the intro for its "maladroitness." Even with good reason, doesn't make it fun to read. 5) A lot of the advice is violent - scratching, slapping, bleeding, etc. 6) The Kama Sutra wasn't exactly written by Vātsyāyana - he collected the "erotic science" sections of the Kama Shastra (which were becoming harder and harder to find). 7) The history of the Kama Sutra is interesting, as is the background of the three Shastras - go learn about them. Maybe I'm too dense, but I didn't learn much about history by reading the original text. 8) The Kama Sutra tries to explain all sexual practices, even those that are not recommended or are forbidden. Vātsyāyana felt it very important to be complete. Which I can get behind.
*(unless you are an ancient Indian scholar, of course.)(less)
Some people take Gogol too seriously. Me? I just apply duct tape to the edges of my nose to make sure it won't get up and walk away. It seems to be a...moreSome people take Gogol too seriously. Me? I just apply duct tape to the edges of my nose to make sure it won't get up and walk away. It seems to be a functional, cheap solution. And I can change the color weekly!