So everyone knows that I love, love, love OEB and that even when I read stories of hers that are less than satisfying (which is rare, I'll agree), I'm
So everyone knows that I love, love, love OEB and that even when I read stories of hers that are less than satisfying (which is rare, I'll agree), I'm still very satisfied. This compilation of short stories and essays is a wonderful insight into OEB's, well, awesomeness.
As she says at the beginning, she's not much of a short story writer. That is to say, her short stories, while wonderfully imaginative, provocative and genuine, are these huge, wonderful ideas, with lots of people to love and hate, that aren't given the time they need to reach their full potential. Her short stories are like sketches for her novels. "Bloodchild," "Speech Sounds," and "Crossover" left me dying for more, more, more. Left me almost unsatisfied in their telling. Perhaps that is one of the marks of a good short story - but I think short stories, in short shrift, show beginning of interest and then are able to provide a closing that feels complete. Not "wrapped up," but complete. OEB's, simply because they are short, are short. Not because the story demanded they be short, but because they are short.
And that's where my complaints end. So much for complaining, huh?
These stories are insightful and contain people and situations that are wholly believable, sometimes horrific, and always fascinating. Also, her essay "Positive Obsession" is one of the better ones I know for advice to aspiring writers. Though how credible am I in the aspiring writers category? Not very, as I linger somewhere between (or before?) the "aspiring" part and somewhere distant from the "writer" part. If you enjoy her work already, you will feel enriched. If you are new to OEB, you might learn to love her after this book. If you don't like OEB, we must stop communicating immediately. I have my boundaries.
What a surprising and lovely book - the descriptions of the Los Alamos area and the lonely, beautiful lives of the biographer and her subject were satWhat a surprising and lovely book - the descriptions of the Los Alamos area and the lonely, beautiful lives of the biographer and her subject were satisfying and refreshing. For some reason, I had expected the book to be dry, but it was interesting, well-paced, thoughtful, and resonating....more
This book is one of the best books I have ever read, and is the beginning of my favorite series. It is the first book of the Lymond Chronicles, whichThis book is one of the best books I have ever read, and is the beginning of my favorite series. It is the first book of the Lymond Chronicles, which span six historical fiction novels following the life of Francis Crawford of Lymond across Europe and North Africa. The Game of Kings takes place primarily in Scotland in the late 1540s as Lymond returns to his homeland in a whirl of violence, intrigue, and charm after being gone for five years. He is accused of high treason against Scotland and leads a band of mercenaries from conflict to conflict. The fascinating twisting and turning puzzle-piece plot aside, it is a brocade of characters and relationships that hasn't been equaled on this grand scale.
It's a dense read and takes a few pages to get into, but once you have a foothold in Lymond's world, you won't want to let it go. I first read the series in the Peace Corps (thanks, Mom!), and having read through the first book for a second time, I have discovered even more of the rich world Dunnett has recreated and am greatly looking forward to re-reading the other five books.
I have never been really excited about historical fiction, but Dunnett turned me completely around; characters like hers are nearly impossible to find. I also enjoy history, and know a (very) little bit about English and Scottish history, which helped make it very real and poignant. This first book stands on its own and may be read as an individual work. But why would you when there are five more tasty morsels?
So, I picked up this book at the story right after the Venus of Hohle Fels showed up on my radar. I was craving some discourse about the Goddess, and
So, I picked up this book at the story right after the Venus of Hohle Fels showed up on my radar. I was craving some discourse about the Goddess, and craving some insights and ideas about these figurines with whom I identify to a very literal, surface extent. I looked up Venus worship, and there was Jean M. Auel's series. I'd heard much about it already from other folks, notably my parents, who had really enjoyed the first few books when they came out.
It's a fascinating book. I have some issues with it - it's often contrived (especially in dialogues), it suffers from a little too much "rich and beautiful description," and it's outdated (which is not Auel's fault - we didn't think Homo neandertalensis could speak until well after the book was written). But I like it for its large, sweeping vision of a time different than our own, for its wide use of female perspectives, for its parable-like qualities, for its subject matter, for its drama!
On a separate note that is less review and more shooting off at the mouth, I'm intrigued that she made the Homo neandertalensis humans (those of the Clan of the Cave Bear) were the ones who were patriarchical, while I can only assume that I will find in the next book, when I make it there, that the Homo sapiens humans (those like Ayla and modern humans) are matriarchal Goddess worshippers. Being a modern human, and firmly planted in a patriarchy makes me think it might have been the other way around, if it had been at all. And, yes, there are a few matriachical societies among modern humans, we think, and a few more are matrilineal, but this hardly makes it a trend.
I enjoyed it. It was long and arduous at times, but I'm still thinking about a few months later, so that can't be bad, right?
Poetic and fresh. People would like to compare it to Beloved, but it is very different, and not a masterpiece like Beloved, nor does it have the feeliPoetic and fresh. People would like to compare it to Beloved, but it is very different, and not a masterpiece like Beloved, nor does it have the feeling of saga and absolute tragedy that Beloved has. I love the themes of mother-to-daughter and the complexities and pains therein. Goes quickly, is very beautiful to read, has wonderful amounts of history strung throughout. ...more
Naylor gathers you up and brings you full force into this group of women, learning from them, loving with them, and mourning with them. And it's in tuNaylor gathers you up and brings you full force into this group of women, learning from them, loving with them, and mourning with them. And it's in turns wonderful and terrible. A good read to see a master of character and place, but also very important in terms of the effects of systemic racism in America. ...more