We all killed Grandma is a decent, light-hearted mystery with a somewhat unrealistic plot and an entertaining execution. The protagonist, Rod, an irreWe all killed Grandma is a decent, light-hearted mystery with a somewhat unrealistic plot and an entertaining execution. The protagonist, Rod, an irreparably nice guy, suffers from amnesia, and is convinced that he has murdered his own grandmother. Amid general sympathy mingled with indifference, he does his best to find the murderer, determined to surrender himself to the police if it comes to that.
It's not particularly suspenseful nor groundbreaking in anyway, but it's a nice little evening read....more
This was a very fine book, very intelligent, beautifully written, and... it took me three months to finish it. My copy of the book is partly to blameThis was a very fine book, very intelligent, beautifully written, and... it took me three months to finish it. My copy of the book is partly to blame (very small font, the kind that makes you read the same line four times in a row), but may I still warn you that this is not the easiest book I've found yet?
Titus Groan has interlocking plots that border between antasy and nonsense, theatrical characters, a deep sense of the grotesque and the outré. The prose shows a high degree of mastery, and there are some delightful parts (the twins Cora and Clarice, in particular... I'm not saying anything else, see for yourself!), some moving parts and some rather impressive and poignant bits. That does not prevent the plot from moving at a snail's pace, and it's not exactly the right kind of bedtime reading, either.
I would have given it five stars for inventiveness and poetry. I just didn't enjoy myself all that much, all the time. Perhaps I wasn't in the right mood, but the word "boring" came to my mind a couple of times. Beautifully boring, of course. If you're used to a wide range of literary styles and don't shy away from a disconcerting read, go ahead; but if you're looking for an entertaining fantasy trilogy, you've rung the wrong doorbell, I'm afraid......more
Indomitably the saddest book I've read in... I don't know how long. If I've given it such a good rating, it's because I think it's wonderfully writtenIndomitably the saddest book I've read in... I don't know how long. If I've given it such a good rating, it's because I think it's wonderfully written, not because I was happy for hours after reading it. Quite the contrary, in fact.
This is the wtory of an old woman remembering how miserable her life has been. Iris Chase, the protagonist, is lonely and embittered, but she writes with a sensitive and original voice. Her own "autobiography" is interspersed with chapters from her deceased sister's only novel, which caused a scandal in its time and is still the object of a cult, much to Iris's annoyance. Very soon, the reader discovers the many links between Iris's tale, her sister's novel, and the story-within-a-story in the novel itself. Rather than telling the same story three times, though, those three narratives show different aspects of the same events, different points of view, different truths altogether. None of these truths is ever happier than the others, however.
The writing (or rather, the three different writings Atwood managed to use in one novel) is beautiful and extremely expressive. The relationship between the two sisters is depicted with acute nuances, and while the personality of the characters might seem annoyingly passive to some people, remember that this is a tale about the bourgeoisie in the middle of the 20th century, and not about modern rebellious teenagers. The many threads of the plot are tightly wrapped in the ending, which I found elegant and perfectly unpredictable, while being entirely consistent with the rest of the plot. There are no clichés, no shortcuts, no complacency one might complain about. I don't know if it's "the first great novel of the 21st century", as some journalists have claimed, but it is a truly amazing literary work.
It's only just extremely sad. So don't try reading it for fun....more
It's amazing how a book that has been around for centuries can still sound so vivid to today's reader. We usually assume that it is hard to relate toIt's amazing how a book that has been around for centuries can still sound so vivid to today's reader. We usually assume that it is hard to relate to works that have been created at such a distance in time, because literary conventions, audiences, beliefs and popular preoccupations were so different from now. Well, a popular masterpiece with a nice translation can change this view entirely. (NB: having studied part of the text in middle English and compared with the corresponding excerpt in the translation, I assumed it was quite good... I haven't studied every single published translation, though).
The Tales' being so vivid have a triple advantage. First, though written in verse, they read like very good contemporary comedy, and make for very pleasant evening reads. But there are also advantages if you are not quite the occasionnal lay reader. For those with an interest in history, it is an incredible document on mediaeval minds and society. The picture of the clergy and of women, in particular, are fascinating. The fact that Chaucer was a most skilled and intelligent writer makes for an extremely deep, multi-faceted picture. I thus learned that the role of women in the Middle Ages was somewhat more problematic than one might imagine, beyond misogyny, the sin of Eve, wonderful ladies in their high towers and whatnot. And the nice thing is I enjoyed it all the while...
But I can also say that, as a reader with an academic training, but not necessarily in mediaeval literature, I was really glad to find it sounded so "modern" (though I know it's a bit naive to shout "modern" every time one is just surprised to understand a work from somewhere else than the contemporary West), simply because I felt I could truly appreciate the wonderful intricacy of the situations, the beauty of the rhetoric and the skill of the whole architecture. I do admit that, being absolutely not a Christian, I had more trouble relating to the moral tales than to the lighter ones... Yet the whole was very finely balanced, the characters perfectly fulfilled their part as tale-tellers, social archetypes and full-fledged round novel characters all at once, every story complemented each other (in spite of a few gaps due to the unfinished nature of the work), the rhetoric and arguments were thought-provoking even though mediaeval preoccupations are so far removed from our own, and as far as I could judge from the translation, the style was quite something as well, with its oral quality mixed with careful versification and construction.
Well, I'm not hoping to bring forth any groundbreaking news when I say this commection is a masterpiece... What I want to point out is that it's an accessible one, even for today's reader. You don't need to get a whole new literary training to enjoy it, only to open your mind a little bit... So, go ahead!...more
Stories without a definite plot can still be deeply moving. This one is a great example. The atmosphere, at one light and grave, of this story about lStories without a definite plot can still be deeply moving. This one is a great example. The atmosphere, at one light and grave, of this story about love and loneliness, is its main interest, but the plot is also extremely well served by the writing. And it has one of the best cat characters I ever came across. ...more
The most frightening book I have read in a while... The mixture of atmosphere, social considerations and SF elements is simple yet very subtly balanceThe most frightening book I have read in a while... The mixture of atmosphere, social considerations and SF elements is simple yet very subtly balanced, with a profoundly unsettling result. A story definitely well worth your time....more
If there is a consensus on one book, it's on that one... What could I say against it? I could not frankly oppose the story, which is a good one, nor tIf there is a consensus on one book, it's on that one... What could I say against it? I could not frankly oppose the story, which is a good one, nor the style, nor the critique of totalitarianism. At the same time it is hardly a book one could call boring. So why only a 4?
For a simple reason: this book is simple, straight-to-the-point, efficient... perhaps a bit too much. After all this time, I am a bit fed up with people who tell me they do not enjoy SF as it is repetitive, "except 1984 and Brave New World which are great of course". 1984 is a good book, but certainly not the best SF ever written. Is that because the author stated several times that he intended to write a satire and not science-fiction? Probably. Yet I could hardly say it is the best satire ever written: it has a decent amount of invention, but nothing I would be too jealous of, and I am sorry to say that at times, it smacks of propaganda. I would even say that I am not surprised that people that read a little but are not big literature lovers usually are usually raving about it: it is a very easy book, there is nothing there to unsettle your literary habits, nothing too hard to understand.
I am not saying that it is not a good book, however. It has every right to be a classic. I just think that, as a SF lover, I got a little tired of hearing people calling it the best SF ever when you have so many wonderful and underrated SF books around... as you see, this is rather personal!...more