Five stars for The Pursuit of Love, Three for Cold Climate (I haven't finished it yet).
I went on a rampage reading books by and about the Mitford sistFive stars for The Pursuit of Love, Three for Cold Climate (I haven't finished it yet).
I went on a rampage reading books by and about the Mitford sisters after watching the oh-so-lush Downton Abbey. Downton Abbey made me wonder about what the next generation of British aristocracy experienced post Mary and Matthew's era, especially now that they were between the two wars. The Mitford sisters fit the demography, if only with a twist. What a find!
If you love P.G. Woodehouse books, Nancy Mitford's will be a feast!
As much as I try to buldoze through the verbiage of this book, I couldn't finish it. It took me days and many cups of strong coffee with lots of sweetAs much as I try to buldoze through the verbiage of this book, I couldn't finish it. It took me days and many cups of strong coffee with lots of sweetened condensed milk to go through just three chapters. Caffeine and sugar high, a necessity in wading past theories of postcolonialism.
I needed the help of Rita Abrahamsen's persuasion ("African studies and the postcolonial challenge" African Affairs (2003), 102, 189-201) to accept the necessary evil of convoluted language so that postcolonialist theorists can challenge the power hidden in language.
A summary in one sentence: Mbembe is challenging the bias of European philosoph(ies) that puts and portrays Africa into this particular image we commonly accept.
I am resolved to reread this book and conquer it. (Except for chapter 6 that is simply too ridiculous). ...more
When I was a green college student in Indonesia, I attended a talk by a well-known Indonesian economics professor, an Ivy-League graduate, an ex-activWhen I was a green college student in Indonesia, I attended a talk by a well-known Indonesian economics professor, an Ivy-League graduate, an ex-activist. Impressed by his credentials, I asked him about good books to read, books that liberate the mind and break the claustrophobic, one-sided liberal economics we read in class. (Mind you, this was during Suharto's "golden" period).
To my chagrin, he sneered at me, and with a look of derision barked, "Anda kan mahasiswa! Harusnya anda tahu buku-buku apa yang harus anda baca!" (You are a college student, you should by now know what book to read!). So much about revering an ex-activist. And what is more depressing is that I used to believe him!
Michael Dirda's "Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments" proved him wrong. This is a book that gently guides you to what books to read and why. And since Dirda is a voracious reader, he can direct you to less-known -obscure even- but wonderful books that cater to your inclinations and leanings no matter what they are, and no matter who you are. In my case, I have been wondering about Western Canon that I should read (Harold Bloom's book is on my shelf, but his style of writing is a bit of a put off. At least for right now). He recommends Iliad, St. Augustine's Confession, Dante's Inferno, and a lot of Shakespeare arguing that they provide the basic plots and structure much imitated by later writers. On a lighter side, I found P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie and Jeeves adventure through him (well, my significant half mentioned that earlier, too). He even listed 100 titles for those in search of hilarity (and of course, Wodehouse is first on the list).
"Readings" consists of forty-six chapters taken from Dirda's weekly column in The Washington Post. Each chapter addresses various themes and topics ranging from romantic scholarship to his laments on required summer reading for high school students in Washington DC. This book is unique in that in each chapter, Dirda offers a list of readings as an alternative to best-sellers list which less literate people like myself tend to consult when picking a book to read. I have already dedicated a pocket notebook to jot down some of his suggestions. As a result, I am reading Right-Ho, Jeeves at the moment (He suggested five Wodehouses).
Dirda writes well. His essays are crisp, clean, witty, and sympathetic without being too instructive. Looking back at the "barking professor", I learn from Dirda: You can be an authority without having to bark at a timid, young college student. ...more
I wanted to like this book, but the style Proulx uses in this one is difficult to like. Grammar inversions and absence of pronouns perhaps represent tI wanted to like this book, but the style Proulx uses in this one is difficult to like. Grammar inversions and absence of pronouns perhaps represent the protagonist's character as "third-rate newspaperman." But I got so impatient, I left the book unfinished. ...more
Critiques have pointed out how Jane Austen only wrote about circle she had intimate knowledge about. She even mentioned in one of her letters (?) howCritiques have pointed out how Jane Austen only wrote about circle she had intimate knowledge about. She even mentioned in one of her letters (?) how she politely turned down the subtle suggestion of Prince Regent's private secretary to write about the crown prince, because she was not familiar of his (and his circle's) lifestyle. I became curious: how indeed was the lifestyle of the rich (most certainly the aristocracy and the peerage) and famous (and notorious) of Austen's era? A research in the local library resulted in this book.
This book does not disappoint. For those familiar with Austen's scene of country dances and women in hot pursuits, this book renders similar scenes with several magnitude of glamor, grandeur and risque. Darcy made 10,000 pounds a year? The Duke made millions of pounds a year! An attempt of elopement of Miss Darcy? What about a married woman giving birth to a child not of her husband's?
(A couple of months after I read the book, the movie came out. Haven't seen it: I'd rather preserve my own imagination of Georgiana free from visual renderings). ...more
Tessa Hadley forced me to rethink the idea of "family." Accidents in the Home demonstrates how ex-wives, half-siblings, the child of ex-husband, stepmTessa Hadley forced me to rethink the idea of "family." Accidents in the Home demonstrates how ex-wives, half-siblings, the child of ex-husband, stepmother(s), stepgrandmother, all could melt into a family, essentially defined by this novel as people-accidentally-connected-by-marital-relations-but-are-nevertheless-loyal-to-one-another-and-constant-in-their-loyalty-and-love.
Picked the book up at random on a recent visit to local library. I really like it... :). Weldon's topic is edgy and her execution is full of surprisesPicked the book up at random on a recent visit to local library. I really like it... :). Weldon's topic is edgy and her execution is full of surprises. It was a delight to read. Many years ago I read Weldon's She-Devil and I could not make myself like it. But since knowing that Weldon was one of the script writer for "Upstairs Downstairs", the English series from the 1970s about an Edwardian family at the edge of the British Empire's collapse, my interest on her works is inching upwards.
I am glad I read that in bed, I literally rolled over in my bed, laughing hysterically.
Five star for The Old BadgeFive star for "Summer of Hot Tubs"
I am glad I read that in bed, I literally rolled over in my bed, laughing hysterically.
Five star for The Old Badger Game It reminds me of why one should not seek tenure track position in the US, more specifically Wyoming.
Five and a-half star for The Contest
Updated: last night I had a conversation with a friend about good books, and this book comes to mind. I revisited my reaction when reading stories of those Wyoming characters, and I felt a warm affinity to them and their quirkiness: their quest for the longest beard in the county (more likely the longest beard among the bar frequenter!), their penchant for hot tub one summer, and their good luck (shifting sand anyone?). I felt like they are old friends that I can't stand sometimes, but to whom I am hopelessly tied to. ...more
The first two third of the novel is powerful as it narrates the unraveling of Susie's family. However, it falters towards the end, leaving me wishingThe first two third of the novel is powerful as it narrates the unraveling of Susie's family. However, it falters towards the end, leaving me wishing a more truncated version. It seems that Sebold does not want to be mean to her characters and feel she has to offer them some form of redemption. ...more
I came to this book by way of Ann Stoler's "Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power." Stoler highly praises this book, and after reading it, I can understI came to this book by way of Ann Stoler's "Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power." Stoler highly praises this book, and after reading it, I can understand why.
The Social World of Batavia reveals how European families in the VOC's East Indies were anchored by and interconnected through the female lineage. Boys and young men would be sent back to Europe to "become" European even though they were mixed blood, courtesy of their Asian mothers, while girls and young ladies were kept back in the colony and would be married off to "fresh" incoming European bachelors. Whether a young European man would make it or break it in the colony depended on who he married. In essence, Taylor argues, Batavia at this time was a matrilineal society.
Taylor narrates how intermarriages between European men and Eurasian/Asian women resulted in a hybrid Indies culture. For example, wives and daughters would be seen chewing betel nuts, and slaves followed them around with a spit box (that is not a typo, my friend). Only after the Dutch monarchy took over the East Indies were there efforts to "purify" Europeans' lifestyle and control their their domestic life. (This is where Ann Stoler's book picks up, complete with sexy Foucauldian analysis of Power/Knowledge).
Four star due to originality (the book was published in 1982, long before analysis of the everyday became hip) and for the fresh insights into Indies society.