I love this book. I love this trilogy. Lev Grossman is a writer I aspire to be like in some ways. But (view spoiler)[ this final volume would be solidI love this book. I love this trilogy. Lev Grossman is a writer I aspire to be like in some ways. But (view spoiler)[ this final volume would be solid gold if only Alice were not the prize at the end. I realize they are trying to get to know one another again, but the falling back into sex and closeness thing felt forced to me. I wish Alice were the one to kill the rams and put Fillory back together, and I wish Quentin had made his land with Alice as a kind of olive branch but then they parted ways. Because IRL sometimes you make it up to someone and you're still grown apart. I dunno. The very end was weak sauce. But I only feel so passionate about it because Grossman is a seriously rad writer, and it's nothing personal. I will probably buy anything he writes going forward. Sigh. (hide spoiler)]...more
This collection of stories is so good and the titular novella was one of the first things I've ever read that felt like "wow, this was MY high schoolThis collection of stories is so good and the titular novella was one of the first things I've ever read that felt like "wow, this was MY high school and not a TV high school". The teen characters were spot on, the right balance of self absorbed and impulsive signature to the age but also the real passion, precocious intellect, and will power that come with being 16. Also it's beautifully written. The grossest stuff is like jewels on the page. Read it if you are a sad gay girl who loves messed up art and creepy magic....more
Eric Gamalinda's short stories are really fun and refreshing, but not for everyone. If you like the dry humor with heart of Lorrie Moore but want a liEric Gamalinda's short stories are really fun and refreshing, but not for everyone. If you like the dry humor with heart of Lorrie Moore but want a little Gabriel García Márquez magical realism and maybe a little gritty realism too, this thin volume is perfect for a few commutes or a rainy afternoon. I bought this directly from Black Lawrence Press at the Boston Book Fair-- the woman working their table sold it to me by saying, "There's a story where a woman gets emails from her dead ex-husband". It's touching without getting the fringes of melodrama that Moore sometimes skates along, and when it's funny its often in the way that political struggles often weave into the every day interactions between people from different kinds of lives. Almost done with this one, love it....more
This book wasn't perfect but it WAS basically very good. My (white) mom keeps harassing me to read The Help but I feel like if you're gonna go for a rThis book wasn't perfect but it WAS basically very good. My (white) mom keeps harassing me to read The Help but I feel like if you're gonna go for a racially charged Americana story written by and more or less for white people, all the white people who read The Help should read this instead. It's just a better book, plus some other reasons....more
I wanted to love this book, I really did. The prose is gorgeous but the characters left so much to be**spoiler alert** Update upon finishing the book:
I wanted to love this book, I really did. The prose is gorgeous but the characters left so much to be desired. Everything becomes even more of what I mention below:
I'm about 3/4th of the way through this book now. The first third was utterly gripping, but it definitely slowed down for me by the time Jonathan Strange went to Portugal, and even more when he went to Italy. I do love this book, and recommend to it everyone who asks what I'm reading, or likes fantasy. Susanna Clark is unrivaled in her mastery of craft, and she does the history and 19th century genres and styles justice. However, while I loved the history book approach to telling the story, two big things stuck out to me and made me sigh a little bit:
1. While plenty of asides make reference to gender inequality within the world and the characters, all of the female characters are relatively static and flat. Hints at female POV go nowhere but to advance a male character's depth. Women swoon around and get sick and die so that their husbands may manpain themselves to the next plot point. This IS absolutely in the spirit of the inspirational material; Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is in no small part a retelling of Dracula with a dash of Doctor Faustus before you even get to the Jane Austen and other influences. However, it was a little tiresome. The social commentary which is at times cutting and insightful is, for this reason, at other times a little cynical and there's more arch and stereo types than human beings. Some characters appear and stand in for an idea so that it may be argued about and then disappear. This is less about "feminism" than, well, writing. EDIT: The book literally ends with Mrs. Strange agreeing to passively wait around. I couldn't invent a weaksaucer female character. She's all "goodness" and no substance whatsoever.
2. For similar reasons of homage to source material, mental illness is attributed magical properties. It fits with the beliefs of the time and place, but when it finally gets elaborated upon in a big way with a POV character, it's almost embarrassing. Dementia and schizophrenia get flattened into objects which literally get used by main characters to their own ends for their ~lunatic idiot savant mysticism~ and then those people are just kind of scooted to the side. I promise there are ways to keep to attitudes of the time and place AND show characters more humanity. I am not asking folks to project modern sensibilities onto the past, just like, choose where they put their attention to detail with a bit more care.
Other than those things this is more of a 4 star book. I love it and I'm excited to finish it....more
This book is fun. Haters gonna hate. Most of the characters are unlikable because they are so realistic-- most teenagers aren't sorted into GryffindorThis book is fun. Haters gonna hate. Most of the characters are unlikable because they are so realistic-- most teenagers aren't sorted into Gryffindor or Slytherin, they are as capable of thoughtful, noble action as they are of self-absorbed hedonism, even within the same moment. I can't believe how much plot was crammed into this book! It kept me turning pages until the end. Can't wait to read the sequel....more
I really loved this book, largely in part because Jenny reminds me a lot of my MtF partner in personality, but it's also a great story about the fearI really loved this book, largely in part because Jenny reminds me a lot of my MtF partner in personality, but it's also a great story about the fear of imposing on those you love with who you really are, and some of the costs and delights of finally asking to be seen. I love the supernatural as a metaphor.
The familiar narrative of suffering by denying the queer self, and then using that suffering as the basis of legitimacy for finally existing as queer, is an important but hopefully soon to be dated story. I hope that all transpeople can grow up today confident that they are lovable, no apologies.
There's also some interesting parallels between "I'm Looking Through You" and Allison Bechdel's "Fun Home", also a memoir (though in graphic novel format), which is about a young, androgynous queer girl coming of age and trying to make peace with her family, particularly her dead father. It's set in the same time period, also in an upper middle class white family who move into an old Victorian home which is the father's pet project. Both are respectively fantastic for what makes them different, but if you liked "I'm Looking Through You", I'd highly recommend "Fun Home", too....more
An informative and informed history of the structural racism and sexism of science since the Enlightenment. Schienbinger excellently fleshes out the sAn informative and informed history of the structural racism and sexism of science since the Enlightenment. Schienbinger excellently fleshes out the social and political contexts for her arguments, and reminds readers that science continues to be exclusionary (as most of my non-white and/or non-male scientist friends can attest to). Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in or is otherwise studying gender and race history in America, science, art history, anthropology, and philosophy (especially phenomenology, since the treatment of one's body is a large part of how one experiences the body, but obviously there are ethical philosophical issues raised in this book as well)....more
I've recently become fixated with familial-historical novels that work through the common problems that transcend time period. The chapters that focusI've recently become fixated with familial-historical novels that work through the common problems that transcend time period. The chapters that focused on Isabelle were fantastic-- I love the careful and sparse writing that focuses on description and action. The 20th century character, Ella, is perhaps less charming since she is written in first person and not third, and her own tone is more chatty. She struck me as kind of an unstable twit, and she really becomes a passive central character in a way. Rick is a lame husband, but we never really get to know why they fell in love in the first place. Also what other reviewers said about undeveloped relationships with the other women in the book. Ella's story picks up near the middle of the book which made it more exciting to read, but basically I felt like I was only reading her chapters to better understand Isabelle's story, which had me totally captivated....more