À la recherche du temps perdu or In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust is probably the one book all bookish people are afraid to tackle. It is only...moreÀ la recherche du temps perdu or In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust is probably the one book all bookish people are afraid to tackle. It is only a few pretentious people that have actually read it, and I plan to be one of them. Alain de Bottom has put together a collection of essays on what Proust can offer to today’s readers.
In my reading slump, which I’m debating whether it was real or not, I only felt like reading non-fiction. I picked this book because I felt like this would be a quick read and I was interested to know more about Proust and the book In Search of Lost Time. This book doesn’t really offer any good insights to these two topics. I think this is a book designed to try and convince people into reading In Search of Lost Time but I feel that anyone reading this one would have or are planning to read it anyway.
There is a little about the life of Marcel Proust, but only enough to give you a small taste. This left me more intrigued by the man and wanting to read a biography. De Bottom left me confused about the life of Proust and I had too many questions left unanswered. This really didn’t help this book at all, especially since Proust is an enigma (to me) and the tiny parts he shared about his life didn’t explain anything.
When it came to talking about À la recherche du temps perdu I was left thinking about the Monty Python skit about the “Summarise Proust Competition” where each contestant is given 15 seconds to try and summarise In Search of Lost Time (all seven volumes). In fact this skit was mentioned in this book as well, but trying to condense 4,000+ pages in 200 pages is not effective. My understanding of In Search for Lost Time, is that it is incredibly complex, intricate and descriptive, not a book you can summarise.
I feel like this was almost pointless, it left me with too many unanswered thoughts and no real answers. I’m none the wiser about Proust or In Search of Lost Time. There were some antidotes that were interesting but all in all, I feel like I wasted my time. I want to work my way through the seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time but I’m not sure if I can manage it. I wonder if anyone has any tips; reading this book wasn’t the answer.
It was a gloomy and stormy night, a mute 7 year old boy, Simon shows at the hermit Kerewin’s tower. The next morning his adoptive father, Joe came to...moreIt was a gloomy and stormy night, a mute 7 year old boy, Simon shows at the hermit Kerewin’s tower. The next morning his adoptive father, Joe came to pick him up. Because Simon couldn’t explain his motives, Kerewin has to rely on Joe to tell their curious story. A storm earlier that year sees Simon wash up on a beach with no memory or clue of his identity. Joe and his now deceased wife took the troubled boy in, but the traumatised boy is just too hard to cope with.
The Maori people use bones as tools and for art; they believe the notion of a person’s core is found within their skeleton. The bones are a common theme throughout the novel; each character is emotionally stripped to the bone. It is then we truly see what type of person these characters are. This novel is full of violence and twisted emotions, making this a tense and draining book to read.
Something I really liked about this novel was Keri Hulme’s use of silence as tool that drives the plot. Simon is unable to speak, but we find out this is more of a psychological rather than a physical restriction, as he can sing. I think he is afraid to say the wrong thing, a defensive strategy. He uses notes as a primary form of communication, this way there are no expressions of his emotion and he can protect himself. The book goes a little further, Simon is also silent about the pain, when he is beaten he doesn’t make a sound. Kerewin also uses silence in a similar way, she built her tower to hide away and be a recluse; no one can hurt her if she is in solitude. She is always an artist suffering from a creative silence; not being able to let her creative side flow through her art. You can read this book and find many examples of silences within it; very effective and I spent a lot of time trying to work out the meaning behind it.
Each character has been damaged that their defensive mechanisms make it hard to open up to others. Yet the three main characters spend the entire novel trying to work out what love is and how to find it. They are all isolated themselves from the world; Kerewin in her tower, Simon with his inability to steak and Joe with his grief. There is just so many themes you could look at in The Bone People, the idea of a utopian society uniting Maori and Western culture, Post-colonial discourse, cultural illness, violence as a way to communicate and you can just go on and on.
This is not the easiest book to read, it is confronting and tense. The Bone People left me with mixed emotions; on one hand the writing was wonderful and left me thinking about so many issues but on the other hand the violence just left me with a sick feeling. I often try to leave my emotional opinion of the subject matter out of analysing a book but I just can’t help it with this one. In the end, I think the book has something important to say and worth reading.
In a freak dust storm NASA aborted a mission on Mars. leaving behind one astronaut; the crew evacuated thinking him dead. Now Mark Watney is stuck, wi...moreIn a freak dust storm NASA aborted a mission on Mars. leaving behind one astronaut; the crew evacuated thinking him dead. Now Mark Watney is stuck, with the damage done to the equipment he might not have time to starve to death. He was the first person to walk on Mars and he is going to be the first to die there too.
The age of the self-published novel is upon us and every now and then we hear people talking about a book getting a publishing deal and going on to be hugely successful. Fifty Shades of Grey being the first of these, then came Wool and I believe The Martian will be the next sensation book. I can’t help but think of this book as Moon (the movie) set on Mars. You have this man verses nature, fight to survive type thriller but help is about 225 million kilometres away (that’s the average; it does depend on the time of year).
You have a few parts to this novel; firstly you have a log book telling the majority of Mark Watney’s story. Then you read about NASA’s rush attempts to find a way to save him and finally you get a first-hand account of Watney when the epistolary style won’t work. The tension that builds in this book is key to why this novel works so well; this is edge of your seat thriller writing at its best.
What I loved the most about this novel was the humour, while this was a tense book, the little one liners thrown in really worked for me. I just liked how Mark Watney’s mind worked; it was a case of too much time on his hands. At one point in the novel he uses maritime law to work out how he can become a space pirate. Then the novel gets scientific, I’m not good at science but I did wonder how accurate this part of the book was. I’m not going to try mixing Oxygen and two parts Hydrogen to make water, it just sounds too dangerous.
For me, I loved every minute of reading The Martian, which is a little surprising; I can’t remember when the last time I truly enjoyed a Science Fiction novel. There are some that I got a lot out of but nothing this enjoyable. This book isn’t going to be released till February next year and unfortunately the self-published ebook is no longer available. Having said that, pre-order this one; I think there will be a lot of hype behind this, but don’t let that stop you from ordering first.
Living in the Caldwell housing estate found in North West London, the only plan was to get out and go somewhere else. Thirty years later, Caldwell kid...moreLiving in the Caldwell housing estate found in North West London, the only plan was to get out and go somewhere else. Thirty years later, Caldwell kids have all moved on with their varying degrees of success. Living streets apart, their worlds collide, showing them that the people they once were and are now, can suddenly unravel.
NW has been labelled as a tragicomedy, which means the author will try to cut overly dramatic and tragic lives will a bit of humour and possibly a happy ending. I felt like this revealed too much about the novel; I always expected everything to turn out well for these four Londoners. The term recherché postmodernism (or hysterical realism) was coined by literary critic James Wood to describe this type of contemporary fiction, in particular the works of Zadie Smith. Has states, this is “a literary genre typified by a strong contrast between elaborately absurd prose, plotting, or characterisation and careful, detailed investigations of real specific social phenomena.”
This gives us a sense of what to expect in a Zadie Smith novel “[and] turn fiction into social theory” (James Wood, 2000). I have to admit that this is the first of Smith’s novels that I read and picked this as my first simply because it was the first time I heard of her and it was available at my local library. In hindsight, maybe starting with White Teeth might have been a better choice but at least I know I’ve experienced Smith’s style without going to her most celebrated novel.
This felt like an experimental novel that had a lot to offer and has some interesting insights into a low social economical part of London. It tried to analyse the social progress of the four main protagonists as they try to be successful in life. Not the easiest book to read while I was struggling to remain focused and climb out of a slump. There are a lot of ideas jammed into a novel full of ever changing styles; yet NW remained lyrical and poetic through it all.
I wish I had better focus through this book, I feel like there was a lot I missed out, what I did get from the book was enjoyable. It is a weird experience enjoying a book but not feeling like reading at the same time. I think it does affect my opinion of NW but I’m trying hard to avoid letting personal opinions cloud my judgment on great writing. Sure, reviewing and enjoyment of a book are based on person opinions but I feel that I need to remove emotions and read more critically. NW was interesting and I hope to read more Zadie Smith in the future.
Constable Peter Grant is back and this time he suspects sorcery in Soho. Jazz musicians in the area are dying; brains scans show they have been magica...moreConstable Peter Grant is back and this time he suspects sorcery in Soho. Jazz musicians in the area are dying; brains scans show they have been magically drained. When the girlfriend of one of the victim’s ends up in bed with Peter, complications are ensured. DCI Nightingale is still recovering so it is up to Peter Grant to handle this one alone.
One of the things I loved about the first book in this series, Rivers of London, was the fact that Peter Grant was a new police officer and new to wizardry. Moon over Soho is a natural progression from that; except that Peter Grant has improved in leaps and bounds. There are still mistakes being made but he is starting to come into his own element, it is like watching him grow as a character.
I’m not sure why the humour has been scaled back in this series but the urban fantasy style seems to be well established and I’m excited to read book three. The series is starting to give Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files a run for his money. While not as dark, the London setting and humour in all its nuance makes for a fantastic read. Ben Aaronovitch’s series may in some parts feel very similar to other urban fantasy novels; I’m impressed with the way he stands apart from the others.
I want to say it is the real English flavour that makes this series enjoyable; I love that style of crime and comedy. This could be because more urban fantasy novels are set in an American or fantastical setting. The uniqueness of the style makes this feel fresh, and then you get all those tropes from urban English novels thrown in as well, like slang.
When it comes to plot, the novel is pretty standard in relation to urban fantasy. I think the characters, the setting and humour is what makes this novel and series interesting. I was in a reading slump when I worked my way through this book. I tried it as a way to break the slump; I was able to read and enjoy the novel but never got out of my slump.
Unfortunately I’m still in a slump, but reading this novel was fun and entertaining. I’m almost tempted in reading book three just to work my way out of the slump. I will talk more about slumps later but reading books like this might do the trick in breaking my reading problems. Peter Grant is a fun character and the series is really enjoyable, I can’t wait to read more.
Jesse Bering, award-winning columnist and psychologist, wants to talk about perversions. We are deviants in one form or another; we may not be paedoph...moreJesse Bering, award-winning columnist and psychologist, wants to talk about perversions. We are deviants in one form or another; we may not be paedophiles, or into voyeurism and exhibitionism but there maybe something in our past we rather not discuss. In Perv, Jesse Bering looks at the psychology of having a fetish outside the norm and compares it to the difficulties he faced growing up in the 70s and 80s as a gay man.
This is an interesting book; it doesn’t condone sexual abuse or committing a sex crime. This rather looks at the psychology of paraphilia’s and makes the reader think about it in a different light. Just because someone has a fetish for something unusual doesn’t make them any less human. Bering looks at cultural thought, imprinting, conditioning and compares them to his own struggles as a homosexual.
While he looks at things like zoophiles, paedophiles and bestiality, he also looks at other perversions. Cross dressing, bondage, sadism and tries to get the reader to accept people as human. Just because they have this desire doesn’t mean they are committing crimes, these people are struggling and dealing with the guilt. As Bering states, sometimes they often feel like they have three options in life; depressive sleep, being institutionalised or suicide. Neither of these solutions seems effective at solving the problem.
I thought I had a decent understanding of the GSM (Gender and/or sexual minority or LGBT if you prefer) lifestyle but this just throws so many questions. I’m not comparing GSM with paedophilia, I’m just saying that the psychology of sex is so complicated and how can you treat people with paraphilia without a decent grasp on it. Especially a paraphilia that was so rare that no one bothered to find the Greek name for it.
There wasn’t much about paraphilia’s as I wanted; I was hoping to learn more about these ‘out of the norm’ sexual preferences. Not because I want to make fun of them, the whole thing is just fascinating. My favourite paraphilia discovered from this book is auto-plushophilia (look it up). I think this book looked at paraphilia’s in a new light, I hope this will help me understand them a little better and make it easier to accept them. I now think the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders approach to paraphilia’s are very dated and destructive. If psychologists don’t approach the treatment of these people struggling in a more accepting and human way then these people will never get the help they are seeking.
I'm not sure how to review poetry. I don't read much of it, but I love the romantics and seem to have entrenched myself with their works. so I wanted...moreI'm not sure how to review poetry. I don't read much of it, but I love the romantics and seem to have entrenched myself with their works. so I wanted to try something different and this seems to be a highly recommend collection. I enjoyed it, it was bold, lyrical but felt overly optimistic, which I'm not into. (less)
A group of strangers arrive in the woodland borders and put up a make-shift camp. That same night a manor house is set on fire. Following that the har...moreA group of strangers arrive in the woodland borders and put up a make-shift camp. That same night a manor house is set on fire. Following that the harvest is blackened by smoke, the strangers are cruelly punished and there is suspicion of witchcraft afoot. Harvest tells the story of the economic progress following the Enclosure Acts that disrupted the pastoral paradise of a small remote English village.
Jim Crave uses the tragedies, pillaging and other disruptions in an effort to evoke the effects of England’s fields being irrevocably enclosed. I never really knew when this book was set but upon researching the Enclosure Acts I’ve since found that this novel is most likely set sometime between 1750 and 1860. This Act basically removed the existing rights the locals had to carry out activities like cultivation, cutting hay, grazing animals, using other resources such as small timber, fish, and turf.
While some people saw these acts as the building blocks to a capitalist future, others thought of this as an attack on the peasantry. You know the old complaint, parliament are only looking after the major landowners; the rich get richer. Sometimes the enclosures were carried out with force and extreme measures were used.
In Harvest we read about a pastoral idyll as it starts to unravel with the major changes in land rights. Jim Crave’s look on the subject is done in an interesting way; I didn’t read this book as a depiction of changes in land rights. I read this as a community so cut off from the rest of the world that it started imploding as soon as outsiders were introduced. Sure, the whole point of the book was the Enclosure Acts; my brain just took a different direction.
While this book felt a little dark, like life was harsh and cruel; all the things I enjoy in a novel, it just didn’t feel right. I felt the grittiness and yet I felt a little bored and disappointed by Harvest. I’m not sure if it was a problem with the novel, I felt like I was in a reading slump and I was forcing myself to complete the book before I needed to return it to the library.
Then again, the first impression is often the correct one. I spent a lot of time thinking if this was a problem with the novel or a problem with me at the time. In any case, it doesn’t matter, I didn’t enjoy it and I’m not sure revisiting it later will change my mind. Well written with the normal historical fiction tropes, but I felt like the novel dragged on. This should have been catnip for me but I just couldn’t find a connection.