Blue is the Warmest Color (Le bleu est une couleur chaude) took French graphic novelist Julie Maroh five years to complete. She started it when she waBlue is the Warmest Color (Le bleu est une couleur chaude) took French graphic novelist Julie Maroh five years to complete. She started it when she was 19 and thanks to the support of the community she was able to finish this coming of age story. It has since been adapted into a movie directed by Abdelatif Kechiche and went on to be awarded the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Blue is the Warmest Color takes place in 2008 following the death of Emma’s partner Clémentine. At the request of Clémentine, Emma has been granted access to her dairies. The diaries start in 1995 when Clémentine was a fifteen old girl, confused about her sexuality. It is within the diaries we discover her struggle with her sexuality as well as the relationships she had with Emma.
This graphic novel takes all the nuance of a relationship and plays it out within the pages and it does it in a way that is never cliché. This depiction plays on the highs and lows of the relationship between Clémentine and Emma, which allows it to explore the struggles as well as all the tender moments they share. However before the relationship starts and even as it blossoms there is also the coming of age story where Clémentine is trying to find herself as well as understand her own sexuality.
I am not a lesbian so I could not speak to this struggle with sexuality, however it felt so raw and emotional. I could not help but think the struggle or the emotions experienced were all real and possibly autobiographical. Julie Maroh has a real way with capturing the emotions of this relationships and she allows the readers to experience them along with the characters. This makes for an intimate experience and I was able to empathise with both characters even when they were making silly mistakes.
Julie Maroh is also the artist for this graphic novel and the art is the highlight of this story. The line work Maroh has drawn on to each page captures both expression and details beautifully. Then with the added colours, the pictures in each frame just pop. I love the way Maroh draw this comic and the sparing use of colour, each frame felt breathtaking and I think I spent more time admiring the art work than actually reading the story. Blue is the Warmest Color was originally written in French so I have to compliment Ivanka Hahnenberger for the translation. It is a real skill of a translator to be able to present the text in a beautiful that allows the reader to forget that they are reading a work in translation, but Hahnenberger pulled it off.
I am not sure how autobiographical this graphic novel is, but it is hard to imagine anyone writing these emotions without first experiencing them for themselves. It is interesting to experience a life that is different to your own and I want to read a lot more graphic novels like this one. This is at times beautiful and at other times heartbreaking. Blue is the Warmest Color had plenty of tender moments and by the end I think I had a little dirt or something in my eye because they were leaking.
For thirty years, the clandestine government agency simply known as the Southern Reach have been sending expeditions into an isolated area known as ArFor thirty years, the clandestine government agency simply known as the Southern Reach have been sending expeditions into an isolated area known as Area X. Twelve expeditions have been sent to this unspoilt stretch of the US coastline but they are no closer to unlocking the mysteries of Area X. John Rodriguez, or as he is better known, Control is the newly appointed head of Southern Reach and he is determined to sort out this agency from all its disarray.
While Annihilation focused on Area X and served as an exhibition into nature, Authority is more about the bureaucratic nightmare of a secretive government organisation. The story follows Control, who serves as more of an outsider trying to make sense of everything that is going on within the Southern Reach. While this novel focuses on the organisation rather than Area X, readers can still expect to experience the same building of tension and terror found in Annihilation.
Even though it is a different cast of characters, I am very mindful of giving spoilers to the series so I will be a little vague and won’t be able to say everything I would like to say. Having said that, I tend to view Authority as a novel that parallels Annihilation in many ways. This makes me believe that the effects of Area X is not just a physical anomaly but also psychological. Yet again the reader is left with more questions than answers; What is going on here?
While I don’t think Authority was nearly as exciting as Annihilation. I am still very curious how this series will end with the last book Acceptance. I do have the last book from the library and I will probably read it sometime in January; I just need to know the answers. These books are a fun departure from the types of books I normally read but I do hate how vague I have to be in the reviews. Go out and read them; that is pretty much all I can really say.
Karl Ove Knausgård’s six volume autobiographical novel, My Struggle (Min Kamp) has been dubbed a literary sensation more often than I can count. DespiKarl Ove Knausgård’s six volume autobiographical novel, My Struggle (Min Kamp) has been dubbed a literary sensation more often than I can count. Despite what the critics think, I often look to the book blogging community to help measure the success and popularity of a book and sadly this series hasn’t really become the sensation it should be. It has been compared to Proust but I think that is mainly because of the large autobiographical nature, My Struggle tells the story of Karl Ove Knausgård’s life in a non-linear way; A Death in the Family (My Struggle #1) focuses on the theme of death, while A Man in Love (book 2) looks at love.
When Karl Ove Knausgård leaves Oslo and starts his life afresh in Stockholm, it is because of a messy breakup with his wife. His move to Stockholm is aided by Geir, in which he develops a deep friendship with. He also meets a beautiful Swedish poet, Linda Boström, who captivated him and becomes the object of his affection. A Man in Love is the story of Karl Ove and Linda’s blossoming romance, eventual marriage and children.
As stated in my review of A Death in the Family, this series of books have been met with massive controversy and his friends and family have been none too pleased. His ex-wife has stated in an interview that he has made a “Faustian bargain”, sacrificing relationships for this series of books. Karl Ove Knausgård is brutally honest and doesn’t paint the best light on himself or others, despite the fact this is considered an autobiographical novel.
Compared to A Death in the Family, A Man in Love is a linear story that focuses on the relationship between Karl Ove and Linda. Knausgård writes with such affection and love towards Linda and there is such a tender and sweet tone to the book. However because he wants to remain viciously truthful there are moments where she isn’t portrayed as the sweet woman he feel in love with. Knausgård airs all their domestic disputes and Linda sometimes comes across as aggressive, angry and stubborn. In contrast, the reader will also notice that Karl Ove Knausgård is flippant, arrogant and narcissistic.
I loved the dark themes and what Knausgård had to say on bewilderment and grief, so I kind of felt like this was a little light and flowery for me. Don’t get me wrong, there are some dark moments here and Linda Boström Knausgård’s outbursts make their relationship rough but there was just something that bugged me about this novel. Karl Ove kept threating to leave Linda every time she had an outburst and that bothered me but I realised that was his style of arguing and at least he was honest about his flaws as well. After a little bit of research I found out that Linda suffers from bipolar disorder, which I don’t remember being revealed in the book but helps put things into perspective.
A Man in Love is a novel about love and Karl Ove’s relationship with Linda, which is an important part of his life but doesn’t always make for a compelling read. I did enjoy this novel and I am looking forward to picking up book three in the Min Kamp series, Boyhood Island. It sounds like the majority of the story has been covered in A Death in the Family but I will find out soon. The fourth book in the series is set to be released in March next year, but then I will be stuck waiting for the last two books. Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle is well worth checking out and I am disappointed that not many other people are reading it, but maybe they are just waiting till the entire series is released.
What Is Literature? (Qu’est ce que la littérature?) by Jean-Paul Sartre has also been published as Literature and Existentialism. It is a collection oWhat Is Literature? (Qu’est ce que la littérature?) by Jean-Paul Sartre has also been published as Literature and Existentialism. It is a collection of freestanding essays originally published in the French literary journals Les Temps Modernes, Situations I and Situations II. Jean-Paul Sartre is best known as the French philosopher who played a key part in the schools of existentialism and phenomenology. It is sometimes forgotten that he was also a literary critic and a Marxist who was often vocal about the abuses of human rights by the Soviet Union.
The reason I mention that Jean-Paul Sartre was a Marxist is because this plays a big part of What Is Literature? To understand his political standing is useful because it plays an important role in his literary criticism; Sartre was very vocal political, and though he embraced Marxism he never joined the communist party. While his literary criticism is always focused on Marxism, his schools of thought in philosophy are relevant, as well as his views on sociology and post-colonialism.
There are four essays found within What Is Literature? “What is Writing?”, “Why Write?”, “For Whom Does One Write?” and “Situation of the Writer in 1947”. “What is Writing?” is probably the most fascinating (for me, anyway) of the four essays, exploring the ideas of writing that distinguish it as an art form apart from poetry, painting and music. I found it interesting how Sartre has separated poetry and journalism out of his thoughts of writing to focus on literature as an art form. Whether you believe his idea of not, Jean-Paul Sartre will give you plenty of food for thought and I have to admit that a sufficient amount of it went over my head.
Jean-Paul Sartre has spent a great deal of time thinking about literature and writing as an art and philosophical idea, more than I could ever imagine. Because of this, it can be difficult and as a reader I had to admit that I wouldn’t understand everything. What Is Literature? did however leave me with plenty to think about and offer me a fresh perspective and that is all I wanted from this book. Let’s face it, this is a pretty pretentious book to read but I still think it is worth exploring the ideas within What Is Literature?
The Crocodile Club tells the story of Selina Plankton, an assistant to the magician The Great Salami, who finds herself out of a job. At the same timeThe Crocodile Club tells the story of Selina Plankton, an assistant to the magician The Great Salami, who finds herself out of a job. At the same time she receives an eviction notice. Her life becomes a little strange when she meets a Serbo-Scottish psychiatrist who offers her $10,000 for a first date. However a desperate phone call sends her to Darwin to help a life long friend where Selina is embroiled in a mystery that involves political corruption, mayhem and attempted murder.
Kaz Cooke is an Australian author, cartoonist and radio broadcaster. She is an experienced journalist, with over 30 years’ experience and now the author of advice books like Women’s Stuff, Girl Stuff: your full-on guide to the teen years and Up the Duff: the real guide to pregnancy. I would like to point out when viewing her website there is only one mention of her novel The Crocodile Club and I had to use the find option in my browser to actually find it.
This is a really strange book; on the surface it is this story of a modern Australian woman struggling through life, trying to make the most of her job and find romance. There is that question of etiquette when it comes to being offered $10,000 for a date that plays a role within the novel. There are the normal chick-lit tropes, a quirky protagonist who is hopeless with love, a destructive ex-boyfriend and the light hearted humour.
However Kaz Cooke’s journalistic style comes out every so often with the story and creates these really weird moments. The first time it was about thirty pages into the story and I was learning about the socio-economical make up of Darwin. Later there were moments heavily focused on small-town politics, political corruption and the relationship between government and mining companies. It doesn’t stop there; I was sent on a tangent about foreign relationships and trade between Australia and Asia and even going on about the United States of America. It is almost like Cooke wanted to give the reader all this information to show them what she was trying to do with the story. Though it was meant to be a quirky romance/adventure story and I am sure most readers would have been able to manage without all this information. This was such a strange experience to jump from chick-lit to journalistic research and back again constantly.
I picked up this novel because it was my wife’s favourite book when she was a teenager and putting aside all those heavy moments I can see why. The romantic elements of The Crocodile Club fall into the spectrum of what a teenager would class as romantic, it is the type of novel a young person would try to write. As an adult, I thought it was clichéd, the characters’ actions were juvenile and dialogue was clunky but besides all of that, there were some funny moments. Finally, I could never understand Selina’s obsession with hairpins. That was until she turned into the MacGyver of hairpins.
Aliens have made contact, or have they? Thirteen years after the visitation, an international science cooperative has locked up each landing site, dubAliens have made contact, or have they? Thirteen years after the visitation, an international science cooperative has locked up each landing site, dubbed Zones in an effort to study the unexplained phenomena. Red Schuhart is a stalker, someone that sneaks into the zones and tries to collect artefacts. Despite the legal ramifications, artefacts on the black market sell really well. When Red puts together another team to collect a “full empty” everything goes wrong.
The attempts to gain publication of Roadside Picnic is a story in itself; like most Russian literature this novel was originally serialised in a literary magazine. Attempts to publish in book form took over eight years, mainly due to denial by the Department for Agitation and Propaganda. The heavily censored book that originally was published was a significant departure to what the authors originally wrote. I am unclear as to whether the new translation I read corrected this censorship, to quote the back of the book “this authoritative new translation corrects many errors and omissions”. I know some of the corrections made included to the original translation starting thirty years after the visitation rather than thirteen but unsure what else was changed. However, despite the censorship and notwithstanding the fact this novel was out-of-print in America for thirty years; Roadside Picnic is wildly regarded as one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time.
The title Roadside Picnic refers to the visitation and the fact that they never made contact with humanity. The novel plays with the idea that intelligent life wouldn’t want to make contact with the human race. One look at humanity, full of all the violence towards each other, aliens would conclude that humans are not intelligent life forms but rather savages. One character within the novel, Dr. Valentine Pilman compared the aliens visit to that of an extra-terrestrial picnic.
“Xenology is an unnatural mixture of science fiction and formal logic. At its core is a flawed assumption—that an alien race would be psychologically human.”
It is fascinating to look at humanity in a first contact novel and it reminded me of how much I’ve enjoyed the psychological/philosophical science fiction novels that seemed to be produced in the 1960s and 70s. However Roadside Picnic went deeper; like most Russian novels of this time, there was a strong reflection on society at the time. Like I said before, I am not sure if this edition still holds the Soviet censorship but I was impressed by the subtle look at society. It wasn’t just a poke at the Soviet Union but rather a look at humanity under an unidentifiable superpower. This could be an American superpower and it looks at ideas of what might happen if the government prohibits the people from gaining access to the biggest scientific discovery of their time. You have a struggle between quarantined verses legitimate scientific research, playing with the moral idea of government regulated technology.
Moving away from the themes, Roadside Picnic is a thrilling and beautifully written novel. Red Schuhart almost comes across as a hard-boiled narrator but less cynical; he remains a wide-eyed curious protagonist throughout the narrative. A surreal, tense story that threw out the rules found in a ‘first contact’ novel and ended up redefining the genre. It went on to challenge some of the ideas in the study of xenology and perhaps even ufology.
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky have been the authors of over twenty science fiction novels, their unique style of blending Soviet rationalism with speculative fiction can be found throughout their books. Roadside Picnic remains their masterpiece and inspired the Russian cult classic movie Stalker (1979) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky wrote the screenplay for Stalker and then the novelisation; no idea why you need a novelisation of a movie that was based on a book. Roadside Picnic is an amazing novel, and reminds me why I love Russian science fiction. The blend of social commentary and science fiction is what I continue to look for when searching for books in this genre.
As most people know, I am a big fan of transgressive fiction and in Australia there is one author that doesn’t shy away from a touch or taboo subject.As most people know, I am a big fan of transgressive fiction and in Australia there is one author that doesn’t shy away from a touch or taboo subject. This author is Christos Tsiolkas and he is best known for his two recent novels The Slap and Barracuda. Merciless Gods is his first collection of short stories and deals mainly with sexuality, family and identity.
Author of six novels, Christos Tsiolkas was born in 1965 to Greek immigrant parents. Reading through his novels you quickly get the sense of what it must have been like growing up in suburbia as a Greek immigrant and a homosexual. He likes to explore these themes constantly and you get an idea of just how backwards people’s thinking can be. Then with his breakout novel The Slap, he challenged everyone’s thoughts, tapping into the universal dilemma around discipline and child-rearing.
Merciless Gods seems to be more of a “return to his roots” collection of short stories, which shares similarities with first novel Loaded at any of his other. There is this whole theme about social and personal struggle that play out within these stories. I am impressed with the way Tsiolkas challenges people’s views; particularly when it comes to sexuality and immigrants. There was a particular story that he wrote in Greek and then translated into English that was very powerful.
Christos Tsiolkas has officially become an ‘auto-buy’ author for me now and I will have to read the rest of his backlist sometime soon. Merciless Gods is hard-hitting and not for the faint of heart, he is pushing the boundaries but he does this really well. I am not sure when these stories were originally written, I think that will be interesting to know. However if you have never read this great Australian author, this is probably not the best place to start. Maybe begin with The Slap or Barracuda before working your way up to Loaded and Merciless Gods.
What happens when you make a stupid bet while drunk at a bar? If you are anything like Tony Hawks, you actually try to win the bet. With £100 at stackWhat happens when you make a stupid bet while drunk at a bar? If you are anything like Tony Hawks, you actually try to win the bet. With £100 at stack, Tony Hawks decides to hitchhike around Ireland with a fridge (even though buying the fridge cost him £130). Round Ireland with a Fridge is a travel memoir about the adventures Tony Hawks had with his fridge.
First of all, it is important to point out that Tony Hawks is a British comedian and is not to be confused with the skateboarder. While he is best known for his travel memoirs, Hawks first claim to fame was as the lead of the comedy band Morris Minor and the Majors, which had a hit with a Beastie Boys parody in 1988. He is also a voice actor, most notable for voicing a vending machine and a suitcase in Red Dwarf.
This book starts off with Tony Hawks talking about how he doesn’t spend much time drinking or going to bars. Then for the entire novel he drinks in bars as he hitchhikes around Ireland. Putting aside this huge contradiction this book is actually very entertaining and manages to captivate the audience for its 246 pages. Travelling from Dublin to Donegal, from Sligo through Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Wexford, Wicklow–and back again to Dublin this a story of the people he meets along the way.
The fridge actually become more of an asset that Tony Hawks originally expected, helping him get rides, free accommodation and even pick up woman. Even the fridge had its own adventures; it was christened by a nun and even went surfing. While this may seem like a gimmick you will find some interesting philosophical thoughts on people and life as Tony Hawks reflects on all the experiences he had with his fridge.
I had a lot of fun with this book and I am so glad to have read it. There were so many laugh out loud moments (I especially enjoyed Hawks views on marathons) and still offered plenty to think about. As a travel memoir I expected something like Bill Bryson and while the comedy is there I think there was more opportunity to teach people about Ireland and its culture. Highly recommend this book and I plan to seek out Playing the Moldovans at Tennis so I can dip back into Tony Hawks writing again.
Adolf Hitler wakes up in the summer of 2011, lying on a patch of open ground in Berlin. However this isn’t the Germany he remembers; he calls over a nAdolf Hitler wakes up in the summer of 2011, lying on a patch of open ground in Berlin. However this isn’t the Germany he remembers; he calls over a nearby group of Hitler Youth but they appear to be unhelpful. He quickly discovers he is no longer the chancellor of the German Reich, in fact Angela Merkel held that role. The Kanzlei des Führers was no more and his home, The Reich Chancellery was no longer liveable. For the rest of Germany, Hitler was just a method actor who refused to break character.
Er ist wieder da (English title Look Who’s Back) is Timur Vermes first novel after working as a ghostwriter. The book is a biting satire of what might happen if Adolf Hitler was alive in the 21st Century. Of course, if he we was alive today he would be on television, spitting his ideology to the influential masses. While many thought of him as a method actor and a comedian, the novel centres on a return to power and politics with his lack of political correctness.
Interestingly enough Look Who’s Back plays on the ideas around satire; while most people within the novel believe Adolf Hitler is just a satirist, the whole notion is that there is a fine line between satire and venomous ideology. One thing I found particularly interesting within the novel is the way Timur Vermes plays with the idea that satire is meant to be funny and I want to stop and give these people a lesson on the differences between Horatian and Juvenalian satire. There are a lot of comedic values within Look Who’s Back (Horatian satire) however the satire within the novel was Juvenalian.
The way Hitler was portrayed within the book, kept reminding me of Bruno Ganz’s performance in Downfall for some weird reason. While Vermes put a lot of effort and thought into how Hitler would react to a modern Germany, this book soon became a one trick pony. The different scenarios Hitler found himself in started off as humorous but soon the jokes got a little old. Despite this fact, I have to be impressed with the amount of thought that went into the ideas Hitler would have towards Germany today.
I do however suspect there is something lost on a reader who doesn’t live within Germany. While there is a lot of entertainment to be had with the novel the subject matter wouldn’t have the same effect. The fact remains that Adolf Hitler was very damaging to Germany and the subject matter would remain a controversial topic. While Timur Vermes depicted Hitler as a man (rather than a monster) in an effort to examine how National Socialism rose to power, Germany remains wary of the effects of this ideology. Hitler’s ideas towards Judaism and immigration have left a bad taste in the mouth of every German person and the results have led to an overly politically correct society. The damage is still visible, but despite the controversial nature of Look Who’s Back, the book sold over 1.4 million copies within Germany and has been translated into twenty eight languages (Jamie Bulloch being the English translator).
I found myself getting a little bored by the jokes within this novel and the moral message was easily recognisable half way through. While there is plenty of interesting ideas within Look Who’s Back, I believe this book might have been more enjoyable if it was cut down about half its size. Hitler comes across as an uncompromising, charismatic but deeply flawed human and while this is needed for this story, it is hard not to see him as anything but a monster.
When we talk about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes always seems to be one of the first things that spring to mind. Sadly for this Scottish wriWhen we talk about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes always seems to be one of the first things that spring to mind. Sadly for this Scottish writer, this turned into both a blessing and a curse. Firstly, Sherlock Holmes remains a seminal part of crime writing and English literature, but limited the writer’s chances in exploring something different. In 1893 Doyle famously tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes in the story “The Final Problem” but due to public outcry and high demands the eccentric detective returned in the 1901 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.
While Arthur Conan Doyle is known for his prolific writing, he didn’t gain much recognition for his works outside of Sherlock Holmes. Even though some critics believe his historical novels are some of his best works and The Lost World being the inspiration behind Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. I picked up Doyle’s 1923 short story collection Tales of Terror and Mystery as part of our book club, but this afforded me the opportunity to explore his writing outside of Sherlock.
Tales of Terror and Mystery is a collection of thirteen short stories broken up into two topics; six stories on terror and seven on mystery. The book kicked off on a positive gear, the tales of terror are almost like a homage to Edgar Allen Poe. Even the short story “The New Catacomb” has a remarkable similarity to Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”. What I enjoyed about these tales of terror was the way Doyle went a little darker and macabre to what I expected from this author.
Having such a great experience with the tales of terror it was a shame to move onto the tales of mystery. Here is a fun experiment; replace the protagonist name with Sherlock Holmes in these stories and see if they feel any different. It doesn’t work in all the stories; I wanted Conan Doyle to explore different styles of writing but I felt like the tales of mystery was almost like Holmes stories at times and the rest just didn’t work too well at all.
Some of the stories with Tales of Terror and Mystery worked really well but then the rest just feel short. I loved that Arthur Conan Doyle seemed to be influenced by great short story writers like Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft in some of the stories. However for the most part I was left wanting something a little more. Also, like what I have found with Doyle’s writing, there are some incredibly racist moments within this collection, with stories like “The Japanned Box” and “The Jews Breastplate”. After reading The Sign of Four earlier this year I have come to expect this colonialism nature from his writing. I like that some of these stories were macabre but overall I think this lacked the stylistic approach I am used to from this author.
For those who don’t know Amy Poehler, then let me clear this part up first. Poehler is a comedian/actor who studied improv before working for SaturdayFor those who don’t know Amy Poehler, then let me clear this part up first. Poehler is a comedian/actor who studied improv before working for Saturday Night Live from 2001 to 2008. In 2009 a spin-off from the American version of The Office was created and Poehler took the lead role in this show called Parks and Recreation. The character Leslie Knope is a perky, mid-level bureaucrat with big hopes and dreams in the small fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Parks and Rec follows this government department in a single-camera, mockumentary style as they try to jump through all the hoops to do something as simple as fill in the construction pit in an abandoned lot and create a park. The seventh and final season of Parks and Recreation is set to begin during the mid-season of the 2014–15 season.
Amy Poehler is not the first Parks and Rec star to release a memoir; Nick Offerman’s (who plays Ron Swanson) book Paddle Your Own Canoe finds him musing about life, manliness, wood work and how to best grill meat. However Poehler’s book was marketed as companion to Saturday Night Live co-star and friend Tina Fey’s Bossypants, rather than Offerman’s memoir. This is possibly due to the huge success of Fey’s memoir and the fact the two often work as a comedy duo.
I picked up Paddle Your Own Canoe as an audiobook because I liked the idea of Ron Swanson narrating and I decided to do the same with Yes Please. Amy Poehler made the audiobook a unique event, with guest stars and banter that I don’t expect appeared in the book. This allowed the listeners to enjoy a different experience to that of reading the book which I know has some pictures to look through instead. I have stopped listening to fiction in audio form because of personal preferences, which has allowed for more podcasts and non-fiction audiobooks. I feel like non-fiction and memoirs seem to work really well as audiobooks; I am not sure why but it just works really well.
What I found interesting about Yes Please was the memoir style; this wasn’t told in a linear format, rather a collection of essays that went back and forward depending on the topic. I really liked this style it allowed more focus on particular topics and allowed Amy Poehler to explore things in her own way. I was also impressed with how strong and confident she comes across in the book; when it came to talking about her divorce with Will Arnett she just simply stated it wasn’t a topic she wanted to go into and then moved on. I think people expect all the juicy and dark details on someone’s life in a memoir and I liked how she just brushed it off, proclaiming “This isn’t a topic I wish to share”. She does share some darker moments but for the most part she wants to come across as a positive and happy person.
Amy Poehler has a strong and passionate attitude towards life and in the end Yes Please really wants people to know that it is okay to be yourself. There were tender moments throughout the book and if you are a fan of Parks and Recreation, you might tear up when she shares her love towards every star within the show. She also spends a lot of time talking about her improv days and trying to make it into show business, reminding people persistence and passion is needed; if you love what you do, then why do anything else.
I really enjoyed reading Yes Please, maybe not as much as Paddle Your Own Canoe but it was still interesting to learn about someone’s life. While some may think that Amy Poehler has let the reader down by refusing to share some parts of her life, I think it really showed integrity. Just because she is an actor doesn’t mean her life is an open book. Parks and Rec fans should pick up this book, but also anyone interested in reading a memoir about someone passionate about life and their job will find Yes Please a great book.
A section of America has been cut off from the rest of the continent; this has been dubbed Area X. While no one has been too sure what caused Area X tA section of America has been cut off from the rest of the continent; this has been dubbed Area X. While no one has been too sure what caused Area X to be cut off, a clandestine government agency called the Southern Reach keeps sending expeditions to this new ecosystem, to study the last vestiges of an untouched environment. Eleven expeditions have gone to this abandoned and unspoilt stretch of US coastline, eleven catastrophic failures. Four women known only by their disciplines: surveyor, anthropologist, psychologist and biologist are preparing for the twelfth expedition; will they find the answers to explain Area X, this enigmatic and frightening ecosystem?
Annihilation is the first book in the much talked about Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer; a short 200 page novel that packs a huge punch. The reader is thrown into this world and soon finds themselves with many questions; however the answers will only lead to more questions and so you will find yourself in a spiral of tension and excitement. Think Cormac McCarthy meets James Smythe; you have this thrilling and complex novel that sees four women and their impending doom.
I am hesitant in talking about this book too much because everything is shrouded in mystery and deception. I don't want to give too much away but I can say that Annihilation, on the surface, is a thrilling science-fiction novel. However as you dive deeper into the plot you will soon discover that this is full metafictional and psychoanalytical allegory that leads to a whole new type of exploration for those interested in critical reading. This is so annoying because I want to talk about this book but I don’t want to give anything away.
I have had similar issues reviewing The Explorer by James Smythe, I want to say so much more about this book but I want people to discover it for themselves. I am desperate to read Authority, followed by Acceptance but I know that reviewing them is going to be even more difficult (much like The Echo). Do yourself a favour, go out and pick up a copy of Annihilation if you haven’t done so already, but trust me when I say you will need the other two books in the Southern Reach Trilogy.
It feels like Sylvia Plath’s life overshadowed her literary value; her autobiographical novel The Bell Jar was like a confessional and people tend toIt feels like Sylvia Plath’s life overshadowed her literary value; her autobiographical novel The Bell Jar was like a confessional and people tend to read it for all the juicy bits. Ariel is a collection of poems published posthumously, just a few years after her suicide. It is true that we have Plath to think for advancing the confessional poetry form and exploring topics previously taboo like suicide, mental illness and domestic abuse.
I would like to thank Meg Wolitzer’s book Belzhar for pushing me into reading more of Sylvia Plath. The book explores a struggling student that was sent to a private school that put her in a special English class. This class spent the semester journaling and reading Plath, most importantly The Bell Jar but also Ariel. That book made me want to re-read The Bell Jar which I loved but instead decided it was time to give her poetry a go.
However I am very aware that I don’t know how to review poetry let alone a whole collection, so this is more about my experience with this book. I feel like I am becoming a better reader but if you ask me to read out loud I am going to struggle. So I decided this is an issue I needed to work on and I read Ariel to my wife (she read some of it to me as well). This may seem like a romantic and intimate thing to do with your partner but Plath has a way of killing any sexy moods.
I loved the experience but I am struck with a sense that Sylvia Plath might have been a poor choice to begin with. She has a very strong sense of imagery and plays a lot with metaphors; some of which I picked up on but there was some stuff that went over my head. Poetry is meant to be read out aloud and I thought this would help with my understanding as well as develop my skills. However I found it extremely difficult to work out punctuation in these poems. Some sentences span over a few stanzas but my natural impulse was to pause after ever line.
Having said that, this was a wonderful experience and while the poems are often dark and depressing I am glad I shared this moment with my wife. Ariel kind of reminds me of those people on the internet that overshare about their lives and you can’t help but be glued to what they write even if it annoys you. Sometimes I think, that is too much information but Sylvia Plath seems to get to the heart of that raw emotion.
Sylvia Plath was an incredibly intelligent and complex woman; I can’t help being fascinated by her. I want to learn more about her life, and understand the emotion behind her writing. Take for example her poem “Daddy”; there is this anger toward her father as well as some holocaust imagery that I just want to understand. I am going to have to find a biography on Plath’s life because I think this places a big part in her writing. Can anyone recommend me a good biography?
Renée Michel is a concierge for an upscale apartment building that is inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée is an intelligent autodidact that hides hRenée Michel is a concierge for an upscale apartment building that is inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée is an intelligent autodidact that hides herself from the residents of this elegant apartment, trying to confirm every stereotype they might have towards a concierge. However a precocious girl named Paloma suspects there is something more about Renée. When a wealthy Japanese business man moves into the building, he sees right through the concierge’s façade and tries to befriend her for some intellectual conversations.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a highly successful novel by Muriel Barbery who obtained her agrégation in philosophy before becoming a professor for the Université de Bourgogne. The publication I read was a Europia edition that was translated by novelist and Literary translator Alison Anderson. L’Élégance du hérisson was translated into more than forty languages and has also been adapted into the 2009 movie The Hedgehog (Le hérisson) staring Josiane Balasko, Garance Le Guillermic and Togo Igawa.
This novel is full of allusions towards works of literature, music, films, and paintings, which is one of the reasons I loved this book. While it might come across as pretentious and somewhat cynical The Elegance of the Hedgehog plays a lot with the ideas of stereotypes, class-consciousness and acceptance. A philosophical novel that explores ideas of how we present ourselves to the world and if we should pretend to be someone different, if that is what others expect from you.
There are plenty of philosophical ideas running through this novel that presents different ideologies, Muriel Barbery has stated that literature is an effective way to explore philosophy. Having sat through plenty of long and boring philosophy classes she wanted a way to explore the ideas in a more effective and interesting way. I suspect people can get lost in the pretentious nature of this book but also the ending; however I think it was a fitting ending for the novel.
I found The Elegance of the Hedgehog to be a beautiful, if not recherché little novel and I enjoyed every moment of it. I wanted to turn back to page one and start again; I think there is plenty within this book to offer its readers. If you pay close attention to the book you might also notice that most of the book was told in a first person, present day nature that makes for a fresh look at the story that I didn’t notice till near the end. I know I should have paid more attention but this is one of the main reasons I wanted to re-read the book.
Lovers of philosophy and literature would love this book but also anyone interested in Marxism. I know I didn’t talk much about the class struggle within the book but that is because I have much to learn in this area. The Elegance of the Hedgehog is an intelligent novel, full of references to literature, witty and smart humour with a satirical nature. The way this French novel translates into an elegant English novel is a testimony to Alison Anderson’s ability but she had a great piece of literature to work with. I would highly recommend this novel to everyone but maybe that isn’t a good idea, I think you have to be in the right frame of mind or mood to truly enjoy this book.
As a child Andrew Relph had a reading disability, but he never let that stop him. He realised the value and importance of reading and writing and workAs a child Andrew Relph had a reading disability, but he never let that stop him. He realised the value and importance of reading and writing and worked harder to learn these skills. Now a psychoanalyst and professional conversationalist, Relph's book Not Drowning, Reading explores his relationship with books and how they fit into his life experiences.
The title Not Drowning, Reading is a fascinating one and also comes with an interesting backstory. It references a time the author almost drowned but also is a perfect metaphor for how Relph felt during his school years struggling with a reading disability. A feeling of struggling to keep his head above water and not get lost in the depths of the educational waters seems to give me an idea of the battle he was having internally. It is interesting to think that he went from an internal battle into a career helping others with psychological struggles.
Divided into essays on his life, Andrew Relph explores the impact literature has had on his life with continual references to his career as a psychoanalyst. Considering I have an interest in psychoanalysing literature, this was a fascinating read for me and gave me plenty to think about. Relph shares his love for authors like Martin Amis, Saul Bellow, William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf and to my disappointment D.H. Lawrence. In fact his thesis was centred on Lawrence and the psychoanalysis.
For those people who don't know, I consider Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence as one of the worst books I have ever read. I will admit that I just didn't get the appeal and have never returned to Lawrence again. There are plenty of reviewers I respect and trust that love the works of D. H. Lawrence and while I hate to admit this, I feel like I need help in understanding the appeal. Lady Chatterley's Lover was read when I first started out as a reader and there would be a lot I missed but I also suspect that it wasn't the best starting point for me as a reader.
Now I have had a rant about D.H. Lawrence, I should return to Not Drowning, Reading by Andrew Relph. This memoir is a very deep look at his life and literature through the lens of psychoanalysis; this reminds me I need to learn about these literary theories but for others it might come across as a little dense. I was completely immersed and fascinated by what Andrew Relph had to say but I am well aware that compared to other memoirs about literature this might be too heavy on theory for some readers.