Hate to love it? Roxane Gay describes it as a "delicious pile of glitter" which is about right in my opinion :)
I was compelled by the wealth and secreHate to love it? Roxane Gay describes it as a "delicious pile of glitter" which is about right in my opinion :)
I was compelled by the wealth and secret society life in this novel. My guess is that the foundation for the lifestyles portrayed is true and I found it to be fascinating. I guess I don't know though and it could just all be wrong and offensive! I think that growing up in the Bay Area around wealthy people (not on the level of Crazy Rich Asians) makes me morbidly curious.
Crazy Rich Asians was a fast read that read sort of like a soap opera, but the characters were likable and for the most part believable. This was a pretty visual book and would have been fun to see...I could see it being made into a Gossip Girl style show.
The writing was medium. I didn't like the way the flashbacks were integrated into the writing. It was very abrupt and clumsy. Kwan was repetitive at times, using the same descriptors over and over. This isn't a piece of high literature though, and for what it was, it was enjoyable and different. ...more
Really love this story, but I had a hard time following all the battle drawings :-/ I am wondering if it was printed in color originally? Might be morReally love this story, but I had a hard time following all the battle drawings :-/ I am wondering if it was printed in color originally? Might be more clear to the eye that way... Also I am not used to the brevity in "comics" or some graphic novels. The relationship between Keiji and Rita seemed sort of brief and expositional. Fun and quick to read nonetheless....more
I really liked a lot of the stories in this novel, but I just think it spread itself too thin. I wanted a more cohesive in depth look into these womenI really liked a lot of the stories in this novel, but I just think it spread itself too thin. I wanted a more cohesive in depth look into these women's lives. I understand that the structure serves a purpose, after all "the form is the meaning", but it just wasn't totally satisfying. I think this is one that requires a few readings to fully grasp the recurring themes and motifs. Happy to have read it again after seriously not liking it in high school. I think the depth of the generational span was more powerful to me as an older person than it was when I was a teenager. ...more
It was refreshing to dive back into Murakami's writing. He writes with a haunting imagination. There were moments in this novel that got the best of mIt was refreshing to dive back into Murakami's writing. He writes with a haunting imagination. There were moments in this novel that got the best of me and had me a little spooked, wondering what was ahead. Specifically when the narrator wakes up to the sound of music in the middle of the night and goes searching for its origin.
Much of Murakami's writing verges on the characters' dream-scapes, making a somewhat disorienting experience for the reader. Other novels I have read by Murakami achieve this experience in a somewhat more integrated, contextualized way than 'Sputnik'. For me 'Sputnik' seemed a little fragmented and almost like a brainstorm for Murakami's novels to come; most specifically 'Wind Up Bird Chronicle'.
I am also interested in the experience of trauma in this book. One of the characters, Miu, experiences a "splitting in two" 14 years before the main action of the novel. I am curious if I am reading too far into the story and characters psychologically, to fill in the blanks of Miu's mystical story, with a real life trauma. I don't think it's a stretch at all, but I am cautious with writing like this to make too many connections when the point of mystical, or magical realism, writing is to inhabit an "impossible" realm. ...more
So so good. Enjoyed the commentary on race and racism in America the most. Found myself gasping out loud, saying "gosh", nodding my head, and questionSo so good. Enjoyed the commentary on race and racism in America the most. Found myself gasping out loud, saying "gosh", nodding my head, and questioning my own racisms. While I liked the central story and the narrative arc of the book, I honestly could have done without and enjoyed the novel just the same. I definitely appreciated the ending of the novel, respect Adichie for neither wrapping it up in a perfect bow, nor leaving it entirely open ended. ...more
**spoiler alert** This was a really great read. I found the way the story unfolded to be captivating, if a little "predictable". I use quotations on p**spoiler alert** This was a really great read. I found the way the story unfolded to be captivating, if a little "predictable". I use quotations on predictable, because while the major plot points were no great surprise, they were unique and made for an interesting story. I gave Never Let Me Go 4 stars because the style got a bit redundant for me. The narrator used one main format for her storytelling that was, at times, slightly annoying. I liked that the storytelling wasn't always linear, but the format did seem formulaic.
Never Let Me Go is thematically very rich. While I would identify "humanity" as the main theme on the broadest level, there were many layers that were addressed upfront and subtly. One of the more interesting aspects was the classism inherent to the story line. I also found myself very moved by the power that mortality has in this book. Although the donors' mortality is accelerated due to their "job", I appreciated that the characters really process their mortality in the same way a "regular" human does. The end really drove this home to me when I found myself in tears! I am so grateful that Ishiguro didn't make some heist out of trying to get his protagonists out of their fate. Instead I was surprised and pleased when he followed each character through to the fate that was set out for them from the beginning. This makes the message a bit Calvinistic with a "predestination" outlook on life, however in the case of Ishiguro's characters it seemed very realistic and natural. I definitely think that Never Let Me Go is a much more difficult story to write than a comparable adventure-heist story that ends in escape.
I even just realized that you never meet a recipient of the donors. ...more
As an epic story, following one family over many decades and generations, this book falls into my favorite genre for literature. The touches of pure mAs an epic story, following one family over many decades and generations, this book falls into my favorite genre for literature. The touches of pure magical realism were fewer than I was expecting which piques my interest about Chinese literature. This is the first contemporary Chinese author I have read and the differences between Middle Eastern or South American books of the same genre were subtle, but noticeable (much as they are from one another as well). There was more of a spiritual tone to the "magic" that to me lies more firmly in the "mystical", an interesting and illuminating distinction.
As I approached the end of the novel I was thinking that it was a bit less emotional for me than I am used to with such epic characters and storytelling. I did not feel very invested in any of the characters successes or failures. I think I kept reading out of curiosity for where the plot would go rather than any great compulsion. In the end I am left to consider this more closely because in the last 70 pages I found myself drawn to tears numerous times over the twists and turns the family had undergone and withstood. I was particularly moved by Jeifang in the last chapters.
I feel like I am left with a lot to think about. I want to explore the narrative structure of the novel; why did Mo Yan take over in the end?? I also am curious about the literary themes in Chinese literature and how China's history has influenced authors. It is clear that the country's history has a HUGE impact on Mo Yan's writing, but I am interested in how the history influences the broader picture of China's literary "scene". ...more
Overall a good and worthwhile read. I have read and studied a fair amount of Rushdie's work and was pretty excited to get a glimpse into the author'sOverall a good and worthwhile read. I have read and studied a fair amount of Rushdie's work and was pretty excited to get a glimpse into the author's mind.
Jospeh Anton is a memoir's memoir. While it was certainly genuine and accurate to Rushdie's emotional experience and historic details, the intensity of self reflection and self-aggrandizement was somewhat over the top. At times the style reminded me of a cinematic cliche where the author sits down to write their memoirs and goes into a writing craze of confession, justification, and conceit. By no means did I feel this way about the whole book, there were just moments where it was very writerly and extreme. I suppose there is no way for a memoir to not exhibit bias or the authors character, I guess I was just a little surprised by the self proclaimed character of Salman Rushdie! The tone was a little like "Salman Rushdie always made the best choices about life". It was slightly overly victimized and self mythologizing for my personal preference in character. I understand accepting one's choices, circumstances, responsibilities, and injustices as they contribute to life's outcome, it just seems that there could be a more humble way of reflection on them.
I do not mean for that critique to undermine the fact that Rushdie DID go through a great injustice and suffered a HUGE toll on his personal and public life, there was just very little acknowledgement of error on his part. There is no doubt that the freedoms that Rushdie advocates and spent over a decade of his life fighting for are some of the top most rights of humanity. It is UNBELIEVABLE to me that an experience such as this is even possible in our modern world. I also really appreciated the exploration of the toll the political fall out from the Satanic Verses had on it's literary reception. I have read the Satanic Verses and it is a shame that this novel did not receive the critical attention it deserved. What a beautiful, complex piece of literature from a voice largely underrepresented in the literary world. Also, a shame that this literary voice was silenced for as long as it was.
As a student of post-colonial literature, I was fascinated by Rushdie's explanations of how the style of his novels came to be. While he seems to be hyper-conscientious of his style, it seems like it largely asserted itself. Magical Realism is ingrained in his work organically as the times, places, and characters spoke for themselves, stretching outside of what our world can naturally hold. I appreciate the realization that this style is not a gimmick, but rather the only way these stories can be spoken.
While there were places that were somewhat excessive in detail (this book did not need to be 600 pages), I was grateful for his ending notes. His proclamations on the power of literature were so moving to me and spoke directly to the power that I find in story telling. Throughout the whole book, Rushdie asserts himself as an Atheist and aggressively calls out the issues of organized religion. Ultimately, however, Rushdie's is a religion of literature. His is the belief that through metaphor, character, and story, humanity gets closer to finding a moral compass and a set of universal truths. It is this side of Rushdie that I find most beautiful and convicting, and these convictions that flow out of his work that continue to draw me to his writing.
I especially liked: The Fight and One Warm Saturday. I haven't read any Dylan Thomas before, but I really enjoyed the atmospheric feeling of his proseI especially liked: The Fight and One Warm Saturday. I haven't read any Dylan Thomas before, but I really enjoyed the atmospheric feeling of his prose. I think the predominant themes of isolation, loneliness, and longing were captured beautifully in the exploration of coming of age in the city. Seems to me he has a pretty vast and deep understanding of the human condition. ...more
I wasn't sure where to start processing this book. I know basically nothing about metaphysics and wondered if I had gotten lost in the riddle that plaI wasn't sure where to start processing this book. I know basically nothing about metaphysics and wondered if I had gotten lost in the riddle that plays out between dreams and reality. That said, the riddles that kept me puzzling were engaging, fresh, and left me thinking about the grander themes and philosophies.
As I researched Haruki Murakami and Kafka on the Shore, I began to feel more at ease with my experience of the book. I am all about authors who describe their work as a process of revelation. In one quote Murakami says "When I start to write, I don’t have any plan at all. I just wait for the story to come. I don’t choose what kind of story it is or what’s going to happen. I just wait." He also says "When you read a good story, you just keep reading. When I write a good story, I just keep writing". This transcendent approach to writing manifests itself in Murakami's writing and characters. Kafka on the Shore is a story of journey and discovery.
I also appreciate Murakami's treatment of imagination and dreams. There is a profound respect for the internal landscape in the ambiguity between reality and imagination. While I could imagine readers being frustrated by this ambiguity when it comes to plot, the point is that what plays out in dreams and imagination is just as important and significant as what plays out in reality.
As far as the reading experience goes, I found it to be a quick, enjoyable read. I found the characters to be likable and relatable, even in their eccentricities. Maybe I have read enough magical realism to be used to the tricks it plays with, but the supernatural in this book was easy to accept and put into place thematically. I even feel like it was relatively linear. I think that Laura Miller a reviewer at the NYT put it nicely when she said "While anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves."
I am excited to read more by Murakami and get a deeper, more contextualized look into his style, themes and philosophies. ...more
not sure about this one. I really enjoyed the Dominican history lessons and environment spread throughout, but the characters in that context didn't qnot sure about this one. I really enjoyed the Dominican history lessons and environment spread throughout, but the characters in that context didn't quite come together for me. I especially am disappointed in the development and information the reader gets about Yunior, the story's narrator. Aside from Yunior being a writer himself, there doesn't seem to be a great enough connection between him and Oscar to merit his telling of the story. ...more