This is so heartbreakingly good. This might be the best literary experience I've had in at least a year. I can't read the Patrocleia & GBH (booksThis is so heartbreakingly good. This might be the best literary experience I've had in at least a year. I can't read the Patrocleia & GBH (books 16 - 18, or "the part where Patroclus dies and then Achilles has to hear about it") without crying. I remember reading the Iliad for the first time in college (Lombardo) and being engrossed, hearing the clash of spear on shield, feeling the rage coursing down through the centuries. Other translations (Fagles, Fitzgerald, Lattimore) to me felt dead, stiff. The rage, the tragedy, the sheer violence - none of that was recalled to me until reading War Music.
Logue did not attempt a translation here, and I'm glad he didn't (new translations of the Iliad seem to be trending something fierce right now). In fact, Logue did not know a word of Greek. Instead, he sat around and gathered all the different translations around him, and from that heap of broken images, he created something wonderful and glittering in its own right. (Logue has acknowledged his debt to Eliot and Pound.) This is a poetic achievement, and it works precisely because it knocks about your head and rattles loose all the bits of mythic knowledge you've managed to sop up over the years.
Read for the images alone. Buzzing in your brain as you thrum along underground, the lights of the subway flickering, and your mind a thousand thousand years away.
*** Quotes/descriptions/words that fall in just the right order to make my breath go just a little shallow with delight:
"Low ceiling. Sticky air. Our stillness like the stillness in Atlantis when the big wave came, The brim-full basins of abandoned docks, Or Christmas morning by the sea." (18)
"'Well then, my Lord, You change the terms, I change the tense. Let is be was.'" (21)
"You are part dust, part deity." (31)
"Dawn stepped barefooted from her lover's bed." (64)
"We flowed Back through the ships, and lifted them; Our dust, our tide; and lifted them; our tide; Hulls dipping left; now right; our backs, our sea; Our masts like flickering indicators now; Knees high; 'Now lift...' knocked props; 'Now lift again...' And our relief, our sky; our liberty; As each enjoyed his favorite thoughts; his plans And to a Trojan watcher we appeared Like a dinghy club, now moored on mud; Now upright on bright water; and now gone." (70-71) (And as you read, your mind bobs up and down the rhythm of the words like a boat cresting waves.)
"To the sigh of the string, see Panda's shot float off; To the slap of the string on the stave, float on Over the strip for a beat, a beat; and then Carry a tunnel the width of a lipstick through Quist's neck." (144)
"Drop into it. Noise so clamorous it sucks. You rush your pressed-flower hackles out To the perimeter. And here it comes: That unpremeditated joy as you - The Uzi shuddering warm against your hip Happy in danger in a dangerous place Yourself another self you found at Troy - Squeeze nickel through that rush of Greekoid scum! Oh wonderful, most wonderful, and then again more wonderful A bond no word or lack of words can break, Love above love! And here they come again the noble Greeks, Ido, a spear in one a banner in his other hand Your life at every instant up for - Gone. And, candidly, who gives a toss? Your heart beats strong. Your spirit grips." (167)
"Picture a yacht Canting at speed Over ripple-ribbed sand. Change its mast to a man, Change its boom to a bow, Change its sail to a shield: Notice Merionez Breasting the whalebacks to picket the corpse of Patroclus." (253)
"His feet go backwards, treading on the dead / That sigh and ooze like moss" (262)...more
Oh my god. This book was like peeling back my own skin to find all the weird and sad and dark inside. You know how they say sometimes that writers wriOh my god. This book was like peeling back my own skin to find all the weird and sad and dark inside. You know how they say sometimes that writers write the books they want to read? Russell did it for me. Florida swamp and ghosts and three siblings and the monsters they wrestle and magic, and I can't even be mad at the way it all ends. Hopefully more coherent review to follow when I've got some sleep....more
I first read this book when I was 10, and it pretty much blew my mind. I used to reread it at least once a year throughout my adolescence, and I recenI first read this book when I was 10, and it pretty much blew my mind. I used to reread it at least once a year throughout my adolescence, and I recently revisited it. It still holds up as an excellently written novel - tightly plotted, with amazing character development (despite an overwhelmingly large cast, every single character changes by the end of the novel). I love how Raskin masters the art of misdirection, and her wordplay is extremely clever. Almost twelve years after I first read the novel, I sat there today marveling over how Raskin sets up tension by the end of the first chapter (Who were these people, these specially selected tenants? They were mothers and fathers and children. A dressmaker, a secretary, an inventor, a doctor, a judge. And, oh yes, one was a bookie, one was a burglar, one was a bomber, and one was a mistake.).
Turtle remains one of my favorite literary heroines, even if she's not one that gets name-dropped very often, but grown-up me finds herself loving characters like Josie-Jo Ford and Angela. Highly recommended. ...more
Pretty much perfect. The rest of this trilogy is a bit average, but the first Hunger Games book is pretty much perfect. You can definitely understandPretty much perfect. The rest of this trilogy is a bit average, but the first Hunger Games book is pretty much perfect. You can definitely understand why this set off a huge franchise and trend in YA dystopian fiction. (view spoiler)[Although, having read a few books that followed The Hunger Games, I'm a bit annoyed this became a thing. Too much subbing-in of "oh what a sucky world we live in" instead of actual points of conflict. Grr. (hide spoiler)]
I find it hard to actually review this book, and wish I'd done so when I really finished reading it instead of years (and sequels and movies) later. ...more
I love this book so much I wrote a ~60 page thesis on it. (Well, half of the thesis was about it. The other half was on The Handmaid's Tale, if that gI love this book so much I wrote a ~60 page thesis on it. (Well, half of the thesis was about it. The other half was on The Handmaid's Tale, if that gives you an idea of what kind of book this is.) I really don't feel like I can sum up my feelings in a review. Wah. Can't believe I hadn't added it to my read-books list before. ...more
I was first familiar with The Odyssey (read and loved that as a kid), but I fell in love with Homer through The Iliad. Some parts are forgettable (wheI was first familiar with The Odyssey (read and loved that as a kid), but I fell in love with Homer through The Iliad. Some parts are forgettable (when he starts listing their competitions and all the random prizes that people won, I zone out) but ignore that. Enjoy the prose. ...more
My favorite Shakespeare play (along with Henry IV, Part I). I think I've practically memorized the "What a piece of work is man" monologue. I've rereaMy favorite Shakespeare play (along with Henry IV, Part I). I think I've practically memorized the "What a piece of work is man" monologue. I've reread this play many times, and each time it never ceases to amaze me. ...more
This, for me, was the coming-of-age novel that The Catcher in the Rye never was. That said, the books are nothing alike. It's just that people are alwThis, for me, was the coming-of-age novel that The Catcher in the Rye never was. That said, the books are nothing alike. It's just that people are always going on about how Catcher blew their mind or whatever, and Salinger just never did it for me.
For me, this was definitely something I had to read in college. Any time before or after that, and it wouldn't have resonated the same way. Despite being a little dated now, The Bell Jar struck the right notes for this quasi-literary girl with its whole "what the hell am I supposed to do with my life let's just have a nervous breakdown" thing.
I feel like almost all coming-of-age novels are self-indulgent. That's just kinda the point of writing about one's "coming of age" - it's all about how the protagonist reconciles with the trauma of being grown up. That's what makes them, at some point in our life, so damn effective. The Bell Jar was it for me - I remember just curling up in my room with the lights out, weak winter sun streaming through the blinds, clutching my copy and - not bawling, just feeling all these emotions. Cheesy, but those are the moments I read books for. ...more
Even though I love Murakami, I just have to say - don't let Norwegian Wood be your first introduction to him. Read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle first. PEven though I love Murakami, I just have to say - don't let Norwegian Wood be your first introduction to him. Read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle first. Please. Norwegian Wood reads much more like an adolescent exercise - I can definitely see the comparisons to The Catcher in the Rye, which I've never really been fond of. This book can get a little self-indulgent, and the love story is more than a little ridiculous. But the prose is excellent as usual, and it almost feels like Murakami working out themes that he picks up more on later in his career. Also, I don't know if I'm the only one, but I don't usually read Murakami for plot - more so for the dreamy reality his words take me. ...more