I found this book to be much more cohesive than Mitchell's first novel, Cloud Atlas which seemed more like a compilation of (very compelling) short stI found this book to be much more cohesive than Mitchell's first novel, Cloud Atlas which seemed more like a compilation of (very compelling) short stories, unnaturally forced into novel form.
Though it touched on many of the same themes, and employed a similarly fragmented style of Cloud Atlas, this kaleidoscopic story transitioned naturally, and created the impression of order, sense, and even beauty from the violent chaos of each story-section.
I guess the "glue" was largely the continuity of character - Eiji was loveable, though exasperating at times for his naivite (yes, he's a country bumpkin, but his dullness isn't always believable especially given some of his moments of cleverness and miraculous escapes).
I only found the Goatwriter sections tedious (hence 4 stars) - and thought Mitchell was a bit selfish to include them - but I guess I owe it more thought since I dismissed them quite quickly and may have missed something.
The commentary on modern Japanese (and all technologically advanced?) society was fascinating and the gory-ness well-developed and in my opinion, not gratuitous.
A Fort of Nine Towers describes author Omar's experience as a boy and young adult growing up in Afghanistan in the late 90s and early 2000s during theA Fort of Nine Towers describes author Omar's experience as a boy and young adult growing up in Afghanistan in the late 90s and early 2000s during the period of civil war, through the Taliban occupation, and the arrival of the Americans. The book is told from Omar's point of view, in luminous, lyrical, but never flowery prose. The voice transitions naturally between a more innocent point of view as a young boy and a more adult perspective. Omar's narrative voice maintains a sense of reverence and openness in the face of repeated tragedy and the day-to-day privations of wartime living. Alongside the riveting human story, Omar weaves in history, landscape, culture, family dynamics, and a coming-of-age narrative. Beautifully written, flowing, poetic and clear-eyed, this book takes a complex, violent, heart-wrenching experience of war and distills it into something beautiful and meaningful....more
An enjoyable read with a good mix of humor, romance, longing, and sharp + smart truth-telling about matters of culture and race in America.
The book fAn enjoyable read with a good mix of humor, romance, longing, and sharp + smart truth-telling about matters of culture and race in America.
The book focuses on two characters: the primary protagonist, Ifemelu, a thoughtful, strong, self-described "non-American Black," who immigrates to the US from Nigeria to attend university, and her "true love," Obinze, who stays behind. As the book opens, Ifemelu is on the verge of returning to her homecountry," after 15 years of living in the US. The rest of the book moves between her early life and love affair with Obinze, their respective experiences apart (during which time Ifemelu becomes a well-known blogger on matters related to race & identity in America), and finally, Ifemelu's return to Nigeria as an "Americanah."
For me, the book flowed well, except for a few slower parts during the section focused on Obinze's life, but maybe that's just because I fell in love quickly with Ifemelu and missed her sassiness during his section.
I've bought copies for 3 friends since reading it. A great book for anyone interested in race & culture in American or who's ever experienced "otherness."...more
Inhaled this slim volume last night before bed after Jeremy gave me a copy at a panini party. Bracing imagery and nimble, piercing language punched meInhaled this slim volume last night before bed after Jeremy gave me a copy at a panini party. Bracing imagery and nimble, piercing language punched me in the solar plexis with truth. An optimist with a dangerous soft spot for hopeful pessimists, this kind of writing (thinking? being?) makes me suck in my breath. Like leaning into a biting wind on a coastal cliff. I tend to look at what can be and ignore some of the inconvenient details of what is. The poems refuse my rainbows and unicorns ("land use, the collective, the people, / the hell with it.") -- or at least force them to co-exist with "cinderblock shopping malls" and "unforgivable foodstuff wrapped in cellophane."
For all that, this is not the poetry of a cynic. Whimsy and hope temper harshness. Salvation is somewhere, even if buried under rotted breakfast sausage.
"Be wary. Do not sacrifice / your solemnity to match the public mood. / Our miracles are always damaged / by the people & threatened by the empire / & willingly foregone for the hallucination / of total security. It is time / to understand true wealth. Because what else are we doing here? / I'm asking."
I dog-eared a dozen-or-so poems to revisit and started a response in verse to these questions. So far, it is terrible. So instead, some DFW to get at a little piece of it:
"If you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars — compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship…" -- David Foster Wallace, "This is Water."...more
Wow. Marjorie Kelly bowled me over. So much wisdom packed into such an enjoyable book.
Based on dozens of describes the reality of our current "extractWow. Marjorie Kelly bowled me over. So much wisdom packed into such an enjoyable book.
Based on dozens of describes the reality of our current "extractive" economy and presents the opportunity to transition to a "generative" economy. Specifically, according to Kelly, "ownership is the gravitational field that holds our economy in its orbit, locking us all into behaviors that lead to financial excess and ecological overshoot." A new model of "generative ownership" on the other hand, can be the foundation for an economy that values life over the accumulation of capital.
I'm butchering the clarity of Kelly's writing with my long-winded description -- better really to just read the book yourself :)
Tenorio's series of short stories highlights the Filipino American experience through the eyes of characters on the fringes of society. The title storTenorio's series of short stories highlights the Filipino American experience through the eyes of characters on the fringes of society. The title story features a C-list actress and her film-making longtime lover who make a trip to America to participate in a basement production of a budget sci-fi horror flick. The brother of a recently deceased transgendered man, a disillusioned protege to a quack healer, a teenaged leper exile, all come to life through Tenorio's skillful and compassionate story weaving. The narrative voice is matter-of-fact and non-judgmental, not making any character more than he or she actually is, but getting at the unique and beautiful human experience through attention to the tender details of each character's day-to-day.
Tenorio's stories let the reader in to rich worlds (both exterior places and interior lives) which seem new, but also somehow familiar. He treats all his characters with a deep tenderness that doesn't shy away from either the deep joy or tragedy. This is a very strong collection, well-written, well-edited, beautifully developed characters, clear voice, and a discernible and eloquent point of view on culture, identity, and what it means to be human....more
I’ve always had a soft spot for really good short stories; they’re like perfect espresso: potent, deeply satisfying, an experience you wantStrengths:
I’ve always had a soft spot for really good short stories; they’re like perfect espresso: potent, deeply satisfying, an experience you want to draw out, to linger over, to appreciate. There’s so much humanity and emotion packed into a tight form, you’re left with a feeling of potential, like you’ve been offered a glimpse of something, but there are layers on layers that remain unwritten. Moustakis’s stories touch on this soft spot. The book brings you into the lives of a series of linked characters in the Alaskan wilderness. Her writing mirrors her characters and the landscape: sparing to the point of being harsh at times. But it also has lyrical moments, especially when describing the internal emotional life of her characters. These women are complex: sad, strong, nurturing, rugged. There’s a deep vulnerability to all of them; even amidst cursing and knives and alcohol and tragedy, they love and are loved and are therefore human. The prose style is full of forward movement, verbs catapult you forward into the icy Alaskan wilderness. It is unpretentious, neither shying away, nor gratuitous with the vernacular of her subjects.
It would be difficult for me to pinpoint serious weaknesses in this work. The only criticism might be that the male characters seemed underdeveloped in comparison with the women, but I’m not sure that wasn’t intentional. The men almost fade into the landscape and their wives, sisters, mothers, companions, lovers adapt and react around them.
Overall Literary Merit:
This was a beautiful book that I found difficult to put down. The emotion and connection I felt to it is just as strong flipping through the book again nearly a month after my first read-through – one of my favorites in the past year. ...more