Seeing this play performed is one of the brightest memories I have of going to the theater. I can recall, with near-perfect clarity, the very last sce...moreSeeing this play performed is one of the brightest memories I have of going to the theater. I can recall, with near-perfect clarity, the very last scene, and how much it made my heart ache with sorrow. It was made all the more heartbreaking by my wanting nothing more than to mount that stage and hug Tom, to tell him it would be alright, but knowing I was stuck, helpless to merely watch from my seat. Theater will toy with you like that, forcing you to watch when you desperately want to do something.
It’s one of the things movies could never replicate. It belongs to the stage.
However, watching something falling apart for any long period of time, without taking action, will drive you crazy with yearning to do something, anything.
Tennesse Williams deftly captures the atmosphere of the thirties, with its social deterioration spurred on by the fall of the economy, and the quiet desperation of a people who know the world is rapidly changing and not for the better.
And here’s a family, on the edge of ruin in the midst of it.
There is Amanda, a middle-class housewife, abandoned with her two children by her husband. There’s Tom, son, brother, full of wanderlust and poetic dreams, sick of living a mediocre life. There’s Laura, daughter, sister, delicate and crippled.
Here are three distinct personalities, who, in their separate desperations, have become blind to one another. Amanda stubbornly holds on to outdated ideals, while Tom longs for complete freedom, and Laura quietly collects her glass animals and stays ever passive.
Their blindness is caused by their inactivity. Amanda and Tom lash out, mostly at one another, because there is no other outlet for their frustrations, while Laura hides deeper and deeper within herself. Physical conditions force them into learned patterns and dictate their mental responses and thus their behavior.
Amanda, when abandoned, automatically lays the financial responsibility on Tom and works on finding a husband for Laura, because it’s what she thinks she ought to do. She reverts to standard gender roles and pushes them on her children as well, making them resent her, because she fails to see that they don’t fit.
Tom spends more and more time away from his family, unwilling to take on the role given to him by his mother.
Laura is the tragedy of the play. Had Tom and Amanda been less absorbed by their own worries and desires, they might have realized (as Jim does) that she is more crippled by her mental insecurities, than by her actual physical disability. Laura is the limp of Amanda and Tom, without her they’d have little to worry about, and in turn their worrying means Laura has had time to develop her inferiority complex and insecurities to the point where little can be done for her.
Their unwitting blindness about one another has led them to a breaking point. Jim is their possible salvation, described by Tom in the beginning,
“But since I have a poet’s weakness for symbols, I am using this character also as a symbol; he is the long-delayed but always expected something that we live for.”
Jim becomes more than just a gentleman caller, he is their only hope for Laura, if he marries her so many of their troubles will be gone. It is that one night that decides the fate of the family. But of course, putting all your hopes of the future on one person, first Tom, then Jim, is reckless and eventually the dream falls apart, having nothing to support it. The unicorn is just a horse, not so different from the others, but forced to live with the knowledge that it’s broken, broken because someone was careless with their affection.
So blow out those candles, Laura. There’s nothing left to see. (less)
I didn’t like this book in the beginning. It felt too slow-paced, wandering, and senseless. I was ultimately glad I stuck with it, because the ending...moreI didn’t like this book in the beginning. It felt too slow-paced, wandering, and senseless. I was ultimately glad I stuck with it, because the ending is by far the strongest and most absorbing part.
I also thought it would be more steampunk inspired than it is (the cover is very misleading), but was pleased with the science fiction universe it presented me with instead.
There are two protagonists, one belonging to the Skyship dwellers (as you might have guessed, they are located on a spaceships above Earth), the other belonging to the Surface government based on Earth. Both sides have an uneasy truce; there’s no outright war, but violence in the pursuit of the infamous pearls is expected. The pearls occasionally fall from the sky, and contain huge amounts of energy that makes them crucial to the survival of both sides.
Of course there’s more to this than it seems, and our two protagonists, Jesse and Cassius, aren’t ordinary either. Belonging to opposing sides (Jesse with the Skyship – allegedly the good guys, Cassius on Earth with the bad guys), they are natural enemies, but a meeting between them has enormous consequences that none of them can explain.
Suddenly Jesse can control the trajectory of the pearls and Cassius starts setting himself and his surroundings on fire, but walks away completely unscathed. It’s cool. I mean, seriously a cool idea, and the explanation for it, once you get it, is great and not what you’ll expect.
To be honest, it’s been a while (8 months) since I read this, and the only thing I remember is how much I liked the relationship between the two, and aching to find out why they were connected and what their powers meant. Sadly, getting there takes the entire book, and while Cassius’ story fascinated me, Jesse’s frustrated me to no end. This is mostly due to Jesse being (view spoiler)[deliberately (hide spoiler)] written as dull, useless and stupid. He has no drive, no passion and no will.
Cassius is interesting because he’s attached to his Surface superiors and the ideals they’ve taught him, Jesse suffers no such shortcomings and doesn’t experience the same emotional turmoil when confronted with the possibility they aren’t exactly what they seem.
It felt as if the writer didn’t always take his story and characters as serious as he should, and feared letting the story take any darker turns, even when they might have been appropriate, considering the ending.
Ah, yes. The ending. The reveal. It really is worth the wait, and singlehandedly made me want to read the sequel (although I’m not sure if I will). It explains, it illuminates, and it raises further questions and leaves you a little shocked at its implications. Where the rest of the book might seem a little timid, slightly insecure of its own style and plot, the ending is bold.
Not the first sci-fi book I’d recommend if asked, but very decent for what it is. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book is odd in its straight forwardness and style. It's perfectly enjoyable, with likeable, memorable and interesting characters. However, the pl...moreThis book is odd in its straight forwardness and style. It's perfectly enjoyable, with likeable, memorable and interesting characters. However, the plot is nothing nerve-wrecking and you'll most likely not experience an excess of emotions following the Sisters Brothers journey (I was puzzled about the title, but their last name is Sisters and they're brothers, so there, nothing remarkable in that either).
To be honest, this book is a good read, but nothing more. As I said, the narrative style is odd. It's told in way you tell a story to someone when you're eager to get to a specific point or punchline, but you know it won't make sense unless you tell the story from the start. However, you also realize it's really not that interesting, and you rush through it, skipping over details, making short-cuts, until what you're left with is a skeleton of a story. The story will make perfect sense, but you will feel no attachment to it until you get to the punchline, and then it'll all makes sense. This book, however, does not have a punchline, or maybe it does, but it's a very vague, weak one. It's honestly as if it lacks a point. It's highly imaginative and an interesting take on the Western genre (I think, I wouldn't know, I never read any - maybe this is how they're all told?), but it feels like Patrick deWitt had an idea for a story, and really wanted to tell it, but had no idea why he wanted to tell it.
It's even more odd because the book is filled with clever observations and has plenty of opportunity to drag the reader into it and get us involved, but it just sort of waves at them as they pass by. It's like reading Green Heart, but without the poetic language that made it so worthwhile.
Still, I don't regret the time I spend on it. It was recommended to me as a book with a strong sibling relationship, and in that at least I wasn't disappointed. The complexities of brotherhood and blood are described nicely and there are some great moments between the two. I could have used a bit more emotion or detail - both concerning the brothers, but also simply in general - because as it is I'm left feeling the whole thing fell a bit flat.
I'm quite sure though, that if I sat down and really thought about this book - or if I think back on it in a few days or weeks - I'll have noticed many of the subtler things and perhaps that might raise my appreciation for it, but my immediate reaction isn't one of high praise. (less)
”I felt like I had proof that not all days are the same length, not all time has the same weight. Proof that there are worlds and worlds and worlds on top of worlds, if you want them to be there.”
Sometimes life will give you lemons, and sometimes life will give you inappropriate emotions that you are not equipped to deal with. You will feel love for people you shouldn’t, you’ll get turned on by things you shouldn’t, you’ll say all the wrong things, and make an absolute fool of yourself and you’ll realize it’s not the end. That there is a life after all of that, and hopefully you will understand that nothing you could ever feel will make you inferior in any way.
Feelings are not right or wrong, necessarily. Mostly they just are. How we act on them is a whole different matter.
It’s the 80s, June Elbus is 14 and her uncle Finn has just died of aids, a disease that is still very new, and largely taboo. June is devastated after her uncle’s death, according to her he was the only person in the world who really got her.
As with many other coming of age books, it deals with realizing your perception of the world is narrow, and that you will feel things that will confuse, wound, and scar you, and that you can make it through anyhow. June not only loses her uncle, she loses her first love. Having buried this emotion (that, like the disease that killed Finn, is also taboo) so deep, she can no longer acknowledge it, she isolates herself with her grief, pushing her family and her sister farther and farther away. Then she meets Toby, Finns boyfriend (whom she never knew existed), and they strike up an uneasy friendship, but where June thought she was keeping merely trying to keep Finn alive through Toby, she finds he might be the one person who understands exactly what she’s going through.
However, the prize of understanding is the knowledge that her uncle was not who she made him out to be. Is it too heavy a prize to pay?
“I thought of all the different kinds of love in the world. I could think of ten without even trying. The way parents love their kids, the way you love a puppy or chocolate ice cream or home or your favorite book or your sister. Or your uncle. There's those kinds of love and then there's the other kind. The falling kind.”
There are truly endless kinds of love, but keeping it hidden makes love difficult to live with. June’s love for Finn is a secret, and it makes her selfish, because she can only ever take and never give.
“I had no idea how greedy my heart really was.”
Her heart is not the only one that’s greedy. Caught up in her quest to keep Finn alive, she constantly mistakes her sister Greta’s unkindness for loathing, when in fact it is love, that like her own, not acknowledged or reciprocated, turned into desperation.
The title refers to a painting of June and Greta done by Finn before his death. They used to be close, but now there’s only miscommunication between them, making their silent conversation, done by adding small details to the painting, all the more poignant.
I love this book because it’s about these things we feel that we are often afraid to own up to. It’s about feeling very deeply and moving on from an incredible loss. It’s learning to accept others, flaws and all, and picking up the broken pieces of the life you knew and putting it back together in a messier, but truer version of itself.
It will break your heart and mend it at the same time. It’s a beautiful, striking and well-written experience. (less)
Oh man, I am an absolute sucker for sibling relationships (have I mentioned this before? Maybe I have), if not, know now that I am.
So you might guess...moreOh man, I am an absolute sucker for sibling relationships (have I mentioned this before? Maybe I have), if not, know now that I am.
So you might guess why this is (along with 'Mio, My Mio') my favourite Astrid Lindgren book. The relationship between Tvebak and Jonathan (the Danish names) is so unbelievably precious, and leaves me in tears, even now, despite it being a childrens book. Having a brother myself, I understand the devotion you can have for a sibling; I'd do anything for him. I'd face my own death if it meant saving him, and I wouldn't even hesitate. Because I love him more than anything and nothing else is as important.
I love this book, and I have loved it since I read it for the first time as a kid. It's a wonder of a children's book, really a masterpiece, handling some very difficult themes, and many of the exact things that I value so highly and have struggled with myself: trust, freedom, fighting for what you believe in, loyalty, and keeping the ones you love safe, whatever the cost. And this presents all of these things in a lovely, heartbreaking and hopeful tale.
There's no doubt I'll be reading this to my own children some day. (less)
To be quite honest with you, I didn't particularly like the first third of this book. It's got nothing to do with the way it's written (Neil Gaiman is...moreTo be quite honest with you, I didn't particularly like the first third of this book. It's got nothing to do with the way it's written (Neil Gaiman is as funny and imaginative as ever), it was something else. The things is, I'm a sucker for sibling relationships and I was pleasantly surprised to find one in this book. But Spider and Fat Charlie spend the first half of this book arguing and generally making each others lives hell and it just made me uncomfortable. There were other things too, like Charlies personality and the plot itself, while not being bad at all, they just didn't appeal to me that greatly.
HOWEVER, I continued reading and I am now unbelievably happy I did. After, well, not half the book, but almost, the plot changes. To me it seems as if the books has got two different stories in it, the story of Spider and Charlie's relationship and then the story of everything else. Everything else takes over half way through the book, and it gets really interesting. It also forces Charlie and Spider to start acting like brothers and working together instead of tearing each other apart, and that made me like especially Fat Charlie a lot more.
What really turned this book around for me, though, was the ending. I sit here, a day after finishing it, with a feeling of absolute satisfaction. I rarely get that from a book, sure I've read books with brilliant, fantastic endings, books that ended exactly the way I wanted them to, but never one that left me so satisfied on all fronts. I believe the biggest contributive to this feeling is Charlie. The one and only. He undergoes some serious changes in the book, and comes out on the other side as one of my favourite characters in fiction. His change from someone I sort of dislike, to someone I utterly love is so complete, and so brilliantly done, that I can't help but feel satisfied.
This is why in the end it gets 4 stars. It wasn't perfect, perhaps, but it was still fantastic.
Oh, and perhaps I should mention, I listened to some of the audiobook at one point, and while I'm not usually a fan of this, I was pleased I did it, because it helped me sort out my "inner Spider" voice. I'd gotten the way he talks completely wrong, and I liked him a lot better when I got it right. (I know it sounds that weird it should matter that much, but there was really quite a difference between my Spider and the audiobook's Spider. So I can recommend that!)(less)
I sat down one misty morning, cracked open this book and hardly put it down until I was finished later t...more “Grief is love turned into an eternal missing”
I sat down one misty morning, cracked open this book and hardly put it down until I was finished later that evening.
It's written as a long letter to the sister of our protagonist, which gave the book a different feel from your average crime novel. Don't get me wrong, there is a crime and crime-solving, but not in the way you expect. It is not a detective's hunt for justice, it's a sisters hunt for the truth behind an event that cracked open her safety bubble and changed her life.
The letter format is a favorite of mine. I love letters, I love the intimacy and the frankness they allow. The strength of letter writing is put to excellent use in 'Sisters'. I can't imagine it working so well if it had been written in any other way.
I don't want to tell you much, this is one story it's best to experience with a clear mind and ready heart (you're gonna need it, it's no joyful journey).
In fact it's heartbreaking, hopeful, beautiful and insanely powerful in its simplicity. There's a mystery, of course, and the truth is horrifying, but what carries the book is the bond Beatrice obviously shares with her sister, Tess, and her unwillingness to give up.
I enjoyed it immensely, from start to finish, and found it both moving, thrilling and unnerving. A beautifully crafted mystery.
When I was done I wanted to read it again, simply to experience it all again, but with different eyes. If you've read it you'll know what I mean. But the writing itself would be worth a re-visit. So many exquisite phrases, such hollow and tender beauty. (less)