Coming into this book, I didn't know what to expect. I never saw the movie - only caught a glimpse of it now and then so I had a vague idea of what itComing into this book, I didn't know what to expect. I never saw the movie - only caught a glimpse of it now and then so I had a vague idea of what it was about - or at least I have an image of a guy with his eyes taped open falling down some stairs. Not even sure if it is from the movie version of this book! Suffice to say, I didn't really know what I was getting into.
Alex, the main protagonist, is a teenager with a drive towards violence. He and his friends enjoy beating up older people, raping girls, breaking and entering and other "fun and recreational" stuff like this. However, one evening he is betrayed by his friends and because of this, he gets caught by the police and sent to jail. After a couple of years, he gets betrayed by his cellmates and therefore is blamed for the death of one of the other inmates. Because he apparently hasn't bettered himself by being in jail, he is chosen to be a test person for a new kind of association therapy that should cure him of his criminal intentions by getting him to associate violence with pain.
The biggest surprise for me was the language. I had no idea that Burgess invented a kind of teenage slang inspired by Russian for the book. I get the why - but it made the book hard to get into for me. Still, I appreciated some of the word pictures he painted throughout the book, like when the protagonists and his friends are driving at one point and "running over odd squealing things on the way." (23) or when he wants to hear some music "before getting my passport stamped /.../ at sleep's frontier". (28)
The main theme of this book is about goodness - if goodness is something you choose and if you are a real person if you don't have the ability to choose but are forced to do good by being turned into a kind of machine only capable of doing good. Are you a good man if you only do good acts by becoming violently ill otherwise? And this is where the title comes from - a clockwork orange is a person that can be controlled by others who can decide what it should do, in essence just a machine, although it looks like an organism. It's a violent book but it's not violence just for violence's sake; it has a purpose.
I didn't appreciate the first half of the book - I think mainly because I found the language made it hard to get into it - but I found it a very intriguing read when Alex was put into jail and got started on the association therapy and the idea of the book with it's discussion of what it means to be good is always current and was very interesting....more
Jenny McCarthy tells the story of how her son was diagnosed with autism and how she struggled to find out how to help him. It's a mother's story, veryJenny McCarthy tells the story of how her son was diagnosed with autism and how she struggled to find out how to help him. It's a mother's story, very honest and straightforward and her love for her son is shining through the entire book. I found it interesting to read this account of how hard it is and how it can take some time to figure out that a child has autism and I aprreciate being given some signs to look out for - athough my 10 weeks old girl smiles like crazy already! :-) However, I found Jenny McCarthy to be too self-righteous - she saw herself as a messenger from God and at some point she realizes that she will "someday be a voice for mothers of autistic children" (118). I like that she uses her fame to throw a spotlight on this issue - but it just gets to be a bit too much.
Ten little nigger boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine.
Ten people get invited to Nigger Island for various reasonTen little nigger boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine.
Ten people get invited to Nigger Island for various reasons - and shortly after arrival, they start dropping like flies. And each time a person gets murdered, one of the ten nigger china figures standing on the table disappears...
This book might not be political correct anymore but it's still an amazing crime story. The ten are each accused of a murder but none of them was found guilty. But now they are stuck on this island. There are no other people on the island than the ten - but still they get murdered off one by one and the remaining gets more and more scared. It's a very effective psychological thriller at the same as it's an extremely well executed crime story.
I've read the Danish translation of this book several times back when I was a teenager and even though I'm not a big fan of detective stories, I loved this one so it was great to read it again and to read it in the language it was written....more
Based on real events, Margaret Atwood gives her version of the story of Grace Marks in Alias Grace. As an Irish immigrant, Grace worked as a maid in CaBased on real events, Margaret Atwood gives her version of the story of Grace Marks in Alias Grace. As an Irish immigrant, Grace worked as a maid in Canada in several positions before she was imployed by Thomas Kinnear and his house keeper, Nancy Montgomery. Thomas and Nancy are lovers even though they are not married and Nancy sees herself as the lady of the house. Another employee in the house is James McDermott and he and Nancy are definitely not the best of friends which leads to Nancy firing him - and also Grace, one day when Thomas Kinnear is not at home. So much is known - but the rest is a bit fuzzy, not what happened/i> but how it happened. But facts are that both Nancy and Thomas end up dead, Grace and James McDermott flees to the States where they are arrested, both are sentenced to death for the murder of Thomas Kinnear. McDermott is hanged but Grace gets her punishment changed to life in prison. And this is where we meet her. Grace's story is told by Grace herself to a young doctor - and psychiatrist - Simon Jordan. Grace is working as a maid in the prison inspector's home and in this home, she meets with Simon and tells him her story, from her early life in Ireland with a alcoholic and abusive father, to their journey by ship to Canada (a journey where she lost her mother) and finally, her life in Canada, ending with the two murders. Simon is hired by a comitee trying to free Grace but as it turns out, nobody is exactly sure if she was a victim of McDermott as well, forced to help him with the murders, or if she was the one urging him to kill them. And since it's Grace who tells the story, we don't know either, since Grace is a very unreliable voice. One is never sure if she embellish her story to keep her audience as a way of breaking the monotony of prison life. The book is excellent, well-written and rather exciting as you work your way to the murders and try to find the truth. Ultimately, the truth is nowhere to be found - since that was the case in the real murder investigation - so it's left to the reader to judge whether Grace was guilty or not, sane or insane. ...more
When you have children, you find out that you have so much to learn. Not all of it makes sense at first. One of the things I’ve had to learn, was howWhen you have children, you find out that you have so much to learn. Not all of it makes sense at first. One of the things I’ve had to learn, was how to praise my child. That if your child has climbed high up on top of something and she says ‘look at me’, you’re not supposed to say ‘oh how good you are’ but rather, ‘oh look how high you’ve climbed!’ You do this to praise the action, not the child itself, so the child doesn’t think it has to do such things to have value. I think.
In part, this novel is about this. About how we value each others, how we evaluate children and students. It’s about three children, Peter, Katarina and August. Peter was orphaned at a very early age. Katarine has lived through her parents’ suicides. And August has been the offer of so much abuse that he finally snapped and killed his parents. They all attend Biehl’s Academy, an elite private school in Copenhagen, but something’s not quite right. All three have lost their parents and especially August are a troubled child. A troubled child that doesn’t belong in this particular school. So why is he there?
Peter and Katarina quickly discovers that there’s a plan with the school, there’s a plan with the students accepted to the school, with how the school is run. Trouble is, they don’t know what the plan is and they are not really allowed to talk with each other so they can figure it out. It’s pretty clear that it’s some kind of social experiment, some kind of attempt to prevent what you can call social darwinism. The school wants to take all the children, including the troubled ones, and bring them up and into the light, so to speak, by enforcing a very strict discipline. But if you choose a strict principle and stick to it no matter what, the result can be devastating even though your intention was noble in the first place. Especially in the school system if you forget that students are individuals and should be treated as such – and hitting children never do any good.
One of the things Peter and Katarina focuses on, is the question of time. How time changes depending on the situation you’re in. The importance of pauses. What lies between the lines. How there’s never been made a watch that’s precise, and what it does to you to have your entire life completely structured – and to be punished if you’re just a bit late.
This novel is slowly paced but then, all of a sudden, things happen. Crazy, painful, jarring things that makes you stop and go back and read it again to see if you really read what you think you read. And you did and your jaw drops – and then, the novel resumes it’s slow even pace and things proceed nicely and quietly. The chronology is also jumping from various points in the past to the present, making you have to stay focused all the time. I think that’s one of the reasons the slow pace works in this novel. In it’s pacing, I think it shows some of the points the narrator, Peter, makes about time. How suddenly events happen that change the way we live in time, the way we experience time. When these violent events happens in the book, you too are violently dragged into it and have to feel the immediacy of the action. Just for a few sentences. And then things slow down again and you can relax into the text once more. One of the things Peter wants to examine is if time moves faster when you’re not paying attention and I think the way Høeg wrote his book, is an example of this. When the jarring events occur, time stops for a little while – you are forced to focus and pay attention, and then, you read one and time starts flowing by again.
One thing I really love about this novel is the relationship between the grown Peter and his small daughter. How he has a hard time relating to her because of the abuse he has suffered throughout his life, the way the system failed him and he was too old before he had proper role models. But together, they find a common ground and she, perhaps, helps him most of all by just being a child, being pure feeling and reaction. She tries to bring order to her universe by listing all words she knows. She doesn’t get time at first – no children do – so she tries to understand it through other subjects that she does know. I think this relationship between father and daughter are beautifully rendered in it’s fragility.
The narrator in this book is named Peter Høeg, the same as the author. Every school and institution the narrator Peter Høeg talks about in his novel excluding Biehl’s Academy, are real and Peter Høeg has stated that the novel was the most autobiographical of his works (at that point). When it was published, it was taken as an attack on the Danish school system from a man who had experienced the worst of it himself. But later, Peter Høeg reveals that the adoptive parents in the novel are in fact his real parents, that the only autobiographical elements in the book are his first and last name, his year of birth and his parents. Which means that the novel is about him – but at the same time, that it’s not necessarily about him at all. Peter Høeg has never lived anywhere else than with his biological parents. Even though he claimed in interviews that where the institutions were real, the events taking place were also real. But with the case of the fictive Peter Høeg getting punished by having his head stuck down in a toilet, that did happen – just not to him – and so on.
The things that did happen, are instead the things that take place on the fictive school. Biehl’s Academy is called Bordings Friskole in the real world and here the author went to school for nine years – and how the teachers hit the students on a regular basis and that Peter was kicked out of school at age 16, is true – among other things.
This means, that this book is a blur between fiction and reality. There used to be a sort of agreement between readers and authors that either everything in a novel was true or else, it was false, fiction. This agreement is no longer in existence. Now authors take parts of their life or others’ lives, and use it as they see fit. In Denmark, we have seen several examples of this. And it seem to make some people angry – on the point of law suits and of people being persecuted in the medias, loosing their jobs etc. Peter Høeg does it in this novel – other examples are Knud Romer’s novel Den Som Blinker Er Bange For Døden and Jørgen Leth Det uperfekte menneske (apparently, neither of these has been translated to English).
For me, I love this play on reality. I think that this challenges the novel and explores the possibilities of combining fiction and reality in ways that we have never seen before. It doesn’t diminish the worth of the novel in any way. Rather, it’s the authors’s attempt to express themselves and their creativity and vision in ways they see fit. And Peter Høeg does this so very well in De måske egnede (which by the way is a much more appropriate title than the English Borderliners since the Danish title plays on Darwin’s expression of ‘survival of the fittest’....more
When I was younger, I read some of Barbara Cartland's books. When Barbara Cartland was young, she read Jane Eyre for sure. Barbara Cartland is CharlotWhen I was younger, I read some of Barbara Cartland's books. When Barbara Cartland was young, she read Jane Eyre for sure. Barbara Cartland is Charlotte Brontë light, very light, fat free in fact!
Our heroine - the word protagonist just doesn't work in connection with this book - is an orphan, taken in by her mother's brother, but when he dies, Jane is left to her aunt's care - and since they don't see eye to eye in anyway, Jane is sent off to school. Here, she prospers, after overcoming hardships in the beginning and in time she becomes a teacher at the school. She leaves the school to become a governess for the protégé of Mr. Rochester's and here, she falls in love with him. But Mr. Rochester has a secret hidden in the attic of his home, and when Jane finds it out, she flees from the house and tries to make it in the world on her own...
An excellent, beautiful story and written so well that I was lost in it and enjoyed it so much all the way through. I was kept in suspense as to how the author would get it all to work out - but she did in a beautiful way. The characters are well thought out - none are just black and white, all have their faults and virtues, even the two main characters, Jane and Mr. Rochester. Mr. Rochester is a big bossy man, used to getting his way in everything - and Jane is not one to sit down quietly and just obey and courtsey. It's a story of love, of deceit, of following your heart but never allowing your heart to persuade you to do wrong. Jane believes in herself and in doing what's right - and she is willing to sacrifice everything, even her own happiness, when people wants her to do something against her conscience. But luckily, Jane - and all her readers, crossing our fingers for her - gets her happy ending in an exquisite way. Lovely read - beautiful book....more
/.../ time moves in its own special way in the middle of the night (64)
And so it does in this short novel by one of my favourites, Haruki Murakami. B /.../ time moves in its own special way in the middle of the night (64)
And so it does in this short novel by one of my favourites, Haruki Murakami. But as much as I enjoyed the book, I was left unfulfilled in the end. I felt kind of lost - there didn't seem to be any ending to the book, it was like it just stopped, like the author ran out of time or somebody forgot to print the last chapters. It just stopped and I still have no idea what happened. Sometimes that's a good thing - especially with Murakami - but in this one, it just seemed like he didn't live up to his potential. The book follows Mari, a young woman, who decides to stay out all night because she doesn't want to return to her home where her beautiful older sister lies asleep - as she has done for two months. We sit with Mari the entire night, follow her when she helps a chinese prostitute who got beat up and when she talks to and walks with a young man who knows her sister. We also visit her sister who just lie sleeping - but wakes up for a while in a room that only exist on the screen on an un-plugged tv set - and the man who beat up the chinese prostitute. All the people are connected - some of them just in passing - and that's one of the mysteries of the night. That random people interact and their paths cross - and maybe they will meet up again, maybe not. One never know. I think Murakami is commenting on the question of reality, what's real and what's not and how we deal with reality. Is it easier to just lie down and go to sleep instead of facing it all? Or spending all night in a café reading a book to avoid going home? Or hiding out in a love hotel? Or escaping into music instead of finishing an education? In fact, every person in this book was hiding from something, escaping from their reality. In the end, Murakami left me with a lot of questions and not really any answers. And maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. How we face up to reality or whether we face it at all, is an individual thing and each one of us has to decide for ourselves. And it's not like I didn't like the book - I was hooked throughout the entire book, the ending just fell a bit short. And I know he can do better. As with all Murakami books, it gets better when you're finished and you think about it and try to make sense of it all. And he gets you thinking every time!...more
Mr. Darcy ... the famous Mr. Darcy ... This is his world, this is were he originated. Mr. Darcy is kind of the bad boy, he is awfully proud and becauseMr. Darcy ... the famous Mr. Darcy ... This is his world, this is were he originated. Mr. Darcy is kind of the bad boy, he is awfully proud and because of this, rumours about him are easily turned into prejudice (hence the title!) because he doesn't behave like a decent gentleman ought to behave in the eyes of civil society. Therefore, he is hardly first choice for Mr. and Mrs. Bennet although they have five (5!) daughters to marry off. Especially Mrs. Bennet is very much concerned with getting her daughters husbands - understandably so, since the eldest has reached the high age of 23! But in spite of her not always very graceful way of behaving, she succeeds in acchieving three marriages in the course of the book. But in spite of Mr. Darcy's pride and Elisabeth's prejudice, the second oldest of the Bennet girls still falls in love with him - and he with her - but can they each overcome their flaw and find happiness with each other?
I loved Jane Austen's writing. She had an amazing eye for dialogue and especially Mr. Bennet has some very dry and humourous comments on the silliness of his daughters and - especially! - his wife.
I just finished reading Jane Eyre before reading this one - and they have a lot of things in common. Both main characters are intelligent young women with not the best of family connections and wealth. They fall in love with the 'bad boy' and his opposite is the self-righteous and annoying preacher-type. But in spite of these differences are the stories vastly different and I enjoyed them both very much....more
The barriers between reality and fiction are softer than we think; a bit like a frozen lake. Hundreds of people can walk across it, but then one eveniThe barriers between reality and fiction are softer than we think; a bit like a frozen lake. Hundreds of people can walk across it, but then one evening a thin spot develops and someone falls through; the hole is frozen over by the following morning." (s. 206)
This is the premise of The Eyre Affair. The main protagonist, Thursday Next, is a litterary agent - she deals with all kinds of crimes having to do with literature, forgery and the like. She gets involved in the attempt to catch a super villain who, in his own words, is "differently moralled, not mad"... He is part demon and is therefore able to put his hand through glass without breaking it, he doesn't show up on surveillance tapes and he can't be shot - other than that, he's just your usual über bad guy, named Hades of course. The plot centers around the idea that all books will be changed instantaneously if the original script is changed: All copies anywhere on the planet, in whatever form, originate from that first act of creation. When the original changes, all the others have to change too. If you could go back a hundred million years and change the genetic code of the first mammal, every one of us would be completely different. it amounts to the same thing." (s. 208) Besides this making for a very interesting plot, it is also interesting to ponder this in connection with what a work of art is - in this case the connection is so close between the original piece of art and the copies of it, that every version of a book is changed if you can change the original one, the author wrote. This makes for some very interesting crimes, especially since Thursday's uncle invents a machine so you can literally enter any given book. Hades starts off with killing minor characters in other books but then he goes on to kidnap Jane Eyre - and after the introduction of the Jane Eyre theme, the book really gets good. Rochester has actually at this point already met Thursday because she entered the book when she was young (and frightened his horse in the scene where he first met Jane) and later, he saved her after her first shoot-of with Hades. All Thursday has to do now is to save Jane - both the person and the book - and get Hades out of the way. The way she achieve this is so clever that I was floored.
Fforde somehow manages to combine both the story in the real world (which is the real world but some sort of alternative version of it where the Russians still have a Tsar and are fighting with England in the Crimean War) and the story in Jane Eyre so that the action takes place both in the world and in the book and the storylines in this book - The Eyre Affair and in the actual Jane Eyre are somewhat parallel. (Makes sense? - If not, read the book!)
There are so many clever things in this book - like Richard III performed like it was Rocky Horror, the formerly extinct dodos (I suspect Pickwick will make bigger appearances in the following books) and of course, the character names. How can I not like a book where the characters have name like Hobbes, Tabularasa, Spike and the like?! And I loved how so many people changed their names to John Milton and other famous authors so they all had to have a number - like John Milton 496. And that supporters of "Bacon as writer of Shakespeare's plays" go door to door ...
But what I loved most was the way Jasper Fforde got Jane Eyre to be what it is. In the beginning of his book, Jane Eyre ends differently than what we have come to know and love and when the protagonists - and others, japanese tourists for instance - enter Jane Eyre, they have an influence on the action in this book and through these interferences, we end up with the Jane Eyre we have today. It is so masterfully done that the only reason I only gave it 4 stars was that I thought it took a bit of time to really get going ... but as I'm writing this review I'm pondering whether I shouldn't give it 5 - or 4.5 it that was possible - because the more I think about it, the more I love it. Looking so much forward to the next volumes in the series! ...more
If you want to read an autobiography of a collector, this is a good place to start. King talks about his collection habits and how they have changed dIf you want to read an autobiography of a collector, this is a good place to start. King talks about his collection habits and how they have changed during his life and had an influence in it. In some ways, this is the typical tale of the negative image of an collector - he collects because he lacks something in his life and collecting takes overe, ruins relationsships and the like. King also has the typical thoughts about what will happen with his collection after he is no longer here and how it will live on in some way or other and thereby keeping him alive in a way. A lot of the book is textbook - this is how collectors are - but I get the impression that King sees himself as special in a weird and somewhat counterintuitive way because he collects nothing, as he states it. He collects food labels, cereall boxes and stuff like that - which actually isn't nothing but over time becomes really interesting as a showcase of material culture. And besides the collection having some objective value in this way, his collection has the normal subjective value any collection has for it's collector - and that makes his collection of nothing just as important as any other collection. It bugged me that the author at the same time tries to make himself be somebody qua his collection but constantly rejects it as nothing and talks about all the time he has spend gluing labels to papers etc and how that could have been spent better - the book would have been much more interesting, in my opinion, if he had written an honest account of his life and his collection habits but had been proud of it. In some ways, he achieves that pride through therapy and with a bit of help from his daughters when they help him organise one part of the collection - the cereal boxes - and he realize how much information is hidden in them and that they also have an aesthetic quality and the power to make people remember - the pride of his collection just comes too late. He sees himself as different from other collectors because he doesn't go on Ebay and doesn't buy things just for his collection - he only collects what he either eats or uses or what comes to him like chain letters or what he can pick up on the street or in the trash. But this is just one way to show your personality through your collection and at the same time as it distinguishes you as an individual, it is also part of the collection proces and thereby makes you a part of the whole, a part of the collecting world at large. Especially because he does pick through trash - a trash can for him is another collector's Ebay... The book is in form like a long essay, written to come to terms with life after divorce and yet another break-up - and as a cheaper way of therapy after his health benefits provider stops covering his therapy bills and it has that kind of therapeutic associative quality to it - and in some ways, I really liked that. And he does bring up some interesting points - mostly points that have been made in other litterature, see Russell W. Belk and Susan M. Pearce for instance, but one point towards the end was interesting: He points out that young people now collects in a different way, like on Facebook or on the Ipod "/.../all the platforms for compiling countless (digital) objects, carefully arranged in categories and containers just like any collection." (151) - now anybody say Goodreads? :-) But this point is really an interesting one and one I would like to write about as a sort of after thought to my master thesis on collecting.
Interesting quotes: "Collecting is a constant reassertion of the power to own, an exercise in controlling otherness, and finally a kind of monument building to insure survival after death. For this reason, you can often read the collector in his or her collection, if not in the object themselves, then in the business of acquiring, maintaining, and displaying them. To collect is to write a life." (38)
"It is a paradox that use degrades value, that what is most precious is the untouched object. I had touched my books, and they had touched me." (40)
"An old clock in a collection does not so much tell time as it tells of time, and the tale is a sad one." (55)
"I love it all. I love you, for what you do not love, what you throw away. There's a sad paradox in that. I love you for your lack of love for what I love." (90)...more
This is the story of the mad woman in the attic at Thornfield, Mr. Rochester's house in Jane Eyre, Bertha - or Antoinette, as her real name is. For thThis is the story of the mad woman in the attic at Thornfield, Mr. Rochester's house in Jane Eyre, Bertha - or Antoinette, as her real name is. For this review, I will assume that people have read Jane Eyre and therefore know who the woman is - if not, don't read any further, because I'm going to tell... ;-)
Bertha is of course Mr. Rochester's first wife and this novel is told in part from her point of view. We meet her when she's a child in the West Indies and tells the sad story of her childhood and how her mother went mad. The second part of the novel is told from Mr. Rochester's point of view and tells how he react to this planned wedding and finding out that his wife is completely or utterly mad ... or is she? The third part is again from Bertha's point of view - told from the attic at Thornfield. This is the hardest part of the book, which makes sense since it's told by the mad woman herself - who tries hard to avoid the ghost woman she has heard rumours about, not realizing that this is in fact herself...
It's interesting to see the similarities between Bertha and Jane - how they were both lonely children with only one friend during childhood, a friend who they lost in both cases (though not for the same reason) - and then eventually fall in love with the same man.
I liked the book and found it very interesting - especially after having recently finished both Jane Eyre and The Eyre Affair. I applaud Jean Rhys for taking the inspiration from Jane Eyre and giving a voice to the mad woman, Mrs Rochester, and thereby giving us a deeper understanding of her - and to some extent also Jane Eyre - without throwing Mr Rochester completely under the bus. However, I wasn't completely blown away by it and I think it was mostly because of the style of writing that is sort of hinting at more than fully saying and therefore very confusing at times ... not very well put, but that's the best way I can describe it at the moment....more
Wild Swans is the story of the author and her family. The interesting part is that their lives take place in one of the most fascinating periods of hiWild Swans is the story of the author and her family. The interesting part is that their lives take place in one of the most fascinating periods of history. Jung Chang's grandmother lived before the Communist took over in China. She was one of the last generation to suffer the traditional foot binding and was a Concubine before she was married to a ver kind man, a doctor. This marriage, however, caused a lot of pain in the doctor's family since his family didn't want this woman to have power over them. They don't care about their father's happiness - instead they care about their own roles in the family and their status. The doctor insists however, and though this causes one of his sons to commit suicide in protest, the doctor still marries Jung Cheng's grandmother and ensures that her mother finally has a happy childhood.
Jung Chang's mother grows up when there's a civil war in China - various parties fighting to gain power. The victory goes to Mao and his Communist Party and both Chang's parents are supporters of this. We then follow their lives and how they fight for Communism, meet each other, get married and have children.
Maybe the most fascinating person in the book is Jung Chang's father. He is a Communist to the core. He believes in Mao and he believes that the Communist party will do what's right for China and her people. He thinks that one of the main issues in China so far has been the tendency that people in power always helped their families and made sure they got influence and power as well. He definitely don't want that custom to continue so he almost goes to far in the other direction - not letting his wife ride with him in the car on long and dangerous travels, not protecting her or taking extra care of her while she's pregnant and after she has given birth etc. He always puts his work and the party first, his family second. It takes a lot of hardship and pain for him and his family before he begins to question the Communist party and Mao and it takes even longer for him to admit that he has been a lousy father and husband - and that with the way things are going, he may not want to continue being a Communist.
I'm so fascinated by how Mao could create a China where everybody was ready to tell on everyone else. He didn't need a secret police or anything - the entire population was always ready to tell on each other, encouraged in this by Mao himself. He turned students against teachers, workers against their bosses, children against their parents.
When reading this book, I sometimes wondered how anyone could believe that they were doing the right thing when they were tearing down anything old and beautiful, when intellectuals are condemned and sent to the country to learn from the peasants, when they are having huge gatherings with the purpose of yelling at some poor soul and beating him/her up ...
How anyone can think the steps taken in the Cultural Revolution was a good idea is beyond me. And if it's true that Mao knew that some of his ideas and politics were wrong and in fact hurt both his country and his people, but still continued with them because he didn't want to loose face ... What can you say about that? To say it's so fundamentally wrong is just too weak.
This is a very hard book to review. This type of book is. I felt the same book when I reviewed When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge. How do you put a star rating on people's suffering? What can you write in a review that can put a hundred years of a country's history, a hundred years containing so much suffering, in to perspective? In the end, I guess all you can do is just recommend this book and hope that we actually do learn from history....more
In my year at university, there was this guy. This Chinese guy. His name was Jun Feng or Jimbut. Jun had fled China and had arrived in Denmark in 1992In my year at university, there was this guy. This Chinese guy. His name was Jun Feng or Jimbut. Jun had fled China and had arrived in Denmark in 1992 and in 1996, he enrolled at university to study philosophy. This is his book.This is a book about why he had to leave China, how he came to end up in Denmark and all the hardship he has gone through. It's also a book about his time at university. And I know him - he's the sweetest guy. And I know the people he writes about - Torben, Thomas, Reinholdt, Ann-Lise and all the rest. As well as the professors he mentions - Hass, Favrholdt ... So how on earth am I to review this book? Well, first of, by writing the disclaimer above. Now you're warned. There's no way I can write an un-biased review. Secondly, I'm just trying to be as honest as I can. And my first comment is that this book, or at least the Danish version of it, is very poorly written. This is hardly surprising since Jun had lived in Denmark for only 7 years when it was published. I haven't seen the English version (Time for Celebration) so I can't say if it has the same issues. I wish I could say it didn't matter but it does. It interrupts the flow of my reading when I see a spelling mistake. Still, even with a lot of mistakes, you can tell that Jun is a good writer. And it doesn't hurt that he has lived a very interesting life either. So this is the story of Jun's life - mostly from his 20s and early 30s. This is a time where Jun becomes unpopular with the Chinese authorities because of a long poem he writes. The funny thing is that it's a love poem, not a political poem. Jun decides to become a buddhist monk and leaves China on foot. He walks through Burma to Thailand and ends up in a prison in Laos. After several incidents where Jun cuts his wrist or cut himself in the stomach, he finally gets the attention of the UN and Denmark agrees to take him on as a refugee. For me, the most interesting parts where his reflections on himself and how he views himself and his life. It's fascinating that he can sit at a party and feel that he is boring when he is the one who has lived the most interesting life. I am intrigued by the flower that grows in his eye. He hands it to people, the leaves scatter around him etc. How exactly to understand this, I'm not sure. Also, because Jun is so honest you can see the difference between the way he views life and the way I view it. He thinks some things that I would never think. He thinks of himself as the greatest modern poet in China, as a legend. He questions his self image when he lives in Denmark because he hasn't published anything here so here's he's just a guy, a guy who's no longer young. So here he sees the need to play dumb, he has issues with Danish prejudices. In this country, unfortunately, when you ask people for help on the street, and you ask in English, you can get this answer: "We are in Denmark and here, we speak Danish." I've been working with refugees so I know how we as a people often treat them. And Jun's book is just another example. A huge group of people think that if you get to our country, you should just forget your culture and your religion - if you're a muslim, that is - and be exactly like us. Of course, this is never going to happen. Jun is from Asia, normally he would be easier to accept. But still, he has had issues here. He has escaped from prison - and still, we treat him like this. Appalling! I liked Jun's book. It's a very interesting read and I recommend it, especially for people interested in China after Mao. Still, it's not an amazing book but it's good. It's worth the time....more
Well, I wasn't a fan of this book. It's about the fight to save the rain forrest and I like the author's attempt at throwing support towards this topiWell, I wasn't a fan of this book. It's about the fight to save the rain forrest and I like the author's attempt at throwing support towards this topic and the people fighting to save our rain forrests. But - and for me, there's a huge but with this book: It didn't work as a novel - or at least not a very good novel. We follow three white people living in the jungle: Gilda, an organutan researcher, Gerry, a Ph.D. student trying to teach sign language to the orangutans and Urs, a Swiss man living with the native Penans, helping them fight the timber companies by more and more agressive resistance. His behavior makes life hard for all white people in the country and the book is about what they each must do to try and stay - hide in the forrest, choose side between the natives or the government or sleep your way to security. The book could have been good - the premise is good, but there are several things I disliked: For one, I didn't have to read so much about sex - sex with apes, sex mimicking apes, apes trying to rape humans and just ordinary sex. I admit it was mostly in the beginning but it just felt so out of place for me - I know the back cover stated the book would look into the difference between human and apes - but did it all have to come down to sex? That's how it felt to me... And then the novel wasn't that interesting - I didn't care too much about the first half or so - then it got a bit better - and then I felt completely let down by the ending... So not a good read for me - two stars because parts of it was interesting and because the topic deserves something - at least the book makes people aware the extremes some other members of our race go to to get a pet orangutan (shooting the mother down from trees and hoping her body protects her baby from the impact of the ground...) and the danger faced by people and animals depending on the rain forrests of the world....more
The Hogfather is missing but Death has taken over his duties and are making sure everybody gets what they want - although he has a hard time getting hThe Hogfather is missing but Death has taken over his duties and are making sure everybody gets what they want - although he has a hard time getting his 'ho ho ho' to sound completely right. And new gods appear everywhere - like the God of Hangovers - and other sorts of household gods show up as well whenever people think of them so suddenly there's a Eater of Socks, Towel Wasps etc. And since Death is busy handing out presents, it's up to Susan, Death's granddaughter, to fix it all - and all involves tracking down the missing Tooth Fairy as well and avoiding being killed by the Assassin Teatime, send out by the Guild of Assassins to kill the Hogfather. Luckily, she has the "help" of the Death of Rats and a raven with a big appetite for eye balls... With short appearances by the Librarian, Binky (Death's horse), Corporal Nobbs and the guard - and of course several wizards from the Unseen University. I really like reading Discworld novels - I don't do it enough but they are execellent for a easy, fast and funny read. I like Pratchett's ability to incorporate classics into his books - and he does it rather elegant: "She'd become a governess. It was one of the few jobs a know lady could do. And she'd taken to it well. She'd sworn that if she did indeed ever find herself dancing on rooftops with chimney sweeps she'd beat herself to death with her own umbrella."(40) But what I like most is Death - I would love to be able to talk in capital letters and just get people to do what I told them to. I like the funny situations that comes about because he understands everything very literal - and he also manages to save the little match sticks along the way. This wasn't one of the best Discworld novels - but it was still very enjoyable and I'm very impressed by Pratchett's imagination!...more