Beautifully written and very sensual. This is how fairy tales should be retold. Carter writes in such a lyrical and yet mature prose that it never sin...moreBeautifully written and very sensual. This is how fairy tales should be retold. Carter writes in such a lyrical and yet mature prose that it never sinks into sentimentality as other fairy tale re-tellings have. Here, horror and beauty blend seamlessly, creating a rich, dark world that in its skewed ways mirrors ours. I'm sure I haven't fully grasped the ideas Ms. Carter was trying to impress on me, but even if you don't understand a thing, the visual smorgasborg she weaves is certainly reason enough to read it. Every word she uses is weighted, carrying more than just its meaning, giving a richer, fuller image of the world she is creating.
Among the stories, my favorites include: "The Bloody Chamber" -- a retelling of Blue Beard. The images of the story stayed with me long after I had finished the book that I drew a frontispiece for it. (see my photos)
"Snow Child" -- a retelling of Snow White
"The Lady of The House of Love" -- Sleeping beauty with a touch of goth; Carter paints a town asleep and a Vampire princess waiting for someone. A little sad but beautiful
Brilliant in a disturbing and sometimes funny way.
Gotz and Meyer are two SS non-commissioned officers tasked with driving a hermetically sealed tru...moreBrilliant in a disturbing and sometimes funny way.
Gotz and Meyer are two SS non-commissioned officers tasked with driving a hermetically sealed truck around Serbia during one of the Nazi's early attempts to rid the world of Jews. The story is narrated, however, by a nameless narrator, a professor in modern day Serbia obsessed by the eradication of his family members during WW2. At first, the story reminded me of Elie Wiesel's writing in that it asks the same questions of how such an atrocity could happen, why didn't the Jews fight back, why didn't God help them. But the book eventually transcends all that. Despite being a book about the war, it leaps through time in the same way that the narrator leaps from past, present and imagined, delving and studying our notions of death, life, responsibility and memory.
And it helps that Albahari writes excellently. As a writer myself (and I use that term very loosely), I cannot imagine how anyone can write such a book. There are no paragraphs, no page breaks, just one long stream-of-conscious type narrative. Reading it feels spontaneous, almost as if the narrator is right in front of you telling you his story, and yet the entire tale is so intricate that under the pen of another writer, the story could have easily crumbled into a hodge-podge of facts and figures. The beauty of the story is in the way Albahari deftly uses staid numbers and figures to re-imagine and understand the horror of Holocaust. I particularly liked the part where he talks about his family tree and how some branches will never grow. It echoes a little to Cain and Abel's story where Cain says that he does not know where his brother is. God responds by saying that he can hear them crying. That is the horror of the holocaust, that killing a person does not just kills the individual, it wipes off families, entire branches of families. And that is the horror of Gotz and Meyer, that in the end of it, all it took were 2 men to wipe off not only the present, but the future as well.
Just finished it and I'm still a little confused (hence, the 4 stars). I'm still think this has the makings of an excellent horror if only I understoo...moreJust finished it and I'm still a little confused (hence, the 4 stars). I'm still think this has the makings of an excellent horror if only I understood it more. The Haunting of Hill House , despite being a haunted house story, does not read like a typical horror story. It does not feel like it has to go out of its way to scare you; there is no terrifying description of ghosts to haunt you in your sleep. The manifestations themselves, which plaque the characters throughout their stay in Hill House are generally mild and mostly confined to door shaking and rattling. This is not to say, though, that the book isn't scary. It is, although more "chilling" (as the blurb at the back says) than outright frightening. It creeps like a shadow from behind, scaring you for a moment until you realize that it was just nothing. Or so you tell yourself. And that pretty much is how the story reads (and why I am confused). All the characters that arrive at Hill House have brought with them their respective psychological baggage that it is hard to tell if there was even a haunting or was it all just in their heads. Was there really something in there or was it just their merely their psychological demons haunting them? From a technical standpoint, it was brilliantly written. Typical of Jackson's style is the tragic surprise of the ending, which I really loved. Definitely deserves a reread (less)
I'm not really a fan of Robert Louis Stevenson. I read his "Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde" once and, though I liked the theme, I didn't really enjoy reading...moreI'm not really a fan of Robert Louis Stevenson. I read his "Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde" once and, though I liked the theme, I didn't really enjoy reading it.
I like stories about authors, though, so when I saw this and the blurb at the back that said "ghost story" I was hooked. Stevenson Under The Palm Trees revolves around RLS's last days in Samoa where he has become a local celebrity and is given the nickname "Tusitala" ("Teller of stories"). The first few pages feel a like dropping into a dense jungle -- Manguel's prose is lush and evocative, reminding me a little of Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea .
Stevenson eventually meets Mr. Baker, a missionary who looks like him, or a shadow of himself. That the story would eventually be about the duality of man similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is almost a given and that spoils it a little for me. Strangely, as the story progresses Manguel's prose also shifts from lyrical to sparse and I similarly felt as if I was moving from the vibrant colors and beauty of the world outside to the shadowy darkness within. While interesting, I still found the later part of the book tiring. It was trying to impress a lot on me on such a limited amount of pages. Had it been longer, it might have worked.
Nevertheless, I love the idea of writing a fictional tale about a real author and Manguel succeeds in cleverly incorporating facts and letters about RLS's last days into a fictional tale that resembles a real story written by RLS.
The book also features Stevenson's own woodcuts, which he did for another book. (less)
One of the most battered-dog-eared volumes in my library because I read it so often. I loved the movie and that compelled me to buy the book. Naturall...moreOne of the most battered-dog-eared volumes in my library because I read it so often. I loved the movie and that compelled me to buy the book. Naturally, the book differs from the movie in some areas. For instance, the younger children (Tootie, especially) are a lot meaner in the book than on film and Rose and Esther are more giddy and boy-crazy than their sweet, sensible Judy Garland incarnate. Still, I loved the book. Reading it feels nostalgic. Like the movie, it exudes a sense of freshness and optimism of a world standing at the threshold of change. This is very much a turn-of-the-century story, starting with the old ways and ending with the St. Louis World Fair and what to them was the height of modernity. The world seemed so warm and innocent then. (less)
**spoiler alert** I was not sure what to expect when I picked up this book out of our storage box. All I really knew about it was a lady vanishes in t...more**spoiler alert** I was not sure what to expect when I picked up this book out of our storage box. All I really knew about it was a lady vanishes in the train. I've decided to read it anyway and see if it was any good.
The book starts out well. Iris Carr is a society girl on vacation with her friends, but after a petty squabble with one of her companions she decides to stay behind in the foreign country while her friends return back to England. For a moment, her newfound independence is refreshing, but it also leaves her vulnerable to the perils of being a foreigner abroad (and in a country that does not speak English, no less). Eventually, she does encounter these perils (nearly missing her train and being ostracized by the locals in the train) but thanks her "protective palm" for keeping her from harm, without realizing that she had actually steered herself into danger. All part of Iris narrow, naive, young, society girl mentality.
And partly because of that, the book grates a little. Iris' naivete is annoying, so is the strict British politeness that pervades the plot. A lot of things could have happened faster if people stopped being too theoretical. But I suppose that is precisely what the book is about: the aloofness of old British society, the indifference of it even amidst an emergency. It's rather funny, actually, in a dark way, and it personally works much more as a critic of being British rather than simple mystery (as most of the facts are readily given to the reader, while the characters themselves remain oblivious).
It could have been shorter, though. The endless banter about Ms. Foy's existence, when the reader is perfectly aware that she's real, drags the plot. I almost wanted to the read the last page without reading the rest of the book. Looking back, I could have just read the last chapter and it would still be same story. (less)
A rather old collection of suspense stories with du Maurier's "The Birds" headlining the list. It also contains stories by Jack Finney and Shirley Jac...moreA rather old collection of suspense stories with du Maurier's "The Birds" headlining the list. It also contains stories by Jack Finney and Shirley Jackson, Roald Dahl and other writers. Technically speaking, they're all masters of short stories, so all of the tales are concise and well written. However, since it was published in the sixties, the stories have a very nostalgic feel to them that it feels like you're watching reruns of "The Twilight Zone". Compared to more modern stories, they're almost predictable and stale, although some works do stand out (notably Finney's "Of Missing Persons", Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon" and "The Birds" ). It's a good collection to have around when one if feeling nostalgic.
Includes: The Birds by Daphne du Maurier (see The Birds for my review)
Of Missing Persons by Jack Finney The standout of the bunch in my opinion. A man is given a secret and a chance to go to Utopia. But is there such a place? Walk in as though it were an ordinary travel bureau...
Midnight Blue by John Collier The story suffers from being outdated. This was probably a wonderful thriller back then, but a little cliched now.
Flowers for Algernon by Keyes The original short story version of the classic. A man vs mouse and its tragic consequences
Taste by Roald Dahl
Two bottles of Relish by Lord Dunsany
Charles by Shirley Jackson Again, suffers from being outdated. The twist in the end is pretty predictable.
**spoiler alert** Initially, I wanted to stop reading this book half-way. The story was just soooo boring that it was taking me months to finish the f...more**spoiler alert** Initially, I wanted to stop reading this book half-way. The story was just soooo boring that it was taking me months to finish the first few chapters. So what if McEwan is a superb writer and that I can literally feel the heat of that day and the coolness of the fountain emanating from the pages? So what if he could write about a 12 year old girl's ordinary day? The fact was, there was no story. It was one incident at one day that for some reason stretched into several chapters. What was so good about that?
Nevertheless, I continued reading, pushed on more by my curiosity regarding its rave reviews rather than the story itself. I read on past Robbie in France, past Briony as a nurse, past Cecelia and Robbie together and Briony talking to them, making ammends; past the small BT initials after book 2 which didn't make sense. I was a third through book 3, just 2 more pages to go. Well, this is going to be the worst book I've ever read, I thought.
Then it happened. Just 2 more paragraphs before the book ended. (A real WTF moment for me, actually). And suddenly, I understood why McEwan is such a great writer. The entire book was a bloody set-up, just sitting there, building up into this uneventful, ordinary story that did not make sense if not for that one line at the very end. It was almost like an interactive mystery without the high-tech stuff, a paper chase with just you and McEwan dishing out clues here and there, except you didn't realize you were in a mystery until the very end. Briony making ammends, Robbie and Cecelia getting back together -- it never happened. Book 2 is actually THE atonement, Briony's manuscript, a fictionalized account of her would-be apology had Robbie and Cee lived past the war. Unfortunately, both Cecelia and Robbie do not survive. Robbie dies in France and never sees Cecelia again, while a heartbroken Cee dies in the underground at the height of Blitzkrieg. Briony is left with the guilt of her childhood accusations and never gets her chance to ask for forgiveness. So, she turns to the only thing she knows she can do. She gives the lovers immortality through her words. But is it enough?
One needs exceptional mastery at storytelling to pull this off, and McEwan does so flawlessly. It was so good that not even the movie could do justice to it. If there was one book people should read just for the sake of reading, for enjoying the characters and the surprise at the end, it would have to be this book. (less)
I bought a copy of this book after I saw it on Discovery channel (forgot the title of the show). Since it's a translation, the English was a bit rough...moreI bought a copy of this book after I saw it on Discovery channel (forgot the title of the show). Since it's a translation, the English was a bit rough, but still the story was really good. I think it did broaden my view of the world, and in a way changed my life. (less)
I don't really have a copy of this book in my library, but I've read my roomate's copy. I wish I had one, though. This is an extraordinary book. The m...moreI don't really have a copy of this book in my library, but I've read my roomate's copy. I wish I had one, though. This is an extraordinary book. The main characters are 2 prisoners sharing a cell. One of them is a political prisoner, the other a gay cellmate. Everything is told in dialogue, as if you were listening to their conversation in the darkness, and you're not certain who is speaking. The gay prisoner (I forget his name) shares synopsis of the movies his seen, and this adds to the beauty of the book (if you like old black and white movies, that is.) Later on, their conversations go deeper into their personal lives and even farther than that... If you find that elusive copy, hold on to it. This book is priceless. (less)