Before my last year's trip to London, I somehow failed to check the theater schedule, and on a bus tour I had an incredible sinking feeling when I spoBefore my last year's trip to London, I somehow failed to check the theater schedule, and on a bus tour I had an incredible sinking feeling when I spotted the theater with The Elephant Man sign. That feeling worsened when after the tour I checked the show dates at a ticket booth and noticed the play had closed just on the previous day. The most interesting story in the whole world, one that I've been obsessed about for years, and just a few months before I was disappointed I couldn't see Pomerance's play on Broadway, where it got rave reviews. As an effort to console myself and because the next best thing is to read the play, I loaned it from archive.org.
"[T]he most disgusting specimen of humanity". "[A] perverted object". These are the words Frederick Treves used to describe Joseph Merrick (sometimes mistakenly named as John), one of the most famous figures of the Victorian era, in The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences (1923). Showing symptoms at a young age, Merrick ended up severely deformed, and had to sleep sitting up to make sure he wouldn't die because of the weight of his head. His deformities also prevented him from working in regular jobs, and after a few years in the workhouse he decided to try his luck in a travelling sideshow. It was when he ended up in London on display at a Whitechapel shop that he first met Frederick Treves. After an unsuccessful stint in Brussels, Merrick returned to London and was eventually allowed to stay at the London Hospital for the remainder of his life.
Fiction about real people is in many ways problematic. As in David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980) (whose production company ended up being sued because of the similar plot to Pomerance's play), Pomerance's The Elephant Man shows Merrick as the victim of patronizing Treves, and as the center of attention of his high society acquaintances who lavish him with gifts, but don't seem to be interested in him as a person. They all see something of themselves in Merrick, making him a blank canvas where others can project their fears and desires.
It's troubling, because victimizing Merrick more than is necessary turns him into a mere object of pity. It might make it easier to explore the themes associated with his life story, but it's a questionable strategy. In Pomerance's retelling, Merrick is physically abused in Brussels, although despite his reluctance of speaking about his years in the freak show, there's no reason to presume there was any misconduct. According to the newest research, Treves embellished some aspects in his memoir (he didn't realize the freak show was Merrick's way of earning a living), but unless evidence to the contrary is found, I'd rather see Merrick being remembered as a sensitive theatre-loving young man, who spent time reading books and constructing models of buildings. He did have difficulties, but he tried his best to survive.
If one tries to forget the discrepancies and unfortunate interpretations of Merrick's character, Pomerance's play is absolutely an interesting piece of fringe theatre. With only 21 short scenes (including a striking dream sequence), it offers a different perspective to Merrick's story. He was under good care until his untimely death at the age of 27, but Pomerance challenges to think about the notion of being on display. How many donators and high society members actually cared about Merrick as a human being instead of as a charity case? Was Treves a real friend, or just someone who considered him as an interesting medical anomaly, and who tried to change him into something more normal?
TREVES: Have we nothing to say, John? MERRICK: If all that'd stared at me'd been sacked - there'd be whole towns out of work. TREVES: I meant, "Thank you, sir." MERRICK: "Thank you, sir." TREVES: We always do say please and thank you, don't we? MERRICK: Yes, sir. Thank you. TREVES: If we want to properly be like others.
Hanna Frankenstein, disappointed in her nephew's antics, decides to restore the Frankenstein name by sprucing up the castle. The task gets easier whenHanna Frankenstein, disappointed in her nephew's antics, decides to restore the Frankenstein name by sprucing up the castle. The task gets easier when she finds something from the cellar, but the villagers become increasingly alarmed when they start seeing signs of activity in the crumbled castle. Can Aunt Frankenstein really make up for her nephew's past mistakes?
Monster mashes can sometimes be problematic, because introducing several classic horror characters in one story can seem overwhelming. Pettersson keeps it fairly well together, though, and the characters don't come across as glued on despite not having that much use in the story overall. The lack of a major plot, where each of the character would have a more sensible part, is the one weakness of Frankenstein's Aunt.
However, Pettersson's vivid use of language and sense of humour are a delight, the latter which is most evident in the suggestive scene between Aunt Frankenstein and Dracula. Dracula would rather stand because of his circulation, and Aunt comments how she's the type of old lady who doesn't have much money in the bank. Dracula's bloody toy boy aspirations quickly come to an end, though.
Frankenstein's Aunt is the type of novel I imagine wouldn't be published today, and not just because of Aunt's addiction to cigars and sherry. It's easy to make monsters caricatures in novels aimed at a young audience. Pettersson avoids that trap and doesn't treat the monsters like clichés, but comes up with something at least a little bit new for each without them coming across like out of character. Like in the very best monster mashes, it's enjoyable to see the creatures interacting. The Fearless Vampire Killers ending is pretty great as well....more
Anton and his parents arrive on the farm, where Rüdiger has already settled in. He seems to have trouble feeding himself, which makes him appear slighAnton and his parents arrive on the farm, where Rüdiger has already settled in. He seems to have trouble feeding himself, which makes him appear slightly creepy and, well, vampire-like when he first sees Anton. I don't know if it's the farm, but Rüdiger seems even more childish, confrontational and a general dick than usual, in addition to flat out lying and causing him and Anton falling out.
Anton's father has mellowed since the first book, but his mother is increasingly annoyed about Anton's obsession about vampires. In this volume she's desperately trying to change Anton into her and forcing him to be something he's not, which was depressing and infuriating. Let the kid be passionate about what he wants, for Christ's sake! There are worse things than reading books, and it's certainly not something to get pissed off about.
Interestingly, she also seems to think that fresh country air smelling of cow shit is not bad, unlike the musty smell of the grave she's always complaining about in Anton's room. Having grown up in the countryside, I can say that cow shit DOES NOT smell better than soil. Or maybe she just didn't smell any cow shit, and the vampire smell is something entirely different than just soil.
The countryside setting didn't prove to be as interesting or exciting as it could have been, despite Rüdiger having trouble with the "monsters" of the farm and getting very close to being imprisoned/killed....more
In the middle of blood, guts, and strange encounters of the spirit world, I thought I'd take a break from my usual Halloween diet and read something lIn the middle of blood, guts, and strange encounters of the spirit world, I thought I'd take a break from my usual Halloween diet and read something light. The Little Vampire series has been my favorite since I was a kid, and I figured October would be the perfect month to continue with the series.
Rüdiger, a vampire who's scared of the dark and loves reading vampire stories, has settled back into the vault he was banished from in the previous installment, but now he's once again gotten himself into a bit of a jam. He needs to avoid a guest who's been invited for a visit in his family vault, but luckily reluctant Anton is going to the countryside for a holiday with his parents, and Anton invites Rüdiger to keep him company.
For me, the appeal of the series is seeing how differently vampires live compared to humans, and the little sparks of suspense when the friends face difficulties. Here, Anton gets to spend a so called vampire day by jumping on coffins and drinking spoilt cocoa. Before the holiday begins, though, he and Rüdiger take Rüdiger's coffin to the cottage by train, but they need to keep an eye on the old lady who shares their compartment, in case she finds her glasses and sees she's sitting opposite a real vampire. Again, Anton's parents are oblivious to what their son is up to when they're out of the house or when they're sleeping!
Aunt Dorothee, on the other hand, is again a constant danger to Anton. Even when she doesn't appear in the flesh, she's still usually mentioned several times in passing in the books and gets to be a kind of villain who might jump (or fly) out of the shadows at any given moment. This makes the nightly excursions slightly creepy, so despite there being cute or funny stuff happening, you won't forget these are vampires who feed on humans. Then again, it never gets too scary, so Aunt Dorothee feeding on drunk people and getting an alcohol poisoning is just a source of amusement....more
This is one of those classic children's books that sprinkle golden fairy dust on their reader, and charm everyone with their magical story of farawayThis is one of those classic children's books that sprinkle golden fairy dust on their reader, and charm everyone with their magical story of faraway kingdoms full of strange creatures and mysterious places. Or, at least I presume this was supposed to do that. Unfortunately, I wasn't particularly charmed or impressed. The Neverending Story isn't bad, it just left me pretty much indifferent. I'm not a fan of fantasy (at least the typical high fantasy that usually springs to mind when the genre is mentioned), but in children's books it usually works. I've seen the movie adaptation, but I basically only remember the horse scene and the cute dragon, so I don't have any nostalgia problems preventing me from liking the book on its own.
Here we have the usual quest that requires some apparently very special individual, or otherwise Fantastica is destroyed. There's an interesting story-within-a-story structure and inventive world building, but unlike in Narnia for instance, I never got invested in the heros' journey, nor was I excited to see how everything would be solved.
Obviously, as we all probably guessed, the hero from our world grows in the process and the story is wrapped neatly, but everything happening before that is the issue. The first part is ok and understandably the one that got made into a movie, but the second part was an even bigger chore. It's just an aimless and meanderingly slow build-up to the hero's life change. The styles of the two parts keep them too separate. There is a point to why we first have to read about the first journey, that much I understood, but it doesn't work that well.
All in all, as much as I appreciate the effort to deal with the fine line between fantasy and reality, the reminder how the real world needs a hint of magic (but also how losing yourself entirely in the world of fantasy is also detrimental), the praise of the power of imagination and storytelling, and the concept of Nothing, I started to miss my old favorites again.
Human passions have mysterious ways, in children as well as grown-ups. Those affected by them can’t explain them, and those who haven’t known them have no understanding of them at all. Some people risk their lives to conquer a mountain peak. No one, not even they themselves, can really explain why. Others ruin themselves trying to win the heart of a certain person who wants nothing to do with them. Still others are destroyed by their devotion to the pleasures of the table. Some are so bent on winning a game of chance that they lose everything they own, and some sacrifice every thing for a dream that can never come true. Some think their only hope of happiness lies in being somewhere else, and spend their whole lives traveling from place to place. And some find no rest until they have become powerful. In short, there are as many different passions as there are people. Bastian Balthazar Bux’s passion was books
The movie has a special place in my heart. There was a time in my childhood when there was still cool stuff on TV, and one afternoon I noticed an inteThe movie has a special place in my heart. There was a time in my childhood when there was still cool stuff on TV, and one afternoon I noticed an interesting movie in the schedule. What I saw stayed with me forever. My mom had just baked buns topped with butter, so while I was gobbling up about a seven of those and drinking cold cocoa, I was completely sucked into this odd world of puppet trolls and a strange Goblin king with a seductive voice.
Rewind to year 2016, when the news of David Bowie's death flooded over me like a tidal wave. I decided to slowly go through a list of his favorite books as a tribute to him and to learn more about who he was. Then I found out there's a novelization of Labyrinth. When I read E.T., I realized novelizations of movies can be good, too. In the best case scenario they can deepen the world and make you understand the characters a bit better (plus, reading E.T. meant I didn't have to suffer through the sentimental style of Spielberg).
Labyrinth, while not being bad, wasn't that special either. I think it just comes down to the world working better in visual form and with the songs. A nice read overall, but I'd rather watch the movie for the umpteenth time. Maybe this would work better if you haven't seen the movie first?
American Psycho (1991) is a novel that is a force, and I doubt there are that many people who feel indifferent about it. I recognized its genius, buAmerican Psycho (1991) is a novel that is a force, and I doubt there are that many people who feel indifferent about it. I recognized its genius, but I think I wasn't ready for its overwhelming effect. It was nothing like I had ever read before, and I just pushed it into the back of my mind and let it simmer in there.
Now, Ellis has started to draw me back into his world, and I thought his debut novel Less Than Zero would be both a soft(er) landing and an interesting glimpse into his early years and where he came from. At first the trip wasn't successful. I kept wondering why I'd ever liked this guy. Then... Something clicked. I got used to the clipped style and at some point I realized I had slowly but surely been seduced.
Coke, omnipresent blondes, glimmering turquoise swimming pools, dark silhouettes of palm trees rustling in the soft night air. Sudden flashes of violence à la American Psycho tear bloody wounds in the seemingly calm exterior, but mostly Less Than Zero feels like you've been in its grasp forever. It's a place where everything looks like a slowed down and a distorted version of the real world. Something's off, and you're not entirely sure what. Los Angeles is like one of those purgatory-like nightmares, where images want to strangle you in your sleep, leaving you heaving and rolling in cold sweat.
Then it all melts into an ending that is brilliant in all its understatedness.
My decision to read this in English turned out to be a good idea, by the way. I have to remember that next time, because Ellis can write about boredom and vapidity in a way that leaves you disoriented and mesmerized. He doesn't explain much, his characters don't know what the hell they're doing on this Earth, and his subtle black humor pops up in the most unexpected places.
Now, the movie on the other hand is less successful in portraying the lost generation of the 20th century. I admit, it's probably hard to capture the mood of the novel, but when the focus is shifted to something entirely different and everything that made the novel into what it is has been taken away, it creates something else. Another story, another nightmare, and less captivating.
It's not entirely hopeless, though, because the colors are great, the 80s aesthetic almost always makes everything look better, James Spader is oddly fascinating in everything he does etc. But, the entire thing might be worth the watch just for the amazing performance of Robert Downey Jr. He might not be the Julian of the novel, but he's the Julian that everyone should see, even if it's just for that tennis court scene alone.
'I don't want to care. If I care about things, it'll just be worse, it'll just be another thing to worry about. It's less painful if I don't care.'
John O'Brien's debut novel was published in 1990, making it the only one in his very short body of work that was published before his death by suicideJohn O'Brien's debut novel was published in 1990, making it the only one in his very short body of work that was published before his death by suicide in 1994, only two weeks after finding out that his novel would be made into a movie. The way O'Brien's life ended might be the reason why Leaving Las Vegas feels so honest and real.
This is less about how to deal with addiction than about the moments after Ben's decision to end his life, and the resolve that follows. Ben is too far gone for a miraculous all-encompassing cure that suits the society's concept of redemption and happiness. Ben is at the end, at a point when he can't go back, but also - most of all - doesn't want to go back. He moves into a different direction at the crossroads than you'd expect, just waiting for that final snap to come while walking through a limbo of motel rooms and empty bottles.
Some consider Leaving Las Vegas a romance, but I'd say it's about a connection deeper and less flimsy than that, almost primeval. A connection that allows Ben and Sera to act like themselves without the need to pretend or to hide something in themselves they don't want or need others to see. They show their true selves, true intentions, innards, and find their souls in each other.
According to Erin, John's sister, he was a devout atheist, but Erin notes the presence of religious icons in his works and suggests he might have been thinking about spirituality during his last years. Erin considers Sera a shortened form of a seraph. Seraphim are the highest form of heavenly beings in Christianity and caretakers of God's throne, and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite's description of seraphim in The Celestial Hierarchy is actually very relevant to Sera and how she's portrayed in relation to Ben:
"The name seraphim clearly indicates their ceaseless and eternal revolution about Divine Principles, their heat and keenness, the exuberance of their intense, perpetual, tireless activity, and their elevative and energetic assimilation of those below, kindling them and firing them to their own heat, and wholly purifying them by a burning and all-consuming flame; and by the unhidden, unquenchable, changeless, radiant and enlightening power, dispelling and destroying the shadows of darkness."
Although Ben's journey feels like an endless period of wandering, Sera is there to unconditionally make it a little brighter and meaningful. O'Brien doesn't lower himself to preaching a moralistic lesson about salvation, but instead challenges to think about an alternative path. In the end, Sera and Ben accept each other's actions and understand, sometimes even without words, what the other needs. It's the kind of companionship not everyone are able to experience in this life.
Ben's motivations are largely left unexplained, and it's the lack of easy answers that makes the novel so involving and full of life. Knowing where all's going to end up is painful, but there's comfort in knowing that Ben has had the chance to live on his own terms and spend his last moments with someone like Sera. For those who are willing to see it, there are moments of beauty along the way, but they're just masked with the lights of strip joints and the stench of a stale casino carpet.
We can never know what O'Brien would have thought about the movie adaptation, but in my opinion it does justice to his work. For one, the cinematography is gorgeous. It's like the visual equivalent of the feeling you get when you're reading the novel. Obviously, the book delves a little deeper and the relationship between Ben and Sera is probably more fleshed out, but otherwise the movie is very much worth two hours of anyone's life.
Originally, I slapped a four star rating on this, but my undying love of slow-burn stories has struck again, and so the amount of days I have thought about this since I read it warrants a full-blown five stars. A very rare occurrence with me, I might add.
Since I've managed to get myself addicted to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic, I didn't hesitate checking out the continuation of the first two AlieSince I've managed to get myself addicted to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic, I didn't hesitate checking out the continuation of the first two Alien movies. Rewatching them was obviously loads of fun, and I'm starting to admire Ripley even more. The first film's claustrophobic atmosphere, the characters, the iconic scenes (like the bursting chest, which we all so fondly remember), and when Ripley finally manages to gain the respect of others (of which all but one are men) etc. When the aliens start wreaking havoc, it's just an exciting ride from start to finish, and I can't stress enough how much I love Geiger's design of the alien. The sequel is also entertaining, but I feel like its action-oriented approach doesn't work as well as the first one's stylistic choices and slow-burn sci-fi horror.
Anyway, at first I had a hard time getting into the comics, because my head just can't take even the slightest bit of scientific jargon. When the story got wind under its wings, reading flowed more easier. Some new interesting creatures appear when the teams explore more worlds, and overall the plots are alright. Devastating things happen, which makes the universe even more claustrophobic. Some aspects work, some not.
Addressing the art is kind of difficult, because it occasionally varies drastically between issues, ranging from beautiful linework and coloring to scenes that are just muddy color blotches. Some of it reminds me of certain 80s action flicks, which I appreciate in terms of color and overall style, but some characters were so poorly drawn they just looked like caricatures of themselves.
In Nightmare Asylum the text boxes and bubbles have for some reason been left uncolored, which makes it difficult to determine who the narrator is in each frame. An inexplicable personality change also occurs: before Newt was participating and trying to survive the best she could, but suddenly she's a wet puddle, who only sighs after her lover's body. Furthermore, I don't see why it's necessary to accentuate the curves of every single female character, even though they're wearing baggy jumpsuits. It's like they're participating in a wet jumpsuit competition. In space.
Although the stories are full of action, they're at the same time complex by examining the nature and biology of the alien colonies, but also the relationships of the humans the creatures are trying to squash. A recurrent theme of the universe is overestimating the power of the aliens. Thinking you're in complete control is a mistake. When something like the Bionational corporation is trying to exploit the creatures by hiding behind free enterprise and capitalism, chaos ensues.
The Aliens universe is also a great way to examine fear and its different forms. Can a human be as empty as the aliens and pretend to not know what fear is, like they do? In order to survive, is becoming an alien the best thing to pursue? Androids have also been developed further by giving them the belief that they're humans, and that creates one of the most harrowing scenes in the whole omnibus.
I have to agree with others about the ridiculously unnecessary name changes. It's Newt and Hicks. No reason to pretend otherwise, even though it messes with the timeline of the third film (which is crap anyway, so...).
The stories are bound to become repetitive and older material rehashed further in the next omnibuses (and some of the characters were admittedly horrifyingly one-dimensional), but just because I'm intrigued by where the things were left and because I still had fun with the stories, I'm continuing with the series in the future. I feel like the movies and the comics are different animals (or creatures) with slightly different forms and biology, and the enjoyment one gets from them is different, but they also complement each other....more
Luin alkuvuodesta kokoelman aikuisille tarkoitettuja islantilaisnovelleja, joka oli ihan pätevä johdanto islantilaiseen mielenmaisemaan ja kirjallisuuLuin alkuvuodesta kokoelman aikuisille tarkoitettuja islantilaisnovelleja, joka oli ihan pätevä johdanto islantilaiseen mielenmaisemaan ja kirjallisuuteen, mutta nämä lapsille ja nuorille suunnatut novellit eivät puhutelleet. Löytyi töksähteleviä lauseita ja latteita tarinoita, mutta onneksi pieni valonpilkahdus tuli Peikkomuori-tarinasta, jossa peikon muotoinen kallionkieleke sulautuu ikävöinniksi isoäidin perään. Melko suuri osa novelleista on muuten aika surumielistä tavaraa ja käsittelee yllättävän aikuisia aiheita, eli kovin montaa pienelle lapselle suunnattua tarinaa en usko tästä löytyvän....more
I avoid romantic comedies. Obviously I've still seen a few, and that's why I mainly cringe when I see another trailer from another film about a bunchI avoid romantic comedies. Obviously I've still seen a few, and that's why I mainly cringe when I see another trailer from another film about a bunch of asswipes. Other overly romantic stuff gives me the same reaction. If I want something light to read, I turn to children's books or horror (preferrably Stephen King). As with everything, there are exceptions (although in this case, very few). When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Notting Hill (1999) (Rhys Ifan's character!) are two examples of movies that aren't my favourites, but which I've still seen at least twice. They have a point, and it's not necessarily a saccharine one. The first Bridget Jones is another one. It's just goofy, down-to-earth, and Bridget herself is the same: ordinary, not a polished model-type with a Pepsodent smile, and has awesome friends.
I've just never read the book, and now I thought would be perfect chance when I'm trying to go through some London books. The problem was the chick lit genre, which I've always found extremely off-putting. I've only read one before this, and it was torture. I've read countless of blurbs and reviews, though, but none of them have actually made me want to try reading the actual thing. The plot lines have mostly just given me a headache. I probably wouldn't have read Bridget Jones, if I hadn't seen the movie first. So, curiosity got the best of me (or maybe the heat of summer weather).
A longer introduction than perhaps necessary, but I thought it's important to understand the background where I'm coming from. Chick lit seems to rely on relatable characters and a sense of fun. Did I relate to Bridget? Hell no. Was this light-hearted fun? Not really.
I'm not in a similar situation with Bridget and her friends. I'm single, that much is true, but I don't have a problem with it or with people in relationships. I don't feel the need to trash men in every conversation (unless there's a very cogent reason, but that applies to women as well). These women don't have an ounce of common sense. Bridget takes Daniel's flirtations at face value, believing he's practically in love with her, and then complains when he's reluctant to commit to her. He said to her face, out loud, that he only wants to have fun! We all have our problems in relationships, and we all make mistakes, but I have trouble understanding why anyone would purposely dig themselves a hole. Have some self-respect. No one likes time wasters, but if you try to explain something into something completely different, then it's on you when things go pear-shaped.
Bridget is a gullible woman, who seems unable to control herself. We all have those problems in some areas, but am I going to be entertained by a book whose main character is supposed to be an endearing disaster? There was nothing funny about Bridget and her antics. She just made me sad. A woman in her thirties, and her life is filled with weight issues and neurotic self-analyzing. A lot of people (not only women) do worry about their weight, and think their self-esteem will magically jump into high heavens if they lose some fat. Bridget's problems are therefore relatable to some (completely understandable, because no one wants to feel like they're alone in something), but what are they really signalling? It's ok to view yourself as a complete useless slob and constantly beat yourself up? Being on a perpetual diet means you can write numbers into your diary, but in reality make little effort to be healthier?
It's not only that I don't understand Bridget, but the characters are very thin. The main love interest is supposed to be a big deal, but he's a mere shadow lurking somewhere in the background, so I never got a sense of who he is. He's forgotten for most of the novel, and then suddenly he appears again like some deus ex machina to make Bridget feel better. What the hell? But it's in a diary form, you say. Yes, but that's no excuse to make an important character virtually non-existent and a mere plot tool. I still have no idea why he's the one for Bridget.
There are some good bits here, though. Someone who admires Joanna Lumley and Susan Sarandon can't be entirely hopeless, and the description of Bridget's godson's birthday was hilarious. I sincerely hope I'll never end up into a situation like that, since it actually reminded me of a nightmare I once had. I also appreciate that Fielding clearly wanted to write something that's not made of pink glitter, but the actual execution missed its mark. Bridget is sassy, that much is true, but her other qualities - oy. If you identify with some of this, cool, but if you don't... There's little else to grab onto.
Somehow I'm guessing Bridget's obsession with self-pity won't end in the other books. She can wallow in it as long as she likes, though, because I'm not listening anymore. There's being sad for a valid reason, and then there's fishing pity and trying to build your self-confidence through others' opinions. Personally, I find it exasperating when everything has to be made a bigger deal than it actually is....more
Just as fun as the first one, although for some reason it took me a while to get into the story, so I let the book rest a few days. The further I readJust as fun as the first one, although for some reason it took me a while to get into the story, so I let the book rest a few days. The further I read, the more addictive it became.
I loved the snarky exchange of words between (view spoiler)[Amelia and Emerson (hide spoiler)], and I was happy to see that their personalities hadn't changed one bit, but that they could still spar with each other despite the situation changing. People like them can seem a bit hard, though, but there were moments where their hard exteriors melted and they seemed more human. Not that they didn't seem human before, but now there were more faults visible as well, like with real human beings. It was pretty obvious, too, that Amelia wouldn't settle into tea parties. The way she appears next to the ridiculous Lady Baskerville, who's constantly fainting out of shock like your typical romance heroine, would make anyone want to escape with Amelia to the dusty digs.
The characters were more interesting this time around, especially the insane Madame Berengeria, who loved her bottle a bit too much and dressed like ancient Egyptians. Bigger bunch of people also meant there were more choices for the murderer, and although the identity wasn't a complete shock, I wasn't disappointed either. Peters handled the twists and turns with style.
There's a cat, too!
Ok, that was a bit random, but Bastet deserves a mention.
All in all, I liked the sense of adventure. I can't give four stars, because I still feel there's something missing, but for certain situations these are perfect light mysteries, and I'd love to know where Amelia ends up next.
"Bucolic peace is not my ambience, and the giving of tea parties is by no means my favorite amusement. In fact, I would prefer to be pursued across the desert by a band of savage Dervishes brandishing spears and howling for my blood. I would rather be chased up a tree by a mad dog, or face a mummy risen from its grave. I would rather be threatened by knives, pistols, poisonous snakes, and the curse of a long-dead king."...more
"A young man in one’s hotel bedroom is capable of being explained, but a corpse is always a hindrance."
Is there a better way to return to reading and"A young man in one’s hotel bedroom is capable of being explained, but a corpse is always a hindrance."
Is there a better way to return to reading and reviewing than write about a light, bubbly, vibrant, and sparkly mystery? When my studies calmed down a bit and my brain began to miss fiction, I started a ridiculously long classic, but then I noticed a book whose blurb made my heart beat a little bit faster. A detective story that is set in the roaring twenties and whose main character is a bold and unconstrained female private detective, can't be bad. Am I right?
My expectations turned out to be reasonable. Phryne is the soul of the book. Whenever you start a new series, you want to make sure that you like the main character who carries the weight of the story, so that you're interested enough to continue with the series. Phryne Fisher carries herself with style and enjoys the luxuries of life, but isn't arrogant or afraid to get her hands dirty in seedy back alleys. This unabashed and clever adventuress, who enjoys cigarettes and - quelle horreur! - sex, exists in an entirely different sphere than the rest of the characters. Especially the squeaky clean maid Dorothy seems puny next to her mistress, even though she does find courage in the end when things become dangerous.
On the other hand, the plot itself didn't have the spark I was hoping for. One important identity was easy to guess about halfway through, because Greenwood's hint is pretty heavyhanded. Not knowing Melbourne, I also couldn't pinpoint the events to Australia, because it seemed like any metropolitan city would have been the location, which of course is a shame since Australia is an interesting country. The endless descriptions of Phryne's dresses just radiated iffy chick lit vibes.
Although the fluffiness wasn't entirely my thing and occasionally style moved ahead of substance, I believe I could continue with the series if I ever need something that wouldn't require any brain activity. Based on this first installment the series might potentionally be addictive, and because of that extra that the 20s brings to the plate, things could be worse. Greenwood's writing style has the kind of perkiness and sharpness which in the end makes reading fun, and that's what you want from a cozy mystery. If, however, I don't feel like reading the whole series, there's the tv show that I'm going to check out at some point. Maybe I'll make those cucumber sandwiches and cocktails as seen on Phryne's website to get in the mood....more
Kokoelman alussa oleva katsaus tiivistää miten islantilainen kirjallisuus on historian saatossa kehittynyt. Toki ei voi sanoa, että kokonaisen maan kiKokoelman alussa oleva katsaus tiivistää miten islantilainen kirjallisuus on historian saatossa kehittynyt. Toki ei voi sanoa, että kokonaisen maan kirjallisuus olisi täysin homogeenistä, mutta vielä nykyäänkin kirjallista arvoa kantavista saagoista alkaneessa tarinaperinteessä on käsitelty muun muassa merta ja sen vaikutusta niin ihmisten luonteeseen kuin elinkeinoonkin.
On kuitenkin hyvä muistaa, ettei Islanti ole sen asuttamisen jälkeen ollut sijainnistaan huolimatta täysin eristäytynyt muusta maailmasta, joten eri kirjallisuussuuntauksetkin ovat saapuneet mantereelta saarelle ja muokanneet tarinankerronnallisia perinteitä. Uudet nykykirjailijoiden sukupolvet ovat käyttäneet muun muassa ironiaa, maagista realismia ja surrealismia uudistaessaan islantilaista kirjallisuutta. Usein kaikkea tätä ei ole aikanaan ymmärretty, vaan osa on aiheuttanut tarinoillaan pahennusta.
Halldór Laxness on yksi heistä, joka on saanut kritiikkiä yhteiskunnallisilla kannanotoillaan. Linnun laulun kaiussa (1964) eristäytynyt kuolemaisillaan oleva mies sanoutuu irti yhteiskunnan vaatimuksista. Vieraisilla olevat viranomaiset edustavat rationaalista järjen ääntä, eivätkä ymmärrä miehen ajatuksia, vaan väittävät tietävänsä mikä tälle on parasta. Knúturissa on jopa jonkinlaista mystiikkaa pitäessään loppuun asti kiinni omasta itsestään.
Ásta Sigurðardóttir edustaa joukkoa vahvoja naiskirjailijoita, jotka ottivat kantaa naisten asemaan. Tämä ei ulottunut Sigurðardóttirilla pelkästään kirjojen maailmaan, vaan opettajan tutkinnostaan huolimatta (siihen aikaan yksi islantilaisten naisten harvoista vaihtoehdoista) hän toimi alastonmallina, teki taidetta ja vietti aikaa taiteilijapiirien kanssa. Nykyään Sigurðardóttir on yksi luetuimmista islantilaisista novellisteista, vaikka kokoelmia onkin julkaistu vain yksi. Naisasialiikkeen lehdessä julkaistu Kuningasliljoja (1958) erottuu tässä 25:n novellin kokoelmassa ehdottomasti edukseen. Se sijoittuu Islannin miehityksen aikaan, jolloin islantilaisten naisten ja sotilaiden kanssakäyminen oli yleistä. Päähenkilö on sairas parakissa asuva tyttö, jota ei kukaan tunnu ymmärtävän (ystävätär ei ole hienotunteinen vaan valitsee kovan asenteen, ja mieslääkärin mielestä naimisiinmeno on ratkaisu kaikkiin ongelmiin). Pala palalta tytön tilanne paljastuu, kunnes lopussa on jälleen toivoa ja kukat tuovat kauneutta rumuuden ja epätoivon keskelle.
Jakobína Sigurðardóttirin (ei sukua edelliselle) upeassa Stella-novellissa (1964) on parakkielämää, alkoholismia, troolarilla työskentelyä ja ihmisiä, jotka puhuvat toistensa ohi. Elämä on muuttunut katkeraksi, meri pelottavaksi eikä lapsille pysty osoittamaan hellyyttä vaikka haluaisikin. Kaunis tarina sanomattomista lauseista ja siitä, kun toinen ihminen ei näytä päällisin puolin olevan enää sellainen kuin joskus.
Muita mieleen jääviä novelleja olivat Ólafur Haukur SímonarssoninJäähyväiset (1987) (kalapakastamossa työskentelevä poika kaipaa kauas pois), Þórarinn EldjárninAjopuulahtelaisen saaga (1992) (hauska saagoja hyödyntävä tarina siitä, mitä tapahtuu kun Ajopuulahteen saapuu uudisasukkaita: "Perkele, siitä sait! Senkin runojenrustaaja!"), Matthías JohannesseninPääsiäismyräkkä (1981) (hengästyttävän upeaa luontokuvausta, ja jonka mystistä tunnelmaa en pystyisi ikinä kuvailemaan), Guðbergur Bergssonin absurdi Ensimmäinen joulukertomus (1995) (partainen Jeesus-lapsi saa kerrostalon asukkaat siivoamaan rappukäytävän) sekä Andri Snær MagnasoninKalastaja ja merenneito (1996) (päähenkilö saa huomata, ettei merenneito olekaan ihan se kaikkein käytännöllisin puoliso).
Kuten useita kirjailijoita sisältävissä novellikokoelmissa usein, oli tässäkin välillä tyhjäkäyntiä, mutta sehän on täysin makuasia kuka kirjailijoista onnistuu jättämään jälkensä lukijaan. Kokonaisuudessaan kokoelma jäi kyllä hieman miinukselle, mutta katsauksena islantilaiseen kirjallisuuteen tämä oli kuitenkin lukemisen arvoinen (yksi editointikerta olisi tosin ollut vielä paikallaan, sillä kirjoitusvirheitä oli harmillisen paljon). Lopussa on myös kattava lista fiktiosta sekä islantilaista kirjallisuutta käsittelevistä tietokirjoista....more