Jeffrey Eugenides uses Calliope as his Muse – according to the Greek mythology, she’s the Muse of epic poetry –, as a narrator of his story. He must bJeffrey Eugenides uses Calliope as his Muse – according to the Greek mythology, she’s the Muse of epic poetry –, as a narrator of his story. He must be a fan of the Greek myths as the novel’s full of allusion to Homer and the Illiad. The narrator eloquently unfold the story behind Calliope’s transformation, like the Chinese Princess Si Ling-Chi, as Eugenides puts it: upon discovering the unraveling of a silkworm cocoon that fell into her teacup, handing its loose end to her maidservant, who in turn took the loose end through the Forbidden City, and into the countryside a half mile away before the cocoon ran out. Eugenides breaks his novel into four parts, and retraces the journey of Cal’s grandparents from Asia Minor to America.
The first part belongs to Desdemona and Lefty, retelling their love story. The second begins with their new life in Detroit, when Lefty was unfairly forced to give up his job in the Ford Motor Co. and went to work for his cousin’s husband, Jimmy Zizmo, to help him smuggle liquors from Canada into the country. Calliope enters the story in the third part, being born to Milton and Tessie. On the day of her birth, her grandfather Lefty had a stroke, and incident that brought Desdemona both sadness and relief, as Eugenides writes ‘Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in “sadness,” “joy,” or “regret.” Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling.’ The narrator grew up against the backdrop of the 1967 riot that set her father’s first business, the Zebra Room, into blaze, but ironically brought them up from the ruins as the three insurances that he’s been holding finally paid him up enough money to let him start another business and bought a new house in Middlesex, away from what was left of Detroit. In Middlesex, a house without normal doors and lots of windows, the narrator finally begins to learn about herself, and the opposite sex. In that very house she realized that she’s standing between two opposite poles, male and female, the middle of both sexes, and she’s neither. Milton and Tessie eventually discovered Calliope’s condition of being a hermaphrodite in the final part. The narrator enters his own story intermittently, as Cal or Calliope brought the readers in and out of his present-day time, the present being the time he is forty-one and mulling over his recent meeting with a Japanese-American lady in Berlin, the love of his life after the Obscure Object. Eugenides expertly describes Desdemona's love story as she is also the main character who always appears in almost every chapter, as she holds the key of Cal’s physical condition.
As readers go back to the first chapter, some of the story’s key elements that are mentioned in the beginning can be finally put together into a beautiful story of one’s life journey. It’s no surprise that the writer spent 9 years to finish the novel, and eventually won the Pulitzer Prize for his work in 2002. One of Eugenides’ strength comes from his Greek roots – he freely uses the Greek mythology as a tool to weave his story. He doesn’t leave a room for the slightest gap, every chapter is full to the brim with physical and emotional details about his characters, the story settings and many relevant information. Finally, he never allows his readers to take pity of Cal’s condition, rather he takes them to identify with his characters, because in the end, we are humans after all, regardless of our physical conditions. ...more
I wish I had the time and money to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and to actually get paid for doing it! Simply one of the most interestingI wish I had the time and money to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and to actually get paid for doing it! Simply one of the most interesting non-fiction work I've read so far. Would make a great present for Christmas, cheap but deep.....more
Totto-chan is a first-grader in Tokyo during WWII Japan. Her mother was distraught because she's been expelled several times from her classes for askiTotto-chan is a first-grader in Tokyo during WWII Japan. Her mother was distraught because she's been expelled several times from her classes for asking silly questions. However, Mother soon found out that Tomoe Gakuen, headed by the wise Mr. Kobayashi, offered an alternative teaching suitable for children like her daughter. Thus started Totto-chan's adventure at her new school, Tomoe.
I found this wonderful book when I was 12, finishing my grade school. It's different than Enid Blyton's adventure types, very popular on those days. Halfway through finishing the book, I wished to be sent to Tomoe....more
Before Randy Pausch, there's Morrie Schwartz. Mitch Albom was Morrie's student at Brandeis. Before his beloved professor passed away, he visited MorriBefore Randy Pausch, there's Morrie Schwartz. Mitch Albom was Morrie's student at Brandeis. Before his beloved professor passed away, he visited Morrie every Tuesday for three months, during which time Morrie would dispense all his wisdom - life lessons to Albom.
While not exactly life's greatest lesson, most of Morrie's wisdom gives one a warm feeling, like the apple pie you had in your grandmother's house, topped off with the smell of her withering skin. Like the old days, Morrie is a dying breed, soon enough we'll forget there's once a world without iPods and Blackberries, a world where people can count on their own families and neighbors. As Morrie said, "..there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn't the family... If you don't have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don't have much at all..." Of which he followed with a quote from Auden: "Love each other or perish."
Albom divides each of his Tuesday visits into its own chapter, making it easier for readers to absorb each of Morrie's messages, all the while inserting Morrie's characters as the glue that ties up the entire book. If you need a pick-me-up after suffering a mild depression, this book may do for you, or it would depresses you more. I suppose, it's all depend on who reads it. It's as much about living as it is about dying gracefully. One thing that Morrie said caught me, "Everyone knows they're going to die.. but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently." If you like Randy Pausch's, you'd surely find that this book would knock Randy's off your shelf pretty soon....more
So, the second installment of Hunger Games went for an encore - Katniss is invited (by force) to the 75th Games, or as they call it: the Quarter QuellSo, the second installment of Hunger Games went for an encore - Katniss is invited (by force) to the 75th Games, or as they call it: the Quarter Quell (happens every 25 years). This time around, the male and female former victors reaped from each of the 12 districts of Panem would fight to the death, and there wouldn't be two victors allowed anymore. The best part of the book's actually the Games itself - right after it started your adrenaline shot up and you, just like most of the Capitol's audience, would start rooting for your favorite victor.
The genius that is Collins would be the vivid description of Panem, including its characters. The Games environment reminds me of The Truman Show (and the survival part, The Running Man.) I love the invention of jabberjays, mockingjays, Avoxes, morphlings (still wonder what this really is), and taking it from the previous book - the trackerjackers. I also love the way she names the characters: Katniss, Peeta, Cinna, Plutarch Heavensbee, even Beetee and Finnick. Unfortunately, the only humdrum character in this book would be, drumroll please, Gale (is he taken from the Captain of The Sound of Music?)! Evidently, even as fans have started another version of Team Edward on Peeta, Gale would make Team Jacob fell asleep halfway through the first three chapters.
The huntress, Katniss, is not your average heroine - it's such a breath of fresh air that she should fall in love with Peeta, who bakes and paints. Though she can put on a dress, she'd rather set traps and hunts for games - she actually hates being waxed, stripped off her body hair! Instead of becoming a damsel in distress, she acts her own mind, and very protective of her family. She doesn't fall for Finnick Odair, a strong character that should make Gale cowers. Interestingly, Finnick is also human, and I'll just let you decide from reading this book.
Is the 2nd book better than the first one? Not really, but the ending makes me want to vomit - how long should I wait for the final installment? Maybe a trackerjacker should sting me in the heart. The waiting just felt that bad!...more
Osteogenesis Imperfecta or OI. Before reading Jodi Picoult's books, I would never imagine there'd be such disorder. Cancers, autism disorders, and beiOsteogenesis Imperfecta or OI. Before reading Jodi Picoult's books, I would never imagine there'd be such disorder. Cancers, autism disorders, and being born without limbs are common topics, but OI is new, so I'm more or less intrigued enough to plow on and finish reading this book.
The book is about a mother's struggle to fight her daughter's genetic disorder, affecting her own relationship with her husband and the other daughter. Quite a common theme for Jodi's book, but the cooking recipes at the end of almost every chapter make this book all the more special.
I wonder what I'd do if I were a mother with an imperfect child, but Ms. Picoult deftly plays out our emotion so that the book would not end up as just another sappy story. You'll learn about the disease (OI), you'll learn about fighting fates, and you'll learn about love - a mother's love to her daughter. What else can you expect from Jodi! ...more
If I can get away with it, I'd choose not to do any kind of sports except lounging on a La-Z-boy reading Oprah's pick-of-the-month. Seriously, I neverIf I can get away with it, I'd choose not to do any kind of sports except lounging on a La-Z-boy reading Oprah's pick-of-the-month. Seriously, I never would've imagined that lifting weights would be as fun as lifting a size-12 Zara LBD out of a discounted rack. I was in a no-size zone (Zara carries no size-18+) prior to lifting weights, but last September just out of boredom and invited by a friend, I joined a big-name gym next to where I worked. They offered a couple of free sessions w/ a trainer and that's how I learned about squats, lunges and the likes. My trainer's your typical get-as-many-clients-as-you-can young buck with 2-yr experience training mainly svelte hot young bodies - I was a real-world challenge to him. Then I started googling on movements he taught me to do: burpees, planks, squats, just because I was somewhat apprehensive whenever he asked me to do those things - I was ready to quit and slap him a harassment lawsuit. [Believe me, you'd be self-conscious when you're the only one at the gym pushing your big fat behind all the way to eternity.:]
I persevered, though, and shed 8kg. It's no Biggest Loser material, but enough to make me return to the gym. Then I came across articles written by Alwyn Cosgrove and his super-strong wife, Rachel. That's how I learned about this book. I'd assume that the people who pick up this book have done some lifting, be it Barbie-bells or real-life barbells, but any beginner who resents those men milling about the Smith machine [those sissies!:] should find this book inspiring.
The first chapter's titled "Why Should a Woman Lift Like a Man?" [why shouldn't we?:] - and goes on to explain fun things like: why cardio is overrated ["Step away from the Treadmill":], how most female's quad dominant and how to fix it, that every exercise is a "core" exercise. My favorite quote from the book is how the author (Lou Schuler) defines the goal of ab training, that is: "to perform better in everyday activities and specific exercises, and to bolster the integrity of your spine and its connective tissues during the performance of those activities and exercises." Somewhere in the background I heard Camryn Manheim yelling, "This is for all the fat girls!"
The second part of the book deals with diet and nutrition. Unless you're thinking of nip and tuck every time your body collects fat, no matter how hard you work out, you still have to watch what you eat. The meal plans offered in this book are simple enough, in fact, you can find more sophisticated information elsewhere, but I find the whole thing on protein shake quite useful. So yes, not only do we have to invest on gym membership, we'd have to spend more dough on protein powder and healthy foods (they're considerably more expensive than your regular pizza and cokes) to become better athlete! (somehow 'gymrat' is no longer in your vocab after doing this book.)
The last part is the 'just-do-it' part. You can read until you bleed, but it's no use if you skip the workouts entirely. Most importantly, the book preaches on no isolating exercises, so leave the fancy machines behind (except the lat machine). Alwyn has programmed a 7-stage workout that would last 6 months. While I have yet to reach the part where I can do my own chin-up (apparently, Rachel Cosgrove can do a dozen without losing a breath), the book has been my constant companion to the gym. Advanced lifters would probably move on to NROL or Testosterone Advantage. If you're a beginner, I'd suggest you start with a trainer who can show how to do squats and other movement in good form. So now, shut up and lift!
How many times do you hear people who bought this book say: I love Isaac! Maybe they're on to something.
I've seen Isaac on TV, and he's not one of tHow many times do you hear people who bought this book say: I love Isaac! Maybe they're on to something.
I've seen Isaac on TV, and he's not one of those bitchy Project Runway wannabe who refuses to dress any woman sized 4 and over. I mean, real women wear size 16, dear.. I meant, me of course.. So it's refreshing to see how Isaac treat her models, including the only plus size of the bunch, in this book. Some of his take on style is probably too much for me, but most of them are down pat attainable. I bought the book partly because I dress like a mechanic since high school, and once in a blue moon, I'd like to dress daringly like Isaac's ladies. Maybe someday some humble designers would create another book like this, specially made for the size 16 crowd.. *wishing, wishing* ...more