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 b...moreJeffrey 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. (less)
This is a story about 11-year-old Calpurnia Virginia (Callie Vee) Tate. In 1899, being born female would not amount so much until one gets married and...moreThis is a story about 11-year-old Calpurnia Virginia (Callie Vee) Tate. In 1899, being born female would not amount so much until one gets married and bears children. The book invites us to get to know this special young lady who is curious about nature and has science on her mind. Fortunately, her grandfather, at first unknown to her since he's always locked up in his 'lab' started to pay attention to her growing curiosity of things around her. He took Callie for nature walks, and encouraged her to read science books. Meanwhile, Callie's mother is exasperated because naturally, she wants to prepare her daughter properly, to bring her up as a lady, fit for marriage and not university. This book follows Callie's adventure through the year, and ends in the eve of the year 1900, much like the modern people like us awaited the year 2000. Honestly, I don't know what to say about the ending, it's supposed to be up to reader's imagination, but as the book falls into the Children's category, I wish the author have written a more creative ending. All in all, this is a perfect book for girls, especially those who are budding scientists!(less)
Telemarketer (TM): "Good Afternoon. May I speak to Virna Tendean?" Me: "Speaking." TM: "This is CI Bank and we're here to confirm that you're on the pay...moreTelemarketer (TM): "Good Afternoon. May I speak to Virna Tendean?" Me: "Speaking." TM: "This is CI Bank and we're here to confirm that you're on the payroll via CI Bank." Me: "..the what? pei what?" TM: "Payroll. Your wages are paid through our Bank." Me: "..oh, ok.." TM: "We'd like you to know that you're now eligible for extra line of credit of 24 million rupiahs." Me: "Not interested" TM: "Sorry? You'll never know when you need the extra cash, ma'am. Please think again." Me: "Ok, I'll think about it and let you know tomorrow." TM: "I'll call you again tomorrow. Thank you ma'am."
I was like, ma'am..I got money tucked away nicely in the Bank that's not yours so due to your impoliteness, I've decided to take my business elsewhere.
I think the future is now. And in not so distant time from now, marketing aspects will be streamlined into an online feed designed specifically for a customer in mind. Maybe in my lifetime they would still be figuring out how to tap into the Brain, but in 200 years time, why not.
I was reading The Tell-Tale Brain, a neuroscience non-fiction, when I picked this book. I've heard about Feed since two years ago and it landed on my local bookstore few weeks back. Coincidentally, the Brain plays an important role in both books. Not as much as I want to in Feed, but it's interesting that the author came up with the idea in the first place.
The book started with Titus, a teenager not unlike the teens we'd see in our local mall - full of life as well as boredom, neglected by their busy parents, and extra line of credits without much worrying how to pay them back. Kids just like my students who worry more about their Harlem Shake bits than studying for their Physics exams. Titus is living in the 'real' Information Age where marketing feed is installed in the Brain since a baby is born. The feed had been created, at first, solely for educational purposes, but as it is in our time, the marketers jump into the bandwagon because products can be sold directly to a customer by feeding the Brain with marketing gimmicks.
Titus went to the Moon with his buddies, and met Violet, his 'soulmate,' just like any other kids we saw in Twilight, or 500 Days of Summer, I guess. Unfortunately, Violet is of different breed. Her parents did not install feed into her Brain until she's 5 or 6 y.o., and by that time the Brain has fully developed. Violet's parents had to sign an agreement that they're fully aware of the consequences because installing this late may interfere with her body functions.
I started to enjoy reading this almost halfway through the book, because I had to overcome my intense dislike of the 'teen-talk' - it can be exhausting to follow, like, whatev.. :D Apparently, in Titus' time, even most grown-ups have lost the art of language since they're too used to receiving online feed that only need 140 characters or less (hello, Twitter!) or, even worse, online pictures (YouTube's still alive by then!)
Trouble started when, early in the book, their feeds were hacked and they had to spend some time on the Moon hospital. Titus fell in love with Violet's strange opposition to the digital norm. When they returned to Earth, Violet started to experience what is equivalent to computer breakdown. It reminds me of how my 2006 Acer (full with Adobe apps and Microsoft wares) struggles to keep up with my writing and online activities with 10 windows and more open all at once.
Through Violet's deteriorating condition, Titus came to see the life (Violet's thought) he's missing. He met her eccentric father, who is not really eccentric but love science and teaching. Violet even shared about how her father and mother met, and how he finally decided to let her daughter has a feed installed. You would not want to miss this one!
I used to live in the US before the age of YouTube, at the time when it took a few programmers just to come up with a simple page that says 'Hello, World!' - and even before those pesky marketing ads to the right bar on my Fb page came along, I was bombarded with TV ads claiming that using the right teeth whitener would attract the right kind of men. (The men has yet to come, in my case..:P)
Overall, I'm impressed with Anderson's ability to spook, if not me, the thousands of readers reading this book. However, I would agree with some of you who claim that the people this book addresses to would never even pick up this book, or any other book. I'm just hoping that Education will not deteriorate as much as the culture of digital greed. Anderson's book send a warning that neglecting proper Education will only degrade the quality of life, and make the gaps between the classes ever more wider than before.
Summary: Considered to be retarded, a brilliant fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers something that would allow her to communicate with words an...moreSummary: Considered to be retarded, a brilliant fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers something that would allow her to communicate with words and at the same time teaches other normal people around her a thing or two about being normal.
What I think: When I finished reading this book and went back to see the book cover, I had to strain a little. I failed to connect the jumping fish with the title right away. It is the same way when reading the story of Melody. The author weaves the words so eloquently that Melody's disability just faded to the background, until she has to face her worst fear: her new normal friends staring at her being spoon-fed by her mother.
I love Melody's character, as well as her supportive group of adults that include her mom, dad, neighbor and school-aide. She is indeed lucky to be supported by the people who are willing to go the extra mile and look above her disability.
While I can understand some reviewers giving this a less than 3-star treatment, I beg to differ with my review, because I have the luxury of being born normal, without disability, and my only encounter with a wheelchair is when I go to the hospital. My only recollection of a wheelchair is in fact when I have to meet my great-aunt - and she's in her 70s. Imagine being young and bright, and have to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life. Imagine being a Stephen Hawking :) Then you can whine about your normal life.. (less)
Summary After being sold to a cruel couple in NYC, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Book Cover: Beau...moreSummary After being sold to a cruel couple in NYC, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Book Cover: Beautiful! Typset: Yes, I did judge the book by its cover, unfortunately. And I just can't go on without mentioning the typesetting. The text is set in Regula. I searched the online font foundry and found one source in myfonts.com, with the following description: "Regula is a Baroque alphabet taken over from a historical model including the latter’s inaccuracies and uneven letter edges. It reminds one of the character of letterpress. It is named after the secular monastic order Regula Pragensis." The story: The smart protagonist, Isabel, is sold to the Locktons and has to serve as a slave for Elihu and Anne Lockton, Loyalists (sympathizers of the British king). They have a beautiful house that would later serve as sanctuary for British officers after the British troop forced out the Patriots out of the city. Ms. Anderson tried to depict slave's harsh life and did not try to water it down. Isabel's little sister, who easily drew the pity of Mrs. Lockton, was found to be an epileptic and after a seizure episode got kicked out of the house by her missus. Isabel was devastated and from then on determined herself to run away from the New York Colony in search of her sister. From the time she stepped into the New York Harbor, however, she crossed path with Curzon, another slave to Capt. Bellingham, a Patriot, and who had tried to recruit her to spy on her Tory master. Isabel's adventure continues with 'Forge' after she released Curzon, at the time being kept as POW after the British recaptured New York City. What I think: I gave this book a full 5-star treatment because of Ms. Anderson's faithful depiction of life during 1776, right down to the sort of English language use during the time. Isabel's also very spirited at such a young age, refusing to be pitied by other adults who tried to help her. I love how she can voice her fear without losing her determination to overcome tragedy. Her character would set up a good example to younger readers on how to be brave. Who should read this: Young readers, historical buffs, Hunger Games fans who have never encountered slavery outside the 12 Districts of Panem..:) Tidbits on Revolutionary War in NY Colony: Read this link - Patriots and Loyalists of NY(less)
What drew me to the book was the cover - the reprinted edition with 4 kids against a blue sky background is somewhat a throwback to the years gone by....moreWhat drew me to the book was the cover - the reprinted edition with 4 kids against a blue sky background is somewhat a throwback to the years gone by. What is more, even when it has been such a slow read, I enjoyed and savored every bit of it.
I fell in love with Dicey's character; here's a twelve-year-old who's old enough to take care of 3 little children when the adults who were her blood relatives could not.
Dicey Tillerman and her three siblings, James, Maybeth and Sammy, were abandoned in a mall parking lot in Bridgeport by their mother.
Their adventure started from there, with what little money and a bag of grocery left, they started off to look for Cousin Eunice, her mother's only known relative.
They started on foot - just imagine having three small little children walking along a highway! - and managed to survive by fishing and helping out, and sometimes going hungry for the night. They encountered a few people who help them out; two college students even let them into their dorm and drove them to Cousin Eunice. However, their cousin turned out to be an older woman who were too needy. Thus they escaped to search for their long-lost grandmother after learning that her mother's mother is still alive in Crisfield.
This book is quite a reading, and I suspect with all those dystopian YA novels out there, not a lot of teenagers would want to spend the time knowing the Tillermans. This is more like the Little House on the Prairie books, but for much older teenagers. Actually, adults would enjoy this book better - even those who grew up reading Harry Potter.
If you just browse the pages, you would attempt to drop the book, however, I think those who love road trips would actually appreciate this adventure story weaved by Ms. Voigt. You can almost smell the water when she's describing the little town of Crisfield. If I were to live in Connecticut I'd try to do a road trip based on this book :)(less)
One thing I know that a book would be one of my favorites is when nearing the end of the book I start feeling like I'm saying goodbye to my best frien...moreOne thing I know that a book would be one of my favorites is when nearing the end of the book I start feeling like I'm saying goodbye to my best friend (or vodka, sometimes..)
Based on other people's reviews, I have no idea why I sided with the Nat'l Book Award panels - I actually gave this book the whole constellation. Nope, it's not perfect, and it's still YA, not one of those heavy tomes I should be reading, but the book deserves the 5 stars. First of all, it's not as sci-fi as I'd like or imagined to be. The author more or less delved into the social aspect of the protagonist, Matt, and his coming-of-age story.
Matt is the clone of El Patron (Matteo Alacran), the greatest Opium producer in the world. His estate is his own country, a heavily-guarded strip between the borders of United States and Aztlan (what used to be Mexico), and everybody fears him. He is King Midas, and he's as ancient as the lore itself. There lies the purpose of Matt as a clone. The story of Matt's survival is the heart of the book. You see, Matt's been kept from the Alacrans' prying eyes by Celia, an old cook who rescued him from birth. When he's 6 y.o., he couldn't help wanting to go out and play with other kids outside, and thus he's introduced to the evil world that would eventually would be his to inherit.
There's somebody worth mentioning in this review other than Celia that show how great characters truly make this book. Matt is not exactly the one I fall for. Matt is like a pawn next to Tam Lin, a father figure that help Matt becomes a man. As Matt grows up, El Patron lets Tam Lin to be Matt's bodyguard, and the man goes beyond his call of duty by teaching Matt how to survive. I especially love the part when he takes Matt hiking to an oasis near the Ajo Mountain. It's also one of the important part in the book that would help Matt to learn about the Alacran clan and escape.
Thi is a wonderful book that conveys childhood innocence, the will to survive whatever life's throwing at you, and the dignity to overcome the badness of people's greedy heart. The author deftly positioned Matt as such that he has to watch his back though it's no fault of his being born a clone. People can readily accept whatever others told them, in Matt's case, a lot of people judge him unfairly just by knowing he's born a clone. Matt does has a soul, and often, he has to fight, just like any other real humans born out of their mothers' wombs, for recognition, and against injustice. Truly I don't know why I like this book while others can give this less than a 3*, but I encourage you to read the author's note - how this book came about.
I think I struggle with the fact that there's a sequel. A great book would leave the conclusion to the readers. Rather than writing a sequel, I'd love to see Ms.Farmer writing another sci-fi, a real hard-core one this time!(less)
I love the first book, and I still think the first is the best of the series, still.. I admire the author for the delicate intricacies she has added t...moreI love the first book, and I still think the first is the best of the series, still.. I admire the author for the delicate intricacies she has added to Dicey's family life with her grandmother. I love the sad ending, and learn that in life, just like in Dicey's, we have to learn to let go of the people of the past, as well as reach out to others in present. Lovely story for all ages :)(less)
Left a little to be desired, that's what I thought about this book as soon as I finished reading it. Not sure why it stole the Printz that year, with...moreLeft a little to be desired, that's what I thought about this book as soon as I finished reading it. Not sure why it stole the Printz that year, with this half-baked story-telling. Not quite the horror a la Anna Dressed in Blood, and can't find a convincing romance between the two protagonists of the book. It's plain confusing, but there are some details I love from the book, that without them would otherwise make this book unbearable.
It's a story about two characters, Eric and Merle. It actually started from oh-not-so-distant future (the year 2073, when by that time if I live that long I'd be in my 100s!) and went backward to the beginning of the story. If you've seen the TV movie Brush with Fate, based on the book by Susan Vreeland, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, then this book more or less 'borrowed' the style. Whereas I truly enjoy the movie starring Glenn Close and Thomas Gibson (that guy from Criminal Minds!), I've yet to read Vreeland's book.., but I can imagine the book shouldn't be far from sweet than the movie. However, Midwinterblood, with its stunning 2014 cover, failed to keep me intrigued.
The first short story (out of 7) finds Eric coming to an island off the Scandinavian coast, and right away I was hooked with how the people in the island tried to make him stay. The second story and the stories following the first one should make us want to get to know Eric better. Unfortunately, these stories seem un-relatable to the one before it, until we finally come to the last story that should tie together the supposedly saga of Eric and Merle. In short, I was truly disappointed, but if you want to collect Printz-award-winning books, then you should read this book and make up your mind, you'd probably love it anyway!(less)