"You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get"You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it's not that simple."...more
One of my friends was tired of "serious" book clubs, and has started The Happy Fluffy Unicorn Book Club, where fluffy and bodice-ripping books are givOne of my friends was tired of "serious" book clubs, and has started The Happy Fluffy Unicorn Book Club, where fluffy and bodice-ripping books are given the attention they deserve. Particularly for summer, when light reading is essential. So this is the inaugural book chosen for the honor. It was enjoyable although parts made me groan - the author used "Little did she know" just about as often as the word loins. I tried to not let myself get frustrated by the lack of research, but who has someone drinking "local beer" in Algeria? The basic premise is a chess set that when assembled gives the owner ultimate power. The difference between Neville and someone like Dan Brown is that if you sit down and Google everything Dan Brown says (in The DaVinci Code, for instance), a lot of it makes sense. Neville makes up races and mythology to suit her purposes. I don't fault her for it entirely, but it does make it even fluffier than it would have to be otherwise....more
I have seen this book described as a "landscape painting" but to me it is more of a series of snapshots of Mehring's life. You never see him in the ciI have seen this book described as a "landscape painting" but to me it is more of a series of snapshots of Mehring's life. You never see him in the city, what he thinks of as his "real" life. And the themes of apartheid, country vs. city, the endless outsider, all are prevalent in the book. Plus Gordimer really likes to make up adverbs....more
This book stands up to multiple readings, and I'm not sure why I don't have a review of it, but stay tuned. This is my fifth read. I re-read the triloThis book stands up to multiple readings, and I'm not sure why I don't have a review of it, but stay tuned. This is my fifth read. I re-read the trilogy to prepare for a discussion on SFF Audio, which actually answered a lot of the questions I've had in the five reads of this book.
(view spoiler)[ This time, I read it with the idea of trying to figure out the whys. QUotations below figure into it, I'll flesh it out on another day.
"That was the trouble with Blood and Roses: it was easier to remember the Blood stuff. The other trouble was that the Blood player usually won, but winning meant you inherited a wasteland. This was the point of the game, said Crake, when Jimmy complained." (80)
"Crake grinned a lot when watching this site. [nitee-nite.com, an assisted suicide site] For some reason he found it hilarious, whereas Jimmy did not. He couldn't imagine doing such a thing himself, unlike Crake, who said it showed flair to know when you'd had enough." (84)
"Toast is me. I am toast." <-- retelling history since it won't make sense (98)
"All it takes," said Crake, "is the elimination of one generation. One generation of anything. Beetles, trees, microbes, scientists, speakers of French, whatever. Break the link in time between one generation and the next, and it's game over forever." (223)
"Had Oryx loved him, had she loved him not, did Crake know about them, how much did he know, when did he know it, was he spying on them all along? Did he set up the grand finale as an assisted suicide, had he intended to have Jimmy shoot him because he knew what would happen next and he didn't deign to stick around to watch the results of what he'd done?
Or did he know he wouldn't be able to withhold the formula for the vaccine, once the CorpSeCorps got to work on him? How long had he been planning this? ... With so much at stake, was he afraid of failure, of being just one more incompetent nihilist? Or was he tormented by jealousy, was he addled by love, was it revenge, did he just want Jimmy to put him out of his misery? Had he been a lunatic or an intellectually honourable man who'd thought things through to their logical conclusion? And was there any difference?" (343) GOOD QUESTIONS I HAVE NO IDEA
"He could have mentioned a change in Crake's fridge magnets." (347)
And then there's the topic of the new creatures:
"There's a distance, peaceful murmur from the village: human voices. If you can call them human. As long as they don't start singing. Their singing is unlike anything he ever heard in his vanished life: it's beyond the human level, or below it. As if crystals are singing; but not that, either. More like ferns unscrolling - something old, carboniferous, but at the same time newborn, fragrant, verdant. It reduces him, forces too many unwanted emotions upon him. He feels excluded, as if from a party which he will never be invited." (106)
And then sometimes I just feel so badly for Jimmy/Snowman:
"Sometimes he can conjure her up. At first she's pale and shadowy, but if he can say her name over and over, then maybe she'll glide into his body and be present with him in the flesh, and his hand on himself will become her hand...." (110)
"In that village, she told him, some of the people could send their spirits out like that even before they were dead. It was well known. You could learn how to do it, the old women could teach you, and that way you could fly everywhere, you could see what was coming in the future, and send messages, and appear in other people's dreams." (124) (I'm from this village!)
[Oryx to Jimmy]"We should think only beautiful things, as much as we can. There is so much beautiful in the world if you look around. You are looking only at the dirt under your feet, Jimmy." (144)
"He would never get used to her, she was fresh every time, she was a casketful of secrets. Any moment now she would open herself up, reveal to him the essential thing, the hidden thing at the core of life, or of her life, or of his life - the thing he was longing to know. The thing he'd always wanted. What would it be?"(314) (hide spoiler)]
I have a penchant for post-apocalyptic stories, and most of these did not disappoint me. Bread and Roses demanded to be read a few times before I realI have a penchant for post-apocalyptic stories, and most of these did not disappoint me. Bread and Roses demanded to be read a few times before I really grasped what the author had done, and I also was intrigued by Inertia. Stephen King, Octavia Butler, and George R.R. Martin were also great, but Jonathan Lethem didn't belong in this anthology. His story was more of a rant against virtual reality....more
I like the idea of having a style statement, and felt the questions McCarthy and LaPorte pose are a good way to help you along on the journey of discoI like the idea of having a style statement, and felt the questions McCarthy and LaPorte pose are a good way to help you along on the journey of discovering what yours might be. I'm still mulling over a group of words that might become my style statement, but I think I'll get there soon....more
I have a hard time explaining this book without giving things away that are revealed through the story, but found it much easier to read than StephensI have a hard time explaining this book without giving things away that are revealed through the story, but found it much easier to read than Stephenson's Baroque Cycle even though it was still full of math and philosophy and made up words. ...more
This book is definitely a product of its time (1949), but I wish racism and sexism were not so prevalent. It was interesting to see how the earth tookThis book is definitely a product of its time (1949), but I wish racism and sexism were not so prevalent. It was interesting to see how the earth took over once man was minimal in this post-apocalyptic tale....more
**spoiler alert** Before reviewing this book, I read a little bit about the back story as well as listening to the SFBRP episode that covers it. These**spoiler alert** Before reviewing this book, I read a little bit about the back story as well as listening to the SFBRP episode that covers it. These helped a lot. I'd had this on my post-apocalyptic reading list for quite some time, but had the wrong impressions of the book.
1. I thought it was funny. Well, there are a few little chuckly bits at the beginning, as you see the monks try to make sense of our culture, only found in fragments. Grocery lists take on great meaning, as do diagrams of circuitry. But the end is dark, so dark, and the humor turns black. I was expecting more bagel humor! That's how it has always been sold to me in the past.
2. I thought it centered around the quest of some guy named Leibowitz. Haha, not so much. Leibowitz is revered as the story begins, but has been long gone. Funny that a bunch of Christian monks are asking a guy named Leibowitz to intercede for them? Absolutely.
In fact, it doesn't center around one guy at all. This "novel" is really three short stories that tie together around the central mythology of Leibowitz and what used to be our world. The first story is just a few centuries after mass destruction by nuclear war. The second is a few more centuries, where a ruler has amassed forces, and some of the science is being recreated. The third is far, far into the future, where history is just about to repeat itself. With one creepy twist. Someone other than me will have to determine if this passes the Bechdel test (referring to the tomato woman).
From Walter M. Miller Jr.'s perspective, I can see how sending the message that history is going to repeat, and that we needed to TAKE HEED, was an important thing to do. I think he does this effectively. I keep reminding myself that this book comes over 20 years before The Stand, and 30 before Swan Song. Both of these novels are bleak and scary, but A Canticle for Leibowitz may be even scarier. A society that can't learn from its mistakes, and can't provide for its citizens anything more than regulated suicide? Maybe we deserve to die....more
Aslaug is a strange creature, having been raised by her mother in a backwoods part of Maine. She's never been to school but her mother has taught herAslaug is a strange creature, having been raised by her mother in a backwoods part of Maine. She's never been to school but her mother has taught her about history and language and the properties of plants. When her mother dies, she finds her relatives in the next town over, where she learns more about her mother's history in a bizarre environment. The story chapters are interspersed with different parts of her murder trial.
From a YA book perspective, this has a unique perspective on obscure religions (Essenes, Gnostics, Taoism, Norwegian mythology) and plant lore in an engaging story. There is also a bibliography, not too typical for a novel!
"If Mother was anything, she was curious; she wanted to understand everything. It made her seem scrawny and ravenous at times, like if she'd eat others alive if she'd had the energy to, just to take in their minds."...more
It is true that this book follows an accordion, but more than that, it gives so much information about the various periods in history and types of culIt is true that this book follows an accordion, but more than that, it gives so much information about the various periods in history and types of cultural musics it was involved in. It is unfortunate that more than the accordion couldn't have linked the various stories because by the time it reached Texas I was a little tired of the introduction of new unrelated characters. Clearly well-researched and interesting from a ethnomusicological standpoint, which the introduction says the author's son is!...more
From the Christmas pudding that changes everything to an increasing fear of mold, there were bits and pieces of this novel that made me laugh out loudFrom the Christmas pudding that changes everything to an increasing fear of mold, there were bits and pieces of this novel that made me laugh out loud. I didn't care much about the plot or setting, and Carey rambles on a good 100 pages more than necessary, but the characters did remind me of Dickens as others have said. Everyone is flawed, nobody is a hero, and nothing really works out. A classic....more